Thursday, December 30, 2010

Why we Need to fix Cartoons.

I know it may seem odd to ramble on it now, but I really miss Batman the Animated Series. The one that started in 1992. I also miss Superman the Animated Series, the Justice League, The Justice League Unlimited, Batman Beyond, the Zeta Project,Static Shock, the Animaniacs, Freakazoid, and Pinky and the Brain.

Know why?

I'll give you three guesses.

That's right.


Nowadays I can't find any cartoons I would actually care about, and if I ever had kids I don't really think I'd let them watch Spongebob or Flapjack or Adventure Time or any of these newer cartoons because they're really not that great. They aren't that funny, the plots are either predictable or just pathetic, the animation is meh, and sometimes you can even hear bad voice acting!

Let me give you just a taste of how the Batman series took people seriously, for those jaded few of you who have never watched it.

After an orchestral intro in which we hear both the dark and moody tones of Gotham and the victorious trumpet theme of our superhero, we start on a black screen.

The lights come up on a painted backdrop of a dim room where only one table is visible, with a group of iconic evils sitting around it.

The Joker, with his naturally stark-white skin and bright red lips smiling over yellowed teeth is dealing. He's got a custom-made purple suit with an acid-squirting pink carnation in the lapel, not to mention an extra ace up his sleeve.

Two-Face is split down the middle; one half of his face is the innocent and handsome face of Harvey Dent, the other half the malicious and scarred face of his more jaded half, one massive yellowed eye staring out at the poker faces of his compatriots. His suit is black and white, as contrasting as the halves of his personalities.

Penguin sits and drinks some tea, hoping not to lose more of the Cobblepot family fortune in the poker game tonight. He is completely unaware of how bad his poker-face is, and that plays to the advantage of his conniving friends. Luckily, the Joker isn't the only one with a few extra cards.

Killer Croc stares at the cards in his hands, far too small for his natural size and strength, while picking a bit of what was probably the mailman out of his teeth, before being kicked out of his chair.

"Mind if I play, boys?" Poison Ivy walks in and steals Killer Croc's chair, leaving the crocodile to growl and find a new chair. Nobody messes with Poison Ivy, Harvey knows that.

"Pam. It's been a while."
"how are you feeling, Harvey?"
"Half of me wants to strangle you."
"And the other half?"
"The other half wants to run you over with a truck."

There was an awkward pause before Poison Ivy picks up her hand of cards.
"We used to date." There was a sound of the entire group suddenly getting the joke.

Without even bringing Batman into the story, this rough example from the episode "Almost Got 'im!" shows off the menace of each of the villains even while they do something relatively mundane. Add that to the phenomenal voice acting (Mark Hamil as the Joker, Kevin Conroy as Batman, Arleen Sorkin as Harley Quinn, and other fantastic actors all work in the Batman series), quality painted backgrounds and characters (compare a painted scene like Batman to a computer-animated show like The Batman from 2004-2008, personally I find that there is a definite subtle difference in quality.), great voice direction from Andrea Romano, fantastic music, and genuinely interesting characters, and you've got a GREAT show. This is all personal opinion, of course, but it makes me wonder how we've fallen so far.

From Batman the Animated Series to Johnny Test. Why have our standards for cartoons fallen? Eighteen years is not as long a time as you might think. I think we should ask for some quality in our cartoons. Batman took children and teens seriously, while still being watchable for the little ones and still being entertaining for adults. Nowadays I can't even stand to be in the same room as most of the stuff playing on TV, not just cartoons.

Would someone kindly make a Superhero tv-series that gets back to the old formula? Something that both children and adults can watch without feeling like their I.Q. is dropping? I miss Freakazoid and the Animaniacs. At least they had jokes for both kids and adults without being offensive or just boring.

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