Favorite animated television show?

moose and squirrel

That Greg Burgas fellow has done it again, compelling me to think on one of his damn Questions of the Week. “What’s your favorite animated television show?”

Initially, I was thinking about programs I grew up with that had two or three segments, such as Rocky and Bullwinkle, which featured Fractured Fairy Tales and Mr. Peabody. A great show, BTW.

Or the various Warner Brothers packages featuring Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, and the like, which among other things, were early lessons in classical music. I was a sucker for the Popeye the Sailor cartoons from Fleischer Studios, less so the later ones.

Or all of the Hanna-Barbera shows such as Yogi Bear, Huckleberry Hound, Quick Draw McGraw, and my favorite, Top Cat, whose close friends got to call him TC. When I was five and a half, I had an uncontrollable bloody nose and went to the hospital for two or three days. The positives were ice cream and H-B cartoons.

Animated shows that took the full half-hour were rare early on. The Flintstones (1960-1966) was the first prime-time TV animated series, a Big Deal in the day.


Like many people, I watched The Simpsons regularly and enthusiastically early on. I even have three or four DVD sets, but none are after season eight. It’s now on season 73; Nah, it started in 1989. Incidentally, D’oh is a sound mark registered by the US Patent and Trademark Office. The registration is similar to Darth Vader’s breathing noise and the Law and Order “Chung Chung” sound effect.

To the degree I appreciate SpongeBob SquarePants, I blame Fred Hembeck. His enthusiasm for the show in the early 2010s was infectious. I have a soundtrack that is modeled after The Who Sell Out album.

My daughter watched Peppa Pig, which I found baffling at first but grew to at least tolerate. She also watched The Loud House and Kim Possible, among others, which were OK. But Teen Titans Go got on my nerves.

On my own, I tried Bojack Horseman, Pinky and the Brain, Family Guy, Futurama, and American Dad, which were fine, but they didn’t STICK. The Boondocks I watched a bit longer.

The winners

But if I were to pick three shows, they would be:

3. King Of The Hill – I found Hank, the “straight-laced propane salesman in Arlen, Texas,” oddly relatable. At some level, though, I WAS the kid, Bobby Hill. Tom Petty voiced the character Lucky in 24 episodes.

2. Phineus and Ferb – Greg said, “the jokes are stupendous, the special episodes are a ton of fun… and the songs are just brilliant.”

1.  Gravity Falls – My daughter was singing “We’ll Meet Again,” and I wondered why. Now I know. I’ve seen every episode of the show. “Twin siblings Dipper and Mabel Pines spend the summer at their great-uncle’s tourist trap in the enigmatic Gravity Falls, Oregon.” Like Greg, I love the voice actors Jason Ritter and Kristen Schaal, and Linda Cardellini as Wendy.

Greg said Phineas and Ferb could be repetitious, but I’ve seen six episodes in a row without going crazy. Conversely, I was on a bus heading for Indiana, helping to chaperone a church group, when someone showed a half dozen episodes of Scooby Doo, Where Are You! Talk about the same plot over and over! Painful.

The Flying House by Winsor McKay, adapted by Bill Plympton

The FantaCon 2013 program is now available on Kindle.

I knew of the early 20th Century American cartoonist Winsor McKay from his Little Nemo strip, which has been collected in books. However, I was less familiar with his other work. “Dream of the Rarebit Fiend was a newspaper comic strip by… McCay which began September 10, 1904. As in McCay’s signature strip, Little Nemo, the strip was made up of bizarre dreams… Rarebit Fiend was printed in the Evening Telegram, a newspaper published by the Herald. For contractual reasons, McCay signed the strip with the pen name ‘Silas’.

“The strip had… a recurring theme: a character would have a nightmare or other bizarre dream, usually after eating a Welsh rarebit (a cheese-on-toast dish). The character would awaken from the dream in the last panel, regretting having eaten the rarebit. The dreams often revealed the darker sides of the dreamers’ psyches… This was in great contrast to the colorful, childlike fantasy dreams in Little Nemo.”

McKay’s 1921 film The Flying House fits into the rarebit category. You can see the first half of it on the right-side panel adjacent to the Wikipedia article. In 2011, animator Bill Plympton restored the film, using Kickstarter to fund the project. The film was colorized, and actors Matthew Modine and Patricia Clarkson provided voices.

The short film is, oddly, timely for a pre-Depression piece. The man says at one point: “I want to pay my debts but I’ll be hanged if I will let those money sharks grab my dough.”

I participated in the Kickstarter and got a copy of the DVD. Plympton and his team first cleaned up the original film, so it’s not scratchy. Then not only did they colorize it, using the palette of McKay’s work, they removed the word balloon but added the music. One can compare the two versions. There are also some extras. Animation critics talk about McKay and the specific work; unfortunately, they are credited on the DVD but not on the packaging, so the only one I can mention without looking it up is Leonard Maltin.

I was happy to help something that would not have existed if not for supporters like myself. If you’re interested, you can order it here.

Gene Kannenberg Jr notes that this 1989 video of Tom Petty’s Runnin’ Down A Dream was a tribute to “Little Nemo in Slumberland” by Winsor McCay. Odd, too: I like this song (and LOVE the album from which it comes), but I have zero recollection of seeing it before.

Speaking of comics-related material, the FantaCon 2013 program is now available on Kindle. I put together the bibliography of FantaCo publications, 1979-1988, which is why I’m listed as an author on the item.

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs at the Norman Rockwell Museum

“It was prophesied that nobody would sit through a cartoon an hour and a half long,” Walt Disney said. “But we had decided there was only one way we could successfully do Snow White—and that was to go for broke.”

The day after our trip to Tanglewood, we decided to go to the Norman Rockwell Museum. It was showing “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs: The Creation of a Classic,” which had opened on June 8 and would be available through October 27, 2013.

The exhibition “features more than 200 works of art including conceptual drawings, early character studies, detailed story sketches, and animation drawings. Also featured are delicate thumbnail layout watercolors, meticulously rendered pencil layouts, rare watercolor backgrounds, colorful cels, and vintage posters all illustrating how Walt Disney advanced the creation of an entirely new art form.

“The exhibition is organized by sequence through the progression of the movie, featuring some never-before-seen works of art.” Among the most interesting were the deleted scenes such as the soup-eating segment, which had a song attached to it, the bed building scene, and a fantasy sequence of Snow White dancing in the stars. These were fine scenes but detracted from the narrative. Dopey had a long piece when Snow “died” which also was scrapped.

It was fun looking at Marge Champion modeling for the dancing scene with Dopey and Sneezy and drawing water from a well. The exhibit, which can usually only be seen at the Disney Family Museum in San Francisco came to Massachusetts because of the historic friendship and respect between Rockwell and Disney.

One cannot overstate the importance of Snow White. “It was prophesied that nobody would sit through a cartoon an hour and a half long,” Disney said. “But we had decided there was only one way we could successfully do Snow White—and that was to go for broke—shoot the works. There could be no compromise on money, talent, or time.” He also suggested that it was not aimed at children, and that, indeed, children under the age of seven or eight ought NOT see it; instead, it was targeted at the childlike part of the adult heart.

Did I mention that when we went, it was FREE? It was part of Free Fun Fridays of cultural venues. “Highland Street is giving out a total of $650,000 in grants to open up 60 venues across the state for one Friday,” 10 in the Boston area, but the rest across the state of Massachusetts.

MOVIE REVIEWS: 2012 Academy Award Nominated Animated Shorts

Morris Lessmore is a film that will be embraced by librarians and book lovers alike.

It was a Monday holiday. The daughter was at a friend’s house. But the Wife and I had a narrow window if we wanted to see a movie. In the time frame we had, we could really only go to the Spectrum and see the Oscar-nominated short animation films. My wife was wary because she had heard that a couple of these films were quite violent. In fact, only one was.

Dimanche/Sunday (Canada – 9 minutes)
Every Sunday, it’s the same old routine! The train clatters through the village and almost shakes the pictures off the wall. In the church, Dad dreams about his toolbox. And of course later Grandma will get a visit and the animals will meet their fate.
And the train is HUGE! But I didn’t see the point. I suppose there was violence in this story, but it was rendered so banally that it wasn’t particularly affecting.

A Morning Stroll (UK-7 minutes)
When a New Yorker walks past a chicken on his morning stroll, we are left to wonder which one is the real city slicker.
The winner of the BAFTA, the British equivalent to the Oscars, this shows the changes of people over time. THIS film is the one with quite violent images. Great last joke, though.

Wild Life (Canada – 14 minutes)
Calgary, 1909. An Englishman moves to the Canadian frontier, but is singularly unsuited to it. His letters home are much sunnier than the reality. Intertitles compare his fate to that of a comet.

This was visually beautifully rendered, with the backgrounds as paintings. Yet the connection with the comet (or more specifically, a painting of a comet) just didn’t work for me; the story would have stronger without it.

The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore (USA – 17 minutes)
Inspired, in equal measures, by Hurricane Katrina, Buster Keaton, The Wizard of Oz, and a love for books, [it] is a poignant, humorous allegory about the curative powers of story. Using a variety of techniques (miniatures, computer animation, 2D animation) [the directors] present a hybrid style of animation that harkens back to silent films and MGM Technicolor musicals…old fashioned and cutting edge at the same time.
I instantly recognized the architecture of New Orleans. The movie also borrows from Pleasantville. It is a film that will be embraced by librarians and book lovers alike. My pick as the best of the five AND the one I think will win. My wife actually cried.

La Luna (USA- 7 minutes)
[This] is the timeless fable of a young boy who is coming of age in the most peculiar of circumstances. Tonight is the very first time his Papa and Grandpa are taking him to work…
This is the PIXAR short that will open for the movie Brave coming out this summer. Wonderfully whimsical.

There were four additional films, deemed HIGHLY COMMENDED, shown on the program, probably because the show would have otherwise been less than an hour long. I’ve linked to their individual webpages because the initial link does not.

Hybrid Union (4 minutes) by Serguei Kouchnerov
In the imaginary land of Cyberdesert, Plus and Minus struggle with a dependency on an outdated source of energy. The mysterious self-sufficient Smart presents a new challenge for Plus and Minus and forces them to form an alliance – The Hybrid Union!
I understood where it was trying to go, but wasn’t moved.

Skylight (Canada – 5 minutes) by David Baas
[It] is a mock animated documentary about the ecological plight of penguins in the Antarctic, possibly foretelling cataclysmic results for the rest of the world.
It is pretty much a one-joke story, and the faux jerky camerawork was more irritating than innovative.

Nullarbor (Australia – 10 minutes) by Alister Lockhart
An animated road movie set across the vast and barren landscape of Australia’s Nullarbor Plain.
On a boring road, a young man can be arrogant and a bit stupid to boot. Liked it well enough. Probably not for small children, since it has a few mean images.

Amazonia (USA – 5 minutes) by Sam Chen
In the dangerous world of the Amazon Rainforest, finding a meal proves to be an impossible task for a little tree frog named Bounce. His luck changes when he meets Biggy, a blue-bellied treefrog who takes him under his guidance and shows him the ways of the jungle in this animated journey set to Beethoven’s Symphony No.8.
The music is incredibly important to the success of this film. And a great punch line. I would have nominated this over Sunday/Dimanche.

All the animated movies in the world. Sort of.

Well, of course. This was a remarkable technological feat. And features a character named Roger.

From Johnny Bacardi. Neither he nor I named these categories, BTW.


[X] 101 Dalmatians (1961) – probably in the first run. The lead adult male is named Roger, a guy who loves music, which was great!
[O] Alice in Wonderland (1951)
[X] Bambi (1942) – probably around 1963, in the theater. Scary stuff.
[X] Cinderella (1950) – probably around 1964, but I was 11, and I found it too “girly”; I like it better now.
[X] Dumbo (1941) – did I see this all the way through?
[X] Fantasia (1940) – saw as an adult, in a theater. Loved it.
[X] Lady and the Tramp (1955): probably c 1962. I related to Tramp.
[X] Mary Poppins (1964). But almost certainly NOT in the theater. On network TV, perhaps?
[X] Peter Pan (1953). Almost definitely on TV. Has not aged well.
[X] Pinocchio (1940). On TV. Quite intense.
[X] Sleeping Beauty (1959). In the theater c 1966, probably.
[X] Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937). In the theater c. 1965.
[O] Song of the South (1946). Only seen excerpts.

[O] The Aristocats (1970)
[O] The Black Cauldron (1985)
[O] The Fox and the Hound (1981)
[O] The Great Mouse Detective (1986)
[X] The Jungle Book (1967). Probably on commercial TV.
[O] The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh (1977)
[O] Oliver and Company (1986)
[O] Pete’s Dragon (1977)
[O] The Rescuers (1977). No, but I’ve read the adaptation.
[O] Robin Hood (1973)
[X] The Sword In The Stone (1963). Probably saw this first run.

[X] Aladdin (1992). In the theater.
[X] Beauty and the Beast (1991): On video in the last year, with my daughter. I love that song “Gaston”.
[O] A Goofy Movie (1995)
[O] Hercules (1997)
[X] The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1996). On video recently, though I owned the soundtrack earlier.
[X] The Lion King (1994). In the theater, my favorite in this category.
[X] The Little Mermaid (1989). On video, with my daughter, but she bailed in fear, and I watched the rest later.
[O] Mulan (1998). But read the adaptation.
[O] Pocahontas (1995). Ditto.
[O] The Rescuers Down Under (1990). Ditto.
[O] Tarzan (1999). Ditto.

[O] Atlantis: The Lost Empire (2001)
[O] Bolt (2008)
[O] Brother Bear (2003)
[O] Chicken Little (2005)
[O] Dinosaur (2000)
[O] The Emperor’s New Groove (2000)
[X] Fantasia 2000 (2000). Not that much of an improvement, if at all.
[O] Home on the Range (2004)
[X] Lilo & Stitch (2002). Ended up seeing this on the Disney Channel or some such. It’s OK.
[O] Meet the Robinsons (2007)
[O] Treasure Planet (2002)


[X] A Bug’s Life (1998). Saw it in a theater.
[O] Cars (2006). Always meant to see. And now Cars 2 is coming out in 2011.
[X] Finding Nemo (2003). We were at a Christmas party a couple of years ago. My daughter was upstairs watching this on video and she was sobbing over Nemo trapped in the aquarium trying to get out. Subsequently rented it myself.
[X] The Incredibles (2004): Saw in a theater. By far my favorite Pixar film, which I can tell, because it was on NBC recently, with all those damn commercials, and I still enjoyed it.
[O] Monsters Inc. (2001)
[X] Ratatouille (2007). I like this more than most people. They made a movie about a rat chef appetizing.
[X] Toy Story (1995). In theater.
[X] Toy Story 2 (1999). In a theater. Made me cry.
[X] Toy Story 3 (2010): In a theater. Also made me cry.
[X] Wall-E (2008). On video. Too scary for the daughter.
[X] Up (2009): Saw in a theater. Possibly the best first 15 minutes of any film.

[O] All Dogs Go to Heaven (1989)
[O] An American Tail (1986). Saw a scene or two on TV.
[O] An American Tail: Fievel Goes West (1991)
[O] Anastasia (1997)
[O] The Land Before Time (1988)
[O] The Pebble and the Penguin (1995)
[O] Rock-a-Doodle (1991)
[O] The Secret of NIMH (1982)
[O] Thumbelina (1994)
[O] Titan AE (2000)
[O] A Troll in Central Park (1994)

[O] The Adventures of Mark Twain (1986)
[X] Chicken Run (2000). In the theater. I LOVED Chicken Run.
[O] Corpse Bride (2005)
[O] James and the Giant Peach (1996)
[O] The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)
[O] Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit (2005): Yet I have watched the three shorts.
[O] Coraline (2009)

[X] Antz (1998). I saw both this and A Bug’s Life in theaters, and am now having difficulty recalling which was which.
[O] Bee Movie (2007)
[O] Happy Feet (2006)
[O] Ice Age (2002)
[O] Ice Age: The Meltdown (2006)
[O] Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs (2009)
[O] Kung Fu Panda (2008)
[O] Madagascar (2005)
[O} Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa (2008)
[O] Monster House (2006)
[O] Over the Hedge (2006)
[O] The Polar Express (2004)
[O] Robots (2005)
[O] A Shark’s Tale (2004)
[X] Shrek (2001). In theater. Liked it well enough.
[X] Shrek 2 (2004). In theater. Started off strong, but lost interest.
[O] Shrek The Third (2007)
[O] Shrek Forever After (2010)
[O] Monsters vs. Aliens (2009)

[O] Arabian Knight (aka The Thief and the Cobbler) (1995)
[O] The Last Unicorn (1982)
[O] Light Years (1988)
[O] The Triplets of Belleville (2003). I REALLY need to see this!
[O] Persepolis (2007). And this.
[O] Waltz With Bashir (2008)
[O] Watership Down (1978)
[O] When the Wind Blows (1988)
[O] Wonderful Days (2003)
[X] Yellow Submarine (1968). Saw this three or four times in movie theaters. It was on network TV, CBS I think, and it was edited terribly.

[O] The Cat Returns (2002)
[O] Grave of the Fireflies (1988)
[X] Howl’s Moving Castle (2004)
[O] Kiki’s Delivery Service (1989)
[O] Laputa: Castle in the Sky (1986)
[O] Lupin III: The Castle of Cagliostro (1979)
[O] My Neighbors The Yamadas (1999)
[X] My Neighbor Totoro (1993)
[O] Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind (1984)
[O] Only Yesterday (1991)
[O] Pom Poko (Tanuki War) (1994)
[O] Porco Rosso (1992)
[X] Princess Mononoke (1999)
[X] Spirited Away (2002). My favorite in this category.
[O] Whisper of the Heart (1995)
[O] Ponyo (2009)

[O] Millennium Actress (2001)
[O] Paprika (2006)
[O] Perfect Blue (1999)
[O] Tokyo Godfathers (2003)

[O] She and Her Cat (1999)
[O] Voices of a Distant Star (2001)
[O] The Place Promised in Our Early Days (2004)
[O] 5 Centimeters per Second (2007)

[O] Akira (1989)
[O] Angel’s Egg (1985)
[O] Appleseed (2004)
[O] Appleseed: Ex Machina (2007)
[O] Arcadia of My Youth (U.S. Title – Vengeance of the Space Pirate) (1982)
[O] Cowboy Bebop: The Movie (2003)
[O] The Dagger of Kamui (U.S. Title – Revenge of the Ninja Warrior) (1985)
[O] Dirty Pair: Project Eden (1987)
[O] End of Evangelion (1997)
[O] Evangelion 1.0: You Are (Not) Alone (2007)
[O] Evangelion 2.0: You Can (Not) Advance (2009)
[O] Fist of the North Star (1986)
[O] Galaxy Express 999 (1979)
[O] Ghost in the Shell (1996)
[O] Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence (2004)
[O] The Girl Who Lept Through Time (2006)
[O] Lensman (1984)
[O] Macross: Do You Remember Love (U.S. Title – Clash of the Bionoids) (1984)
[O] Memories (1995)
[O] Metropolis (2001)
[O] Neo-Tokyo (1986)
[O] Night on the Galactic Railroad (1985)
[O] Ninja Scroll (1993)
[O] Patlabor the Movie (1989)
[O] The Professional: Golgo 13 (1983)
[O] Project A-ko (1986)
[O] Robot Carnival (1987)
[O] Robotech: The Shadow Chronicle (2006)
[O] Silent Möbius (1991)
[O] The Sky Crawlers (2008)
[O] Space Adventure Cobra (1982)
[O] Steamboy (2004)
[O] Sword of the Stranger (2007)
[O] Unico and the Island of Magic (1983)
[O] Urotsukidoji: The Movie (1987)
[O] Urusei Yatsura: Beautiful Dreamer (1984)
[O] Urusei Yatsura: Only You (1982)
[O] Vampire Hunter D (1985)
[O] Vampire Hunter D Bloodlust (2000)
[O] Wings of Honneamise: Royal Space Force (1987)

[O] American Pop (1981)
[O] The Animatrix (2003)
[O] Beavis & Butthead Do America (1996).
[O] Cool World (1992)
[O] Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within (2001)
[O] Final Fantasy: Advent Children (2005)
[O] Fire & Ice (1983)
[O] Fritz the Cat (1972). I have seen segments.
[O] Halo Legends (2009)
[O] Heavy Metal (1981)
[O] Heavy Metal 2000 (2000)
[O] Hey Good Lookin’ (1982)
[O] Lady Death (2004)
[O] A Scanner Darkly (2006)
[O] Sita Sings the Blues (2008)
[O] South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut (1999)
[O] Street Fight (Coonskin) (1975)
[O] Waking Life (2001). I remember seeing this in preview and deciding I didn’t want to see it.


[O] The Adventures of Prince Achmed (1926)
[O] Animal Farm (1954)
[O] Animalympics (1980)
[O] Aqua Teen Hunger Force Colon The Movie (2007)
[O] Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker (2000)
[O] Batman: Gotham Knight (2008)
[O] Batman: Under the Red Hood (2010)
[O] The Brave Little Toaster (1988)
[O] Bravestarr: The Movie (1988)
[O] Cats Don’t Dance (1997)
[O] Care Bears: The Movie (1985)
[X] Charlotte’s Web (1973). I’ve actually seen the bulk of this at my church recently.
[O] Fern Gully (1992)
[O] G.I. Joe: The Movie (1987)
[O] Gobots: Battle of the Rock Lords (1986)
[O] Green Lantern: First Flight (2009)
[O] He-Man & She-Ra: The Secret of the Sword (1985)
[O] The Hobbit (1977)
[X] The Iron Giant (1999): One of my favorite films.
[O] Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths (2010)
[O] Justice League: The New Frontier (2008)
[O] Lord of the Rings (1978)
[O] Little Nemo: Adventures in Slumberland (1992)
[O] My Little Pony: The Movie (1986)
[O] Pink Floyd’s The Wall (1982). I saw parts of this on video, but just wasn’t in the mood.
[O] The Prince of Egypt (1998)
[O] Powerpuff Girls: The Movie (2002)
[O] Quest For Camelot (1999)
[O] Ringing Bell (1978)
[O] The Road to El Dorado (2000)
[O] Shinbone Alley (1971)
[O] Space Jam (1996). Yet I had a Space Jam T-shirt.
[O] Starchaser: The Legend of Orin (1985)
[O] Superman/Batman: Public Enemies (2009)
[O] Superman/Batman: Apocalypse (2010)
[O] Superman: Doomsday (2007)
[O] The Swan Princess (1994)
[O] Transformers: The Movie (1986)
[O] Wizards (1977)
[X] Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988). Well, of course. This was a remarkable technological feat. And features a character named Roger.
[O] Wonder Woman (2009)
[O] Balto (1995)
[O] Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron (2002)

Social media & sharing icons powered by UltimatelySocial