Thursday, January 19, 2006

Have I Stopped Rolling with the Times?

Question: What has happened to the CARTOON?

You know, the Saturday morning, after school special, or even nightly cartoon. Sure, I'm one to wax nostalgic about the heartfelt loves of my youth, but am I off base to ask this question? (Hopefully, it's been asked before.)

When I was young I looked forward to Saturday mornings like no other, even in the summer time when we were out of school. We had The Bugs Bunny/Road Runner Hour, Scooby Doo, Where Are You?, Challenge of the Superfriends (Superfriends), Speed Buggy, Speed Racer (the original of the Anime coming to America), Pink Panther, even the Smurfs, and a host of other shows to devour, not to mention Schoolhouse Rock (on which I posted a Top Ten list of the best SR song/videos here).

While I'll admit -- with Batman Beyond, Batman the animated series, The Batman, Justice League (Unlimited), Spider-Man, X-Men, and Teen Titans -- that the superhero genre of cartoons has drastically improved, what about all the others? I'd hazard a guess that most people, including most kids, aren't avid superhero fans. So where does that leave us?

Well, we have all the new wave Anime shows. Aside from the card playing games of Pokemon and Yu-Gi-Oh series, neither of which seem very good or long-lasting although that remains to be seen, I couldn't name one -- and I've wasted time watching a few. We've replaced the likes of Bugs and Scoob with Dexter's Laboratory, Loonatics (a bad Bugs Bunny and friends makeover), and Bratz (the animated series). Puuuuuh-lease! Totally Spies is mildly watchable, and I can get along with Dora the Explorer, which is now shown on Saturday morns, but I go thru the Saturday morning listings and the Saturday morning cartoon is dying a slow and painful death. Hardly anything watchable, let alone a show with "classic" potential.

Then, there's the whole Adult Swim late night cartoon biz and also South Park and the like, which I suppose ratings bear out that adults will watch these shows (hopefully, they're adults), but I don't find them amusing at all, and they're definitely not kid-friendly. I guess The Simpsons may go down as a classic, and to a lesser degree King of the Hill, but certainly as adult humor cartoons rather than family friendly classics such as The Flintstones.

Maybe I'm wrong. Maybe kids are loving 2 Stupid Dogs, Ed, Edd n Eddy, and The Grim Adventures of Billy and Mandy, as these shows seem to be either the current or past fare of Cartoon Networks prime time shows. Perhaps, I'm mixing too many things: Cartoon Network, Saturday morning cartoons, and late night cartoons. I dunno. I sit with my kids some on Saturdays or at night when they want to see a cartoon, and I get depressed. Maybe I've just grown to be an old curmudgeon. But in my opinion, kids today would sure be better off with some good, old-fashioned Scooby Doo or, barring some of the classics of the past, maybe nothing at all.


WandaV said...

And don't forget that action classic "Hong Kong Phooey" with Scatman Crother's voice.

I agree with you, dude. Cartoons are NOT what they used to be. Hubby says the anime junk gives him evil vibes and they are forbidden in our house.

Wish we could bring back the 'good ole days' for our kids. But there's always dvd's. We got a couple of Bugs Bunny and co. and the girls love 'em.

heading for b'ball practice.

Scot said...

I agree with you as well. There are a few pretty good ones, though. We watch Dora and Little Bill, but my favorite is Recess. I actually watch Recess sometimes when my kids aren't even around.

Brett said...

I find South Park frequently to be hilarious. Well, "frequently" may be overstating things a bit, since I rarely watch the show. But when I do, I am generally amused. Some people find the show offensive. That's fine. Don't watch. Don't let your kids watch.

But the guys that make the show pull no punches. They're unafraid of pointing out absurdity wherever they find it. The episode where they lampoon the founding of the Church of Latter Day Saints is probably among the most politically incorrect things I've ever seen on television, but I actually learned something watching it. And I laughed and laughed.

I think the Simpsons has mostly managed to remain funny, smart and relevant for a long time. King of the Hill is a show with a lot of heart.

As for Saturday morning classics, I know it didn't run for long and it was a total Scooby Doo knockoff. But Clue Club rocked. Woofer? Wimper? Those were some crime-busting dogs.

P&S said...

I agree generally that the quality of cartoons has declined tremendously. I think it may be the animation as much as the story writing. However, there are a couple that I like.

Spongebob Squarepants
Funny and has a theme song that rivals some of the oldies, "Who lives in a pineapple under the sea?"

Dave the Barbarian
Incorporates many fantasy elements with a not-so-smart hero and a sarcastic tone

Jimmy Neutron and Johnny Test
Both involve kid super geniuses and funny sidekicks. Often things don't quite work out like the geniuses think they will.