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Disney Plus: 5 things we learned from the new Pixar shows

From Woody and Wall-E to Forky and a bunch of new characters, your Pixar faves are as heartwarming as ever on Disney's new streaming service.

Pixar Disney Plus

The Pixar lineup on Disney Plus.

Screenshot by Corinne Reichert/CNET

Ever since Toy Story marked a new era for animated movies in 1995, we've had a friend in Pixar. Now the animation studio behind Wall-E and Cars starts a new chapter with a host of original stories on Disney Plus, which launched Nov. 12.

Alongside the Marvel and Star Wars stuff coming to the streaming service, Pixar has created a number of mini-movies called Spark Shorts, and a couple of episodic TV shows including Pixar in Real Life and Forky Asks a Question. You can watch the first shorts and episodes now on Disney Plus -- which is exactly what we did to see if they're as heartwarming as the much-loved movies.

To infinity ... and beyond!

Pixar helps you learn

Every Pixar movie gently teaches a valuable life lesson, whether it's the importance of family in Coco, understanding and accepting your emotions in Inside Out or to "just keep swimming" in Finding Nemo.

But in the new Disney Plus original series Forky Asks a Question, Pixar's lessons are a lot less abstract and a lot more practical. "What's everything about? I don't know -- I was made from trash like two days ago," Forky says. "I've got a lot of questions, believe you me."

In the first episode, available now, Hamm the piggy bank teaches the ever-confused spork from Toy Story 4 about the US monetary system -- in less than four minutes. And of course Pixar wraps up with a classic lesson: "Money can't be as good as having wonderful times with friends like you," Forky tells Hamm.

Forky Toy Story 4

Stick a fork in us, we're done.

Pixar Animation Studios

Future episodes see Forky learn more basics from his Toy Story co-stars -- we're hoping for a lesson in Canadian politics from Keanu Reeves' Duke Caboom.

Pixar puts in the work

One of the new Pixar Sparkshorts, Purl, explores the obstacles of being a feminine presence in a male-dominated workplace. The mini-movie sees a literal ball of pink yarn join an investment firm called B.R.O. Capital, which is filled with white men chatting about sports, guffawing at jokes about BMWs and yelling aggressive business strategies before heading off for happy-hour wings.

Desperate to fit in, Purl knits herself a business suit, busts out some sexual innuendoes and becomes the most aggressive staffer in the meeting room. And when another feminine ball of yarn joins the company, Purl makes fun of her.

But once the shame sets in, Purl welcomes the newcomer to the team, and we flash forward to a diverse workplace full of colleagues of all shapes and colors.

Purl is an entertaining yarn.

Pixar Animation Studios

Pixar loves animals

Kitbull is a prickly, defensive kitten living in a dumpster. Life is tough for an abandoned animal in this heartbreaking short, but things change when Kitbull meets an equally battered canine escaping from a dog-fighting bar.

The film highlights the importance of empathy and kindness even when you're having a tough time. And it also gently steers you toward adopting rescue animals.

Pixar Kitbull

Here, kitty.

Screenshot by Corinne Reichert/CNET

Pixar accepts you for who you are

In another Sparkshort called Float, a father realizes his newborn son can drift through the air. He tries to hide it from the neighbors, weighing the child down with a backpack full of rocks when he grows to become a toddler. It doesn't work, of course, and the son cries when his father yells at him to "just be normal."

But when he lets his son fly free, they have fun in the park regardless of the fear and disgust of those around them for daring to be different. And speaking of fear and disgust...

Pixar literally plays with our emotions

We already knew Pixar loves to tug on the heartstrings, but Pixar In Real Life takes it to a whole new level.

A kind of prank show, Pixar IRL puts the animation studio's characters and concepts into the streets of New York, and films the reactions of people passing by. The trailer shows Dash, the speedy offspring of Mr Incredible and Elastigirl, getting people to time his incredible runs around a building; Wall-E zooming along sidewalks; Hank the octopus from Finding Dory rolling around in a stroller; and the Child Detection Agency (CDA) clean-up squad from Monsters Inc picking up a dirty sock from the street before blowing it up in a controlled explosion.

Pixar IRL
Screenshot by Corinne Reichert/CNET

But the first episode, Inside Out: Console in the Park, shows just how well Pixar understands emotions and how people interact with them. The four-and-a-half-minute episode sees people walking through Central Park where they notice a giant white gaming controller.

"How does this work?" bypassers ask. "What does this do? Are we allowed to touch it?" 

A group of kids press the happy button and notice they're controlling the emotions and conversation of two men standing nearby. They quickly press the sad button to see what happens. The men go from being excited about buying pizza to being sad they can't afford it -- and then fighting about being friends when someone presses the anger button.

The console lights up a different color depending on which emotion is chosen: blue for sadness, yellow for joy, green for disgust, purple for fear and red for anger -- corresponding with the characters in Inside Out.

"Be angry!" someone says as they mash the anger button.

"OK, cry!" another person commands, pushing the blue sadness control.

Another group starts controlling the emotions of a mother and daughter in New York to visit colleges together, and they show a little more empathy after causing a fight between the two. "She needs to be happy, she needs to be happy," they say.

As the mother-daughter duo leaves the park, a new couple arrives, and the people playing on the controller realize it's the woman's birthday and she's on a date -- so they decide "they have to be happy."

People are entertained by the fights, dismayed at the sadness and laugh at the disgust, but ultimately want their people to leave happily ever after. 

The remaining episodes of Pixar IRL are yet to drop, while another two shorts -- Wind and Loop -- are coming in December and January, respectively.

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