I’m going to limit this list to children’s cartoons. While I enjoy many of the adult oriented show such as “The Simpsons”, “Family Guy” (mostly), and even darker ones like “The Venture Brothers”, I consider those more guilty pleasures than stuff I would recommend without reservation. I don’t know that I would consider myself an expert on cartoons, but I know what I like and so that’s what this list is…your mileage may vary.
I’m not going to fart around, so let’s just get this list out there and then you can read on if you want:
- Classic Warner Brothers Looney Tunes
- Phinneas and Ferb
- Classic Tom and Jerry
- Dexter’s Laboratory
NOW in reverse order with commentary:
5. Dexter’s Laboratory – The main appeal of this cartoon for me is that it represents a return to the wackiness and absurdity of cartoons that was completely lost during the 80’s and early 90’s. You need to suspend reality to appreciate this one.What was really cool about Dexter was that he was a mad scientist kid…so he should have been the bad guy maybe but he was just too good-hearted when it came down to it. Dexter has an endearing trait that seems to make little sense at first – he has an accent…European maybe, or perhaps Slavic…who knows – but he’s the only one in the family with an accent! Even so, it doesn’t seem to bother anyone else. The explanation is really quite simple though:
Genndy Tartakovsky explained, “He considers himself a very serious scientist, and all well-known scientists have accents.”
Like most absurdities it’s easier if you watch it than if I explain it all.
4. Animaniacs – as with Dexter’s Lab, this was truly a return to the classic days of cartoons. In fact the story behind the Animaniacs main characters (The Warner Brothers Yakko and Wacko and their cute sister Dot) is that they were from the original days of Warner Brothers and have been let loose after years of being locked up in the water tower on the WB lot. The entire cast of characters of this series were lovable and hilarious. The main appeal of this cartoon was the catchphrases (“Hellooo Nurse!”, “Faboo”, “Are you pondering what I’m pondering?”) and the parodies of other cartoons, TV shows, and celebrities.
Animaniacs Director Russell Calabrese said that not only did it become a compliment to be parodied on Animaniacs but also that being parodied on the series would be taken as a “badge of honor”.
3. Tom and Jerry – the series of Tom and Jerry’s that I refer to here are the ones by MGM from 1940 to 1957. It was during this run that the series won Academy Awards. My main affection for this series were the episodes that included classical music as the themes. There was also something special about the relationship between Tom and Jerry – no matter what they had against each other, when all was said and done they had each other’s back.
The plots of each short usually center on Tom’s numerous attempts to capture Jerry and the mayhem and destruction that follows. Tom rarely succeeds in catching Jerry, mainly because of Jerry’s cleverness, cunning abilities, and luck. However, there are also several instances within the cartoons where they display genuine friendship and concern for each other’s well-being.
2. Phineas and Ferb – Perhaps the most intelligent cartoon on this list, “Phineas and Ferb” straddles the line between absurd and childhood imagination. What sets this cartoon off from most modern cartoons is the sensibility of it’s nonsense. From the pop references to the original music to the ongoing gags it’s pace and precision keeps the funny bone tingling from beginning to end. There is not an unlovable character in this cartoon either…which is a nice change.
“in all the other shows every character is either stupid or a jerk, but there are no stupid characters or jerks in this one.”
1. Classic Warner Brothers Looney Tunes – two words… Bugs Bunny. Then add the likes of Daffy Duck, Porky Pig, Elmer Fudd, Sylvester, Tweety, Wile E. Coyote and The Road Runner and not much more needs to be said.
The most popular Looney Tunes character, Bugs Bunny, is regarded as a cultural icon and has appeared in more films than any other cartoon character. Several Looney Tunes films are regarded as some of the greatest animated cartoons of all time.