Sunday, August 3, 2008

My Top 9 Favorite TV Cartoons

May as well get this out of the way. Here are my favorite cartoons. This is really more like my favorite Cartoon TV Shows. I'll explore my favorite Cartoon Movies, or Favorite Anime or Favorite Adult Swim stuff or Favorite Episodes at a later date.

This is in no particular order really. Why not 10? Eh, I couldn't decide on a 10th. And I'm lazy.

1 Batman The Animated Series

Well maybe this is in order because this is definitely my favorite cartoon. I can't really say enough how about how great this series is. Dark, evocative and true to the Dark Knight, this show broke so much new ground for storytelling and stylization its effects are still being felt in cartoons today and even some movies. In fact, each episode feels like a mini movie.

I am still amazed at what this show could accomplish in 22 minutes.

The set design was fantastic and so influential it had its own name given to it--Dark Deco. You can still see it being used today...and even back then when shows like Gargoyles ripped it off (ugh). The character design is still being used and imitated as well, not only in other Bruce Timm-produced stuff (Justice League, Batman Beyond) but most super hero cartoons of the last 15 years (X-men Evolution, Fantastic Four, etc). The musical scoring by Shirley Walker was movie-worthy. And the brilliant voice casting was done by Andrea Romano, who is the best in the business.

And it gave Mark Hamill a much needed job! His Joker was insane and crazy...definitely a pre-cursor to the Heath Ledger version and not a lame rendition of the god-awful Jack Nicholson version...or heaven forbid 60's campy nightmare.

Sophisticated enough for adults and great fun for kids. No camp, no corniness here at all. Watch this one. I can't wait for the new Deluxe Complete Series thing coming out in November.

Ran from 1992-1997

2 The Simpons (The First 8 Seasons)

Obviously The Simpsons have to be on this list. And it is probably my second favorite cartoon. But in the same way that the Star Wars prequels are so awful that they remove the magic of the original trilogy, so it is with the last 8 or 12 years worth of The Simpsons.

Yes I know there have been good episodes since then. I just don't care.

It's just for me Season 9 was the shark jumper. Skinner is Armin Tanzarian?? ugh. I know it was supposed to be tongue in cheek but that kinda killed it. You hipsters will say it was the Who Shot Mr Burns Season Finale Cliffhanger. You holdouts will say it still hasn't jumped. But a majority will say it jumped when they killed off Maude. And that is about to be released on DVD with Season 11. See above photo. Yes, of course I'll buy it, but the magic is kinda gone...and you know it.

Currently in its 43rd Season.

3 Futurama

Ok, now the rest are not in any order.

Another great one from the mind of Mr Groening. This is a classic example of one of those shows that I (and many others) didn't appreciate while it was on. And Fox's crappy scheduling didn't help wither. I started watching them on DVD and was hooked. Great stuff...and funnier with each subsequent viewing. Kinda like The Big Lebowski of cartoons.

And yes, I really like the new movies they've been releasing. I wasn't super crazy about either one at first. But again, better on the second and third viewing.

Ran from 1999-2003. Although 4 New Direct to DVDs have been made--2 released so far.

4 Home Movies

Before Metalocalypse there was Home Movies. Brendon Small as a kid version of himself. Sorta. H Jon Benjamin as Coach McGuirk and Jason. Melissa Galsky as Melissa. Brilliant and funny writing although much of it was ad-libbed.

Thank goodness Cartoon Network picked this up for its then-new Adult Swim block, otherwise it would have died on the UPN and been forgotten after only 6 episodes. Pick this up and watch it. You will laugh your ass off. Oh, and a super deluxe 10th Anniversary set is coming out in November as well.

Ran for 6 episode in 1999 on UPN. Then on Cartoon Network from 2001-2004

5 Venture Brothers

Awesome-ness!! Obviously a send up of Jonny Quest, this show is an instant classic. And the best thing on Adult Swim. Hilarious satire of superheroes, movies, comic books and classic Hanna-Barbera, this is not to be missed. Created by a former writer of The Tick and his buddy. Great voice acting from the creators, Patrick Warburton and more.

So freaking funny and perfect I don't know where to begin. So I won't.

Currently broadcasting its 3rd season on Cartoon Network

6 Avatar: The Last Airbender

This was clearly aimed at younger viewers by Nick, but it gathered a huge audience of all ages because of its great storytelling, sophisticated characters and beautiful design. . I have loaned my copy of Book (season) One to half a dozen people and every one of them went out and bought their own copy. And a couple of those people were "cartoon haters."

Set in an alternate world where different tribes have the ability to "bend" or shape 1 of the 4 elements, this is classic storytelling full of mythology (mostly Asian), ordinary heroes and a perfect ending. Looks kinda like anime but is an American production. Pick this up without delay.

Currently just wrapped up its last season. Although its being turned into a live action trilogy by M Night Shamayalamndmaann

7 South Park

You know this had to be on the list. Still funny, still relevant and still irreverent. Season 11 is about to be released on DVD. And they were totally right about Family Guy's lazy writing...although I do enjoy Family Guy myself from time to time.

Currently on Summer hiatus between the first and second half of Season 12

8 Invader Zim

Ok, this one is so overlooked it's a crime. A dirty shameful crime. But thank God Nickelodeon took a chance and even produced this one.

From the deranged mind of comic book artist Johnen Vasquez, Invader Zim chronicles the invasion of Earth by the brutally incompetent title character. He is small and disguises himself as a fourth grader. He is assisted by his not so smart sidekick Gir. They have a very "Pinky And the Brain" relatonship.

There's also Dib who is out to prove Zim is an invader...nothing could be more apparent but everyone else is so oblivious that they don't take notice of Zim and Gir and their poor disguises.

Anyway, this show is funny. Funny premise, funny voice acting and funny writing. The Dib-centric ones are less funny but still ok.

Oh, and some of the best creative design, original music, and color usage I've seen in a toon.

Check out the complete at a bargain price at Amazon...around 15 bucks for all 3 sets (2 discs each). You can't beat that with a stick.

Ran from 2001 to 2006??? What? That's not right. It actually aired from March 2001 to September 2002. Nick then released 2 DVD sets and put the unaired ones on a 3rd set. Then went back and aired them all in 2006...thus if you look around the interwebs it will say they aired in 2006....but most of those were finished for a 2003 airing but it never happened.

Ok...that's more than enough info....suffice to say this show was just ahead if its time.

9 Looney Tunes

OK, so not technically a show. But it felt that way as a kid growing up in the 70s and 80s when Looney Tunes were shown as a show on Saturday mornings or in 1 or 2 hours blocks after school.

So yea, I know, they were shorts created for theaters to be shown before feature length flicks. But to my mind it was a TV show consisting of 6 or 12 cartoons.

Obviously not enough can be said about the importance of these classics on the world of animation and cartoons.

By the way, I'm talking about the stuff between 1933 and about 1962, with the "Golden Era" being from about 1945-1955. Please just try and put crap like Space Jam and other modern incarnations out of your mind.

Honorable mentions: Samurai Jack, King of the Hill, Tom & Jerry, Family Guy 1.0 (before it returned to TV) Woody Woodpecker, Teen Titans, Animaniacs, Popeye & Tiny Toons.


howtobepretty said...

Nice call, love it! I miss Invader Zim- thank you for including it. Not enough people knew about it. At least there are the DVDs.

xx Bombshell Beautiful

Musicwise said...

Wha? Whe...? No "Wacky Races"?