Saturday, July 4, 2009

A Couple Forgotten Pieces in Animation

First off, Happy 4th of July, everyone. You're probably not reading this if you're part of that Marine Corps offensive in Afghanistan, and no, it's not often I find the motivation to mention the organization which has me entitled to another two plus years, but it's definitely gotta suck to get called to duty on the day when we're supposed to celebrate the freedom we enjoy as Americans. If you have a beer, drink, whatever, and you're reading this, keep in mind the boys (& girls) abroad. You might not agree with the foreign wars, you might hate the United States military, but damn it, feel reassured at night when you realize it's not you out there. Hell, I'm grateful to be home, but I know it could just as well be me out there, and I'd gripe, sure, but that doesn't mean I'd do my duties at a lesser level because of it.


Anywho, I've recently grown bored with the current animated scene, which happens to be my crescendo of taste in television. "The Simpsons" has had a great sustained run, like that ageless ballplayer that can't quit because he's still a step above his contemporaries despite having greater success in his prime years. "Family Guy" is all too cliche these days, and now that the shock value has hit home, it's running out of ways to top itself before having to go to HBO. Others, "King of the Hill," random anime series (Ace, you're going to have to fill me in on those if you're otaku at all-- I didn't even say that right.), and the overall quality of Adult Swim has left me wanting.

This has caused a bit of relapse in searching for the memories I have of the jokes of yesteryear that no one got. Three major ones come to mind.

The Critic (1994-1995)

I missed most of Jon Lovitz' efforts on SNL, unfortunately, but I was introduced to his snappy wit and sarcasm when first seeing A League of Their Own, where he was the snide baseball scout who hated that he loved his job. It's a similar setting here, where he's the same snappy guy, providing the voice for Jay Sherman, film critic. Unfortunately, it wasn't my favorite, but when compared to some of the bilge on television today, it was a cut above the rest in comparison. Too bad it was released in the heyday of those yellow-skinned guys-- who even convinced Jay to do a cross-over episode where he upstaged Homer for a spell.

My best memories of this show were the hip-pocket parodies of mainstream blockbusters. Case in point:

Clone High USA (2002-2003)

I'm still firmly on the side of the fence that does not believe in pre-destination, fate, or any of those silly kinds of ideas that things happen at a certain time in our lives for a reason. This almost swayed me when I caught this show late nights on MTV back in the day.

The premise? In the 1980s, well, if you listen to the theme song, it explains it. Historical figures were excavated, samples of their DNA were taken, and a government agency started producing clones of the historical figures, and the show depicts how all of them would act if they were in high school together.

It's got Abe, the lovable loser... Joan, the Goth chick in love with Abe but doesn't know how to say it... Gandhi, the controversial party animal that pissed off half of India... Cleopatra, the preppy cheerleader that can make Abe drool on command, much to the chagrin of Joan... and JFK, the jock who can pull ass better than the best farmhands.

I could go on for days about this one, but here's to hoping the first part of the pilot draws you in. When you track this from beginning to end, if you follow the humour, the ups, the downs, and the drama, you'd be wishing they brought back a second season, too.

When I have the energy, I'll provide some insight on Duckman.

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