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Camp Lazlo

At Camp Kidney, one optimistic Brazilian spider monkey is out to to wreak as much good-natured havoc as he can

*Camp Lazlo
*"Gone Fishin' (sort of)," "Beans Are From Mars," "Parasitic Pal" and "It's No Picnic"
*Starring the voices of Carlos Alazraqui, Tom Kenny, Jeff Glen Bennett and Jodi Benson
*Created by Joe Murray
*Cartoon Network
*Premieres Friday, July 8, at 8 p.m. ET/PT

By Kathie Huddleston

L azlo (voiced by Alazraqui) is an optimistic Brazilian spider monkey who loves Bean Scout Camp. He gets to cause a little chaos at Camp Kidney and hang out with his two best friends, Raj (voiced by Bennett), a wise and neurotic Indiana elephant, and Clam (also voiced by Alazraqui), an eccentric and smart albino pygmy rhino.

Our Pick: A-

The three good-natured troublemakers share Jelly Cabin and often are at odds with Scoutmaster Lumpus, a neurotic moose, and his dutiful assistant, Slinkman, a banana slug. When the "Jelly Trio" aren't getting into the scoutmaster's hair, they're tangling with their natural rivals, the girl Squirrel Scouts across the lake.

In "Gone Fishin' (sort of)," Scoutmaster Lumpus decides it's time someone caught a fish, and, unfortunately for the Scoutmaster, Lazlo and his pals decide to help him. Even though the boys have heard scary tales about what might lurk in Leakey Lake, they "borrow" the Scoutmaster's brand-new boat and go fishing. In "Beans Are From Mars," the Squirrel Scouts suspect that Lazlo and his pals are actually aliens from another planet.

Then Lazlo gets a new friend in "Parasitic Pal" when a leech attaches itself to his head. Lazlo loves his new best friend, but Raj and Clam decide the leech has to go. And in "It's No Picnic," after a big rain there is only one thing for the campers to do: fight over a mud puddle. It's girls against the boys, and one girl, a cute mongoose named Patsy Smiles, only has eyes for Lazlo.

Watch your back, SpongeBob!

Camp Lazlo, a charming new 30-minute animated series from the Cartoon Network, explores going off to camp in a creative way, using the animal kingdom to people its world. The younger set will especially take to this special series, which embraces the spirit of adventure and mixes it with the desire to do the right thing—and a bit of occasional mischief.

Lazlo is a terrific character, full of optimism. His character embodies the spirit of boys everywhere who, away at camp for the first time, suddenly discover the world is much bigger than they ever imagined. Raj and Clam give Lazlo balance, between Raj's cautiousness and Clam's sense of wonder. The only adult at hand is the frustrated Scoutmaster Lumpus, but even he has a soft spot for the girls' scout leader across the way, Jane Doe.

The best episode of the lot is "Beans Are From Mars," which reveals a secret all girls already know, that boys are actually aliens from another planet. This very funny episode plays off our preconceived notions about the opposite sex in an original way.

Camp Lazlo's animation is creative and original. While it works very nicely to make the characters and the look of the series unique, there may be some confusion regarding many of the animals. Lazlo is supposed to be a monkey, but he doesn't really look like one. And while Raj does look enough like an elephant, Clam looks more like a bird than a pygmy rhino. In fact, many of the characters are unidentifiable as animals.

However, while it's doubtful most kids will see Clam as a rhino, it shouldn't matter much. They'll embrace the original storytelling and come to accept Lazlo as a monkey quickly enough.

Camp Lazlo is another terrific Cartoon Network series. While this series is certainly for the kids, adults might want to take a peek too. If nothing else, it will take you back to the good old days when every day was an adventure. —Kathie

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Also in this issue: War of the Worlds, Undead and 12 Monkeys Special-Edition DVD




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