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Friday open thread: animation

BEVERLY HILLS, CA. - OCTOBER 15, 2014: Cel setup of Rocky over background from the opening titles of Photo by Anne Cusack/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

So because we’re right on top of all the latest trends and styles, the lovely mrs. pdb and I just started watching Steven Universe, a mere...checks notes...six and a half years after it debuted. We have our fingers squarely on the pulse, is what I’m saying. Anyway, it’s really good, as literally everyone on the planet already knows, and it got me thinking how much I love animation.

I must confess, before I dive in to this topic, that I have very little exposure to anime, at all, by which I mean I’ve never really watched any. Which means that for me, there’s a giant cultural blind spot there, so don’t be alarmed/angry when I don’t list your favorite anime on my upcoming list. I have nothing really against anime; it’s just never been something I’ve sought out or been curious about. I am willing to have my mind changed about that, though, so if there’s a particular favorite that’s not Cowboy Bebop, which I’ve already committed to watch at some point as it’s one of mrs. pdb’s favorites, please let me know.

Anyway, that’s today’s topic - animated TV shows and whatnot, and what our favorites are. here’s a few of mine, in no particular order:

The Adventures Of Rocky and Bullwinkle. The gold standard by which all cartoons are judged, for me. It was a perfect show - it had a serialized structure, so a story took five or six episodes to resolve. It had recurring characters, and even if the plots were sort of same-y, the familiarity of the characters allowed for depth and humor that one-off cartoons often don’t possess. And the interludes - Dudley Do-Right, Fractured Fairy Tales, etc - were all either plenty amusing in their own right or super weird, which is also awesome.

Bugs Bunny. As a kid, every day when I came home from grade school, there was a block of animated stuff on one of the five channels we got at the time (ask your parents what life was like before cable TV, kids). An hour (eventually cut to a half hour) of that block was what was variously called The Bugs Bunny/Road Runner Show, The Bugs Bunny Show, or some variation thereof. It was just a mix of cartoons featuring those two, Elmer Fudd, and a few others.

I’m not sure how well some of the humor ages these days - I’m 100% sure Pepe le Pew wouldn’t survive even the lightest bit of scrutiny, nor should he - but at its peak, the humor of Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck is unrivaled. Duck Amuck is probably my favorite stand-alone cartoon of all time. It’s absolutely hilarious and it, and cartoons like it, were an essential part of shaping my sense of humor as a kid.

Space Ghost Coast to Coast. Like many people my age, I discovered Space Ghost late one Friday night/Saturday morning after coming home from seeing bands. You get home drunk at 2AM, you grab some sort of snack (my go-to was wheat thins and cheese), and you turn on the TV, and there, on a new show called Adult Swim, was Space Ghost. A repurposed character from a 1970’s cartoon, Space Ghost (real name Tad Ghostal) was imprisoned on a ship where he was forced to host a talk show, with bandleader Zorak (an angry mantis) and what can be called a sidekick, maybe, Brak, a...Brak.

The humor was surreal, the guests were excellent (particularly the ones who didn’t really get or weren’t in on the joke), and the show was only 15 minutes long. Perfect for late nights and short attention spans, but just as funny sober in broad daylight.

Bojack Horseman. I love this show so much. It’s hilariously funny, it’s incredibly dense (just freeze the frame sometime and take a look at every little detail of the world they inhabit, all of which is meticulously done and hilarious), and it’s also super dark and heavy a lot of the time. The episodes “Fish Out Of Water” and “Free Churro” are particular favorites, for different reasons - “Free Churro” is legitimately hard to watch for most of it, but it’s really, really well written and worth watching to the very end.

Big Mouth. I can’t even tell you how much I love this show. It’s Nick Kroll’s animated show about a group of 13 year olds navigating, mostly, being 13. It’s gross, it’s hilarious, it’s frank, and it’s got an amazing cast. If you have Netflix, definitely check it out.

This is just a partial list off the top of my head, but here’s a few more animated shows I love:

The Simpsons
Bob’s Burgers
Sealab 2021
Home Movies
Ren & Stimpy (season 1 - the rest is ehhhhh)
King of the Hill
The Critic

What about you? What are some of your favorite animated shows?