Napoleon Dynamite, Animated

The original Napoleon Dyanamite was the sleeper movie of 2004. Besides being a pretty decent movie, it gave rise to a number of cultural phenomenons, namely “Vote for Pedro” T-shirts. In recent days, word has come through AWN that an animated series based on the film is in the works.

There are a number of curious aspects to this announcement. First of all, why now, more than 5 years after the fact? Surely it would have made more sense to strike while the iron is hot? Surely nothing indicates the dwindling public appetite more than the Napoleon Dynamite Festival, which was held for a few years after the film was released but was discontinued due to near non-existent attendance numbers, right?

The other question I’m asking myself is where will it be broadcast? As it turns out, FOX is the one who is hoping betting heavily that the series will take off. When it would be broadcast is another matter. Sunday is firmly the realm of Seth McFarlane and FOX has yet to find an animated hit for a weeknight outside of The Simpsons.

The overall idea could stand up as a series, but the characters will not. Back in 2004 they were fun for 90-odd minutes, but can you imagine them coming back every single week? Things could get very stale very quick. Past experience has shown us that even a show with a great plot, diverse characters and progressive animation can get tossed over the fence almost as soon as it hits the airwaves.

Personally, I wish the Hess brothers all the best with their endevours, just don’t expect me to be waiting with baited breath.

The Declining Quality of Animation on FOX

It was akin to a religion for me, and the only night of the week when I would absolutely have to watch “my shows”, yet recently, I have begun to skip Sunday nights altogether. Yes, FOX still has a full schedule of animated shows that is completely unrivalled by other networks, save for perhaps [Adult Swim].

What happened? Where has the love gone? Well, I’m not entirely sure. Let’s start at 8 o’clock and go from there.

The Simpsons. What can I say that hasn’t already been said ever since Principal Skinner was outed by Martin Sheen as an impostor. The quality of the show has clearly fallen since the heady days of the 90s and some people have been actively campaigning for the show’s cancellation in recent times (shoutout to the Dead Homers Society).

While it is clear that the show will be around for a wee while yet, it is unclear just how much farther it can fall. For example, last Sunday night’s episode was about a beached whale and not much else. If it wasn’t for the combination of a thunderstorm and some ice-cream, I may well have nodded off.

The Simpsons continues to hobble along being a mere ghost of it’s former self. Even the shows that supposedly outdid it are themselves falling into laziness (see below). The future beyond The Simpsons does not seem particularly bright as they are such a hard act to follow, here’s hoping FOX makes a decent choice.

Moving on to 8:30, we now have the Cleveland Show. For the previous decade, we were treated to a mild-mannered Texan and is cronies. Looking back, I should have been more appreciative of Mike Judge’s unique brand of humour. In between the launch of The Cleveland Show, were were treated to the severely underrated Sit Down, Shut Up. I’ve made my thoughts known before, but suffice to say, I believe SDSU was sorely needed in a full-time slot. Sadly, FOX didn’t agree.

The Cleveland Show as we all know is a spin-off from Family Guy, which pretty much says it all. Even though the humour is not near as pointed as it’s parent, it is still recognizable for the crass jokes and wacky neighbours. As a show it is funny enough, but the show that follows does not do it any favours.

Family Guy is the comeback king (well, almost, Futurama has to be the comeback king, seeing as it was even deader that Family Guy when it was resurrected a few years ago) and since its return has proven to be a strong ratings success. OK, sure the jokes have gotten even more borderline and the plots have evolved to the point where the characters have practically no, um, character.

When viewed immediately after Cleveland, the similarities are too easy to miss. Both shows together end up leaving me feeling like I wasted half an hour in there somewhere, even though I didn’t.

The best show doesn’t begin until 9:30. Even then, it falls far short of the Simpsons in their prime but that didn’t stop me praising the show a while back. I still stand by that post. Why? Well compared with Family Guy and The Cleveland Show, American Dad! is breath of fresh air. OK, the first season was pretty lame with its overbearing political slant, but since then the show has matured enough to the point that it’s half decent.

For me though, it’s on a bit late, the curse of having to get up at 6 every morning in order to hit the gym before work. This late timeslot also seems to render it the forgotten child in the promos during the earlier shows. In the grand scheme of things, it continues to survive, which I am grateful for.

Having said all the above, I do appreciate that FOX continues to have faith in animation and does continue to look for new shows with the aim of replacing ones as they inevitably peter out. It’s just that right now, the evening is filled with shows that are so desperately boring overall, that I would much rather watch any one of Hayao Miyazaki’s films for the 20th time.

FOX needs to realize that staying in a comfort zone for too long isn’t healthy. I understand that they can’t add more hours to the day, but with the overall shift to on-demand viewing, they could easily vary the schedule from week to week without any severe damage. I have hope for the future, but right now, I’m just one fan who would rather watch something else on a Sunday night.

How The Simpsons Interacts With Other Cartoons

The very first issue of MAD I ever bought (via Fanpop.com)

News comes to us from The Animation Blog about The Simpsons congratulating South Park on their 200th episode. Which brings up an interesting thought, The Simpsons is the longest running animated show on TV (or ever for that matter) right? Well, we all know how other animated shows have honoured, recognized, satirized and downright lampooned The Simpsons, but how have they responded in kind?

First off though, a trivia question: The Simpsons has parodied many shows, but has only ever made a direct homage to one. Which show is it? The answer is at the bottom.

The creators, being who they are, were bound to reference other forms of entertainment linked with animation. Comic books got a look very early on in the life of the series, but so did other cartoons. On numerous occasions, references have been made to various Hanna-Barbera shows. Notably The Flintstones in the opening sequence of “Marge Vs. The monorail” where Homer is shown leaving work in a fashion similar to Fred Flintstone. In one of their trademark couch gags, the family is shown coming home to find Fred, Wilma, Pebbles and Dino in their place (Kamp Krusty).

Satire has often been prevalent. Many will remember when South Park engaged the ire of Marge Simpson (“The Bart of War” which was, in fact, a get-back for an episode of South Park wherein it was inferred that the Simpsons had already done every possible plot in a TV show).

The Simpsons has, over the years, reacted with it’s cousins on the FOX network. King of Hill was done when Bart was watching Hank complain about “propane in my urethra“. Perhaps the most controversial has been the back and forth between The Simpsons and Family Guy.

Both shows are extremely similar and both have an oafish father as the protagonist. Although the relationship between both shows is cordial, and it is fun to see the jokes fly. So far, I count when Homer was run down by Stewie in the driveway, or when Peter Griffin was wanted by the Italian police as a “plagarisimo”.

Over the years the Simpsons has also referenced anime (during the family’s trip to Japan), Czech animation (the Russion Itchy & Scratchy replacement) and even independent films (Spike & Mike’s Sick, Twisted & F**ked Up Film Festival). The comedy in these references and parodies is genius, which has no doubt flown under the radar of the average viewer for years as inside jokes to people in the know (that would be you and I).

So, did you guess it? Here’s the answer:

[livevideo id=http://www.livevideo.com/video/C5FD97BB261A48F1B3C9AB3D075491BA/ren-stimpy-in-the-simpsons.aspx]

If that’s not working, click here!

Yup, that isn’t actual footage, but it is the absolute closest the Simpsons has ever got to featuring another show. Yeah, I know, there was “The Critic” but that’s not the same and requires a post for another day.

What importance  does this clip hold? For one it shows the admiration of the Simpsons creators for the one and only John K. The colours are accurate, the voices are ably espoused by Dan Castellenatta and the animation is spot on. The respect is clear, no other show has been given such accurate reproduction by the Simpsons.

So the conclusion to all this is that The Simspons love John K. and think he’s great!