Milk and Cigarettes

Rambles about stuff I like.

Prime Time Cartoons

When it comes to modern, prime time cartoons, there’s The Simpsons, and there’s everyone else. Everyone else, to me, includes: Family Guy, South Park, Futurama, American Dad and The Cleveland Show. 

I should note, I don’t count Archer among prime time cartoons. Why? Eh – it’s really more animation-y than cartoon-y. Also, it appears on something called the FX network. What the hell is the FX network? Does this network have FX news? (Obviously pronounced Fucks news.) It’s the Fox network without the astonishment? (Weak joke – but yeah, FX has 2 out of the 3 letters of FOX, so it’s hard not to compare and contrast.)

So, we have The Simpsons. It’s currently in it’s 24th season, and will probably run until one of Castellaneta, Kavner, Smith, Cartwright, Shearer or Azaria dies. (And Harry Shearer was born in 1943, so he’s probably checking out first.) Even though the episodes nowadays pale in comparison to the earlier episodes, we must remember that from midway through season 2 up until at least season 8, every episode was pure gold. That’s about 120 or so episodes. Every week, each episode would be layered with jokes – some were low-brow, others more intellectual. These golden years were Shakespearean in their ability to create comedy that people on all levels could enjoy. There is no doubt that The Simpsons will go down as the greatest prime time cartoon of all time. Maybe even the greatest show of all time – it’s that good.

The others, I rank as follows:

American Dad >= Futurama > Family Guy > South Park >=The Cleveland Show

Don’t get me wrong, South Park & Cleveland Show are really good cartoons – South Park suffers, in my opinion, in the overall animation. Ultimately, it’s not as visually appealing as all the others – South Park looks cramped and messy – whereas the others, all the characters have fat, well defined solid black outlines, which I find very visually appealing. Cleveland Show suffers because I do not like Donna, Cleveland’s wife. Maybe it’s just the way the character is written, but there’s only a handful of moments I can think of where I’ve enjoyed Donna. 

Seth’s shows: American Dad, Family Guy & Cleveland Show all follow the same basic premise (sit com about a family and their wacky baby & dog/alien/bear that lives next door) but all have different approaches to their humour. Family Guy I like to say is more Dada-ist. Their cutaway jokes are generally just an assortment of randomness – very Dada. American Dad & Cleveland Show are more linear in their comedy – AD is a parody of family sitcoms, and CS is a parody of black family sitcoms – but they are both themselves sitcoms. Further, all three shows inject a healthy amount of surrealism into each episode. The clear standout of Seth’s shows is American Dad – no question. First, they take way more chances with their episodes. From the first time the screen narrows during the second season, when Roger takes a solid gold dookie – to the staging of the episode as a live play – we’ve seen American Dad throw all sorts of crazy story telling our way. Second, having Roger be an alien instead of some terrestrial mammal of some sort was a great move. It basically states that the reality in which American Dad exists is magic – as Roger can have an alien gizmo that can do whatever the plot demands. Not to mention choosing Roger to be a mincing, self-absorbed sociopath.

Finally, Futurama is almost as good as American Dad. But American Dad is just a bit better – since Futurama has this never-ending Fry & Leela will they/wont they thing, which isn’t carrying well since the beginning of the new episodes. Nevertheless, Bender, Fry, The Professor & Zoidberg are some of the greatest characters known to man. Just as making Roger an alien gave American Dad freedom, so to does Futurama have freedom by being set in the future. But this is out of control freedom – since the writers of Futurama have to invent the future we live in anyway!

I sure do love cartoons.

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February 26, 2013 - Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , ,

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