Adult Timmy: And I’ll exist in a future worth getting to. You can do it, Timmy. You’re a great kid.
Beware: Spoilers may follow.
Fairly OddParents is one of Nick’s long time cartoons that sadly ran too long of a course. It just kept adding so many needless characters, had three mediocre live-action TV movies, and kept having various ends for Timmy’s childhood adventures. However the one that is considered the best conclusion is the TV movie Channel Chasers. It has an engaging premise, excellent jokes, and some heartfelt development.
The story is that Timmy takes a great enjoyment in the things he sees on television and wishes that his fairies, Cosmo and Wanda for a magical remote to enter the television world. He learns the harsh reality that when he grows up he will lose his fairies and any remnants of their magic will be erased forever. To make matters worse in the present he is grounded by his parents for imitating the things he sees on television. Thus he escapes to the television world not wanting to face these realities. His carelessness in the process however, results in his evil babysitter Vicky getting ahold of the remote who uses it for money and power. In the future she succeeded in using the remote’s magic to destroy and rule Dimmsdale and in the present is traversing the television world to make it to Dictator Week in order to do so. Thus Timmy chases her stop her evil plans while also dealing with a mysterious masked man in the process.
Perhaps the most memorable part of this special is the parodies of several popular cartoons our heroes come across. Some examples include Tom and Jerry, Looney Tunes, Rugrats, Scooby-Doo, Dragon Ball Z, Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids, Sesame Street, The Simpsons, The Flintstones, Peanuts, Batman the Animated Series, and even Blues Clues. And the writing does a good job of poking fun at and acknowledging the tropes, references, and problems of these iconic cartoons. While there are a couple more than the ones I listed, there is not a single one that is unmemorable. They’re visually funny enough as a kid but as an adult the parodies are even funnier. The writers did a lot of homework in capturing the feel of each cartoon.
The story mostly involves Timmy having to face the fact that he has to grow up eventually. The story of this is told and built up by his parents’ scolding, his fairies, the various TV shows, and even later on a grown-up version of him. The prospect of growing up does not sit well with Timmy initially. But as the story progressed, Timmy would learn from his older self that he would be a good adult as even though he would grow up and forget about ever having his fairies, he would still keep some fond memories of his childhood and that those childhood memories were shaped by the same parents he tried to run away from. It also puts things in perspective for Timmy, as parents were either rarely ever around or just plain incompetent in the shows he went into. This leads to some of the more moving moments when the adult Timmy’s time travel belt is damaged causing him to fade away, Timmy deciding to erase everyone’s memories at the end of it all except his own as without Vicky to make his life miserable he would lose his fairies and not be able to cherish them for all seven further years he would have them, and the reveal that 20 years in the future, an adult Timmy did grow up and not only forgot his fairies (as the photo of Cosmo and Wanda in his time capsule are now normal goldfish) but turned out to repeat the same mistakes his own parents made towards his children (who Cosmo and Wanda watch over).
Channel Chasers is a brilliant TV special. It presented the issue of growing up in a very realistic manner but also had fun with showing the vast world of television. The special went all out in parodying the cartoons and it is quite admirable that Nickelodeon didn’t hesitate to even parody its own shows. The best part is that it ended on a bittersweet note that solidified the reality that all youngsters have to grow up but also showed that just because you grow up doesn’t mean you have to leave your inner child behind. The show would have been better had it continued in the years leading up to Timmy ultimately losing his fairiesd becoming who he was at the end of this special rather than creating an entire second family with them.