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There are those who idly listen to National Public Radio, tuning in for “All Things Considered” while driving, and then there’s the other type: the NPR enthusiast that listens all the time, to a variety of different shows. I count myself in the enthusiast category, but that doesn’t spread equally to PBS, though. I hardly watch it, but when I heard that the guys from NPR’s “Car Talk” were getting their own nighttime cartoon, I thought I had to check it out.

For those who may not know, “Car Talk” is hosted by two highly talkative New Englanders. Their jokes are quite often staler than week old toast, but their delivery is infectious. They fill the airways with boisterous, raucous laughter. And their own hyperactive amusement just causes one to smile, and they genuinely build great rapports with their callers. So, while their one liners and puns may appear stale on paper, it works very well on delivery. Most of their humor seems improvisational, as they routinely riff off their callers.

That spontaneity, however, just doesn’t translate well into a cartoon. It partly because the show is scripted, and not likely written completely by them. So, on the whole, they come off is restrained, and that doesn’t bode well. Sure, there are other nice points, like how the show readily pokes fun at NPR and PBS personalities, as well as the liberal demographic that listens/watches NPR/PBS — like, for instance, the appearance of a hippy in a Volkswagen van selling tofu ice cream pops. All of that, however, falls short — the two lead characters just don’t fit well into a more scripted format.

So, the cartoon doesn’t work out well like it possibly could. However, seeing that this is PBS, it’s likely not in danger of getting canceled anytime soon, like it would be if it were on FOX. So, the show has an opportunity to grow. Only, in the mean time, I won’t be waiting.

Click and Clack’s As The Wrench Turns airs Weds. 8/7c on PBS


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