Banshee TV: My Cartoon Picks for Fall
As usual, America's children's programming is all over the map this fall. A lot of good shows won't be returning until later in the year (Static Shock, frex), and a lot of neat-sounding new shows won't be along till later, either. But there's some good stuff out there for kids to watch.
Kids' WB: Still the best cartoon lineup on broadcast TV. Too bad that's largely by default. Ozzy and Drix, Jackie Chan Adventures, and X-Men: Evolution will all be back. Ozzy and Drix is a decent kids' cop show, with some health info on top. Ignore the fact that it's a tie-in to a bad movie; the writers and actors on this version are much better than their big-screen counterparts. (Something very common in the world of animation.) If you haven't been watching Jackie Chan Adventures, you might want to jump in. Sony/Columbia's usual band of skilled writers and artists tell stories in which chi magic collides with modern life, while going through every possible permutation of using martial arts in a story without actually showing people getting hit much. (Gotta love the censors.) Each season usually includes one major story arc about thirteen eps long, as well as thirteen or so stand-alone eps. X-Men: Evolution is the X-Men with most of the merry mutants as teenagers going to public school and only living with Professor Xavier. I hate the premise and the "trendy" outfits, but I love the writers on this thing. With great angst comes great responsibility. As for the other shows...I haven't cared about Pokemon since the end of first season, Mucha Lucha gives me hives with both its premise and art style, Yu-Gi-Oh may be well-loved but I hate its art and its card game, and What's New, Scooby Doo? or whatever it's called is just wrong, somehow. (Maybe it's their Velma's voice. Ew. Way too high.) Maybe I just missed all the good episodes, though; there are some good writers working on the show.
Fox Box: This century's Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles series will return, which is good news for anyone who likes good animation, action, humor and writing all in one package. (Hey, they watch Korean soap operas too!) Adults, particularly comics fans, will get a lot of the references that kids won't. I should be interested in Shaman King, but it's another tournament show and it's drawn Yugiesquely. Yuck. I feel very bad vibes coming from Funky Cops. Cops by day, disco stars by night? Um...there's a remote possibility this could work, I suppose... Kinnukuman: Ultimate Muscle is returning. Ugggggly. Kirby is returning. Shrug. The unlikeable Cramp Twins are returning. Gag. Cubix has immigrated from the WB. Shrug. And there's going to be a new Sonic the Hedgehog series, Sonic X. Historically, Sonic series have been good. (I must admit a very soft spot for Sonic Underground, which actually made good use of its ludicrous lost heirs/fugitive rebels/rock band premise. Good writers can do anything....) So maybe Fox Box will be a little better this season.
ABC: I won't really be commenting on ABC. Most of their cartoons are set on Earth, in the real world. As a kid, I wished to forget about school and other kids as much as possible during my off hours. As an adult, I don't really feel any need to revisit the horrors of childhood. However, ABC's Fillmore is somewhat righteous, since Disney paid big bucks to use a riff by the filk rock group Ookla the Mok as the show's theme song. (Thank you, Mr. Potato Head....) Oh, and I do like the concept of a kid cop show.
PBS: Same thing. But Sagwa's been pretty righteous, and Liberty's Kids was better than I could have dreamed.
Nickelodeon: It's all been downhill since 1985. But any network that would cancel Invader Zim deserves to rot in obscurity. Dang right I'm bitter.
DiC Kids' Network: a three-hour syndicated block similar to what DiC did for Fox this year, designed to help stations reach their three hours of "educational programming". It's all reruns from DiC's vaults. Sherlock Holmes in the 22nd Century will supposedly be part of it, along with Archie's Weird Mysteries, The Littles, Stargate: Infinity, Savage Steve Holland's Sabrina: The Animated Series, and a player to be named later. (Probably Where in the World Is Carmen Sandiego? or Alienators. ) I'm highly skeptical about the educational value of the nuggets of fact these shows contain, but they're decent little shows for the most part. (Despite their premises.) Sherlock Holmes in the 22nd Century is particularly recommended for its quirky style, but Archie's Weird Mysteries benefits from the amazing visual sequences of Jymn Magon, and Savage Steve Holland is always slipping in hilarious stuff. (Sabrina's grandfather Gandalf, for example.) Worth waking up early for.
Cartoon Network: Still the best network for cartoons of any stripe (though sometimes that's by default, also....). Justice League will be back in an hour-long format, and Teen Titans has already proved itself to be cute with brains and heart. (Although some of the anime jokes are getting a little much. Getting a Japanese group to sing the format was cute; Japanese-accented villains are maybe a bit much. Still, it's a good show and well-drawn.) Duck Dodgers looks like it could be good. I'm not really into Totally Spies, but at least it's an action show for girls. I suppose even popular girls deserve a few spy adventures. I'm not much on FLCL or Blue Gender, but the new season of Big O is of course a must-see.
Pazsaz has the lowdown on all the premieres coming up in the next few weeks. (Ignore the header that says it's the 2000-2001 season.) Enjoy!