I’ve been a fan of cartoons since I was a child (we called animated shows; cartoons back in the dark ages).
We lived at the base of a hill, when I was a kid. So we didn’t get good TV reception (TV’s used antennae back then). Which was fine most of the time but not on Saturday morning. So, bright and early Saturday, I would hike up the hill to my neighbor’s house and watch Saturday morning cartoons on his TV. (and I really couldn’t stand the guy)
I loved Speed Racer, Battle of the Planets (or Gatchaman) & The Flintstones. Did you know that The Flintstones were originally a primetime animated series for adults? A genre that didn’t catch on until The Simpsons did it again in the 80’s. On my list of top ten animated series, only three of them would be considered suitable for kids.
To the list!
First, the kid stuff.
The Legend of Korra (Nickolodeon)
Tron Uprising (Disney)
Star Wars: The Clone Wars (Cartoon Network)
All three of these animated series continue stories from established universes.
The Legend of Korra picks up where The Last Airbender leaves off.
If you haven’t seen The Last Airbender, it’s not required viewing to understand Korra but what it does is set up the basic rules of that universe: The importance of the four elements (earth, air, fire, water) and the benders who have mastered control of the elements including the Avatar, the mythic bending master who has the ability to control all four elements.
This is a fun series with epic battles that remind me a bit of the battle mechanic in Magic:The Gathering in the way that different elements have strengths and weaknesses against others. I also like the way Korra continues the evolution of the talent; And how fire benders can master lightning and earth benders learn to bend metal, etc. Very smart very entertaining series.
Tron Uprising continues the Tron story with a new hero picking up the mantle of “savior of the computer world” and it features fantastic voice acting from Elijah Wood, Mandy Moore, Emmanuelle Chriqui, Bruce Boxleitner & many others.
I was never a big fan of the original Tron film. Even less of the new movie. The games from the original movie never interested me because they never seemed like very much fun. A story about being pulled into a video game world should have better games. So I was never invested in it. I liked the light cycles but even they had serious flaws with the “creating light walls” thing.
But Tron Uprising is more than just about programs surviving the games. It is the story of a rebellious program in the computer world. It asks the question of whether one man (one program) can make a difference and become a symbol to help free the world from its oppressors. It’s a great story. With good writing and sweet performances. I hope it sticks around.
Star Wars: The Clone Wars takes place in the space between Episode 2 and Episode 3 of the Star Wars Saga. Sadly it suffers from the fact that we all know how the war ends. But it is still a beautiful backdrop for a bunch of exciting stories that take place in the Star Wars universe during the war.
As a huge fan of Star Wars I was sorely disappointed by the prequels. The only story I wanted to see was Luke’s father fighting in the clone wars and the early relationship between Anakin & Obi Wan. Two things that are glossed over in the movies in favor of a forced & awkward romance and an incredibly contrived political drama where the bad guys win. (I could have done without the rest of that crap)
In the last movie released of the Star Wars Saga the bad guys win… prequel my ass-fuck you George Lucas. (sorry about that. I have a lot of anger left over from Phantom Menace)
The Clone Wars Series is better than all three of the prequels. Better writing better stories better acting. Clone wars is a fun series.
Ugly Americans (Comedy Central)
Futurama (Comedy Central)
Both shows are set in a future society where monsters, aliens, robots & mutants roam the earth, living side by side with humans.
In Ugly Americans the world has become a nightmarish/cartoonish hellscape as monsters integrate with society. Like HBO’s True Blood to the extreme and funny as hell.
The main character Mark Lilly is a social worker who helps non-humans integrate smoothly into society. He is calm & centered in the midst of chaos. He is a lot like a Bodhisattva in hell. Working for a demon & dating another (half demon), the very funny Natasha Leggero, he tries to balance his work, private life and home life with his roommate, a zombie american, voiced by Kurt Metzger.
The show is funny if maybe a little preachy at times.
In Futurama the world, of 1000 years in the future, is populated by robots, aliens & mutants along with the humans (and the occasional human head in a jar [most notably President Nixon’s head as president of Earth]).
Fry, a delivery boy from our time, is frozen and wakes in that future to find that he is still a delivery boy. Futurama is so so funny & oh so nerdy. Its science & technology jokes are hysterical even when they go over my head. With Star Trek guest appearances & sci fi references, the show is a must watch for science & sci fi geeks alike.
The Venture Bros. (Adult Swim)
The Boondocks (Adult Swim)
Three of the funniest shows on TV with mature themes, mature language and violence, in the style of the old Saturday Morning Cartoons.
the Venture Bros tells the story of two brothers, third generation adventurers with no discernible skills (or courage). It also shows, amusingly, what happens to the stars of the old Saturday morning adventure cartoons after they have past their prime.
It includes a rogues gallery of enemies that “Arch” the heroes according to the rules of the Guild of Calamitous Intent with the old grudges and epic battles and master plans taking center stage.
The Venture Bros has some of the best writing on television. And features one of the best line-ups of talented voice actors with, James Urbaniak, Patrick Warburton & the always hysterical Dana Snyder. So fucking funny.
Archer is a super spy who works for his mother’s spy agency (played by Jessica Walters) along with his ex-girlfriend, a bad-ass rival spy at the agency (played by the awesome, beautiful, talented & deliciously dorky Aisha Tyler) , and a motley crew of co-workers with serious psychological & behavioral problems. Every character is genuinely, epic-ly funny and voiced by some of the funniest voice actors on the planet.
H. Jon Benjamin
… um but Aisha’s Lana Kane steals the show.
Boondocks is a tale of two young brothers, (with sweet kung fu skills) one a radical rebel & political activist with a samurai sword, the other a wanna be gangsta & rapper with an arsenal of weapons, and the shenanigans that they get themselves into.
They relocate, along with their granddad, to an upscale neighborhood and have to adapt to their new surroundings.
But by far the best thing about the series is the outrageous and extremely offensive recurring characters like Uncle Ruckus, their self hating, racist, elderly, black neighbor, (When the Freeman’s move in he sits on his porch and sings a song called “Don’t trust them new niggers over there” that is priceless).
And a ridiculous Pimp called, A Pimp Named Slickback (You have to say the whole thing like A Tribe Called Quest),
He is played by the outrageously funny Katt Williams.
The show can be overly political at times and is merciless when it comes to lampooning black stereotypes & racism but it is always funny always very cool and just plain awesome.
Southpark (Comedy Central)
Family Guy (FOX)
I love both of these shows. They are two of the best things on television.
Both have been known at times to cross the line of decency but are never just not funny. Both shows can cross over into uncomfortable territory and no matter what your threshold of personal comfort, these shows will find your button, push the damn thing & force you to laugh uncomfortably at yourself. I love that.
Art needs more of this.
I also love that these two camps don’t get along and often insult each other on their shows.
Southpark & Family Guy are two of the most crass shows ever.
But they take the complicated problems of politics & religion and society & humanity and they drag them down to the level of toilet humor in some of the most ingenious ways. (One of the recurring characters on Southpark is a lump of feces)
Both of these shows make me laugh so hard I am often in pain by the end the show.
Matt Stone & Trey Parker (the creators of Southpark) are masters of using the basest humor to define the highest concepts with respect. Like Mr Hanky, the Christmas Poo (the feces character) explaining the true meaning of Christmas.
And Seth McFarlane (creator of Family Guy) himself has no fear of subject or political correctness. He will sometimes take a joke past the point where it stops being funny, through the period where it’s no longer funny, to a point where it’s even funnier. Fearless.
These shows are funny as fuck and I can’t describe how genius their creators & writers are because I don’t have the words.
I like my art to make me feel uncomfortable. And these are two of the best shows in the history of television at doing just that (and at the same time making me pee my pants).
That’s all for now.
And I know I promised a list of New Shows this time but I guess I lied.
New Shows next time! …maybe.
Shut up, Stewie or I’ll sic Lana Kane on you.
(Now there’s a battle I want to see)