Archive for the Cartoons Category

The Muppets: Beaker’s Ballad

Posted in Cartoons, Entertainment, Music, Television with tags , , , on February 11, 2010 by thelasthonestman

Some time back, I posted up the Muppets taking on the Queen classic Bohemian Rhapsody — now, we have another gem from the Muppets Studio.  It’s Beaker with his rendition of Dust in the Wind by Kansas.

It’s great to see the Muppets still entertaining us after all these years and remaining relevant in the internet age.   So how about another full-length theatrical movie starring them?  Who’s with me?

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The Muppets: Bohemian Rhapsody

Posted in Cartoons, Entertainment, Music, Television with tags , on November 25, 2009 by thelasthonestman

Just came across this today — enjoy!

Wait — It Isn’t Friday Yet?

Posted in Cartoons, Movies, Sports, The Wrapups on May 14, 2009 by thelasthonestman

Normally, I do my wrap-ups heading into or coming out of a weekend.  But I’m switching it up this weekend since I have yet another rant coming up about the idiocy found in today’s financial world (which will actually be revealed before I explain my earlier mystery rant, which will be this upcoming week’s Ro-Sham-Bo entry — maybe) that won’t be ready until tomorrow or Saturday at the earliest.  So here’s a brief look at some of the things going on around us before Friday actually gets here.

star-trek-trailer-image-28— Lots of good stuff at the movies — and of course, I never seem to get out to see anything.  I still never saw Watchmen, and as much as I’d like to check them out, the prospect of me catching either X-Men Origins: Wolverine or Star Trek in the theater isn’t looking too good.

As an example of just how far behind I am on my movie-watching, I just finally got to see two movies I’d be waiting on:  The Incredible Hulk and The Strangers (which I had to wait until — shudder — they came on premium television to see).  They’re two completely different types of films, but I liked both of them immensely.  Maybe I’ll actually review either or both of them at some point, but if it never comes to that, I can recommend either as a pleasant diversion on a given night if either the superhero or horror genres are your cup of tea.

hattonko_ap_1395912c— It’s been nearly two weeks after the fact, but since I was on hiatus at the time, I never got a chance to mention the incredible beatdown that light welterweight champion Manny Pacquiao delivered to Ricky Hatton in their fight in Las Vegas.  Pacquiao cemented his status as one of the sport’s best pound-for-pound battlers with the decisive victory, and he set the stage for a mega-showdown with the comebacking Floyd Mayweather, Jr. (if Mayweather can defeat Juan Manuel Marquez in their bout July 18, a result that is in no way guaranteed).

Pacquiao is an immensely entertaining fighter to watch, and while I never drop the big bucks involved in a pay-per-view contest (I just catch the replays on HBO a week later), this fight might be enough for me to crack open the wallet.

garf— Looking for something to laugh at — and something that might make you feel better about your life in the process?  Then check out the web comic Garfield minus Garfield. It’s amazing how much different a cartoon strip can be when you just remove the main character from it — in this case, turning a strip about a cat and his owner into a look at a slightly psychotic Jon Arbuckle.  The brainchild of Dan Walsh, this comic has grown popular enough to warrant publication in its own book, and it’s even gotten the seal of approval from Garfield creator Jim Davis.

Hey, that’s all I’ve got for now — but I did say this would be brief, didn’t I?  For you to look forward to, there’s my financial industry rant that may or may not be upcoming in the next day or two — but I’ll definitely be back on Sunday with my oft-delayed What I Learned This Week, Fantasy Edition.  Until then, enjoy the upcoming weekend.

A Brave New (Old) Look At Batman

Posted in Cartoons, Comic Books, Television with tags , on March 17, 2009 by thelasthonestman

One of my favorite comic book adaptations ever is the classic from Bruce Timm, Batman: The Animated Series.  My praise for the series is only one of many voices;  of all of the incarnations of Batman over the years on television and the big screen, many die-hard comic book fans view this Batman as the definite version (yes, even more so than the highly acclaimed portrayal of the Dark Knight in the theatrical world that’s been created by Christopher Nolan).

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But I’m not talking about that series today (though at some point in the future, I’d like to do a longer, in-depth look at this animated version of Batman).  Rather, I’d like to look at the newest incarnation of Batman on the small screen — that found on the new show on Cartoon Network each Friday night, Batman: The Brave and the Bold.

This isn’t the first attempt at a Batman-themed cartoon since B:TAS ended.  Comic book fans remember the Kids WB show, The Batman — which ran from 2004 to 2008, and that now repeats on Cartoon Network’s sister network, Boomerang.  This particular show wasn’t all that well received by the die-hard comic book community, though it seemed to do well enough with its target audience found on Saturday mornings.  But while the average nine year-old may have liked the show well enough, this Batman was viewed by many comic fans as a pale imitation of their favorite animated series, a second-rate version of the far superior Batman of its predecessor.

For my tastes, The Batman is a decent enough show — I can watch it without issue (though it did take me a while to get used to the different animated style and some of the more radical changes made to the design of several of the main villains).  But it wasn’t anything I looked to seeing on a regular basis, nor was it anything I missed once the original episodes ended.  The problem with the show was that it was trying too much to be like the show it followed.  If you wanted to see a dark, grim version of the Dark Knight, you only needed to pop a DVD in your player to see it done better by Timm and company than it was in this show.

Maybe that’s why I’m finding myself genuinely liking Batman: The Brave and the Bold.  It’s not trying to be something we’ve already seen before on the tube.  And it’s that freshness that makes it now a must-see on my Friday night viewing schedule (and other times as well, as I do believe Cartoon Network also re-runs episodes during the day on weekdays).

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I’ve read the comments of some critics who’ve complained about the animation of the series, claiming that it’s too “cartoony” for their tastes.  I’ve also read the criticism from those who’ve said that the stories are too simplistic and juvenile, with the assertion that the show is aimed at the young viewer only.  Not to belabor the obvious, but it’s clear that the show is intended to be accessible for the younger viewer (not that anyone should complain, since the comic industry needs all of the younger blood it can get if it intends to still be around in thirty years, once the adults audiences of today have aged and passed on).   What the critics of the show are missing is that a show doesn’t have to feature heavy-handed adult themes in order to still be entertaining.

What this show does do is portray in animated form a classic, Silver Age version of the Caped Crusader — one from a period in which the “dark” part of the character wasn’t all that emphasized.   Everything about this Batman seems to have been pulled from that era — whether it’s the physical depiction, the character portrayal (for a change, Batman isn’t a antisocial loner), or the sometimes outrageous plot lines, the show is mining the Silver Age Batman for all it’s worth.

In no way can this approach be seen better than, not only in the Batman on display each episode, but in the show’s portrayal of two supporting characters.  Green Arrow is the old-school, pre-Neal Adams version — clean-shaven (though still exhibiting more of the disposition of the modern character rather than the boring, undistinguished version of the 1960’s) and with his sidekick Speedy, present and accounted for.  The other character that screams “Silver Age” is Batman’s main villain, The Joker.  Recently seen for the first time in the episode, “Game Over for Owlman!” The Joker is animated in a style that looks pulled directly from a 1940’s or 1950’s issue.

The Joker from Batman #44, January 1948

The Joker from Batman #44, January 1948

The Joker and Batman from the episode, "

The Joker and Batman from the episode, "Game Over for Owlman"

The show takes its cues from other areas as well — I got a huge chuckle out of the Batmobile entering the Batcave in a way taken directly from the Adam West Batman show of the 1960’s.  The episodes featuring parallel worlds is a nod to the Multiverse of the DC Universe, and several of the alternate Batmen of the Owlman episode were modeled on different Elseworlds versions of the Caped Crusader.  But there are modern touches as well, like the portratal of the new Blue Beetle in several episodes and a portrayal of a young group of Outsiders (Black Lightning, Metamorpo, and others) that’s different from any I’ve ever seen before.

The good news for fans of the show  like myself is that it’s been renewed for an additional 26 episodes, which will bring the show’s total to 52 shows in total (at least).  It’s worth checking out if you’re a Batman fan, or if you’re looking for something superhero-related for the kids that’s a little tamer than Heath Ledger’s Joker (not that there was anything wrong with that).  It may not be the fondly-remebered classic Animated Series, but there’s nothing wrong with that either — and who knows?  Maybe we’ll be looking back as fondly at it in a few years as we do Bruce Timm’s Batman.  So far, the show’s off to a strong start.

Random Gibberish For Friday

Posted in Cartoons, Movies, News/Current Events, Sports, Television, The Wrapups on February 20, 2009 by thelasthonestman

There’s a lot on my mind as we head into the weekend, so  I figured I’d touch at brief length on a bunch of subjects rather than try to narrow them down to just one — it’s quantity over quality, baby!

That said, off the top of my head today we have:

Senator Roland Burris needs to resign — now.  I won’t say more about this today, but I’ll let this cat out of the bag now for people who’ve been reading here regularly.  Barring something happening in the next two or three days, I’ll have plenty to add about him on Monday — if you know what I mean.

— I had looked more favorably towards Alex Rodriguez earlier, giving him credit for coming clean regarding his steroid usage.  Now, I’m feeling more and more that getting the complete truth from him is going to be a futile endeavor.  So all your years with the Yankees were “clean”, Alex?  Isn’t that what you claimed?

— The Oscars are this weekend.  I usually don’t watch the telecast, but I will be checking in this year to see the results of two specific categories.  If Heath Ledger doesn’t win for his role in The Dark Knight, there needs to be an investigation.  And the same probably goes for Mickey Rourke’s turn in The Wrestler.

— Speaking of movies, I never did see the new Friday the 13th movie last week.  Read the reviews, and I probably won’t be going, but instead I’ll just wait for it to hit DVD/television.  It’s not that I expected the flick to get good reviews, but I’ve read reviews from horror fans who didn’t really like it, so that swung my decision. If people who have a predisposition to like the movie don’t really care for it that much, then that’s definitely not a good sign. Next up on the “I’m waiting anxiously to see it” train — Watchmen.

— Speaking of Watchmen, Malin Akerman is in it, and she’s pretty hot, if you hadn’t noticed.

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— Last week, I wrote about two shows I’ve been trying to keep up with.  After another episode of each, I’ll update with the following:  Last week’s episode of Flight of The Conchords was awesome, and the song “Carol Brown” — featuring Jemaine’s chorus of ex-girlfriends– is an immediate classic.  It’s the best episode of the new season so far.

Meanwhile, the 2nd episode of Important Things With Demitri Martin was a little disappointing, as it wasn’t as funny or as well-focused as the premiere, though there were still some good bits.  It’s only been two weeks, though, so the jury is still out on this one, and I’ll still keep checking it out for a while.

— Speaking of the jury still being out … well, it’s not out for me on the new layout of ESPN’s website.  I hate it.  I can’t find half the stuff I’m looking for anymore, and as a friend of mine pointed out, half of the content is in video form now, it seems.  Isn’t watching video on sports why I own a television and get ESPN, the network?  It’s also not helping matters that there seems to be less written content now from Bill Simmons (The Sports Guy), one of my favorites, in favor of pod casts from him.

— Two of my favorite, must-see websites to check out every day:  The Comic Curmudgeon and Medium Large.  If you’ve ever read the comics strip in the newspaper, you need to check out the former — and if you like funny, well-written comic strips period, then check out the latter.

Hope everyone enjoys their weekend.  I’ll be back on Monday at the latest.

The City of Townsville, 10 years later

Posted in Cartoons, Television, The Wayback Machine on January 21, 2009 by thelasthonestman

Nothing to make a guy feel old than seeing the arrival of the 10th Anniversary of something that feels like … well … like it’s not ten years old.

But much to my surprise did I realize that it’s now been a little more than ten years since the cartoon, The Powerpuff Girls, made its series debut on Cartoon Network.  It’s actually been a little bit more than ten, since the series premiere was in 1998 (November 18, to be exact) — and you could say it’s even longer than that, since the concept itself premiered as a pilot even earlier, in March of 1995.  It took running across a “10th Anniversary Marathon” of episodes on television Monday (and a brand-new episode, created to honor the anniversary) to realize just how long it’d been since this cartoon had first hit the airwaves.

Created by Craig McCracken, the Powerpuff Girls quickly became one of the fledgling Cartoon Network’s biggest hits, its debut episode scoring the highest rating of any premiere in the network’s history at the time.  Throughout its run, the show would be a ratings winner for the network, appealing to a large demographic that included a surprising number of adults watching with their kids — or in some cases, adults watching alone.

In its inception, Cartoon Network had been the home for all of your cartoon reruns in one place — old episodes of The Flintstones, Tom & Jerry, Scooby-Doo, and Warner Brothers classics featuring Bugs Bunny and others filled the programming landscape.  But the Powerpuff Girls was part of a new approach for the network — the creation of  original shows as a programming base.  While the Powerpuff Girls wasn’t the first of these shows, it arguably became the most popular, and along with other now-cult favorites like Dexter’s Laboratory and Cow & Chicken just to name a few, Cartoon Network became a channel to enjoy something other than a trip down Nostalgia Lane.

I worked as a store manager at KB Toys at the time, and I remember being surprised by the sheer number of people who came in looking for Powerpuff Girls merchandise (which we never could seem to keep enough of in stock).  My schedule usually allowed me to have Friday nights off, and the little kid in me found itself drawn to watching the Friday night block of cartoons religiously, and I’m not embarrassed to admit that the Powerpuff Girls were a favorite.  The show may have been a cartoon, but it wasn’t just aimed at kids.  While the plots were simple, they were mostly action-packed, and the animation was solid.  And there were some episodes, like the classic “Meet the Beat-Alls”, which seemed to be squarely aimed at its adult fanbase (anyone who loves the Beatles should see this episode, as it’s chock-filled with references to the Fab Four too numerous to go into here — anyone who has seen it, can check out this list of those references here.

beat-alls

The entire series is now available in a collected format on DVD, and it’s well worth the $42.99 it’ll run you at Amazon.