Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Yay! Cartoons! #4 and #5 on my Top 7

5. Invader Zim Jhonen Vasquez gets some extra points for creating a subversive kid's show, something adults can watch but is technically aimed at kids on the cartoon network Nickelodeon. Zim is the alien holding the globe, dreaming of conquest. His robot "helper" GIR is holding a toy pig, dreaming of a toy pig. GIR's needs are simple.

Zim is from an alien race that plans to conquer the entire universe. He is not a talented invader. His overlords decide to send him to Earth because it is so far out of the way, they don't much care whether he succeeds or not. They give him the defective robot GIR. Zim is steadfast and zealous, and somewhat clueless that his overlords dislike him so much, even when they banish him after he unwittingly destroys his own army in an earlier attempt at conquest of a different planet. GIR is just clueless, and is the engine for much of the comedy in the series. He joins a long line of incompetent but lovable minions of evil, like the dog Max in The Grinch Who Stole Christmas. Early shows have Frank Conniff in the credits, who was the incompetent but lovable minion TV's Frank on Mystery Science Theater 3000.

Zim is small in stature, so he "hides out" as a kid at Skool, where he runs afoul of a nerdy kid Dib. Dib is the only person at Skool who realizes the new green kid with the "skin condition" is actually an alien bent on taking over the earth. Dib's sister Gaz also realizes that Zim is an alien, but thinks he's too stupid to take over the world and does almost nothing to help Dib. Their father is a world famous scientist, but neglectful. Mom is never shown.

Nickelodeon knew what they were getting with this show, but they didn't know what to do with it. Invader Zim was canceled before the second season finished. If you want to check it out, it's available on DVD.

People looking for the answer to the "What band's famous pig" question.


Sheesh, young people today!

4. The Boondocks. Aaron MacGruder's comic strip was brought to the small screen on Adult Swim, the late night version of Cartoon Network. Originally, it was going to be on Fox, but too many run-ins with the censors caused Fox to pass even after paying for nearly a full season of episodes. Personally, I find it less offensive and more funny than Family Guy, but if I were guessing, I think the thing that made a difference to the censors is the regular use of the word nigga.

The best new characters in the show that were not regulars in the strip are the Wuncler clan. Ed Wuncler is voiced by Ed Asner, and represents the white power structure in town. His grandson Ed Wuncler III is an Iraq war vet who didn't do very well in the war, but still dresses in combat camouflage and is voiced by Eddie Murphy's brother Charlie, who was a regular on Chappelle's Show. His best friend Rummy, who is also a white Iraq war vet, is voiced by Samuel L. Jackson. Some of Rummy's dialog is taken from the quotes of Donald Rumsfeld, and some are quotes from Jackson's character in Pulp Fiction. The world treats Ed III (who wears a big gold W on a necklace) and Rummy like heroes, though it is obvious to the audience that they are criminal thugs. Wonder why?

Other good episodes include the story of Martin Luther King Jr. not being killed in Memphis but merely in a coma, which he revives from after Sept. 11, the story of the rapper Gangstalicious and a parody of home improvement reality shows. Adult Swim has announced there will be a second season, but given how much higher the production values are on Boondocks compared to other Adult Swim shows, it is unclear how many episodes there will be in the second season. So far, three are scheduled to air this October.

Matty Boy says check these out shows out on DVD.

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