By Nicole Izmaylov
Hands up. Who remembered the quote—and where it came from?
You have four choices:
b) New Moon
c) The Last Airbender
d) Wakko’s Wish
If you guessed “d,” you’re correct!
Okay. Hands up again. Now who remembers what Wakko’s Wish is?
Welcome to A Quick Timeline of Kiddy Cartoons, from the “golden age” to today.
Sadly, the “golden age” of kids’ cartoons has left us. I can’t say I was there during most of the golden age. After all, I was born in 1997. However, I do remember what I did see.
Every Saturday morning, I would wake up at six o’clock, running as fast as I could to the television, moving into a comfortable position, grabbing my bowl of Cheerios, pressing the remote, and gluing myself to a world of animated violence, talking animals, and nonsensical flibber-flabber.
Today’s cartoons lack something. Something . . . crazy. The “cartoon show of yore” focused on every episode a shining jewel, and the non-sequiturs and plot holes somehow made it funnier. Take a staple: Tom and Jerry. Who cared if the episodes have little or nothing to do with each other? I distinctly remember the unbelievably cute cry of the little gray mouse from the parody of the Three Musketeers as he squealed, “Monsieur Pussycat!” The violence of the cartoons, such as in the end of that particular episode, in which Tom, the cat, is executed off-screen, was subdued by the cartoons’ hilarity. Most cartoons also managed to attract both younger children and adult audiences, using double entendre or (often thinly) veiled jokes.
There were shows like Dexter’s Laboratory, Ed Edd n Eddy, and Rocko’s Modern Life. My mother often wistfully says that she wishes they still ran those cartoons. Occasionally, one does see reruns, but somehow they’re been all but forgotten. Shows like Cow and Chicken, Johnny Bravo, and CatDog though premiering at different times, entranced many in their promises of sidesplitting, fantastical gobbledygook, each moment funnier than the last. Though they premiered long ago, I still remember them fondly.
Moving right along. Remember the “friendly kid shows?” I’m not talking about Dora the Explora. I’m talking about the “friendly” ones. Shows like Arthur (thankfully still on!) and Rolie Polie Olie excited the imagination and gave valuable lessons. There were also music shows like The Wiggles. Who here remembers PB&J Otter and Franklin? Sadly, few do. The memories have all been blown away by the evil corporate demons trying to make money.
The next three things to hit big were the “animated action-comedy show,” the “old show that had survived,” and the “CGI show.” Shows like The Grim Adventures of Billy and Mandy, originally little shorts, survived. The animated action-comedy show, such as Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends and Camp Lazlo as well as ChalkZone and Catscratch took over cartoony broadcasting, at least for the time being. These slowly morphed into more “surreal” cartoons like Chowder and The Marvelous Misadventures of Flapjack. The CGI show, unfortunately still around, was perhaps a harbinger of the future. Then there was Codename: Kids Next Door, which, interestingly, is the kids’ cartoon show with the most episodes produced on Cartoon Network, at eighty-one.
This next category covers a great span of time. There were the “actual action” action shows. This included anime from Japan (which is defined as “a Japanese style of animated cartoon, often with violent or explicit content”) such as YuYu Hakusho and Pokémon, traditionally American animated plot-based stories like Samurai Jack and later Teen Titans and Ben 10, “dramatic” series like Animorphs and Are You Afraid of the Dark?, slightly more serious “animated emphasis-on-action-comedy show,” such as Danny Phantom. Also in this “barrel” is the highly acclaimed Avatar: The Last Airbender (also known as Avatar: The Legend of Aang), which according to several surveys has generally come to be called, amongst some demographics, “the last good show on Nick.” The celebrated programming block Toonami fits right in here.
And then there are the shows of today.
While a few good ones are still around—for example, Cartoon Network is showing reruns—most of the new shows on previously kiddy networks are either completely surreal nonsense or just plain live-action. Where are my beautiful cartoons?!
What do you guys think? What were your favorite “oldie” cartoons and why, and do you like any of the new cartoons?
Now, I’m off to watch episodes of Avatar: The Last Airbender on DVD. Anyone coming with me?
~Nicole S. Izmaylov
I would like to thank Nicole for stepping in and writing the blog for me this time. She is an award winning author and both Nicole and her sister are people to be watching for in the very near future for even greater things.