FAIRLY ODDPARENTSOriginal medium: Television animation
Produced by: Frederator Studios
First Appeared: 1998
Creator: Butch Hartman
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Wish fulfillment is the premise of cartoons from Captain Marvel to Richie Rich. But those were based on wishes common to youngsters, not explicitly stated in the form "I wish that " But in one long-running and extremely popular series on Nickelodeon (Ren & Stimpy, Aaahh! Real Monsters), those exact words set the plot into motion in every single episode. Fairly OddParents, first as a
frequent theme of an animated anthology show and then as a series in its own right, has been a Nick staple for more than a decade. Only Spongebob Squarepants rivals it in popularity.
As the show's opening theme put it, Timmy Turner was an average kid that nobody understood. So thorough was his alienation and unhappiness, the fairies decided that what he needed was a pair of fairy godparents, of the sort that made Cinderella such a perennial favorite, only more modern. That's why he got Cosmo and Wanda (no relation), whose function was to bring joy to his life by granting his every wish. They were hampered by the fact that Cosmo was an airhead, but still managed to bring Timmy a reasonable amount of joy.
Mr. and Mrs. Turner (whose only known names were "Mom" and "Dad") loved him well enough, most of the time at least, but were stupid, misguided and mercurial enough to drive any kid's need for fairy godparents to even things out. But what really put him over the top in his need for compensatory fairy godparents was his regular babysitter, Vicky. She wasn't just a kid's idea of an undesirable babysitter, but actively evil, almost on a Doctor Doom level. Vicky's second-greatest pleasure was making the kids in her charge, especially Timmy, miserable. First-greatest was accumulating heaps of money. But conquering the world was also on her list of things that would be nice.
But he didn't dare use his wishes to be too mean to her. Once, he made himself so happy, and her so much the opposite, Cosmo and Wanda were reassigned to her!
Also blighting Timmy's life was his teacher, Mr. Crocker (first name Denzel), who was obsessed with proving the existence of fairy godparents, and strongly suspected his desire could be fulfilled by putting sufficient pressure on Timmy. But Timmy resisted, because one of "Da Rules" governing a fairy godparent's relationship with the beneficiary of the wishes was that if anybody found out, the relationship was over and he'd forget it had ever been. In fact, in a time-traveling story that took him back to when Mom, Dad and Crocker were classmates, such a revelation had been the cause of young Denzel losing his own fairy godparents (who happened to have been Cosmo and Wanda themselves, by the way), and he'd barely managed to write the fact down before Da Rules-induced amnesia set in.
Fairly OddParents started in 1998, as an episode of Oh Yeah! Cartoons. This was an anthology, similar to Cartoon Network's Cartoon Cartoon or What a Cartoon! shows, which functioned as venues for cartoons that don't fit anywhere else, a few of which are deemed strong enough to be continued as regular series. Other Oh Yeah! Cartoons alumni that got their own shows included Chalk Zone and My Life as a Teenage Robot, but its greatest success was Fairly OddParents. After ten appearances in the anthology, its regular series began on March 30, 2001 (the same day as Invader Zim). Both the anthology and the series were produced by Frederator Studios. Fairly OddParents was created by writer/director Butch Hartman (Danny Phantom).
Timmy's voice in Oh Yeah! Cartoons was done by Mary Kay Bergman, whose voice roles also include a couple of the moms in South Park and one of the Siamese Cats in the sequel to Lady & the Tramp. After Bergman's untimely death in 1999, the role was taken over by Tara Charendoff Strong (Dil in Rugrats and All Grown Up, Bubbles in Powerpuff Girls). When earlier episodes are re-run, Strong's voice is dubbed over Bergman's for consistency.
Cosmo was Daran Norris (J. Jonah Jameson in Spider-Man). Wanda was Susanne Blakeslee (Cruella De Vil in 21st century versions of 101 Dalmatians). Crocker was Carlos Alazraqui (Rocko). Vicky was Grey DeLisle (Mandy in The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy, Wubbsy).
In addition to the regular series, a few feature-length specials and some video games, the cast has been together for three crossovers with Jimmy Neutron. The first, The Jimmy Timmy Power Hour, appeared on Nick May 4, 2004. In it, Timmy's wish caused him to switch places with Jimmy, and he visited Jimmy's 3-D, modeled environment while Jimmy experienced Timmy's world of flat, cel-style animation. Two more Timmy Jimmy Power Hours were made in the following couple of years. Also, Cosmo and Wanda guest-starred in a dream sequence in the live-action Ned's Declassified School Survival Guide episode for February 5, 2005.
After several seasons of exploring Fairy World and how it and its characters relate to the world of relatively normal humans, the cast underwent a major expansion. On February 18, 2008, a baby named Poof was born to Cosmo and Wanda. This alteration of the show's basic dynamic is sure to have a major impact. So far, Fairly OddParents seems to be weathering it.