The 5 Best Animated Television Shows And Their Subsequent Films
Scott Towler has returned to us after two weeks in the Andes spent fighting a scourge of Colombian narco-terrorists. He arrives with nothing on his mind but animated content. That and freedom.
5. Cowboy Bebop
To be honest, I'm not sure if this is even the best anime show, but it has been tremendously successful and it did spawn a movie. Besides, if I didn't include a token anime pick, the nerds would find me, toss me into a burlap sack, and beat me with stalks of bamboo. Sure, some might contend that Ghost in the Shell beats it out. Others still might say Pokemon. Those people are what I like to call sphincters. Sphincters who will die a slow and gruesome death.
If you've ever smoked the hippy grass, you need to watch an episode of Cowboy Bebop. Yeah, the concept of intergalactic bounty hunters with a robot dog does seem absurd, but that's what you're high for. Besides, that's not the essence of the show. Think of it as a a modernist action movie. A Japanese G.I. Joe, with more explosions, T & A, and drug use, with dialogue simultaneously frivolous and gritty, realistic and campy. But the reason to watch this show is the art. Forget the characters, just look at the places they dwell: the backdrops and moving images that set the backdrop. Make a bowl of popcorn, let the action unfold. This is a blunted at 2 AM show.
4. The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show
Rocky and Bullwinkle was distinctly ahead of its time in that it successfully roped in both kids and adults and practically invented the animated comedy non-sequitur. Chances are, if you're reading this blog, you haven't seen it. But you're probably familiar with the ensemble: Rocky, Bullwinkle, Sherman, Peabody, Boris, Natasha, and Dudley Do-Right. Aside from the regular 3-act episodes and plot lines that the show regularly boasted, it also offered snippets just as entertaining as the main event. Aside from the aforementioned Sherman and Peabody, they also had fractured fairy tales, and several others. It was a variety show in animated format, done better than nearly all the programming of the era.
Sadly, I can't say the same thing about the film. Usually it's a good sign when a show gets greenlit and turned into a movie. Except when it's live action and starring Renee Russo and Robert DeNiro. doing comedy (Meet the Parents excluded. Inspired thinking guys. Make a live action movie from an animated show, skip over the gen-y kids, and release it before any of the next generation of kids have any idea what's going on. Did anyone see this abysmal flick? Well, if you did, write the studio and get your 11 bucks back.
3. The Flintstones/The Jetsons
Lo and behold, Hollywood decided to do it again with this show (and soon to be AGAIN), putting everyone's favorite nuclear families, The Flintstones and The Jetsons onto the big screen. Of course, we'd be fools not to notice the nearly identical composition of both families: A bumbling father, a reserved wife, a daughter, a son, and a pet/robot. It's not hard to see where The Simpsons took its format from. (And sadly, the rip off artists like Family Guy/American Dad, i.e. the same show). Not to completely knock Family Guy. The first 4 seasons were superb. But I My point's just that when The Simpsons sought a model to work from, they looked to America's first two animated family sitcoms.
These shows had to make the list because they were the first and a whole lot better than a lot of the shitty shows today (Lil Bush, I'm looking at you). With the same animation team handling both, we were able get such inspired work as the classic animated feature The Jetsons meet The Flintstones. Revisiting the movie today might be a mistake. But, not nearly as much as yes, you guessed it, the live action version of The Flintstones. Rosie O'Donnell? Elizabeth Taylor? Crack Coacaine? And to top it off, I hear rumors of a live action Jetsons movie. (With Lindsey Lohan playing Judy Jetson. I keed. I keed. Maybe.)
2. South Park
South Park is one the strongest animated shows ever. In fact, over the past 7 years, South Park has been the best animated show on television. In South Park, Barbara Striesand is a monster, Trapper Keepers pay homage to Terminator II, and a talking towel takes even bong hits bigger than I ever have*. And that's not even from the movie.
Ah yes, the movie. Even though The Simpsons movie was great and a tremendous return to form, but nothing touches the South Park Movie. Nothing. Well, except maybe Beauty and the Beast, but c'mon where's the humor? So a clock dances around while a little tea pot has a child named Chip. Big fucking deal. Where's your bong hits, Beauty in the Beast?
1. The Simpsons
The longest running sitcom of all time. 400 episodes. Branding and franchising like crazy. 18 seasons. Catch phrases, weird voices, archetypal characters, and the largest ensemble cast of any show ever. The Simpsons is #1 hands down. Of course, we can all agree that sometime around season 11 the show took a major nose dive. But still, this is the fucking Simpsons. The show that single-handedly put Fox on the map. By the end of its first season, it was competing against The Cosby Show.
It also boasts one very important fact: this was the first animated show in over 25 years to have a primetime spot. One that paid homage in subtle ways: Adding The Itchy and Scratchy cartoons to reflect the old Warner Bros. cartoons, and lending the middle initial J. to every member of the Simpson family. Why? Think Bullwinkle J. Moose and Rocket J. Squirrel.
Head over to Simpsonize Me and see what you'd look like as a Simpsons character.
* I was blatantly lying. Like any towel could take a bigger bong hit than me.