There’s been a lot of buzz about the Emmys last night and I want to focus on a lesser-known branch, the animated shows section. While they don’t always get the credit they deserve, they are, for the most part, very intelligent and entertaining shows. I would have to say the sitcom, since Seinfeld, has really subsided into the cartoon world. Let me give you a couple of reasons why:
1. With animation, anything is possibly at minimal expense. When you animate a scene, there’s no going to the actual scene and filming it. It’s all about what’s in the creator’s mind. Things that aren’t possible in real life, or are at least improbable, are made common in a sea of red and blue. It allows for creativity to blossom in an uncanny form. For example, I’m sure many of you are fond of Family Guy, an animated sitcom on Fox/Cartoon Network. If you’re a knowlegeable fan, you’ll remember the episode entitled Da Boom, where the Millenium hits and the characters Cleveland and Quagmire get fusedtogether. Try doing that with real people. I believe I’ve made my point on this one.
2. It allows for one person to do numerous voices. Every television animated program hasb at least one person doing at least two voices. On South Park, Trey Parker and Matt Stone do more than one voice. On The Simpsons, there are numerous voices done by various actors. On Family Guy, Seth MacFarlane does the voices of the following characters: Brian, Stewie, Peter, and Quagmire. In contrast, on the sticom King of Queens, Kevin James plays Kevin James’ character and that’s it. So there is this certain versatility in the field of animation. That crazy character you’ve been working on can come to life in ways never possible in real sitcom format.
3. Animation tends to get away with more. Then there’s the overall fact that animation gets away with more vulgar material. South Park has gotten away with everything from Christopher Reeve eating fetuses to Cartman making some eighth grader “eat his parents.” He closes the episode by saying, “Na, na, na, na, na, na, I made you eat your parents,” and then proceeds to lick the tears off of his face. I don’t believe I’ve ever seen that before on a regular TV show. I guess because they are animated, they are taken less seriously, which somehow allows them to go under the radar when it comes to any kind of taboo subject, although Muhammad still hasn’t made more than one appearance. Here is a list and description of the three animated shows I give props to (you’ll see they are the only ones I’ve referenced in the top, so it should be no surprise):
South Park: What can I say about my favorite show on TV? The richness and depth of each and every episode, even with the two-dimensional characters, is stunning. The adventures they’ve had and the ideas that have come out of the creators’ heads is unbelieveable. I love how not only does South Park push the envelope, but at the end of almost every show, they have some sort of message. It’s never, “fuck shit piss asshole,” then “Jew bastard,” close the show. It’s always, “We have something to say, so let’s pick the way to say it that will offend the most people, but still get our message out.” And it’s damn funny, too. All the characters are hillarious. It gets first place on my listing of animted shows.
2. The Simpsons: This is the show I grew up watching. The classic. The show that fifty years from now, I’ll still watch every once in awhile. The show that not only will make you laugh, can make you cry. The supporting cast of mostly “stereotypes,” if you look close enough. The town of Springfield in no particluar state. The family chemistry that often had Homer choking his son Bart. The loving husband who’s not the brightest bulb and the intelligent wife who loves her husband, but can’t always deal with the things he does. The smart daughter Lisa who always has the answer to any tough problem. And Bart, the evil, troublemaker who’s not really evil, but just wants to prove to the world he’s not afraid. And the supporting cast. Flanders, the Bible-beating neighbor. Moe, the bartender. Old Gil who never seems to be able to hold a job. Hans Moleman, who gets run over by a car every season or so. Reverand Lovejoy, Mr. Burns, Smithers, the Sea Captain, among others. All classic characters for a classic show that will be in my heart forever.
3. Family Guy: While Family Guy, at times, is probably the funniest show of the three, with South Park in at a close second and The Simpsons at a close third, I really don’t think it has relevant plots or very structured dialogue. Sure, all those cutback scenes are great, but most of them have nothing to do with the plot, rendering them forgettable. If they had anything at all to do with the plot, I think the show would do much better. I don’t know if this is true for all of you, but sometimes when I’m at the end of a Family Guy epsiode, I can’t remember how it started. It’s so crazy and mixed up that I often will forget most of the jokes they had, mostly because they are diposable. But if I’m in the mood to laugh, it’s a great show to watch. I’ve never laughed so hard in certain episodes and I look back on them fondly. Because they use my home state as a place of residence, I find it to be very amusing as well. It is a great show, very funny show, and has great potential to become even better. Since it’s still in its infancy (compared to The Simpsons and South Park), it has some longevity to build up before it can be considered among the greats of animation, but it’s still an amazing show.
Sidenote: Futurama is one hell of a show. Sorry that it didn’t make it into the top three, but I believe it deserves an honorable mention. Another brainchild of Matt Groening, one of my personal heroes. This is a wonderful show about the year 3000 and a guy who gets cyrogenically frozen in 2000 and brought to the year 3000. It’s quite a funny show. I love the characters and the premises for the show. Although I’m not sure if any new episodes are coming out anymore because I know they were canceled on Fox, but I don’t know if Adult Swim picked them up to show new episodes or are just showing the old ones. Which is fine because I haven’t seen them all. But they are very rich and full of flavor. Bender is the best character. The others are amazing as well. There’s no dud characters on there. They all put in their share and make the show its own. Well, I hope you benefitted in some way from this post. I spent a long time on it (upwards of 30-40 minutes) so I hope it does something for you. Most of all, I hope it makes you remember. There is TV greatness out there, but it is few and far between. But when you discover that pot of gold, make sure you keep revisiting it to make sure it’s still there. Until next time, I’m not using any more cliches at the end of my posts.