October 3, 2005
Animation on television, child-safe and otherwise.ZOINKS!
An Island of Strangely Quirky Fruit, and Loonatics Gone Wrong
The Saturday Kids WB cartoon lineup has been undergoing an interesting — and not welcome — change over the last few years, as the endless Pokemon/Yu-Gi-Oh spinoffs have dumbed down what wasn't exactly a great lineup to begin with. Currently a mix of the worst anime imports they could find and equally mediocre home-grown shows like Xaiolin Showdown), with only the occasional show like The Batman showing any creative spark, the network announced three new shows for this fall, something that should have offered hope to those of us who miss their halcyon days. Alas, the two most-hyped new shows don't offer much in the way of originality, humor, or even decent writing.
Oh, how I wish I hadn't resisted. The show is actually worse than I feared. Five classic characters — Wile E. Coyote as a gadgeteer, Roadrunner as a speedster, Taz as, well, Taz, Daffy as a teleporter who can also shoot eggs (maybe we've been wrong about "his" gender all this time?) and Bugs as the martial-artist/team leader — team with Lexi Bunny (a telekinetic and crush object of the team leader, sort of a bunny Jean Grey, although we haven't been lucky enough to see her die yet) to fight bad science fiction cliches. The concept didn't have to fail as spectacularly as it did — there's tons of room for a good humor show or a good sci-fi action show on the air right now. But Loonatics Unleashed doesn't know which way to go. We get the occasional burst of classic humor from Taz and Daffy (or, if you prefer, Slam and Danger Duck), but most of the characters are actually played almost too straight, or too one-note (most frighteningly, the updated Road Runner comes across much like the speed-freak Johnny Quick in Grant Morrison's JLA: Earth 2 comics). What little humor comes from "Danger Duck," following in Daffy's footsteps, constantly letting his ego get in the way. Otherwise, the show's a third-rate sci-fi show with humor that was old back when it was used in Battle of the Planets. You're better off watching Pokemon.
|The "twist" is that Fred not only has a vivid imagination, but that anything he imagines comes true, much like the brain-damaged coconut version of Bill Mumy on the classic Twilight Zone episode "It's a Good Life."|
The good news for the WB is that the least hyped of their new shows, Johnny Test, is actually a winner. In spite of the name, this isn't a Johnny Quest parody (and with the wonderful Venture Brothers coming back to Adult Swim next fall, that's a gap that's already filled). The concept of this show is almost built around an inverse Jimmy Neutron or Dexter's Laboratory. Johnny, the lead character, is a perfectly normal eleven-year-old kid. He has a pair of older twin sisters, however, who are supergeniuses, and who need a guinea pig to test their experiments on. That's where Johnny comes in, as his sisters give him various powers to either test out a theory, or to stop one of their experiments gone awry. The parents are aware of how smart their daughters are, and have a strict "no experiments in the house" rule, so the plots often revolve around making sure that Johnny is back to normal by dinnertime. Throw in a super-genius dog (the result of more experiments), and lots of cool gadgets and powers, and it's a fun show with the potential to be the next Kim Possible. It still falls short at times (really, do we need flatulence gags as a super power on any tv show, ever?), but it's certainly the most enjoyable of the new shows by a long shot.
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