Saturday, April 26, 2008

Cartoon Review - The Mighty B!

Yeah, this is the fourth edition of Cartoon Review. I actually started reviewing actual cartoons again, and I'm pretty happy about that. This time, I'm going to be reviewing Nickeldoen's newest Nicktoon: The Mighty B! Now, this show was pretty interesting...

Running Time: 22 minutes (2x11 minute segments)

Network: Nickelodeon

Rating: B

Premiere: April 26, 2008

Out of the Nickelodeon Studios in Burbank comes the channel's newest cartoon, "The Mighty B!". The show follows the quest of 9 and 3/4 years old Bessie Higgenbottom, as she seeks to gain every Honeybee Scout badge. Why? Because she holds the belief that if she does, she will become a superhero called "The Mighty B!". Since this has never been done before, there is nothing to say that it may not be true. The show is pretty amusing, with the performances of the voices actors making the show pretty entertaining. You would think an annoying nine year old with a lisp would have a grating voice...well Amy Poehler makes sure it isn't.

The art and animation style is something like Spongebob Squarepants meets Ren and Stimpy. Ironically the creators of both cartoons are given a 'Special Thanks" at the end of the credits, so this art style is likely on purpose. The character design is pretty deceiving, as the characters are more "flexible" than they actually appear to be. Many of the jokes in the series are brought along solely through visuals and actions. Bessie being stretched and squashed by a taffy machine in "Sweet Sixteen" was a pretty great moment. The crew behind the show attempts to go "back in time" and they use techniques that are seldom used in today's cartoons. Hand-painted backgrounds, some animation done in America, hand-drawn animation...they are clearly trying to get back to animation's roots.

The characters are decent to say the least, but Portia and her friend seem like the generic "popular kids" that are seen in a lot of cartoons these days. However, this seems to be the point of the characters. To directly hit that well-known cliche in the stomach. Bessie dangerously treads the line between annoying and funny, but is able to combine it both for a good plot. She is an off-beat werido that I, at times, can relate to. Her brother that looks up to her is nice character to have along, and so is her pet dog "Happy", which was introduced in the pilot episode "So Happy Together". This show is pretty good, but has room for potential that may be reached in the next few episodes. After we get half-way through the season, I will do a short follow-up review on the show. But for now, "The Mighty B" gets a B.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Creative Restrictions in Animation: The Good

I haven't been posting here for over a month, and it's about due time I get to posting something interesting. So here I am to tell you how a network's guidelines can do to a cartoon. You see, the way these restrictions can effect a cartoon depends on both who is the executive producer (or creator) and the crew behind the show...I've found some good things can happen due to network interference. 

For a prime example, let's look at John Kricfalusi. For those who have no idea who he is, he is the creator of a popular 90's cartoon called "Ren and Stimpy". Now, if it wasn't for Nick's rules on cartoons, I pretty much doubt that "Ren and Stimpy" would have been as good. Sure, the animation would be amazing, but the writing would undoubtedly be pretty weak. It's because of Nickelodeon's restrictions that John K. and the Spumco crew were putting so much work into such creative stories. With those restrictions, "Ren and Stimpy" would have been like "Adult Party Cartoon" or "The Goddamn George Liquor Program" (both by John K.). On both of those shows, John had more control, and was able to do the weird and gross stuff he loved. Unfortunately, they both were 'ugly'. In case you don't know what I mean, look at the first George Liquor cartoon: If Nick gave John more control on the original "Ren and Stimpy", we would have gotten something like that...
Another example is Jhonen Vasquez's Invader Zim. Invader Zim was a decent cartoon that was to appeal to an older age group. However, if Jhonen had more control, than it would have become more like his comics. Surreal and dark beyond belief. With Nick's restrictions, Jhonen had to focus more on humor, to make up for what he couldn't do.

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