Created by Butch Hartman, the half-hour animated series The Fairly OddParents had been in production since 1997, when Hartman was led to believe that the series on which he was currently working, Johnny Bravo, was about to be canceled. But when Johnny Bravo was unexpectedly renewed, Fairly OddParents was put on the back burner for three years, finally making its bow as a short subject on the Nickelodeon anthology Oh Yeah! Cartoons. Finally, the series proper debuted March 30, 2001, again on Nickelodeon's prime time schedule.
Moving about as fast as humanly (or cartoonly) possible, the series was set in the stupefyingly dull town of Dimmsdale, the home of pint-sized ten-year-old Timmy Turner. Misunderstood by his well-meaning but cloddish parents, terrorized by his evil babysitter Vicky, and tormented at school by Francis the Bully (who apparently had no other last name!), Timmy found comfort in the fact that he possessed a pair of eccentric fairy godparents, Cosmo and Wanda, who were visible only to him. (Whenever anyone else was in the room, Cosmo and Wanda would morph into goldfish, chalk drawings, or other non-fairylike forms.) Most of the series' episodes contained two short segments in which Timmy, fed up with his miserable existence, would wish for something that he'd always longed for: great strength, awesome superpowers, unlimited wealth, fabulous creature comforts, a different face or physique, a new set of parents, or even something as basic as grabbing the attention of his cute classmate Trixie Tang, who otherwise barely acknowledged his existence. At this point, Cosmo and Wanda would fly onto the scene and grant Timmy's wish -- usually in an inept or misguided fashion, thus eloquently elucidated the old adage "Be careful what you wish for." At the end of each story, things would be returned to normal, and the sadder-but-wiser Timmy would learn a valuable lesson -- not that this would prevent him from making foolish wishes in the future! Others in the cast included Timmy's nerdish friends Chester and A.J.; Vicky's cloying little sister Tootie, who harbored an oversized crush on poor Timmy; vindictive schoolteacher Mr. Crocker, who was convinced that fairies lived in Timmy's home and invariably made a jackass of himself trying to prove it; airheaded boy-band singer Chip Skylark; Timmy's favorite comic book hero, the Crimson Chin (his voice appropriately provided by Jay Leno!); Mark the Alien, a slightly neurotic visitor from the planet Yugopotamia; and Jorgen Von Strangle, the tough-as-nails boss of Fairyworld, where Wanda and Cosmo hail from. Within a month after its premiere, The Fairly OddParents was firmly established as one of Nickelodeon's most popular cartoon outings, even toppling SpongeBob SquarePants from its Number One ratings slot. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi