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September 17, 2014

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TV 101: Why Modern Animated Series Are Breaking the Mold

by Dr. Ryan Vaughan, PhD (no, seriously), posted Apr 15th 2011 2:40PM
The SimpsonsMuch to my father's chagrin, cartoons are an ever emerging and evolving source of entertainment and social commentary for fully developed humans. My dad, like many dads out there, still operates under the assumption that anything animated is for children and to keep cats company when their owners leave.

This outlook on animated television was a lot easier to maintain in the pre-'Simpsons' culture that my father grew up in. Easier, but certainly not justified. The implication that cartoons were initially exclusively "for kids" indicates more ignorance than truth about the nature of the medium. Look at almost any old 'Looney Tunes' short -- as a representative example -- layered with cultural references and parodies that only adults have a shot at understanding.

But now, with the wealth of grown-up animated series available on TV, it's impossible to brush off animation as anything less than a legitimate form of television series. What follows is a broad discussion about animated television, including a list of some of the toons that illustrate best this change in perception.

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New TV on DVD releases this week

by Bob Sassone, posted Jun 9th 2008 6:03PM

Hawaii Five-0Here are the new TV DVDs, in stores tomorrow.

  • Army Wives - Season 1
  • Bleach - Season 1 (Uncut)
  • The Boondocks - Season 2
  • Broken Trail - Complete Miniseries
  • Comedy Central Home Grown
  • Da Vinci's Inquest - Season 3
  • The Dukes of Hazzard - Movie Collection
  • Fantastic Four: World's Greatest Heroes - Season 1
  • The Fugitive - Season 2, Vol. 1
  • Hawaii Five-0 - Season 4
  • Home Improvement - Season 8
  • The Incredible Hulk - When Monsters Meet
  • Into Alaska - Collection 1
  • John Adams - Complete Miniseries
  • McLeod's Daughters - Season 6
  • My Boys - Season 1
  • The Odd Couple - Season 4
  • 7th Heaven - Season 6
  • Soap - Complete Series
  • TekWar - TekWar
  • What's Happening - Complete Series

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Adult Swim news: what to look forward to

by Adam Finley, posted Apr 27th 2007 1:29PM

frisky dingoHere's what's coming up on Adult Swim:

Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job!, as mentioned previously, has received an order for thirty new episodes.

Moral Orel has also been picked up for a third season (which I already knew, but I was sworn to secrecy until it was officially announced). Also, the latter half of the second season kicks off this Sunday.

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Comedian Paul Mooney gives up the "N word"

by Julia Ward, posted Nov 29th 2006 12:50PM
Paul MooneyMore Michael Richards fall-out. Esteemed comedian and writer Paul Mooney has called for an end to the use of the "N word." This is big deal because Mooney is an entertainment legend known for his own liberal use of the word. He wrote for Sanford & Son, Saturday Night Live, Good Times and In Living Color. He was Richard Pryor's writing partner and has worked closely with Spike Lee and Dave Chappelle. He appears in the "Negrodamus" and "Ask a Black Man" sketches on The Chappelle Show. Seriously, the guy is huge. If you ever have a chance to catch his stand-up act in the clubs, you should. The man has seen it all.

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Adult Swim piles on the marathons in December

by Adam Finley, posted Oct 25th 2006 2:02PM

metalocalypseThis is why Zeus created the DVR, animation lovers. According to an updated schedule grid, Adult Swim has a few marathons planned for the month of December. Fans of Bleach, Metalocalypse (ROCK!!!), Squidbillies, Robot Chicken, Venture Brothers and Boondocks pay heed, cause here's what's being served up:

On Christmas, gather the family around the television for a fifteen-episode, out of order Venture Brothers marathon beginning at 10:30 pm.

On December 26th, a marathon of episodes one through fifteen of The Boondocks begins at 10:30 pm.

Robot Chicken marathon on December 27: Episodes ten through forty starting at 10:30 pm.

Squidbillies marathon: Episodes one through twenty, then a repeat of episodes one through ten, starting at 10:30 pm on December 28.

Bleach marathon: Episodes one through fourteen kicking off at 11 pm on December 30.

Metalocalypse marathon: Episodes one through twenty, followed by a repeat of episodes one through twelve, starting at 10 pm on December 31.

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New TV on DVD releases today

by Bob Sassone, posted Jul 25th 2006 6:00PM
  • Miami ViceThe Adventures of Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius - Jimmy Timmy Power Hour 3
  • All Creatures Great and Small - Series 3
  • Animaniacs - Volume 1
  • The Boondocks - Season 1
  • Chappelle's Show - Lost Episodes
  • Dark Shadows - DVD Collection 3
  • JAG - 1st season
  • La Femme Nikita - 4th season
  • Miami Vice - Seasons 1 and 2
  • Pinky and the Brain - Volume 1
  • Punky Brewster - Season 3
  • Rawhide - 1st season
  • Tales From the Crypt - 4th season
  • Three's Company - 7th season

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Denys Cowan talks about BET animation

by Adam Finley, posted Jul 14th 2006 6:09PM

denys cowanDenys Cowan is a comic book artist who worked on comics for such DC characters as Spider-Man, Batman, The Question, and Steel, but lately he's been holding down a job as Vice President of Animation at BET. Newsarama's Daniel Robert Epstein recently spoke to Cowan about what exactly BET has in store as far as animated offerings, and what might be expected down the road. Cowan, as some of you may know, was also a producer for Boondocks during the show's first season, and was largely responsible for getting it on the air. Apparently, however, things did not end smoothly and Cowan refuses to speak about his time on the show. At least, he refuses to go into it with any great detail. Cowan hopes BET is able to use animation the way MTV used it in the 90s, and considering his background in comic books, I could definitely see that happening.

[via ToonZone]

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Boondocks won't return until next year

by Adam Finley, posted Jul 14th 2006 11:05AM
boondocksThe second season of Boondocks was supposed to kick off later this year, but that's no longer the case. Don't worry fans, the show is still coming back for a second season, but creator Aaron McGruder says production is taking longer, and that they're simply trying to make this season look better than last season. In other words, there's no bitter contract disputes or any kind of in-fighting going on, McGruder just wants the show to look good. Waiting can be a bummer, but it sounds like once the new season begins in March of 2007, it'll be well worth the wait for fans of the series. Oh yeah, and instead of fifteen new episodes, the network has ordered twenty. Until then, I guess we'll just have to enjoy the DVD.

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The Boondocks DVD pushed back to July

by Adam Finley, posted May 19th 2006 4:01PM
boondocksAs I mentioned in April, the first season of The Boondocks, uncut and uncensored, will be out in June. Well, apparently I lied. Okay, I didn't really lie, but the release date has been pushed back over a month to July 25. Actually, I'd be interested to know if anyone watches this show. I checked it out when it debuted, and while I think individual episodes were okay, the show never seemed to leave me with any reason to keep checking back in. If I serendipitously catch it while surfing the channels, I'll stop and watch it, but it's not a show I actually make a point to watch. It has become one of those shows I can admire even if personally it leaves me a bit cold. Should I give it another chance?

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Boondocks coming to DVD

by Adam Finley, posted Apr 5th 2006 12:35PM

boondocksThe first season of The Boondocks, the Adult Swim series based on Aaron McGruder's comic strip about a black kid and his younger brother moving out of Chicago's inner city to live with their grandpa in the suburbs, is coming out on DVD on June 13. The fifteen episodes of the season will be shown uncut and uncensored. Also, the disc will include French subtitles, an addition I felt was sorely missing from the original airings. How do you say "white people are crazy" in French, anyway? I've forgotten all the French I learned in high school. Seriously, though, this new set sounds pretty cool, and I like the idea of seeing these episodes in all their raw, uncensored glory, which means I'll probably buy the set despite not always watching the show.

McGruder may provide audio commentary on some episodes, though if I'm reading TVSODVD's piece correctly, that's not official just yet.

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McGruder's balancing act

by Adam Finley, posted Mar 8th 2006 12:58PM
aaron mcgruderWhen Adult Swim picked up The Boondocks, the series based on Aaron McGruder's comic strip of the same name, McGruder pretty much abandoned the strip in order to focus all his energy on his new animated series. He continued to write the strip, but hired an artist to draw it. Now McGruder has backed away completely and announced he's taking a six-month vacation from the strip. It seems as if McGruder is slowly setting his original creation aside, and that's to be expected, since the daily grind of trying to churn out a comic strip coupled with the work involved in producing a cartoon series would be enough to drive anyone insane. My only request for McGruder is that if the strip becomes too much for him to handle, he tastefully retire it and direct all his energy toward the show. I'd rather see that than what happened to Garfield, a strip now created by a corporation that Jim Davis simply slaps his name on. McGruder seems to work best when all his energy and vitriol is focused on one thing. If that "one thing" is his TV series, so much the better. If he tries to sparse it out between the strip and the series, they'll both suffer for it eventually.

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What's on tonight: Jon and Oscar, 60 Minutes, Boondocks, Iron Chef America

by Bob Sassone, posted Mar 5th 2006 4:00PM
  • Jon StewartAs if you didn't know, ABC has The Oscars tonight. Jon Stewart hosts the show, starting at 8 (ABC has the red carpet arrivals at 7, while E! has coverage starting about 35 hours before the show).
  • There's other stuff on tonight too: CBS has a new 60 Minutes at 7, followed by repeats of Criminal Minds, Cold Case, and CSI.
  • NBC has a new two hour Dateline at 7, followed by repeats of Law and Order: CI and Crossing Jordan.
  • FOX has a new Malcolm at 7, followed by Bad Boys II.
  • AMC has the original movie version of MASH at 8.
  • TMC has Barbershop 2 at 8, while FLIX has 1967's How I Won The War.
  • Also at 8: TBS is showing Scary Movie 3 a couple of times, while ABC Family has Cruel Intentions (ABC Family?!?).
  • At 9, you can catch a repeat of The Apprentice premiere on CNBC, if you missed it a few nights ago.
  • Also at 9: Food Network has a new Iron Chef America.
  • At 10, MSNBC repeats this morning's Meet The Press.
  • Also at 10: Showtime has a new ep of The L Word, while FLIX has A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum.
  • At 11, Cartoon Network has a new The Boondocks.
  • And after your local news, there will be a special live edition of Jimmy Kimmel Live on ABC, with Jon Stewart, Quentin Tarantino, and Johnny Knoxville.

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Boondocks shall return for a new season

by Adam Finley, posted Jan 30th 2006 10:08AM
boondocks hueyIf ya'll have been digging The Boondocks, you'll be happy to know that a brand new season will be kicking off later this year. Adult Swim has bought twenty new episodes of the series. I haven't quite made up my mind about the show, though I did go into it with high hopes. Several episodes have been brilliant, but others have left me cold. What keeps me from dismissing the show entirely is that it's the only show of its kind out there right now, and, being an animated program, it's able to get away with saying some of the stuff it does. It's as if I'm drawn more to what the show stands for than the show itself. That's admirable in it's own way, but it doesn't always make for the best television. I never walk away from an episode of The Boondocks unmoved, but I don't always walk away entertained. What keeps me from turning my back on it completely is those moments when the show proves it's capable of doing both.

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Al Sharpton critical of Boondocks

by Anna Johns, posted Jan 25th 2006 5:14PM
A recent episode of The Boondocks cartoon rubbed Reverend Al Sharpton the wrong way. The episode, called The Return of the King, featured an animated Martin Luther King, Jr. using the "n"-word. The story has King being named a traitor and terrorist sympathizer for his non-violent response to the September 11th attacks. It aired on January 15, the night before the MLK holiday. I didn't see the episode, so I can't tell you exactly how the "n"-word was used.

Sharpton is demanding that Cartoon Network apologize and pull any episodes "that desecrate black historic figures." Cartoon Network released a statement (not an apology), defending Boondocks creator Aaron McGruder. The Network said, "We think Aaron McGruder came up with a thought-provoking way of not only showing Dr. King's bravery but also reminding us of what he stood and fought for."

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Will BET finally make it?

by Adam Finley, posted Jan 11th 2006 1:28PM
Black Entertainment Television (BET) has struggled ever since its inception to be seen as a legitimate, and reputable, source of entertainment and information for the black community. It's most fatal flaw, in my non-expert opinion, was that rather than filling timeslots with quality black programming, it filled its schedule with ANY black programming. The network has been panned by critics for perpetuating stereotypes and putting way too much focus on music videos and other shows that glamorize materialism and exploit women. Hiring Reginald Hudlin as president of entertainment and chief programmerseems tohave been a step in the right direction. Hudlin helmed such movies as House Party and Boomerang, helped bring The Boondocks to television, and directed episodes of The Bernie Mac Show and Everybody Hates Chris. More recently, according to Aaron Barnhart, BET insiders planted questions in the audience at an event in Pasadena. Barnhart, rightfully so, felt that was more than a little tacky. That's true, but at the same time it shows that BET knows how to play the game. Perhaps it will finally become the channel it should have been all along, and if it has to play by the dubious rules of the television industry to do so, I say right on.

 

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