My son loves cartoons. His current favorites include Jake & The Never Land Pirates, The Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, and Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood. He tends to watch them while playing with his trains or monster trucks and loves to sing along with the songs. While these shows are a bit simplistic (hey, he’s three! And, really Jake and Daniel Tiger are really well done), they definitely provide a welcome distraction when I need a break from him for a little bit.
I love cartoons; well, I like certain kinds of cartoons. Animation is often the best medium for science-fiction and comic book shows, so when Saturday morning rolls around, my son and I settle in for a block of animation goodness: Star Wars: The Clone Wars, Green Lantern: The Animated Series, Young Justice, and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
The Clone Wars is a show I can take or leave. I’ve only gotten back into it after a couple of years hiatus, so I’m not fully understanding everything that is going on. However, the show is much better than ANY of the prequel movies, and it actually focuses on good writing and plot. I recommend it for any Star Wars fan.
Green Lantern is nothing like the movie, and thank goodness for that. It’s just starting a second season, but things are already shaping up to be pretty great. Last season dealt with the Green Lanterns fighting an invasion by the Red Lantern Corps. The Red Lanterns were upset over sins that the Guardians of the Universe had committed many years ago. The season was full of action, political intrigue, and it introduced a ton of plot points and characters from the comics (even my personal favorite, Mogo!). If you’re a Green Lantern fan at all, check it out. And if you have a budding comic book fan in your life, let them watch. My son really loves it.
Young Justice is my favorite part of our Saturday morning cartoon block. The show deals with a group of sidekicks that form their own team to work in the shadows… kind of like the Justice League’s black ops team. Since that premise, the show has evolved from being solely about the sidekicks and more about the entire DC pantheon of characters. The cast of characters is vast, but most of the heroes are thematically consistent with their DC Comics counterparts. Young Justice is episodic storytelling at its best. Given enough time, it might even be better that Justice League Unlimited. In my opinion, anyway.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles started just last week, and I had my doubts leading up to the debut episode. TMNT was one of my favorite TV shows when I was a kid, but its ’90s cheesiness hasn’t aged all that well. Newer shows have gone waaaay too far into the seriousness route (the comic was pretty gritty and dark) and kind of lost the joy of the goofy premise.
The pilot episode of this new TMNT walks the line perfectly. It’s goofy but not off-putting. You can tell that the storylines are going to get into some dark territory, but the characters are instantly recognizable. Leonardo leads. Donatello does science. Raphael wants to crack some skulls. Michelangelo is a lovable idiot. This show’s version of Splinter is my favorite yet, and Shredder was only in the pilot episode for about 30 seconds (however, since he’s voiced by Kevin Michael Richardson, he’ll probably be awesome.) Even Krang showed up, albeit in a new twist; the Krang are an alien race invading the Earth in creepy, dead-eyed robot bodies. All-in-all, I’m looking forward to watching it weekly with my son.
Cartoons are awesome. If you’re looking for a good story on TV, don’t overlook animation. You’d be missing something really special.