Mum of two Wendy Black pays tribute to the beauty of a kid’s TV show featuring a pink hatted cat sheriff, a cactus friend, a blue horse, and a woodpecker.
Never has there been a more appropriate time to use the Sad Cat Face Emoji. I just found out that my favourite kid’s TV programme Sheriff Callie’s Wild West has been cancelled. Not even recently cancelled. It was decided last year apparently. Now and forever it will sit in the hallowed halls of Wikipedia at a mere two seasons. Such a crime!
So why do I like this programme so much? Sorry, I mean, why do I like it for my kids? Well….
The animated series “Sheriff Callie’s Wild West” Toby, Callie, and Peck.
First of all, the main character is a little girl cat and she’s the sheriff of her Wild West town. ME-OW! As the mother of a nearly three-year-old girl, I love that she has a strong woman role model in a cartoon to watch. My daughter possesses many traits which will serve her very well in her teenage years and beyond. She’s defiant, she’s strong-willed and she will take no crap from anyone. Which is, of course, is an absolute delight to parent! An absolute d-e-l-i-g-h-t. I’m pleased I found a character like Sheriff Callie to help show her that you can stand up for yourself – and be kind and caring whilst doing so.
For those unfamiliar with this programme, and I’m guessing that is many judging by the amount of reduced merch at Toy World and the fact that it got cancelled…Here’s a a quick synopsis:
Sheriff Callie is a cat and as her name suggests, she is the sheriff in her town of Nice and Friendly Corners. Her only magical power is her special Noodle Lasso which can morph into very helpful weight bearing shapes that help the locals out of whatever pickle they have found themselves in. Her trusty steed is a blue horse named Sparky who has a fabulous glittery mane and tail. The other main characters are Deputy Peck, a lively red Woodpecker, and his best pal Toby, a green cactus. The townsfolk are made up of other animals such as Uncle Bun (rabbit), Tio (tortoise), Ella (cow) and more. Sheriff Callie spends her time sorting out any disharmony between the townsfolk and rounding up bandits. There is always a lesson or an underlying moral revealed during the episode.
I never expected to be a fan. I am not typically into country and western music or Wild West themes despite my husband forcing me to listen to something called Brooks & Dunn.
It’s no secret that meeting him saved me from a potential Crazy Cat Lady future. The week we met, I may or may not have been knitting a blanket for the cat of my BFF. Needless to say, I am a Cat Person. It has always irked me that the cat is often the accomplice of the ‘baddie’ in popular culture. For example, Gargamel has Azriel and Dr Evil has Mr Bigglesworth. So, for me, as a cat fan, I love that Sheriff Callie is a hero. She is also a calico cat (from the tortoiseshell family), which I can tell you from my previous incarnation as a veterinary nurse means she has cattitude up the wazoo.
But I don’t just love Sheriff Callie. Toby is a happy little cactus who loves dancing and drinking milkshakes. His best episode has to be the one where he wears a very large fake moustache to make himself look more rough and tough. Only the moustache is so big that it causes disruption wherever he goes. His song ‘My Moustache and Me’ is a classic.
Another episode I enjoyed was when Peck got frustrated with Toby for dropping popcorn on the jailhouse floor as he was busy sweeping. In his frustration, he called Toby a pinecone. Gasp! This involved Sheriff Callie helping Peck see that words, especially said in anger, can hurt others. I have been known to mutter much worse than flaming Pinecone when my son starts planking in his car seat.
I was raving on to my friend one day about my love for Sheriff Callie when she stopped me dead with ‘Ugh, I can’t stand Peck’. Now I totally get this, he is a very annoying character. He likes to feel important and to uphold the law with his catchphrase ‘…on account of I’m the Deputy’. I’ve decided that maybe Deputy Peck is an example to children of how, just like Sheriff Callie, you can be stuck with annoying colleagues at times in life. These Pecks of the world, they might have a good heart and good intentions but they’re just a bit socially challenged and giving them a taste of power is a recipe for disaster. They’re the type of people who stimulate an involuntary rolling of the eyes in most other humans. Peck reminds me a lot of a man I worked with in a bar in Ireland. Let’s call him Mick. He’d been working there for approximately 150 years. He always rostered himself on day shifts ‘on account of I’m the bar manager’. He tried to tell me off when I sold the bra I was wearing to a visiting stag party. As the saying goes, if you don’t know who the annoying Peck is in your workplace, then there’s every chance it’s you.
But wait! I haven’t mentioned the music. There is always a great song somewhere in the episode. Sheriff Callie herself is voiced by Mandy Moore. And Mandy isn’t the only voice adding street cred to this masterpiece of children’s programming either. There have been guest appearances by Chris Izaak, Henry Rollins and Iggy Pop. Flea from Red Hot Chili Peppers voiced a milk bandit. Never has the line ‘This is a milk raid! Gimme all your milk!’ sounded so gravelly and so cool.
I grew up in the ’80s when a Girls Can Do Anything campaign had a huge effect on me. I didn’t necessarily want to be a fighter pilot but if I had, I knew I could do it – because I was a girl and girls can do anything.
There’s no doubt we have made a lot of progress since then but this sentiment still feels like it needs to be reiterated to our girls. I want my daughter to know that whatever she would like to achieve, she can make it happen. Obviously the same will be implied to my son. If either of them want to be police officers wearing pink cowboy hats, we will be proud. Sheriff Callie would be proud.
As my son gets older I want him to expect to see girls as his equals and question those who do not. The fact that he is growing up under the reign of his lasso wielding sister means he will have little to no option other than to accept women as his superior. He might try to sit on them and fart but we’ll see how far that gets him.
This content is entirely funded by Flick, New Zealand’s fairest power deal. In the past year, their customers saved $320 on average, which pays for a cheeky bottle of wine in the trolley almost every shop. Please support us by switching to them right now!
The Bulletin is The Spinoff’s acclaimed daily digest of New Zealand’s most important stories, delivered directly to your inbox each morning.