Like the classification states, this is a very under appreciated show. Perhaps it's the genre that causes people to disregard it, but anyone with an open mind can discover the true greatness that is Toad Patrol.
The basic premise revolves around eight late-born toadlets who have missed the Great Migration to the toad sanctuary known as Toad Hollow. The only way to get there is to follow the direction of the mystical Thunder Trees which will lead them to the Fairy Ring, the portal that will transport them to Toad Hollow. The siblings must learn to work together if they are to make it before the Fairy Ring closes. Should they miss their opportunity, they will be transformed into toadstools.
Sounds simple enough, yes? Well, it would be if there wasn’t a large, hungry snake named Erebus trying to eat you, or a large flying bird named Medea swooping down on you. Not to mention all of the other natural (and some man-made) dangers of the forest. Imagine trying to innocently hop across the road, when all of a sudden a Rumble Crusher (that’s Toad Speak for “vehicle”) nearly runs over you. Not a happy thought. This show does a great job of presenting the many dangers of the world in such a way that it will not scare a young child. If the toadlets can handle it, so can you.
Speaking of toadlets, there are eight central toadlets, as I mentioned. Fur Foot, Beauty Stem, Elf Cup, Shaggy Mane, Puff Ball, Oyster, Slippery Jack, and Panther Cap. Each character has their own distinctive personality that makes them lovable, whether they’re the brave leader, the motherly sister, the playful rebel, the clumsy name giver, the gruff muscleman, the rascally or genius twin, or the quiet boy with the rare special ability of talking to Thunder Trees. Joining the toadlets are Earth Star, a toadlet that somehow managed to survive being turned into a toadstool, and Mistle Toad, the wise toad that guides the toadlets through the forest and encourages them to do the right thing.
This show does a good job of teaching morals to people without really shoving it in their face like some kind of after school special. And even if you’re someone like me, who has outgrown children’s programming and moved on to college, you can still manage to find enjoyment in Toad Patrol’s teachings. These morals are also a good way for the characters to develop.
Season 2 has a different plot from season 1. Season 1 was about getting to the Fairy Ring in one piece. Season 2 picks up right where season 1 leaves off and tackles the disappearance of Mistle Toad, and the search for a way to turn all the toadstools back into toadlets. It’s clear that many stories can be conjured up involving these characters, and that’s a great thing. After spending two seasons with them, you’ll find yourself wanting to know just what happened to all the toadlets.
The thing I love the most is the amount of detail and history involved with the premise of the show. There is an entire toad vocabulary utilized within it, and I’ll admit, I’ve caught myself calling the sky “big blue” or a lake the “deep wet.” There is also the use of the concept of Toad Tunnels which toads use to cross streets, as well as other miscellaneous information involving toads. Seeing these stories set in such a realistic environment makes it very interesting. The toadlets make use of their surroundings and you start to see things from their point of view and react to them as if they were humans.
The general adventurous nature of this show makes it fun to watch. Despite the dangers and the outcome they face if they don’t reach the Fairy Ring, they still manage to be a family and enjoy their time in the forest. The comedy is simple, I mean, it is a show for young children, after all. But I still find myself laughing at the things they say. The light hearted nature of the twins Oyster and Slippery Jack picking on each, or Shaggy Mane thinking up poems on the spot contrasts the slightly more serious nature of things like Beauty Stem being poisoned by stream water contaminated with oil, or a hungry fox chasing after a lost Elf Cup in the middle of the night. Overall, I think the two are balanced pretty well.
The animation is all right for this show. It is also simple, but the forest details are nicely done. The musical score is something to behold. The opening themes and ending themes are wonderful and very catchy. In fact, the themes are what made me wonder what the show was all about in the first place! The background music fits the mood for each scene nicely. The show also has quite a bit of singing involved. Beauty Stem sings quite a few songs of her own. In most shows like this, music is completely ignored, but you’ll find it hard to ignore such great tunes.
So, after all is said and done, I hope I’ve gotten some people interested in Toad Patrol. It’s a great cartoon to show your children, or other children. You can even watch it yourself and enjoy it! No shame! I only wish more people knew of it. Here’s to hoping that others discover Toad Patrol and enjoy it as much as I do.