by Michelle Erica Green

This review originally appeared on the now-defunct site FamilyWonder.com, which showcased children's entertainment for parents and caregivers.

Grade: B+
Network: Disney Channel
Best For Ages: Under 2-5, 6-8

THE LION KING's companions, animated meerkat Timon and warthog Pumbaa, try to live out their carefree "Hakuna Matata" philosophy yet keep stumbling into wit-challenging problems. Less focused on lessons than other Disney cartoons, TIMON AND PUMBAA entertains preschoolers as well as primary students.

Parental Advisory:
Educational Value: With an emphasis more on cooperation than specific lessons, TIMON AND PUMBAA encourages brainstorming and fair play.

Entertainment Value: Though the series lacks the lush backgrounds of THE LION KING, the clever character sketches take more liberties with animal anatomy. References to modern culture, from Arnold Schwarzenegger to other Disney films, add to the humor.

Emotional Intensity: The friends become upset when they have separated or let one another down.

Frightening Situations: Threatening animals sometimes stampede around.

Profanity: A bit of flatulent humor.

Questionable Behavior: The animals often break rules, but learn from their mistakes.

Violence: Occasional conflicts between different species rarely end in injury.

Timon and Pumbaa, the energetic meerkat and happy-go-lucky warthog from THE LION KING, live in a global village of other animals parallelling the society of humans. Though they consider themselves misfits, they generally get along well with the other animals they meet and try to follow the rules. This doesn't always make it easy for them to live the problem-free life they seek.

Kids won't learn much about how real meerkats or warthogs live, apart from some bug-eating and sleeping in the shade. Unlike the animals in THE LION KING, these critters don't move or react at all like their real-world counterparts. Then again, their real-world counterparts don't have problems with lost luggage or run-ins with police. Fortunately, things generally work out quickly for the cartoons, who seem immune to the laws of the jungle from which they emerged.

Young children relate well to the animals' juvenile behavior. Pumbaa frequently burps and snorts, while Timon has trouble sitting still and can't always control his impulses. School-age children are more likely to appreciate the puns and pop-culture references, though one seven-year-old who has watched a great deal of POKEMON found the action a bit too slow.

Nonetheless, kids often enjoy watching this show in groups, laughing at the rude jokes and relating to the plethora of stories about sticking with one's buddies. It is not uncommon for Timon, Pumbaa, or both to make a new "best friend," only to realize that their constant companions understand them better than anyone else and vice versa. The two also explore occasional desires to be a different sort of animal and to fit into different societies, but always realize that they're loved best when they're true to themselves.

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