Rev/Views Top Shows: Animated

Category: , , , By Rev/Views

Today's (slightly delayed) post means we're over halfway in the 'Top Shows series, there's just British shows and documentaries left to write about. But today Rev/Views is going to focus on the animated spectrum of television - and without any further ado, here's the list.

8. King of the Hill

I must confess I've only seen the first five seasons of King of the Hill and as such my preference for the show is based on only part of the run. I'd love to watch more of it as I find the style of the show relaxing and enjoyable. Hank Hill is a very honest and down to earth character who just comes across as a nice guy living an ordinary life.

One of the things I really appreciate about the show is the rather low key style and humour employed in it; many animated comedy shows fall towards the wacky and bizarre in order to progress the plot and provide the laughs. KotH doesn't rely on that as a staple and it makes for a refreshing change at times.

7. The Simpsons

Everyone who's ever watched the television should have seen at least one episode of The Simpsons by now, it's a great animated show. But has lost it's lustre in recent years and should be put out to pasture.

The earlier seasons are still amazing, and I love the Treehouse of Horror episodes, but beyond that I don't really have too much more to say about The Simpsons as it's really something everyone is familiar with by now.

6. Family Guy

Just like The Simpsons, Family Guy is one of those shows most people will have been exposed to by now, of course it's a lot more controversial at times (at least it's more controversial because some people allow themselves to be outraged by it - something which just draws more attention to the show). It's something which varies a little in quality, at times it's just amazingly well done, clever and funny. At other times it can fall flat - in recent years it's been more of the latter.

But this said the recent DVD "movie" release Blue Harvest was one of the most well done pieces of television I'd seen in a long while. It was so much fun and clever

As such, when Family Guy is good it's very good. It's just when it's bad, it's horrid.

5. Justice League/Justice League Unlimited

Based on the DC mega team, this now ended cartoon series runs for a total of five seasons, two under the first title and three as "Unlimited". The initial run follows Superman, The Flash, Batman, Wonder Woman, Hawkgirl, J'onn J'onzz and The Green Lantern who unite as the 'Justice League' in order to protect Earth from the myriad of super villains who seem to exist for the sole purpose of giving the heroes someone to fight against.

The second run, under the title Justice League Unlimited expands the universe considerably by introducing a huge selection of heroes who are brought on board to join the Justice League. The show becomes something more of an ensemble show then, with the core seven characters not taking part in every episode and the show often focusing on lesser known heroes - often resulting in fantastic stories and episodes.

The show is stylistic, exciting and everything a good superhero cartoon should be. It's strong plotting, ongoing story lines, clever writing and dark overtones make it something much, much more than just a kids cartoon with superheroes in it.

Side note: Mark Hamil's portrayal of the Joker is just fantastic, it was almost definitive until Heath Ledger came along and turned everything on it's head.

4. The Venture Brothers

A pastiche on Johnny Quest/Adventure style cartoons, super spies and super heroes. Venture Bros is a semi-irregular cartoon which turns up every couple of years. It's about the titular Venture Brothers - Hank and Dean. Two lads who live a Johnny Quest like life with their scientific father Doctor Venture and his bodyguard/Swedish murder machine Brock Sampson.

Playing like an action/comedy/super science/spy/drama the show runs at an almost break neck speed each episode. The gags come thick and fast, almost as fast as Brock's punches are thrown at the various nameless henchmen who are unfortunate enough to be set against him. And the show is something which is highly enjoyable for anyone who can remember the old Johnny Quest cartoon or who enjoys super spies/heroes fighting against outlandish villains.

3. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2K3

As a young child my favourite animated show was by and far Teenage Mutant "Hero" Turtles (in the UK Ninja was swapped out for Hero for some reason which has always escaped me) - a series which endeared itself to me and was a regular part of my television watching.

In the grip of nostalgia a couple of years back I decided to give the original shows some re watching, and the experience was most definitely NOT pleasant. Unlike revisiting other childhood favourites of mine - shows like Eerie Indiana, Round the Twist, ReBoot and Knightmare - watching the Turtles was an exercise in sheer agony. The show was dumb, weakly plotted, predictable and the performance for Shredder was just horrifying. He's portrayed as a whiny, whining gigantic baby who's petulantly stamping his feet every time he doesn't get his way. The turtles themselves were exceptionally weak to watch as well, in fact just about the only character I could tolerate was Kang.

So rather dejected I stopped watching the show and assumed it was time to consign another childhood memory to the bin. Then I discovered the 2003 remake of the show, and after reading a little about it I thought I'd give it a try. This remains one of the best decisions I've made in a long time, the show is just fantastic. It's clever, energetic and has great voice acting. But it's also relatively sophisticated for a children's show, providing ongoing story lines set over several episodes and even heading into some very dark places at times.

There are some relatively adult themes featured at times in the show, decapitations and dismemberment do happen (within reason) and one character spends his time gradually having bits cut away from him. It's also filled with exciting action, reoccurring previous characters and gives the awesome Casey Jones a major role in the show.

It's fast become a firm favourite of mine and while one of the later seasons was a little ropey the most recent one brought the show back to great form. Fun for the kids and the big kids as well.

2. Harvey Birdman: Attorney at Law

I found this cartoon classic off the back of Space Ghost: Coast to Coast which I saw during my years in university. One of my friends was hugely into the show and I'd watch it occasionally when hanging out with him. One episode in particular stuck in my mind, it's an episode where Harvey Birdman hosts the show instead of Space Ghost.

Fast forward a few years and thanks to Comedy Central making The Colbert Report episodes available online to everyone regardless of their country (which they no longer do - jerks), and I'm watching Stephen Colbert. In particular his Tek Jansen series which features fantastic voice over work from him (and almost got onto this list, except it's not really a TV show). I have a little look around to see if he's done anything else (Venture Bros.) and I find Harvey Birdman: Attorney at Law. A little reading around the show makes me interested in trying it out.

Which I'm glad I did, because the show is just fantastic. Each ten minute episode is so packed with action, gags and plotting that you can be forgiven for thinking it's a longer show than it is. The basic premise is simple, Harvey has retired from the superhero gig and now works as a defense lawyer for various classic cartoon characters (Yogi Bear, Fred Flintstone, Johnny Quest etc). The problem is, he's not a very good one.

It's something I can just stick on when I have a spare ten minutes and it's always great fun to watch and hilarious to boot.

Why You Should Watch... Harvey Birdman: Attorney at Law

1. Futurama

No secrets, no surprises here. I've touted about Futurama on many occasions before now, it's quite literally the show I've watched the most. I've lost count of the number of times I've seen each episode, and the total number of hours spent with it on (either being watched or as moving wallpaper) in the Rev/Views household must number into three digits at least.

I can't really explain why the show clicks so perfectly with me, as I admitted at the start of this week I'm not a science fiction fan as such (in truth I'd classify myself as a lover of stories if pushed), but Futurama remains one of my favourite shows and it's most solidly science fiction.

Maybe it's the jokes, or the characterisations, the voice acting or the stories. I don't know. Maybe it's the whole thing together, the combination of all these wonderful things the show gives the viewer result in something which is at times close to television perfection.

All I do know is I can't wait for the next season to start airing as I'm gagging for new Futurama episodes, I know my DVDs are getting a little worn out.


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