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Zany 'LazyTown' puts fitness into play

August 16, 2004|Lynne Heffley | Times Staff Writer

Professional athlete, aerobics guru and business mogul Magnus Scheving, founder of a children's entertainment empire in Iceland, has partnered with Nickelodeon in the creation of a new Nick Jr. series, "LazyTown," beginning today.

This theatrical, music-comedy-fitness show, based on Scheving's extensively licensed Icelandic ventures, stars Scheving as superhero Sportacus, who encourages LazyTown residents to be physically active, despite slothful saboteur Robbie Rotten (a deliciously demented performance by legit stage veteran Stefan Karl).

Set to a fervent Euro-pop beat, the series is a mix of live action, puppetry and CGI animation and has a daffy Toontown warp -- hyper-vivid colors, comic sound effects, exaggerated makeup, stretched and tilted architecture and wacky props.

Most of the townsfolk are not-quite-life-sized, multiethnic puppet characters with rubbery, molded faces set in rather vacant expressions; when they "speak," their lips are manipulated with a basic up-down movement.

The other human costar is scene-stealing sprite Julianna Rose Mauriello as bubbly, pink-wigged, 8-year-old LazyTown newcomer Stephanie. Mauriello, who has appeared on Broadway, fronts the inspirational "you can do it" bubblegum-pop numbers and percussive, aerobic dance choreography like a pro.

Yes, the show's high-octane energy and good-for-you messages may galvanize young couch potatoes to action; its wildly zany look and content, however, is just as likely to keep them in their seats.



Where: Nickelodeon

When: 10:30 to 11 a.m. and 11 to 11:30 a.m. today through Friday; regular schedule begins Aug. 23, 10:30 to 11 a.m. Mondays to Fridays.

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