Search Results for: MLaaTR

Teenagerobotlove: Serving the MLaaTR Fans


While many current and upcoming shows have devoted fans, just because a show has ended does not mean the end for the fan community. Far from it. Fans have been instrumental in keeping shows such as Star Trek alive for decades after the show wrapped up and it far from alone in that respect.

Fans currently have a remarkable set of tools at their disposal to help keep memories and interests alive. In years gone past, there were fanzines, clubs and conventions. Today many of these tools continue to connect fans and have been joined by new tools, such as message boards, blogs and social networks like Facebook.


Maintaining the interest is imperative if fan communities are to continue to exist, and that relies upon continued upkeep of any sites and also moving beyond just the show itself; hence the reason many message boards have off-topic threads or ones in areas of similar interest to members.

Today we’re focusing on one fan blog for My Life as a Teenage Robot. Long ago, there was a traditional, official blog that was created and run during the series’ production. (If memory serves, it was one of, if not the first ever production blogs for an animated show). While it continued to run after the show ended, it has been dormant for a number of years.


The rise of Tumblr as a fan-friendly platform has not gone unnoticed thanks to its emphasis on particular post types and easy sharing amongst the site’s many members. The proliferation of fan creations on Tumblr have been nailed down to the ease with which people can create, post and share content in addition to the ease with which Tumblelogs can be maintained. Combined with a submission feature, it becomes easy to see why so many fans and fandoms use Tumblr as a tool to serve their interests. (In a coincidental twist, Tumblr emerged from the same office as Frederator; the creative studio responsible for My Life as a Teenage Robot.)


Hence blogs like Teenagerobotlove that serve to perpetuate fans love for the show as well as providing a focal point for things like fanart. I’m glad that such blogs exist and that people are willing to create and maintain them. They provide enjoyment for those of us who simply do not have the time to undertake one themselves and serve as a reminder that fans still exist for the show.


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Is The Nickelodeon OTT Service Bad for Animation?

Nickelodeon is launching an OTT service. Yes, basically it’s like Netflix, but just for Nickelodeon shows. That should be an awesome announcement, right? Well, in theory, yes, it should. However the reality is different. Nickelodeon is a major producer of animation in the US, and by launching an OTT service, it endangers the future of the artform.

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Week Links 10-2013

Quite a few week links for you today. Enjoy!

The Problem with Processed Storytelling

Richard Brody at The New Yorker touches on the 22 Rules of Storytelling at Pixar that have been making the rounds recently. His issue is that the results of such processes result in “the cinematic equivalent of irresistibly processed food, with a ramped-up and carefully calibrated dosing of the emotional versions of salt, sugar, and fat.”

Tom Sito’s History of Computer Animation

The FLIP Animation Blog has another excellent interview up. This time it’s not only with Tom Sito, but it’s all about CGI and computer animation in its early days and how it developed. Well worth some of your time to see how the technology developed.

2D or Not 2D, The Disney Feature Animation Legacy.

Thomas Coleman over on the Skwigly blog has a post where discusses whether or not traditional 2D animation is the legacy of Walt Disney and his company. His conclusions may surprise you.

Postman Pat is a beloved figure in Jordan

Via:Cartoon Brew
Via:Cartoon Brew

Yes, my childhood hero of a postman is apparently popular enough in the middle eastern country of Jordan to warrant his own CGI feature film. The Guardian takes a tongue-in-cheek look at this curious scenario.

Careful! You’ll Hurt Disney’s Feelings!

Mark Mayerson has a brilliant post over on his blog where he points out that the censorship that Disney engages in. Basically they use their copyright as a tool to squelch any parts of books that they do not like. As Mark points out, this immediately makes any book that is approved for publication immediately falls under the cloud of being potentially tainted by the Disney legal department’s hand and being considered “damaged goods” as far as the truth is concerned.

There is a term to describe this practice and it’s called ‘copyright abuse’. Copyright provides for the holder to prevent and prohibit unauthorised use of their material for commercial gain. Using it as a tool to prevent their inclusion under otherwise ‘fair use’ terms, is far outside of the intended use of copyright and thus becomes an abuse of the system.

Tweets of the Week

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And Lastly


Yes, someone did cosplay as Jenny Wakeman (XJ-9) from My Life as a Teenage Robot at Momocon. Fair play to them 🙂

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The Importance of Colour in My Life as a Teenage Robot

It’s no secret that My Life as a Teenage Robot is one of my favourite animated TV shows. It’s an underrated gem that is enjoyable even if it isn’t quite as clever as other shows. Besides it’s awesome sense of Art Deco style, the great voice cast, the deeply embedded in-jokes and a central female protagonist, the show also makes superb use of colour. (And no post about colour should go without a link to Oswald Iten’s excellent blog, Colorful Animated Expressions)

I’m not talking about the use of colour in the sense of The Simpsons either; strong colours existed exist in that show, but rather to make them stand out against other TV shows. My Life as a Teenage Robot instead uses colour as a tool to accentuate atmosphere, moods and important plot points.

Don’t believe me? Then check out the series of screenshots below, from the season three episode, Stage Fright.

We start off with Jenny (XJ-9) in her normal colours, that is, white and turquose.

Now we’re entering the theatre, where the darker setting changes Jenny’s colour to an off-white and straight blue.

Still in the theater, but it’s darker now and Jenny’s colours follow along.

Now that she’s on stage and in the light, Jenny’s colours change back to the lighter shades but include even more shades to account for the costume.

First big change. After the aliens invade, we get an orange Jenny nicely contrasted against a green background.

Same colours but with a regular background. (Also, awesome pose.)

Action mode is now off so we revert back to the darker theater colour in the sitting pose above.

The aura lightens Jenny to the point that she is brighter than in the second screencap but doesn’t revert to her normal colours.

Aaaaaaand, ACTION! Big changes here as Jenny becomes pink and purple, contrasting nicely with the orange and brown background. For the most part, Jenny is always some combination of white and blue/green except when engaged in some kind of action. In these instances, she can be just about any colour.

Not a great shot, but it shows what Jenny looks like in the shadows; practically violet.

Bad guys defeated, Jenny reverts to the white and blue that’s been the theme for this theater setting.

Last but not least, here’s Jenny on stage in full wardrobe retaining the blue and including some lighter shades to fit the costume.

And that’s it! If you know your stuff, you’ll realise that in just about 11 minutes, Jenny’s colour changed a total of 5 times (not including costume and shades). In the grand scheme of things, she changed appearance a total of 12 times, that’s about once a minute!

This wouldn’t normally be too much but Stage Fright is a fairly average episode. Some of the more action oriented ones get even more colour changes and things get really interesting once Jenny goes into space!

So there you go, a quick look at how the crew of My Life as a Teenage Robot managed to use colour as a a great tool throughout the series.

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The Animated Things Club Ranks The Best Cartoons For Girls

Just one of MY go-to awesome female-led animated TV shows.

I just discovered the pretty cool Animated Things Club podcast the other day, but already it’s impressed me with the breadth of the topics. Needless to say, the latest one is the topic of this post. Yes, they’ve decided to look at what are the best cartoons for girls to watch.

Naturally that’s a mammoth task and co-host Suzannah Rowntree has wisely decided to break things down into manageable chunks. She’s also assembled a formidable list of qualifying criteria that covers all the bases. Essentially, she is rightfully looking for the best all-around show, not necessarily the one with the most female characters or most suitable, inspiring stories or themes. Nope, she’s seeking out shows that inspire girls with content above and beyond the mundane. That’s something that should be admired because a lot of the time, we look at a show as being appropriate for girls or otherwise aimed at them, but neglect to take everything into account. With that in mind, it’s healthy to remember that a show that’s good for girls can have a male lead. I’d argue that a well-balanced show is better than a one-sided one, but I’m getting off-track.

This week’s podcast lists those cartoons that didn’t make the list. The reasons are numerous but the gist of it is that while these shows are very good, they fall just that wee bit short. Brown Bag’s DocMcStuffins does get a shout out so that’s certainly a positive sign for the Dublin-based studio.

I eagerly await the rest of the series (and secretly hope that some of my favourites make the grade).

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7 Reasons That My Life as a Teenage Robot is Undervalued

It’s no secret that My Life as a Teenage Robot is one of my very favourite animated TV shows, but it would seem that it’s in the company of many other shows that are also my favourite in that never seemed to catch on with the mainstream crowd (like Futurama, Dilbert, etc.). So why is this so? Here’s a couple of reasons why My Life as a Teenage Robot is currently undervalued.

1. The Plots Are More Complex Than They First Appear

One of the things levelled at the show is that the stories aren’t overly complex; that they’re too simple and pale in comparison to some other shows out there. Well, that is certainly the case, but it is on purpose. The show just happens to be one that doesn’t rely on overly complex stories and is none the worse for it. It’s a fun show, not an epic one like say, Avatar. There is some continuity with the likes of Vexus and the Space Biker Gang that plays out over the seasons, but the stories themselves are complex in how they are resolved. Jenny doesn’t rely on her abilities near as much as you might think.

2. A Kick-Ass Heroine Is Still Quite Rare In TV Shows

We’re starting to see more of these (Korra being the latest) but a lead female protagonist is still a rarity in TV shows, especially animated ones. My Life As A Teenage Robot helped break the mold, and with a robot at that! Jenny is a very strong character that shows how it is possible to avoid the most egregious of stereotypes and still maintain her identity (and a few laughs along the way).

3. The Strong Emphasis On A Cohesive Show Design

One of the things that initially attracted me to the show was it’s sheer focus on design. The creator-driven shows of the 90s are well known for their focus on a strong sense of design; harkening back to the cartoon modern shows of the 50s and 60s, where style was the be all and end all of a show. MLaaTR continues the trend but does so with a heavy emphasis on Art Deco. While it isn’t as strong or forward-looking as Carlos Ramos’ The X’s, it does complement the show nicely and it is great to see one of the revolutionary 20th century styles used to effectively; giving the show a modern, contemporary look but retaining the appearance of class. It’s no coincidence (or hinderence) that the use of Art Deco also echos back to the vintage cartoons of the 1930s like Felix the Cat and even more so the Fleischer Bros.

4. The Use of Colour

This is a topic that will necessitate a full post in the foreseeable future, but needless to say, the show made excellent and effective use of colour that puts it on an entirely different level compared to other shows. It’s something we haven’t really seen since.

5. The Subtle Jokes

Yes, they are in there, and they’re even more subtle than you can imagine. While this may not do much for some, it’s the fact that they are just as knowing as the more blatant examples that makes them funny.

6. The Not-So-Subtle References

The Return of Raggedy Android - note the Hubley reference

Like just about every show that came along after The Simpsons, MLaaTR has its fair share of pop-culture references. These are much more blatant that the jokes but are nonetheless entertaining. Chief among them is Wizzly World and Uncle Wizzly, and all-too noticeable nod to Disney World and Walt Disney. Besides that, there are also plenty of nods to super heroes (how could there not), other TV shows (Samurai Vac anyone?) and Japan and Japanese culture.

7. The Cast

Not to go unnoticed are the voice cast. There are your usual suspects but two stand out in Candi Milo doing a great turn as Mrs. Wakeman and the late Earth Kitt who brings a surprising performance as Queen Vexus with a perfect menacing undertone.

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Desert Island Discs – Animation Edition

Not familiar with Desert Island Discs? Well, it’s a BBC radio show wherein people come on and discuss what albums (amongst other things) that they would have take with them if they were to be stranded on a tropical island. It’s nominally a chance for the guests to discuss facets of their life and/or their reasons for choosing what they chose. So what would a Desert Island Discs animation edition be like, and what would I choose? Let’s assume that there is a TV on the island, so I’m not stuck with 8 pieces of animation and nothing to view them on.

1. The Secret of Kells

How could I not? Stunningly beautiful 2-D animation and Irish to boot, this would absolutely have to be in my trunk.

2. The Incredibles

Is this not the most badass poster you've seen for this film?

By far the best animated superhero film ever made. Classic story, wonderful animation and a superb cast of characters.

3. Spirited Away

The existential choice. You can’t argue with Miyazaki’s mastery of storytelling and this is perhaps his best and most whimsical film in that regard. If you’re marooned on a desert island, escaping into another fantasy world from time to time is a must.

4. My Life As A Teenage Robot

I only just got this on DVD so there’s no way I’d be leaving it behind so soon. Gorgeous art deco style and some funny/dramatic episodes to boot.

5. Fantasia

The ubiquitous Disney choice. Not necessarily my favourite and I was going to go with Snow White, but Fantasia has an altogether more rounded feel. Lovely, fluid animation from some of the masters, classical music and themes and of course, the Sorcerer’s Apprentice. All-in-all, this represented the pinnacle of animated technical wizardry for a long time.

6. Evangelion


I’m not a huge fan of anime, but this series certainly roped me in big time. A bit dark perhaps, but a great story and a cast of characters that constantly produce sparks.

7. Futurama

Do I really need to justify this one?

8. The Iron Giant

Yes, Brad Bird’s superb hand-drawn feature is too good to leave behind. Disney-level visuals and animation combine with a fantastic story that supports a cast of characters that seems to be the norm for Brad’s animated films.

So those are mine, now let’s hear your Desert Island animated discs. What 8 pieces would you choose to be stranded with?

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My Life as a Teenage Robot Now on DVD!

All three seasons of one of the most underrated cartoons of the last decade are now on DVD through Amazon. At $19.99, they aren’t the cheapest, but seeing as this show is well overdue for a release and that DVD is in the twilight years of its existence, you should consider it a worthwhile investment.

Season 1

Season 2

Season 3

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Seven Superb Title Cards From My Life as a Teenage Robot

The other day, I cam across the blog of Steve Joseph Holt, a rather talented artist whose worked on some of your favourite cartoons from the last decade or so. Long story short, on his portfolio, I noticed that he was responsible for a couple of title cards for My Life as a Teenage Robot.

So of course, I couldn’t resist going back and looking through them all and I once again realised how awesome they really are. I mean, fair play to Fred for insisting upon them on all of his shows, and then following up with an entire book devoted to them.

Anyway, here’s 7 of the best from the entire series’ run.


The Return of Raggedy Android - note the Hubley reference
Daydream Believer - surely a reference to The Monkees

The Wonderful World of Wizzly – perhaps a reference to…oh, we all know who it is.

Teen Team Time
Dancing with my Shell - Don't you just love the subtle use of the clef symbols?
Girl of Steal - A great play on a familiar title
No Harmony With Melody - There's only one great reference, but it's done twice.

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