Animation for Adults has Become Staler than Week-old Bread

Bojack Horesman is Netflix’s attempt to break into the lucrative world of animation that caters to that holy grail known as the male, 18-35 demographic. The innovation of course, is that this is from Netflix, the pretender to the HBO crown of critically acclaimed programming. For all the success of House of Cards and Orange is the New Black, Bojack fails to hit the same mark and provides the latest scrap of evidence that making animation for anyone older than 16 is a conundrum the continues to bedevil anyone willing to take a crack at it. Why is that the case though?

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A Futurama Beer Appreciation Post

While it’s older and more famous brother has the one and only Duff, Futurama take a slightly different tack when it comes to beer. Here’s a Futurama beer appreciation post for your pleasure.

LöBrau

Klein’s Beer

Bendërbrau

St. Pauli Exclusion Principle Beer

Sam Adams’ Head Boston Lager

Pabst Blue Robot

Olde Fortran Malt Liqour

Technically not a beer, but a funny reference nonetheless

Many thank to the Brookston Beer Bulletin for their list of fictional beers!

When Art, Pop Culture and Copyright Collide

Art, pop culture and copyright are three things I have an interest in, and when they all collide, we get awesome things like this piece by Aled Lewis which is currently for sale on Gallery 1988’s website.

Vote Bender B. Rodriguez for DC School Board!

Via: Nerd Bastards

Such a slogan may not be as outrageous as it sounds.

Via Techdirt, researchers testing an electronic voting system in Washington DC were able to breach the system’s security arrangements and above all, install fictional candidates on the ballot, one of whom happened to be Bender.

Choice comments from Slashdot include:

Why not Zoidberg?

If elected I promise to KILL ALL HUMANS! Hey, you said there’d be hookers at this convention.

Have you ever tried simply turning off the TV, sitting down with your children, and hitting them?

 

My Favourite Christmas TV Specials

Via: IGN

OK, yes, I mentioned some yesterday, but those were live-action specials, not the animated kind.

When it comes to animation, there is invariably the holiday special because, well, kids don’t notice, but adults (and networks) do. They are inevitably set around Christmas time of the year and may involve either an escapade based around the presents or one based around Santa.

Sadly a lot of them are somewhat formulaic although when it comes to the whole concept, there’s not a lot of ways you can deviate from the expected.

The Simpsons gives us a great Christmas story in the ‘Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire’ which also happened to be the premiere episode way back in 1989. Instead of the usual kids-and-Santa focused antics, it very much laid out the fact that Homer had to struggle his way through Christmas, including taking a job as a department store Santa. This was certainly a deviation from the norm and is worth of a lot of praise for exploring a fact that is rather glossed-over in this country.

On a side note, there is the other Matt Groening Christmas film, Olive, the Other Reindeer which although very much simpler in form than The Simpsons, also contains little nuggets of adult humour. It’s also worth checking out if you happen to find it on TV over the holidays.

As for my favourite Christmas special, well, that one would be Futurama. “Xmas Story” is rife with all the usual quirks that Futurama has become known for. Being set in the year 3000, Santa is actually a robot who’s sensors have been set to high and thus everyone is judged to be ‘naughty’ and is killed on sight.

The episode does go off in a whole load of silly directions with the concept (including Fry indulging in a bit of Harold Lloyd-esque clinging to a giant clock) but in the end, it epitomises the whole idea of Christmas bringing people together and being thankful for what you’ve got.

Well, looking a that list, it’s fair to say that it is pretty much completely dominated by Matt Groening. He has a monopoly on my favourite Christmas shows! Well, no he doesn’t, there are dozens of specials aimed specifically at kids but I cannot recall them all at this point of the morning. Perhaps next year I can list off my favourite cartoon Christmas specials instead.

A Comparison Between The Jetsons and Futurama

Via: Cinemafique and Ten.com

I am obliged to acknowledge my girlfriend Alicia for the inspiration for this post.

Here we have two of my favourite cartoons that happen to deal with living in the future. One was created in the 1960s and is set in 2062, the other ostensibly the late 1990s and thereafter and is set in the year 3000. Both shows make light of the fact that technological advances have not necessarily made life easier for the human population.

The nature of each shows conception and production play an important role in understanding why each show is the way it is. The Jetsons, created by Hanna-Barbera is clearly the polar opposite of The Flintstones. One is set in the future, the other in the past. However that is where the similarities end. The Flintstones played on the fact that even though they are set in the Stone Age, the characters enjoy all the modern conveniences a real person would. The Jetsons on the other hand is much more a flight of fancy towards the world of tomorrow.

Futurama, while also aimed at prime-time audiences, does not share the same utopian view. In New New York, the culture is rather like the one of today. There is plenty of chaos, but there is also plenty of enjoyment to be had from living in the future. Whereas The Jetsons limited themselves to robots, Futurama goes a step further with aliens.

Granted, the two shows aimed for completely different audiences, and as a result, the humour tends to be quite different. The Jetsons centres very much on the nuclear family, with a hard-working husband bearing the brunt of any comedic escapades that occur. Futurama centres instead on a lazy bachelor and his cohort of work chums who happen to be just as lazy and/or self-centred as himself.

Each show has its own comedic traits so it’s not really fair to directly compare jokes, although both shows make heavy use of the unexpected results from using technology, either through George Jetson getting hauled around by the robot who dresses him or Fry who has a hard time adjusting to the fact that the Moon has been turned into a place with a theme park on it.

Both shows represent the era in which they were created quite well. The Jetson is full of Googie architecture that epitomized the optimism of the future. This was back when we were all supposed to be living on the Moon by the year 2000 and robots and/or automation would take care of our every convenience.

Futurama rounds on these beliefs a little bit, but that is more because we have been told the same thing over and over again since the 50s and we still haven’t sent a person back to the Moon. While we are somewhat awed by the advances of technology in Futurama, we are much more affected by the laughs we get when said technology goes awry, or indeed when it does something completely unexpected.

It is perhaps not really fair to compare two shows that are so vastly different in nature. They are aimed at different audiences, were created at two completely different points in American history and culture and represent two extremely different views of the future.

The Jetsons is also set much closer to the present (currently 52 years away) whereas we still have a whole millennium to go before we get to that time period. That is part of the reason why Matt Groening and David X. Cohen set it that far into the future. Their reasoning was that we have no idea what life will be like after 1,000 years and that makes it all the more believable and expands the opportunities for ideas and laughs.

Personally, I think Futurama is the closer one to the real future, what with all its snarky humour, and yet the Jetsons remains one of my favourites, if only because it is at this point, a throwback to what people expected the future to be like and also because the humour is more akin to The Flintstones. Both shows are entertaining predictions of life in the future that in their own respects, are right.

The Return of Futurama…Again

What do I need to say that hasn’t already been said. Futurama is a show with more lives than a cat. Not only that, it is also, by far, my favourite animated TV show of all time. OK, I admit it, I tend to lean towards the geeky side of life, and I do tend to get some of the more intelligent jokes that the writers ever so craftily put into the show.

Tomorrow night (Friday) sees the third dawn for a TV show that under any normal circumstances would have been mothballed aeons ago and left at that. However, as we’re all well familiar with, just because a TV show has been cancelled does not mean it is as dead as you might think. Family Guy set the gold standard simply because fans went out and spent their hard earned money on the DVDs. Why did they do that? The show was damned funny, that’s why!

Futurama would follow a similar pattern, although as you may not be aware of, due to the arcane release “windows” that many (if not all) of the TV networks instigate, Futurama DVD boxsets were on sale in Europe months (if not years) before the US, where the show was still in the syndication “window” of its release.

Having said that, it was this system of syndication that may have helped save the show (and Family Guy too). Cartoon Network stepped up and began broadcasting episodes every night at 10 o’clock. It was strong ratings for these broadcasts that eventually resulted in a full-scale bidding war for the rights after [adult swim]’s deal expired.

Comedy Central was a winner and they immediately commissioned new episodes that were subsequently rounded up into 4 DVD movies before being broadcast. Strong sales of these movies (I do own all four) convinced the good people at Comedy Central that a proper series was needed.

Thus we come to today (or rather tomorrow) when the first of these new episodes will be broadcast. The show has come a long way since 1998 when it blasted onto the FOX network. Always the sister to The Simpsons, it was constantly pushed around the schedule, which in my opinion significantly contributed to the (supposedly) low ratings. A similar fate befell Family Guy until it’s return when it set up shop at a dedicated time. It has enjoyed good ratings ever since.

After the original cancellation (actually, the commentaries on the DVDs mention that the show was never actually “cancelled” in the traditional sense, it’s contract was simply never renewed), there was much talk about how it was a result of being a sci-fi show and how it didn’t match up to The Simpsons in terms of humour and so forth. Nothing could be further from the truth! In reality, Futurama has been able to maintain it’s high standard of quality jokes and storylines in stark contrast to the sharp fall the Simpsons has experiences of late.

With an order of 22 episodes, there will be plenty of new Futurama to come for quite a while. It’s fate after that is still uncertain, but I hope that this, the third attempt, will see Futurama be successful enough for a proper conclusion to the series. That’s all I have to say on the matter for now. I’ll post a review of the season thus far in a couple of weeks.