Always been curious about a particular TV show but don’t really know how best to start? Let our Series Primer show you the way!
Two years ago, my then-boyfriend of five years and I were celebrating my birthday. What did he get me, you might ask? Not a necklace, not perfume, not tickets to Hawaii…he bought me the complete collection of Rocky and Bullwinkle. Which just goes to show you, after five years you really do get to know someone. Continue reading →
Those of us who grew up during the 90’s know what a powerful beast 90’s nostalgia can be. If it could be harnessed, the energy crisis would be over. If it could be monetized, we would cure the recession. If it could be weaponized, the United States would have achieved universal domination. What I’m trying to say is, we’re pretty darn nostalgic.
Children of the 90’s range from college-age adults to those in their 30’s who believe they grew up during the heyday of children’s programming. They (or should I say “we”) often don un-ironic cartoon graphic Tees and talk about Pogs. We may not have had fancy Avatar technology, but we were happy with the crappy graphics of Stick Stickly. And we get to a 3-beers level of excitement when we hear something like this:
That’s why, when I stumbled upon Teen Nick’s “The 90’s Are All That” line-up while flipping through channels, I nearly fell out of my seat. Every midnight, Nick starts an episode of old-school sketch show All That followed by a veritable nostalgia bomb.
Nickelodeon is responsible for a large portion of the 90’s madness, as it is widely acknowledged that this was the network’s golden years. Nickelodeon knows it too. Take a look at the “About” blurb on the 90’s Are All That web site:
Image source: http://90sareallthat.teennick.com/
Now, if that doesn’t hit the nail on the head, I don’t know what does. The blurb, practically translated, states something along the lines of:
“Hey young adults! We know you are most likely unemployed in this economy, and watching TV at midnight on a weekday. Either that, or you are under the influence of some legal or illegal substance. You are at that time in life where you have become disenchanted with the harsh reality of the real, adult world. Don’t you wish you could relive the simpler days? Just watch our shows and follow us on Twitter, and we’ll tell you everything is okay!”
And who could blame them? Kenan Thompson’s “Pierre Escargot” character on All That is better than anything he played on SNL. (Side note: I really hope this is a meme.)
Image source: thosewerethe90s.tumblr.com
Here’s a look at some of their programming:
Image source: nickutopia.com
Image source: connect.in.com
Kenan & Kel
Image source: nickutopia.com
Image source: playingwithpolitics.wordpress.com
Image source: edudemic
Clarissa Explains it All
Image source: awechasm.com
And more. Plus, they’ve got a really hip Tumblr. (I swear, I’m not being paid by Nick, I just really like cartoons.) So if you’re up late at night, you don’t have to stare endlessly at this site as I’ve been doing. You can totally remember when “life didn’t suck.”
There’s this old piece of advice in the film, television, and theatrical world: never work with children or animals. Despite this, some shows just can’t help but write pets into the cast. Now, we’re not talking about animals that happen to be a lead character (i.e. Scooby Doo, Wishbone) but full on pets that support their human companions, stand by their side in times of need, and provide much needed cute relief. Continue reading →
As a sci-fi fanatic, nothing gets me more psyched than a good robot. People have an endless fascination with the human-like machine. It’s so awesome watching them scoot around on their little treads! Of course, not all T.V. robots are cute and cuddly—some are so human they make us question our own humanity, while others strike terror in the hearts of Time Lords. Here are some of my favorite television robots for your reading pleasure.
Rosey the Robot Maid
Image source: Robotanime.com
Apparently, in the future, we can dispense with that pesky paying-a-fair-wage-for-an-honest-day’s-work thing. No smoke breaks. No lunch. Just a sweet robot named Rosey to take your coat, discipline your children, and give you advice about being a good Spacely Sprockets employee.
Vicki the Small Wonder
Image source: Blogtown.portlandmercury.com
V.I.C.I., or Voice Input Child Identicant, is the robot daughter of Ted Lawson, a robotics engineer who’s attempt at building a domestic servant backfired when his creation turned out to be a super-intelligent, self-improving “real” girl. Along with his family, Ted creepily decides to pretend Vicki is their actual human daughter. Never mind that Vicki was the object of many a real young boy’s affections (or because of it) the writers decided the family would keep Vicki in their 12-year-old son’s bedroom cabinet. Somehow this didn’t bother the censors.
Star Trek’s Lieutenant Commander Data: Technically an Android
Image source: Animediet.net
I won’t lie: Data is my favorite mechanical creature on television, hands down. Created by Dr. Noonien Soong on the planet Omichron Theta, Data is a sentient android serving as Chief Operations Officer on the Starship Enterprise. Data is thoroughly loveable as he strives for his own humanity—struggling nobly to understand humor and human emotion, learning to whistle, satisfying a woman, and, in the season 2 episode “Measure of a Man,” proving his autonomy and civil rights under Starfleet law. Emotion chip or no emotion chip, the Data-Geordi bromance never stops.
Gypsy, Tom Servo and Crow T. Robot
Image source: Myspace.com
Joel Hodgson’s wacky robot friends man-up to do battle with the worst movies ever made in the beloved Mystery Science Theater 3000. No peanut gallery is complete without their shadowy little heads. Gypsy is just in here because I felt bad leaving her out. Cambot, well, we hardly knew ye.
Dr. Who’s Cybermen
Image source: Stuffershack.com
Technically cyborgs, this race of mechanical men use spinning metal torture chairs to transform human beings (and other humanoid aliens, of which there are inexplicably many in the Dr. Who canon) into more of themselves. It’s kind of like the Borg if the Borg were completely incased in metal and had funny little rectangle mouths.
Image source: Criticalgamers.com
Battlestar Gallactica (the college years) hit a home run with their totally human-like Cylons (Cybernetic Lifeform Node). Unlike other robotic incarnations on television, the Cylons have emotions, they bleed, they plot… they do all the messed up bologna humans do. You know you’ve come a long way when you don’t even need albino makeup for your robot actors. Also, Battlestar Gallactica seems to understand something fundamental about my people: N.L.L.L. (nerds love Lucy Lawless).
This week saw the triumphant return of some of my favorite sketch comedians, Keegan Michael Key and Jordan Peele, in their brand-new show on Comedy Central. I’m excited that their show has some great potential, even to non-fans. It also got me wondering: where have some of the other excellent alumni of MADtv ended up?
I’m a huge animation enthusiast. I wake up early on Saturday mornings with sugary cereal. I have paid extra to get Disney XD. I saw Tangled in theatres with no kids in tow… in 3D. Maybe I’m just a child at heart. After all, I’d be infinitely more excited about spending my vacation here than at the Hilton. But you don’t have to be as big of a cartoon fan as I am (a.k.a., not an 8-year-old boy) to enjoy these 5 cartoons that “grown-ups” tend to praise. Continue reading →
When American Dad first premiered it met with some harsh criticism from Seth MacFarlane fans who felt the show was just an uncreative rehash of Family Guy. Patriotic patriarch Stan Smith seemed like just another dumb oaf with a hot wife and weird kids—much like Family Guy’s Peter Griffin. However throughout the years, American Dad has broken away from its sister show to stand-out as MacFarlane’s funniest, most creative animated comedy to date. Here are just a few reasons why American Dad stands out as the crown jewel of the Seth MacFarlane empire.
No Cutaway Gags
The humor in American Dad is largely connected to the plot or the characters themselves. The show rarely relies on cut-away gags like Family Guy and the few times a cut-away has been used, it has been relevant to the plot. Family Guy likes to fill up time with random comedy or musical segments, but American Dad uses every precious minute of screen time focusing on the Smith family.
Characters Not Caricatures
The Smithsare a much more well-rounded family than the Griffins from Family Guy. Peter always fills the big idiot role, while Stan is actually capable and intelligent; he’s just blinded by patriotism. On Family Guy, everybody hates Meg because that’s the joke. On American Dad, the conflict between Hayley and Stan is because both are passionate about their political views. In fact, that’s the biggest difference between the two shows—the Smith family is always going out to pursue their passions while the Griffins sit around riffing on pop culture.
A Man of Action
It’s always funny when Peter and the Giant Chicken get into a fight, but Family Guy’s extended fight scenes rarely have anything to do with the plot. On American Dad, Stan is a CIA agent, which means the show can spice it up every now and then with big action sequences because they are relevant to his profession. After all, there’s a lot of humor in a CIA agent’s son thinking the controls to a UAV drone plane is actually a portable video game system.
An Alien with Personality
Roger, the alien that lives in the attic, is often compared to Stewie because both are witty, effeminate comic relief characters voiced by Seth MacFarlane. However, Roger is a more functional character—like the weird uncle of the family. Since he has to wear a disguise when he leaves the house, every episode features a number of different Roger personas. Roger might be MacFarlane’s greatest voice acting role as it takes incredible acting range to play a character who is playing a character.
It Gets Better
Like any good sitcom, American Dad needed a few seasons baking in the TV oven before it could come out just right. The first season is not as well developed as later seasons, but once the voice actors and the writing staff locked down the characters, it has consistently dominated the Animation Domination lineup. If you haven’t checked in with the Smith family in awhile, you should tune in because you might be pleasantly surprised.
Voice actors are the uncelebrated heroes of animated television. They have to do all of the hard work of actors, but they get only a fraction of the fame. I mean, you don’t ever see voice actors’ faces, so if you ever sat next to one on an airplane you wouldn’t even know that you should ask for his autograph. And because I know that all of you TV aficionados are working hard on your collection of Hollywood John Hancocks, lets’ take a look at some of the most famous voice actors.
Voices: Homer Simpson, Groundskeeper Willie, Granmpa Simpson, Krusty the Clown, Mayor Quimby, Barney Gumble, etc.
As the voice of Homer Simpson, Dan may quite possibly be the most famous TV voice actor on earth. Ever wonder what the guy actually looks like? Just check the video below.
Voices: Bart Simpson, Ralph Wiggum, Todd Flanders, etc.
Yes, Bart Simpson (featured above) is voiced by a girl. You probably would have been able to guess that if you’d ever stopped to think about it.
Voices: Apu Nahasapeemapetailon, Chief Wiggum, Moe Szyslak, Dr. Nick, etc.
Image: Simpsons Wiki
Some of you may recognize Hank as Phoebe’s on-again, off-again scientist boyfriend from Friends, but just about everybody will recognize his huge set of voices from The Simpsons (click Homer’s clip).
Voices: Peter Griffin, Stewie Griffin, Brian, etc
This multitalented guy created Family Guy and now voices many of the characters. One of the most interesting things about his voice acting talent is that he voices Stewie and Brian, 2 characters who are frequently talking to each other. Next time you watch Family Guy, stop and consider how hard it must be for him to hold a conversation (sometimes arguments) with himself in 2 completely different voices.
Voices: Optimus Prime
Watching this clip is like meeting my childhood hero.
Voices: Spike (Cowboy Beebop), Wolverine (Wolverine and the X-Men), etc, Orochimaru (Naruto).
Not everybody will be familiar with Steven Blum’s voice, but the younger generation who grew up with video games and Japanese animation will recognize his deep, gravelly voice in a heartbeat. He’s been in literally hundreds of shows, video games, and movies.
Don’t recognize that name? I’m sure you’ll recognize her voice:
Voices: Too many to Count
Don is the guy who does every movie commercial. Ever.
It never fails: our group of plucky young heroes have to meet and discuss the plot of the episode somewhere. From Buffy the Vampire Slayer’s Scooby gang to the How I Met Your Mother crew, here are 5 shows with the coolest diners, bars, and more that we would be lucky to have in the real world.
Tonight the animated superspy Sterling Archer returns for a third season of Archer on FX. While the show may seem like just a spoof of James Bond movies on the surface, in all actuality it has more in common with cult sitcom classics like Arrested Development and The Office. Take one part spy parody, one part workplace comedy and add a dash of dark humor and you have Archer in a nutshell.
Still not convinced? Here are only a few of the many reasons why you should check out the new season of Archer.
Brainchild of Adult Swim Veteran
There’s a good reason why Archer’s animation stylemight look familiar at first glance. It’s because Archer was created by Adam Reed and Matt Thompson—the same guys behind many Adult Swim shows such as Sealab 2021 and Frisky Dingo. Reed and Thompson got their start working on Space Ghost: Coast to Coast and they bring much of that same witty dialogue and absurd sense of humor to Archer.
Hilarious Voice Talent
A TV show can only be as good as the actors starring in it—and fortunately Archer features an all-star cast of comedy champions including H. Jon Benjamin, Chris Parnell and Aisha Tyler. Even the characters not voiced by famous comedians are spot-on hilarious, such as flamboyantly gay superspy Ray voiced by series creator Adam Reed. Not since The Simpsons have audiences been treated to such a perfect ensemble cast of voice actors.
Closest Thing to an Arrested Development Reunion
If you’re still praying for that Arrested Development reunion to finally happen, you really ought to be watching Archer. Jessica Walter, who played Lucille on Arrested Development, voices Mallory Archer– who is essentially Lucille as a super spy. Both characters are wealthy overbearing alcoholic mothers with a healthy libido. Her clueless lovelorn secretary Cheryl is voiced by Judy Greer, who played a similar role on Arrested Development . Jeffery Tambor frequently guest stars as ODIN agent Len Trexler, Mallory’s former lover who may or may not be Archer’s biological father.
Supporting Cast Steals the Spotlight
We haven’t seen such a colorful cast of supporting characters since The Office. The staff of the secret organization ISIS are a colorful bunch of misfits with their own stories to tell. We can’t get enough of Pam, the head of the HR department who loves to hit on her coworkers and bare knuckle brawl in her fight club. Cheryl the secretary is a mentally unbalanced heiress who likes to be choked during sex and owns a pet ocelot.
Not Afraid to Push the Envelope
Archer is a late-night comedy on an adult cable channel that’s not afraid to “go there.” If you’re a fan of black humor or cringe-worthy adult situations, Archer has you covered. Last season featured a slew of outrageous storylines, like Archer being in a paternity lawsuit with a prostitute and Mallory using Archer as gay bait to get back a sex tape that fell into enemy hands.