|I would also accept a one-man variety show featuring only Gary the snail.|
This show forms one of the anchors of PBS's educational cartoon block in the afternoons and super-early Saturday morning (<stage whisper at 6:00 AM> "Daaaad....Daaaad! Can you help me with the remote?"). This particular iteration of H.A. Rey's beloved characters is geared toward teaching kids math and science concepts, which it does to a reasonable degree, but the writing is actually very clever and entertaining. The man with the yellow hat (who remains nameless in this show as in the books) is the straight man to George's simian shenanigans, and is a very relatable figure for all those dads out there who could be classified as "lovable bumblers." Though they still dance around the fact that a grown man with the scratch to afford a two-bedroom high-rise apartment with a doorman in Manhattan seems to feel more comfortable living with a monkey than a woman.
|Nothing to see here. Move along...|
In my opinion (which is really the only one that matters on this particular corner of the internet), Madagascar sucked. Maybe it's my latent dislike of David Schwimmer--he should never have gotten Rachel in the end, she should've gone to Paris--or that I just don't believe in Dreamworks the way I believe in Pixar, but I can't stand that movie. Except for the penguins. From the Shatneresque Skipper to the ridiculously good-hearted Private, this crew screamed for its own show. The plots aren't earth-shattering in their originality, but the screwball interaction of the members of the team and their lemur next-door neighbors at the zoo make the show eminently watchable.
|Kind of like those lovable marching waterfowl from a few years ago, but without Morgan Freeman's voice.|
The Clone Wars
I'll come right out and say it: George Lucas is an asshole. He gave my childhood a good kick in the pills with the "remastered" original trilogy that was re-released in the late nineties. Apparently, "remastered" means adding a snazzy CGI song-and-dance number, at least for Return of the Jedi. Then between Jar-Jar Binks and Hayen F-ing Christensen, the prequels took the virgin canonical territory of the Clone Wars and turned it into a series of extremely expensive toy commercials. But an awful lot of that was redeemed when Cartoon Network picked up The Clone Wars. The animation is interesting and edgy, with 3D CGI that doesn't strive for so much realism that human characters fall into the uncanny valley (think Tom Hanks' cold, dead eyes in The Polar Express), and the drama is arguably more palpable and real than anything in the prequels. Kids dig it because of R2-D2 and lightsabers, adults can watch it and actually immerse themselves in the Star Wars universe again without feeling a vaguely awkward anger.
|Even animated Samuel L. Jackson is a badass.|
Any Holiday "Special"
OK, these aren't truly very "special" anymore, since you can have any one of them on DVD to watch in July if you want. But in our house, Frosty goes away with the Christmas decorations, and The Great Pumpkin gets cleared from the DVR exactly one week after Halloween, so the sense of nostalgia that we all feel when watching won't diminish. Although, it is very apparent that most of these shows were made in the 1960's--what the hell were these people smoking? Have you ever really watched Rudolph? The Island of Misfit Toys will haunt my dreams forever...
|Pictured: A creeping sense of dread...|
So, if you find yourself owing your kids some TV time but still want spend "quality time" with them, keep these in mind. Otherwise you'll be singing "I'm the map, I'm the map, I'm the map, I'm the map, I'm the MAAAAAAPPPP!" all through the following work day. Doesn't play well on conference calls. Avoid if possible.