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Kung Fu Panda:  Secrets of the Furious Five on NBC

By Ally Matteodo


On Thursday, February 26th, NBC blessed prime-time viewers by replacing the raunchy sitcom My Name is Earl with a charming half-hour special appropriate for kids. Kung Fu Panda:  Secrets of the Furious Five, airing at 8:00 p.m. ET, readily receives the honor of Best TV Show of the Week.  Telling the further adventures of the characters from the hit movie Kung Fu Panda, Secrets of the Furious Five  opens when the wise kung fu master Shifu invites Po the panda, an expert kung fu fighter, to train a class at his school.  The class is filled with rambunctious little bunnies who are enthused about learning how to fight. Po must set them straight and teach them there is more to the art of kung fu then simply using one’s fists.  He instructs the students that kung fu is really about excellence of the self, and tells the story of five different warriors (The Furious Five of the title).  Master Mantis was super fast, but also had one critical flaw: his impatience.  When captured and held hostage, Mantis sat in his prison and over time learned the art of patience, allowing him to defeat his captors.  Each of the other masters similarly overcame their character flaws, thus teaching the students (and young viewers) the importance of courage, self-confidence, compassion and self-control. The special ends with Shifu returning to find Po utterly exhausted from teaching the little bunnies, but also confident that he accomplished instructing them in some of the most important tenets of kung fu. 


This is a magical and touching story. The little bunnies’ desire to become powerful warriors is a familiar feeling, but Po’s patient instruction teaches them that fighting is only a small part of kung fu, and is only used as a last resort.  The stories teach young viewers that things are seldom what they seem.  Tigris’ strength gives way to extreme gentleness, and Little Viper’s ribbon dance can be used for defense.  Even Crane’s skills at cleaning the training facility translate into exquisite agility and grace.  The little bunnies ask Po about his first day training, and Po remembers how excruciating and humiliating it was for him; but this serves to reassure his pupils.  Mastery takes time, and practice makes perfect.  It took months for Tigris to learn to control her strength, and it took years for Po to learn his skill at kung fu, but the key is never giving up (and a great teacher doesn’t hurt either!)  In this simple children’s tale, some of the most valuable virtues are placed front and center. Kung Fu Panda: Secrets of the Furious Five teaches young viewers – and reminds their parents -- that patience, wisdom, and compassion are the most valuable possessions of all.   

Best TV Show of the Week

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