Disclaimer: This post is a boring precursor for 'less boring' posts, hopefully, that are to follow in future.
Watching cartoons has been a favourite pass-time of mine since the ‘He-Man’ days in Doordarshan. Most of the cartoon characters of those days had exaggerated expressions vocally or facially or both. And for someone like me, who could hear what they were saying but couldn’t understand a single word, it helped a lot. I enjoyed the mere tonal reverberations in my ear. But things changed when Murdock’s channels entered India[1]. For the first time I started paying attention to the dialogues. That’s also when I started wondering how I enjoyed Tom and Jerry so much till then.

The Simpsons (then telecast in Star Plus every Saturday at 4.30[2]) was the first show that had little that was visually funny; you had to 'understand' what's being spoken. I mean, just make out the words, and then of course you need to know their meanings, the context, the innuendos, the sarcasms, the stereotypes and all that. In spite of all these problems, I found it funny. When I compare myself with what I see now and what I saw back then, I realize that I had gotten less than 10% of the jokes. But amazingly, it motivated me to try more stuff. That’s when I started watching Dexter’s Lab, Dog House (changed to 2 Stupid Dogs), Johnny Bravo and the occasional ‘What a Cartoon Show’. These shows had an exceptional blend of comedic routines going with characters’ quirkiness.

As years passed, Cartoon Network came up with more cartoons that were just as funny (they were all categorized together as ‘Cartoon Cartoons’). ‘I AM Weasel’, ‘Samurai Jack’, ‘Courage the Cowardly Dog’ and ‘Sheep in the Big City’ were some of my favourite shows. By this time -- thanks to the hours I spent watching Star World, Zee English, HBO etc., – I had gained considerable knowledge about the American pop-culture; an essential requirement to understanding their jokes.

When I left India, I was introduced to a whole new genre of cartoons here. For the first time I saw some truly 'adult oriented' cartoon shows. Family Guy and South Park were instant attractions. Then I found there’s a slot called ‘Adult Swim’ in Cartoon Network. It features some of my current favourites – ‘Home Movies’, ‘Aqua Teen Hunger Force’, Futurama and ‘The Boondocks’. ‘Home Movies’ is exceptional in that it has practically nothing that is out of the ordinary. It hardly relies on animation or stereotypes to be funny. It thrives on characters that mock one another subtly in regular everyday situations. It's loaded with witticisms. The children in Home Movies go through the occasional sombre periods that is steeped in irony.

I thought I’ll link some of my favourite episodes from these ‘not-so-popular-among-many-Indians’ shows and share what I enjoyed. Because, very often more than being funny they’ve had some profound philosophical references (well, at least I personally related to).

1 When Cable TV was introduced in the early 90s Star Plus and Prime Sports (and MTV?) were the only 'Star' channels.
2 This was in 1995 when I was 13 years old.


Priya said...

Haha... I think you and my sister are the same. She just sits near the tv watching cartoon network and never let's me watch other channels. Although i enjoy watching cartoons, like Tom and Jerry and other funny cartoons, i don't like cartoon network cartoons that much. The cartoon you posted above was very funny. I think i'll go and see them often in youtube. Already i've watched a lot of south park episodes. All of them are great!:)

Suresh said...

I don't like TnJ so much..well I used to. Even now some episodes are funny, especially the ones produced by Fred Quimby. You can see a visible differenc from his and the rest. But I started get in to the cult mode of cartoons when I started watching Cartoon Network productions (Dexter, JB etc.).

Each one has its own comedic style and Home Movies is just subtle, sarcastic dry humour. Way different from South Park and Family Guy. I can watch 10, 12 episodes of Home Movies without getting bored. Can't say the same about any other show.

Raghavan said...

South Park and Family Guy hands down the best comedies (though South Park accuses Family Guy's brand of humor to be generally disconnected from the plot).
If I remember correctly, Johnny Bravo, 2 Stupid Dogs, EdEddEddie, Courage the Cowardly Dog, Dexter etc. were originally experimental pieces as part of the What a cartoon show and later promoted to having their own show
Weasel, Sheep in the Big City, Pinky and the Brain are some of my favorites as well.

I think Kollywood directors should take lessons in editing and scriptwriting from these shows. And Vivek could borrow a routine or two and build on it.. There's so much material in there.

CartoonSecrets said...

Hi and thanks for the opportunity to post on your nice blog.

I just developed a website dedicated to cartoons and different cartoon heroes. It’s still young, but growing at a fast pace ;)

So far I have covered these cartoon series briefly, but I am planning to add more details on characters and individual episodes.

Baby Looney Tunes
Batman animated series
Cow and Chicken
Dexter's Laboratory
Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends
Johnny Bravo
Justice League
Samurai Jack
Yu-Gi-Oh GX

Hope you like my site and I’d be interested in exchanging ideas or content with similar websites or blogs.

Best regards,


Suresh said...

@ I don't think Trey and Matt were not too serious when they made fun Family Guy in 'Cartoon Wars'. But yeah, I have sometimes hated FG when they digress in to something that isn't funny at all or when they try too hard. And there's also the fact that they almost stole the idea from Simpsons (while Simpsons would just say it "it's like the time we went to Disneyland" and proceed with the plot, FG would take us there).

Yeah that's right; 'What a Cartoon Show' was like the pilot to feature all CN productions.

About borrowing ideas, I know! But in India, people don't have the 'you know what' to make fun of people in pop culture. The closest they can come to is making silly parodies (like Lollu Sabha). Goundamani used to an amazing job with everything. With them died a long run of quality comedy in Tamil movies. TV, kekave vendam it was never too funny.

@Michael - Sure, I would love to share pseudo-reviews on some of favourite cartoons in 'Adult Swim' and otherwise.

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