I'm sure I'm not unusual in that respect. I'm sure there are people who were with The Simpsons from those very first shaky frames, who saw them adopt No. 9 and laughed at Homer botching Christmas songs on the closing credits, and faithfully watched for several years, maybe even a decade before they dropped off.
But one of the best things about the show is, you can always come back. The Simpsons never forget. Yesterday's episode and the 20th Anniversary Special that followed was a nice reminder of that. The episode wasn't the funniest I've seen, but I did realize there has never been an episode of the show that wasn't worth at least a few laughs.
Perhaps "Short-Lived Segment on A Longer-Running Program" would have been a more appropriate title, but I'll take any excuse to talk about one of my favorite cartoons of all time.
The Ant and the Aardvark was created by Friz Freling and aired as a segment on The New Pink Panther Show and The Pink Panther Laff And A Half Hour, two shows which followed the original Pink Panther cartoon and consisted of made-for-TV shorts rather than the theatrical shorts which made up the original Saturday morning cartoon. The Ant and the Aardvark segments aired from 1969 to 1971, totaling seventeen cartoons in all. Each episode would pit a dimwitted aardvark (almost always referred to as an "anteater") who sounded like Jackie Mason against a clever and resourceful ant who sounded like Dean Martin. Both characters were actually voiced by actor John Byner.
While the set up was similar to Chuck Jones' Coyote and Road Runner shorts, The Ant and the Aardvark had the benefit of being a "talkie," which made it a lot more hip and clever than the slapstick of Jones' tribute to the animal kingdom. And I say that as a huge Looney Tunes fan, myself. Also, the Aardvark's mumbling cadence was hilarious, even if you didn't know who Jackie Mason was. When I was young the Pink Panther never really impressed me much, but I always looked forward to the Ant and the Aardvark. If you want to check out some episodes, YouTube has a few. Unlike a lot of the animation found on that site, these are actually pretty decent quality.
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