I had to be talked into watching this show. I’m not particularly a fan of made-for-Disney programming; this is the second and probably last show I’ll be talking about for this column. I’ll eventually get around to a fair amount of TV shows from the fifties, but the later stuff doesn’t do much for me. However, all it took to get me hooked on this show was a single episode.
Kim Possible (Christy Carlson Romano) is your typical average teenager. Who spends most of her spare time saving the world from one of the strangest, least competent rogues’ galleries ever assembled. She works with her best friend, Ron Stoppable (Will Friedle), and his naked mole rat, Rufus (Nancy Cartwright). Her father, Dr. Stoppable (Gary Cole), is a rocket scientist. Her mother, Dr. Stoppable (Jean Smart), is a brain surgeon. And, yes, Kim balances her world-saving, her studies, and her cheerleading practice with just hanging out like a normal kid.
There are a lot of things I like about the show, but what I like best is that Kim is never ashamed of being smart. She’s not the smartest character we see, but she’s every bit as smart as you’d expect someone of her parentage to be. She could probably be getting better grades, but she does spend part of her time on the way to world-saving adventures doing her homework, and goodness knows she’s getting better grades than Ron. He knows it, too, and he’s completely confident that their friendship is fine despite the fact that she’s smarter, stronger, more capable, and basically just better in every way than he is. That’s okay; he’s Ron, and she’s Kim, and that’s how things are.
In fact, the only times Ron ever loses his confidence about Kim are when things change. He doesn’t know how to handle her friendship with Monique (Raven-Symoné), because that’s a friend that isn’t him, and does she need one? And then, when they start a romance in season four, that gets weird, too. Oh, then he learns about actuarial tables, and he realizes that in point of fact Kim’s life is ridiculously dangerous, a thought that had never occurred to him before. He’s confident in his relationship with Kim because it’s steady, even when that steadiness involves chasing bad guys.
The bad guys are a lot of fun. I’m particularly fond, as are most fans of the show, of the dynamic between Dr. Drakken (John DiMaggio) and Shego (Nicole Sullivan), not to mention the dynamics in the rest of the situation. It turns out, some episodes in, that Drakken’s real name is Drew Lipski, and he went to college with Mr. Dr. Possible, as Ron calls him. (It never occurs to Drakken that the name “Possible” is not a common one and that the guy he knew in college and his teenaged nemesis might be related. Drakken is not as bright as he thinks he is.) Further, he cannot remember Ron’s name, which irritates Ron to no end. Further, Kim and Shego could be friends if Shego were different on a number of levels than she is, and at least one episode plays with that idea, when Shego loses her evil nature.
I mean, okay, a lot about the series doesn’t actually make sense. That’ll happen with this kind of show, and there are a lot of moments where the show acknowledges the fact. Various characters do routinely express disbelief about the episode’s plot, and once things like time travel get involved, it gets even crazier. There are secret agents, ninja monkeys, and, in one of the movies, a man described as “more golfer than man now.”
Really, it can be an exceedingly silly show, but it’s aware of its own silliness, and I like that. Kim is a teenager in a ludicrous situation. She saves the world because her website got crossed with that of a mercenary group, and it does say that she can do anything. What she meant was things like, you know, babysitting or dogwalking or anything like that. What it turns out to be is, you know, fighting a bored billionaire who has turned to crime and his spoiled son. Because why not?