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Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: tv, Most Recent at Top [Help]
Results 1 - 25 of 728
1. The ‘New Yorker’ Discovers ‘Adventure Time’ After Five Seasons

This week's issue of "The New Yorker" does something that they rarely ever do: review an animated TV series. The show they elected to discuss is "Adventure Time."

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2. How The Producer of ‘Green Lantern’ Learned That Animation Focus Groups Are Nonsense

"Green Lantern: The Animated Series" showrunner Giancarlo Volpe drew a mini-comic about his first experience attending a focus group for his series.

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3. A Behind-The-Scenes Look At Sylvain Chomet’s ‘Simpsons’ Opening

The elaborate "Simpsons" couch gag directed by Sylvain Chomet ("Triplets of Belleville," "The Illusionist") now has a making-of video courtesy of the production company that produced the opening, London-based th1ng.

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4. Watch: Bruce Timm’s New Short ‘Batman: Strange Days’

DC Comics has posted online the new Bruce Timm short "Batman: Strange Days" that was created in honor of the character's 75th anniversary.

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5. Clips from Tomorrow’s U.S. Premiere of ‘Tom and Jerry Show’

The first extended clips have been released from The Tom and Jerry Show which premieres tomorrow, April 9th, at 5:30/4:30 Central on Cartoon Network. The two epsiodes are “Cats Ruffled Furniture” and “Spike Gets Skooled.” I wrote a couple weeks ago that the show “doesn’t exhibit the basic graphic competency that is expected of a professional studio production in 2014,” and these clips do nothing to dispel that notion. How a Warner Bros. series with classic characters ever made it to air in this form is a mystery to me.

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6. ‘Sanjay and Craig’ Art Exhibit ‘Butt What Is Art?’ Opens This Week [Exclusive Art]

Nickelodeon is making a concerted effort to promote its renewed dedication to creativity at its animation studio. This week, they will open an art exhibit, “Butt What Is Art? A Sanjay and Craig Fine Art Retrospective,” at California State University, Fullerton’s Atrium Gallery (Pollak Library). The exhibit will focus on art created for, and inspired by, the series about an Indian boy and his talking snake:

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7. Bruce Timm’s New Short ‘Batman: Strange Days’ Will Premiere Next Week [Gallery]

Bruce Timm has completed a new short entitled "Batman: Strange Days" which will premiere on Cartoon Network next Wednesday, April 9th, following an episode of "Teen Titans Go!" (6:30pm ET/5:30pm CT). The monochromatic piece, which was created as part of this year's 75th anniversary Batman celebration, pits Batman against Dr. Hugo Strange, a classic "Detective Comics" villain who predates the Joker and Catwoman.

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8. Masaaki Yuasa’s ‘Ping Pong’ Series Looks Incredible

Table tennis sounds like just about the last thing that needs an animated series, but leave it to the Japanese to make the sport as exciting as a superhero action-adventure series. This is our first extended look at "Ping Pong," a new 11-episode animated series by Japanese director Masaaki Yuasa ("Mind Game," "The Tatami Galaxy") that will debut April 10th on Fuji TV’s late-night noitaminA block.

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9. Second Season of Mickey Mouse Shorts Will Debut in April

A second season of Mickey Mouse shorts will begin airing April 11th at 9pm (ET/PT) on the Disney Channel. Each new short will be available the day after its cable premiere on WATCH Disney Channel, Disney.com, iTunes, and YouTube.

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10. ‘Tom and Jerry Show’ Premieres April 9 on Cartoon Network

"The Tom and Jerry Show" will premiere Wednesday, April 9th, at 5:30pm (ET/PT) on Cartoon Network. It's being pitched as "a fresh take on the iconic frenemies that preserves the look, core characters and sensibilities of the original theatrical shorts." Unlike the original 6-7 minute theatrical shorts, which were produced during the 1940s-'50s, the new episodes will be 11-minutes each.

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11. New Season of ‘The Boondocks’ Excludes Its Creator Aaron McGruder

It was recently announced that, after a nearly four-year hiatus, the Adult Swim animated series "The Boondocks" would be returning on April 21st for its fourth and final season. However, any excitement that fans of the show experienced when hearing the news was cut short when they learned that the show’s creator, Aaron McGruder, would not be involved.

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12. Graphic Novel Week: Buffy Season 8: The Long Way Home

The Long Way Home Joss Whedon.

I know I’m totally late to this party, but Buffy didn’t end when the show did! Buffy lives! In comic book form!

So, now that all the potentials are slayers, they’re all divided up into different teams, working different parts of the world, killing baddies. But Willow’s missing, Amy’s back, and so is a gross skinless Jonathan. Plus, Dawn is a giant. And the Army thinks Buffy’s the enemy. All in a day’s work for a slayer!

But, this is a comic book with many over-reaching plot threads, and it jumps around a lot, which is a bit different from the show and took some getting used to. Also, while the characters look like the actors who played them, they’re still drawings and it’s a bit hard to get into. Luckily, the voice is still there, so I can "hear" it properly in my head. I’m really excited to see where this is going. I should have gotten a few volumes at ones, because I have to waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaait for the second one. It’s checked out. And I’m not the first person on the holds list for it! (Which is awesome, given these books came out in 2007 and they’re still popular!)

Book Provided by... my local library

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13. ‘Steven Universe’ Recap: ‘Onion Trade’

There’s something about Steven’s dad Greg that doesn’t add up. Will we ever really know why Greg distances himself from his son? This week in “Onion Trade," we explored a dad’s horrible ability to remember things, witnessed Steven’s lack of male role models, and learned a lot more about Onion, a character who revealed quite a few new layers.

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14. New Artwork from Nick’s Upcoming ‘Funny’ Shows

As part of its recent upfront presentation, Nickelodeon released new art from their previously announced series: "Pig Goat Banana Cricket," "Bad Seeds" and "Welcome to the Wayne." If their new slate of shows look comedy-centric, it's the result of Nick's market research, which revealed to them that children rank laughter as more important than vacation, family meals and holidays.

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15. False Detectives, True Discourses, and Excessive Exegeses


I got caught up in the hype, got curious, and found a way to watch True Detective. It's my kind of thing: a dark crime story/police procedural/serial killer whatzit. Also, apparently the writer of the show, Nic Pizzolatto, is aware of some writers I like, and even one I know, Laird Barron. (Hi Laird! You rock!) What struck me right from the beginning was the marvelous music, selected and produced by the great T-Bone Burnett, and the cinematography by Adam Arkapaw, who shot one of my favorite movies of recent decades, Snowtown, and also the very good film Animal Kingdom and the marvelous Jane Campion TV show Top of the Lake. Something about Arkapaw's sensitivity to color, light, and framing is pure mainlined heroin to my aesthetic pleasure centers. If I found out he'd shot a Ron Howard movie, I'd even watch that.

So many other people have discussed the show that there are now, I'm sure, nearly as many words written about it as there are words in Wikipedia. My own opinion of the show is of no consequence, though for the curious, here's what I said about it on Jeff VanderMeer's Facebook page, where some discussion was going on: "I liked the music, cinematography, most of the acting and directing, but thought the writing was all over the place from pretty good to godawful. And episodes 7 and 8 were like the Goodyear blimp deflating mid-air and landing in a bayou of drivel. (The stars, the stars! Use the Force, Rust! The Yellow King is YOUR FATHER!!! Oh, wait...)"

Much more interesting to me is the discourse around the show. Why did this show inspire such a fanatical response? Why did we feel compelled to respond? Zeitgeist, genre, etc. probably all play into it, but a fuller answer would require some time and research, particularly about how the show was marketed and where and how it first caught on. 

I'm enough of a pointy-headed academic to hope one day for a whole book about the construction of True Detective's appeal, something that doesn't neglect the material aspects: budgets, advertising, Twitter. I'd also like to see analyses of fan responses to mystery/crime shows — for instance, a comparison of fan speculations between seasons 2 and 3 of Sherlock and fan speculations about the mysteries of True Detective before the finale. The choice in season 3 of Sherlock to offer a relatively acceptable but not definitive answer to the mystery of how Sherlock lived was, I thought, quite smart, because even though the creators probably had (unlike Conan Doyle) an idea of an answer when they wrote Sherlock's "death", they realized by the time it came to write season 3 that no answer they could provide would be satisfying after two years of fan speculations.  

True Detective took a different approach, partly because they didn't realize viewers would react the way they did, or that the show would be subject to so much ratiocination, and so they gave a rather ridiculous and clichéd end to the mystery, one that made not a whole lot of sense and tied up only the most obvious of loose ends. Pizzolatto's interest was more in the characters than the plot, or perhaps not even the characters so much as the mood and the projection of an idea of complexity rather than any actual complexity. 


That's the great illusion the show tries to pull off: the illusion of depth. And it does pull it off, thanks to the excessive exegeses of viewers. The exegeses make the depth real — the excess is the depth supplementing the show's surface. Now that we have explored so many assumed clues, we have added a megatext (or megatexts), and so the show becomes vastly more than it was on its own. We have, as it were, colored in the lines, whether they were there for anybody else or not. I don't mean that as a criticism. Some texts invite obsessive interpretation. The process of interpreting widens the text for us, even if we choose to reject the interpretation. I thought most of the ideas about The Shining offered in the documentary Room 237 were bonkers — but I immediately watched The Shining yet again (20th viewing? 30th?) after listening to them all, and I loved the movie more than ever.

I am, myself, now falling into exegesis more than I intended. (It's fun to posit signs as wonders!) Really, what I wanted to do was collect a few writings about True Detective that I particularly liked, that got me thinking. The show has inspired some good writing about it. Here then, before they get lost in the din, are a few fragments I'll shore against these ruins........


Jacob Mikanowski at LA Review of Books:
The Southern Louisiana of True Detective is part truth and part myth. But just by showing so much of it, the show puts us in contact with its real history, even if it doesn’t spell everything out. But there are hints, especially on the margins. There’s the history of pollution, visible in the omnipresent cracking towers and in the condition of Dora Lange’s mother as well as the relative of another victim, a one-time baseball pitcher disabled by a series of strokes. There’s Louisiana’s French and Spanish past, glimpsed momentarily in the Courir and in a stray allusion by Rust to the Pirate Republic of Barataria. And then there’s the history of segregation and racism, barely present except for the suggestion that the schools most of the victims attended were a way around busing — like the “segregation academies” that sprang up in different parts of the Deep South as a response to Brown vs. the Board of Education.

In my dream version of the show, the detectives are historians or archivists. They could work equally well somewhere in the Mississippi Delta or Eastern Poland. The crimes they investigate are buried in the past, and the thing they realize eventually isn’t just that everyone knew, but that everyone was complicit. Coincidentally, while the first episodes aired, I happened to be reading Trouble in Mind, Leon Litwack’s magisterial history of the lives of Black Southerners under Jim Crow. And although I shouldn’t have been, I was shocked by his account of lynching — at how common it was, how popular, and how public. The audiences that gathered for lynchings were huge, and their appetite for suffering — burning and other tortures — as spectacle couldn’t be satisfied by mere killing. Children even played their own games of hanging and being hung. True Detective doesn’t go there — but in the sense it creates, of a past that infects the present, of ritualized violence that doesn’t end even after it officially disappears — it starts to open the door.

Dustin Rowles at Pajiba:
That is literary inefficiency, and while it’s easier to understand in the context of a longer season in the midst of a longer series where it’s often necessary to pad out the episodes, and where showrunners are often forced by more demanding production schedules to wing it along the way, Pizzolatto had only eight episodes to write and the ability to plan out the entire season in advance. The irony, of course, is that he still had all the ingredients necessary to create a more compelling ending, and yet he still he chose to stick with the simpler, “There’s a Monster in the End” storyline. It’s a shame, too, because Pizzolatto obviously has a deep understanding of literature, and yet he chose the television ending over the literary one. Unfortunately, it seems, he knows how to introduce literary allusions, but he doesn’t show us he knows how to utilize them.

Joseph Laycock at Religion Dispatches:
Of course, there’s nothing inherently wrong with a happy ending. But the final message of True Detective reinforces a dangerous mythology that’s already endemic in American popular culture. The brutal misogyny of the heroes, their willingness to commit all manner of felonies—this was not a Nietzchean tale of those who hunt monsters becoming monsters themselves. Instead, this is a moral universe where anything is justified as long as your opponent is “truly” evil and good “gains some territory.” This is about as far from Lovecraft’s cosmic horror as one can get. 

Spencer Kornhaber at The Atlantic:
Certainly Marty’s violence and sexism isn’t appealing; certainly Rust deserves the eye rolls that other characters threw his way. But creating flawed heroes isn’t subversive—it’s doing exactly what any decent fiction writer is supposed to do. A subversion would have been to make those flaws figure into the main narrative in some unexpected but crucial way. Maybe the “good guys” botch the case. Or maybe, per the theories mentioned before, they’re connected to the murders in ways they don’t understand till it’s too late.

Instead, both main characters got a fair amount of vindication in the end. Marty’s family doesn’t seem to hate him quite as much anymore. Rust believes in the afterlife now. They both go backslapping into the night. All of this comes from them catching a killer of women and children. So for the zillionth time in Western pop culture, men (straight, white ones at that) get psychic rewards for valorously risking themselves on behalf of the weak.

Susan Elizabeth Shepard at The Hairpin:
If you're going to make a dead sex worker the inciting incident for your story, if one of the central characters is defined by his rage about the sexual purity of the women in his life, it needs to pay off in the form of story advancement and character development, otherwise it's just gratuitous, sensational, "edgy." And for the last several episodes, it's become clear that the only satisfying way for the mystery to end is for Rust or Marty to be the killer. But we're gonna get some dumb conspiracy of Louisiana good ol' boys who worship the devil, which is going to be unsatisfying and also not give the proper payoff to all that violence against women, which then becomes just so many witchy antler decorations with no clear meaning.

Matt Zoller Seitz at Vulure:
Marty's hypocritical attitude toward his wife and daughters is positively Scorsesean in its misogyny. Never for a moment does the show pretend that he's got the right idea about fidelity, fatherhood, or anything else related to the women who live under his roof. He's got a gangster's idea of manhood: I'll do what I please, and you do whatever I tell you. He's the king of his castle, everyone else is a serf. Rust, meanwhile, is haunted equally by the death of his daughter (and subsequent guilt over his failure to preserve his marriage afterward) and his rocky relationship with his father, to whose home state, Alaska, he briefly returned; he's destroyed by his inability to live up to an unrealistic standard of manly strength, goodness, and patience. It makes both dramatic and rhetorical sense that Marty and Rust's interrogators would be two black men, and that many of the detective's most mortifying and self-destructive moments stem from their inability to deal with women in an honest and non-condescending way. The show's disinterest in race relations and inability to resist gratuitous T&A shots damages its credibility greatly in this department, but the notion that True Detective is purely a white male supremacist fantasy is not remotely supported by the evidence. 

Lili Loofbourow at LA Review of Books:
Ask a woman whether Errol Childress matches the monster at the end of our dreams — I doubt you’ll get many nods. But there is a monster we might dream about in True Detective, and he’s everything a monster should be: murderous, violent, deeply sympathetic, and totally adept at spinning the Cohles of the world to his side. Here’s to TV’s greatest and most affable monster, Marty Hart.

Henry Farrell at Crooked Timber:
Another interpretation, which seems to me to be equally plausible, is that the catharsis of the closing episode is false, and deliberately so. The darkness continues. Marty’s inattention to his family has had profound costs. The show strongly suggests that one of Marty’s daughters has been the victim of sexual abuse, in ways that mirror the detective story, just as the detective story mirrors the story of Marty’s family. Marty doesn’t seem aware of this at all. If Marty and Rust conclude that the light as winning, it is only because they fail to see the darkness that surrounds them, and cannot see it, so long as they continue to live in a world of purely brotherly camaraderie, a war of light against dark where one responds to male violence only with more violence and leaves women’s business to the women. Even when you are confronted with your true situation, you cannot necessarily free yourself from it. The detective’s curse means that you do not escape from Carcosa. You only think that you do because you are willfully blind to the Carcosa that surrounds you, the labyrinth made of the circle that is invisible and everlasting.

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16. Cartoon Network’s 2014-’15 Lineup Includes The Fantasy Mini-Series ‘Over The Garden Wall’

The Cartoon Network upfronts took place yesterday and the now Stu Snyder-free network presented its slate of upcoming shows for the 2014-'15 season to their advertising and promotional partners.

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17. ‘Steven Universe’ Recap: ‘So Many Birthdays’ and ‘Lars and the Cool Kids’

“So Many Birthdays” 
Written and Storyboarded by Raven M. Molisee and Paul Villeco. “Lars and the Cool Kids” Storyboarded by Lamar Abrams and Matt Braly. Usually I walk away from Steven Universe having laughed a little, often forgetting what had happened as soon as it’s over but if things continue to be like “Giant Woman” and “So Many Birthdays” this show could end up meaning something special to me. This episode’s theme was heavy on the idea of growing up and the end result was a great realization that everyone should take into consideration. Once again we start with Pearl and Amethyst arguing about something irrelevant. A smell lingers in the air, and the Gems and Steven stumble upon a five-year-old burrito (likely the cause of the stench) and an “old timey” picture of the Gems and Steven’s mother. This brings us all to wonder how old the Gems really are. Thankfully, the always-inquisitive boy asks. The Gems live a long time, but they don’t show signs of aging like humans although they can get hurt. Steven then has to badger on about their birthdays – Garnet admits that’s not something Gems do or care about. Much like Steven, I was appalled by that. He then pledges to throw them each a birthday party.  Each Gem got her own special day that ended as a failure, even though they’re all wearing Steven’s lucky birthday suit–a cape and crown. Amethyst doesn’t understand the concept behind piñatas and asks the question I think we’ve all wondered: “You had candy and you just didn’t give it to us?” Steven tries to step it up by performing as a clown for Pearl’s party and telling jokes. They go over her head and she cringes at the pie-in-the-face bit. When Steven proclaims Garnet’s will be the “ultimate birthday,” you think, yeah – this is where it’ll all turn around. Nope. Kazoo racers weren’t a hit because riding in miniature cars and playing kazoos doesn’t sound appealing to the Gems. Their hesitance towards celebrating their birthdays leaves Steven questioning if he’s too old to blow out the candles on his special day anymore. This mental breakdown was probably my third favorite moment in this series so far; the first one came in a previous episode (we’ll touch on that later) and the second was in this week’s again, later on. Anyways, his breakdown led to a very interesting result…  Walking through a fog both in reality and in his mind, Steven continued to question birthdays and growing up. As he did this, his gem glowed and he started to age. At first it was just simple puberty; four hairs on his upper lip, noticeable vocal changes and acne. As he came to a store and decided a job was what he had to get, he became a five-o’clock-shadowed man standing tall. By the time he got to Lars’ shop, he looked like George Costanza from Seinfeld. After being run out of the store due to a misunderstanding about his ‘birthday suit’…his aging process escalates from looking like his dad to grandpa status; Gandalf beard and all. He is returned to the Gems thanks to his lion. Yup, that lion from “Steven’s Lion” was back this week, but didn’t play an essential part other than party attendee before this point. The Gems always show concern for Steven when he gets himself into a pickle but this was the first time they showed an emotional concern rather than an instinct to save. This was probably because they had to face death. With Steven being half-human, his death was a possibility and actual fear swept over his three gal pals as they tried to reverse his aging by over-celebrating the birthday rituals they’d learned: piñatas, tiny cars, clowns, and pies. Pearl, in tears, while trying to complete the clown bit was a hilarious moment in a tense situation.  Steven’s age starts to fluctuate with his state of mind, going back and forth between a boy and a man. Turns out, you’re as old as you feel. This lesson was my second favorite moment and goes hand in hand with my first, which so happens to be from “Frybo,” the episode that played wonderfully after this week’s new one – both of those dealt with the essence of adulthood and the way it feels like it’s strangling you even when you’re years from it. One can only hope that this theme continues because as much as Pearl and Amethyst butting heads is entertaining, these episodes that capture Steven’s journey to manhood are way more interesting. Since “So Many Birthdays” was the best I’ve seen from Steven Universe, I didn’t expect much from what Steven and Lars had to offer when they encountered the so-called cool kids in “Lars and the Cool Kids.” It was just okay, and the best part was a tossup between Steven defending his mother and Lars bombing at being cool. The Gems and Steven come across a huge quarry of nasty moss growing out of control that Steven’s mother planted once upon a time. Pearl points out that Steven’s mom, Rose Quartz, always saw “beauty in everything, no matter how gross,” which also might explain why she was with Steven’s dad in the first place. You can refer to the opening credits to check out what he looks like if you’ve forgotten since we haven’t seen him for a long while. After Pearl produces some police tape to keep the humans out of the moss, we lose the Gems for the rest of the episode as Steven heads out on his own for lunch at Fish Stew Pizza. There he comes across a reluctant Lars and fails to engage him with a high five. Lars is trying to play it cool as he lurks in the parlor’s window staring in at the cool entourage he’d die to become a part of. There’s Jenny, an in-charge black girl who’s dad owns the pizza place. She’s surrounded herself …

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18. ‘Triplets of Belleville’ Director Sylvain Chomet Does ‘Simpsons’ Couch Gag

I've got just two words for the latest "Simpsons" couch gag created by "Triplets of Belleville" director Sylvain Chomet: C'est magnifique!

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19. Interview with “Uncle Grandpa” Creator Pete Browngardt

Uncle Grandpa premieres this evening at 8 p.m. (ET, PT) on Cartoon Network. The show was created by Peter Browngardt, 34, who also voices the handlebar-mustachioed star of the show. Uncle Grandpa has been gestating since 2008 when it was part of Cartoon Network’s Cartoonstitute program. The original pilot gained a following online after it was posted on YouTube in 2010, the same year in which the pilot was nominated for an Emmy.

The show revolves around Uncle Grandpa, a fanny pack-adorned, propeller beanie-bedecked gentleman of uncertain origin who travels in a magical RV dispensing ‘Good mornins’ while helping children achieve their dreams. If it sounds like an unconventional setup for a children’s cartoon, the show’s style of humor is even more unique.

Surrealist visual humor, the type of which was practiced by cartooning giants like VIP Partch, Tex Avery, and Don Martin, went out of fashion sometime in the late-Eighties. Uncle Grandpa rejuvenates this strand of comedy with gusto: bodies disassemble and reassemble on command, random human limbs parts pop out of unlikely places, and parallel worlds exist in fanny packs (or belly bags, per the show’s lingo). Browngardt’s new show dispenses with the polite verbal banter of other animated TV series; it is visually vulgar and aesthetically abrasive, and because of its sheer audacity, it’s laugh-out-loud funny.

Cartoon Brew spoke to Browngardt about the show. We accompany the chat with a gallery of production and pre-production artwork from the series.

Cartoon Brew: Did you have an Uncle Grandpa-like figure when you were growing up or is it something that you wish you had?

Pete Browngardt: Actually, I think it’s sort of a combination. Growing up, I had uncles, but the funny thing is that neither one of them were actually blood-relatives. They were just my father’s really good friends. I think a lot of people have that, where you just call them Uncle Bob or Uncle Dan or whatever. And these guys were larger-than-life characters. Whenever they came to hang out, it was a nutty time. They let me drive when I was seven years old just to see me drive. We’d build potato cannons and all kinds of stuff that you probably shouldn’t be doing with kids. They were kids at heart as well and they had crazy stories of their life. Like, one of them fought in World War II and hid in a cave, and then got captured and escaped from a POW camp. It was always something adventurous or a good time when they showed up. And then also, I did have a lot of imaginary friends as a kid and I’d go out in the woods and play out scenarios, wishing I could get away.

Cartoon Brew: How many ideas had you pitched before you pitched Uncle Grandpa to Cartoon Network?

Pete Browngardt: It was my first time ever pitching to a studio. A friend, Stephen DeStefano, had a connection to pitch at the studio. I was living in New York at the time. We flew out, and said, ‘Let’s pitch three ideas each.’ I just did quick pitch bible things for three ideas, and pitched to Craig McCracken and Rob Renzetti. Craig and Rob really responded to Uncle Grandpa. And while I was out there, Carl Greenblatt from Chowder had seen my work and he hired me to board on that. I actually moved out to LA to work on that, and through that time period, Cartoonstitute started.

Cartoon Brew: This might be a good moment to talk about your background. I heard you started in animation when you were 19?

Pete Browngardt: I started making animated films when I was seven years old. My older brothers were into making films, they used to make Super 8 horror movies, so I was basically born into a household that liked filmmaking, acting and drawing and all these arts…it was odd to me that other families didn’t do it.

My brothers explained to me at an early age how animation works, and I was like, ‘Wow, you can actually do this.’ My dad and my brother helped me build a lighttable from the back of the Preston Blair animation book, and one of the first things I ever animated was a character swallowing a bee. I animated dog food falling on a dog. I always drew, and I started making animated films all through elementary school. In high school I made stop motion films and some live-action films, and also took a lot of drawing classes.

Got into CalArts and then made films there. After my second year at CalArts, they had that job fair and Producers’ Show, and one of the directors at Futurama saw my second-year film and offered me a job. Basically it was a summer job, and they wanted me to stay, but my parents and myself, I wanted to finish school and get a degree. I ended up going back to school. But yes, when I was 19 I did that. The following summer I got picked for an apprenticeship at Industrial Light and Magic, and I tried doing CG animation which wasn’t a good fit for me. Really missed drawing, but it was a great experience and it was amazing to be in an environment like that. Then, after that I moved back to New York, which is where I’m from, and worked at Augenblick Studios, MTV, World Leaders when they were doing Venture Bros. Then, when I was there, I ended up coming back and pitching to Cartoon Network.

Cartoon Brew: The original Uncle Grandpa pilot was one of the funniest and most original pilots I’d seen. But then you made the series Secret Mountain Fort Awesome, which was based on a gag in the pilot. Was that another one of the pitches? How did it work out that you made a pilot for one thing and got a show for something else.

Pete Browngardt: Well, it was kind of a thing where they weren’t sure about Uncle Grandpa for filling out a whole show. So they asked me to come up with some other things that spun off of it and Secret Mountain was one of those. It was an amazing learning experience for the whole process—of pitching something and then seeing how it can manipulate and change while you’re working on it.

Cartoon Brew: You used a lot of metal and thrash music in Secret Mountain. Can we expect Uncle Grandpa to contain the same?

Pete Browngardt: That music was really for that show. I love that music and when we were doing the animatics for Secret Mountain, I would throw in that music in the temp scores, and it blended really well with the imagery and what I was going for with the design. Now with Uncle Grandpa, there are aspects of that in the music, but we’ve tried to lighten the tone. This new Uncle Grandpa has evolved to be more light-hearted in the sense of a broad kids show, which I’m really excited about. It’s more like Pee-wee’s Playhouse with an expanded cast and expanded world, and I wanted to have more variety in the music and be able to go sort of a happier place, though it does go dark and heavy at times.

We’re actually breaking format on the shows, where within the eleven-minute episodes, we have two stories plus bumpers. We have a seven-to-eight minute story and a two-to-three minute story. Ren and Stimpy used to do that, and even Dexter’s Lab did it, and I really love it because we’re able to experiment. One of the shorts we’re doing is “Uncle Grandpa Sings the Classics,” and it’s Uncle Grandpa singing all the different genres of music. One of them is black metal, and it’s amazing. I was, like, they’re never going to let us put black metal into a kids’ cartoon, but they did.

Cartoon Brew: This is one of the few shows Cartoon Network has ever done, if not the only one, where the lead character is over the age of thirty. Usually, the stars of their shows are either kids or teens or in early-20s, but here you’ve got some older dude. I’m curious, within the studio, was that ever a point of contention or awareness that the show was different from everything else they’re doing?

He’s a magical guy who shows up and takes kids on adventures, so we always say he’s like Santa Claus with a GED.

Pete Browngardt: It definitely was talked about. The way I approached writing him, and we all do on the show, is that he may look like an old man but he’s basically a man-child. Once you see what he does, how he acts and talks, you’ll be like, ‘Oh he’s kind of a child.’ It never was a major concern. The [network would] want to veer us towards writing him like a kid because it is a kids’ cartoon and that’s what I wanted to do the whole time so it never was in contention.

Cartoon Brew: It’s funny that you say man-child because I looked at some of the YouTube comments and the most common adjective use d to describe him is ‘retarded.’ That’s not what he is, but that’s kind of another way of saying man-child.

Pete Browngardt: He’s a magical guy who shows up and takes kids on adventures, so we always say he’s like Santa Claus with a GED. And also, there’s this running theme that when he helps kids and stuff, we tell the story in a way where at the end, you don’t know if he’s an idiot or a genius. And I think that busts that whole thinking that he’s just an idiot because you’re wondering, ‘Did he have all this figured out from the beginning or is it all by chance?’

Uncle Grandpa Art Gallery
Artist: Thaddeus Couldron Artist: Nick Edwards Artist: Nick Edwards Artist: Nick Edwards Artist: Nick Edwards Artist: Carey Yost

Cartoon Brew: I want to talk a little bit about the visual style of the show. I read MAD when I was a kid, and I see a lot of Don Martin influence in the show. Was that an influence at all, and what are your other visual influences?

Pete Browngardt: Definitely MAD magazine. I had older brothers and they had Seventies and early-Eighties MAD magazines around the house. I used to draw from them constantly when I was a kid. At a certain age, my mom was like, ‘I don’t know if you should be looking at these things,’ so I’d sneak in and check them out. But definitely MAD magazine overall, and Don Martin, and then I got into [Harvey] Kurtzman later when I discovered who he was and how he’s the genius behind the whole thing.

Loved Gary Larson’s Far Side as a kid. Really big influence. I had certain breakthroughs as an artist when I was a kid. Like, MAD was one of them. And then in junior high, the Crumb documentary came out. I’d never heard of R. Crumb and when I saw that and got into his work, he was a huge influence. Garbage Pail Kids was huge with me too, John Pound and all those guys. And then, I got exposed to Tex Avery at a really early age. I had a Screwball Classics VHS that I memorized every cartoon on, and old Warner Bros. too. I would say it’s a blending of all of that stuff. I’m also influenced by contemporaries around me, other artists like Pen [Ward] and Aaron Springer, Carl Greenblatt, lot of people. We all sort of feed off each other.

Cartoon Brew: It’s funny because we have a very similar set of influences because we’re so close in age. When I see your show,, I can understand a lot more where the influences are coming from as opposed to a show created by someone who’s in their mid-to-late 20s. That person will have a completely different set of influences that they’re using, not better or worse, but different.

Pete Browngardt: Absolutely. When I see some of the other creators at the studio and just in animation in general, I’m like, wow. It might not be that huge of a span of years, but it is what you grew up on. I don’t even know if I realized it at the time, but a lot of our crew were all around the same age, and it’s funny because it’s like a second language. You go, ‘Make that look like this or that,’ and everybody knows because we’re all around the same age. We do have some young people starting out, and some people that might be a little older, but especially around the board artists and writers, we’re all around the same age. We all watched the same stuff and we’re influenced by pop culture the same way.

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20. First Look at “Legend of Korra—Book 2: Spirits”

The Legend of Korra returns to Nickelodeon with a new season this Friday, September 13, at 7pm (ET/PT). While the new season trailer is action-fueled drama (with a glimpse of the first Avatar Wan), we’ve got an exclusive clip featuring Bolin in a lighter moment from the upcoming season:

Korra’s second season, titled Book 2: “Spirits,” takes place six months after the end of Book 1:

Korra has rid Republic City of Amon and the Equalists, but now she must take on an even larger threat as the physical and spirit worlds collide. During the one-hour premiere, “Rebel Spirit/The Southern Lights,” Korra struggles to find a deeper connection with the Spirit World as she and the gang attend a Southern Water Tribe festival. Then, Korra and Chief Unalaq journey into a dangerous maelstrom and find a source of great spiritual power.

The Legend of Korra is co-created by Michael DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko, who also created Avatar: The Last Airbender, and exec produced by DiMartino, Konietzko and Joaquim Dos Santos.

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21. Mickey Short “Croissant de Triomphe” Wins Another Emmy

Disney’s Mickey Mouse short Croissant de Triomphe picked up another Emmy—its third one—for Outstanding Short-format Animated Program. The award was announced during the 65th Annual Creative Arts Emmy Awards, held on Sunday, September 15.

The short had already won two Emmys in the juried Individual Achievement category. The large number of Emmys won by the short does not necessarily mean that it is the best of the new Mickey shorts, but only that it was the short chosen by Disney to be submitted for Emmy consideration.

In the Outstanding Animated Program competition, South Park won for the episode “Raising the Bar.” It is the show’s fourth Emmy Award in that category. The series was competing against episodes of Bob’s Burgers, Kung Fu Panda: Legends of Awesomeness, Regular Show, and The Simpsons.

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22. REVIEW: “Mr. Burns, A Post-Electric Play” Pushes The Simpsons Beyond the Apocalypse

I’m sure it will come as no surprise if we tell you that the 24th season of The Simpsons will not stand the test of time. In fact, if Anne Washburn’s new play Mr. Burns, A Post-Electric Play, is any indication, not much will be remembered beyond season six.

In her new play, which was staged last year in Washington by the Woolly Mammoth Theater Company and opened at Playwrights Horizons in New York City earlier this week, storytelling is paramount in our world – post-nuclear holocaust. So much so, that reenacting scenes from the long-running animated series, mostly classic episodes like Bart of Darkness and A Streetcar Named Marge, is not simply entertainment, but a means of survival and coping with the fears of a newer, darker world.


The play opens with a group of friends around a campfire recalling lines from the classic Simpsons episode “Cape Feare,” in which Sideshow Bob gets out of prison and begins stalking the Simpson family with the intent to murder Bart. The episode is a parody of the 1991 Robert DeNiro thriller, Cape Fear, which is itself a remake of a 1962 film. Early in the play, these details are mentioned by the characters, but the Simpsons episode then takes on a life of its own and adopts mythic qualities that transform it into a theatrical tragedy rivaling the work of Hesiod or Euripides.

This first scene, which was, according to Ben Brantley’s glowing review in the New York Times, scripted from early workshops as the actors tried to recall lines from the episode in question, is buoyant and funny. It’s a treasure to any hardcore fan of The Simpsons who will be hard pressed to not want to contribute to the conversation, while at the same time, tense and eerie and barely covering up an unknown horror that exists outside of the proscenium.


In the second of the show’s three parts, the campfire group evolves to a fledgling theater troupe, perfecting their version of Simpsons episodes for audiences in nearby areas. Their reenactments, honed by bartering with other survivors for their memories of random lines from the lost episodes, now include commercials and choreographed medleys of Top 40s hits. But regardless of how much they use their craft to distract themselves from the continued fear of uncertainty, it always comes back to The Simpsons and more specifically, Cape Feare.

“That single Simpsons episode becomes a treasure-laden bridge, both to the past and into the future,” says Brantley, “And in tracing a story’s hold on the imaginations of different generations, the play is likely to make you think back — way back — to narratives that survive today from millenniums ago. Every age, it seems, has its Homers.”


In the last part, the source material has been deconstructed and blended seamlessly with popular references as far apart as Britney Spears and How the Grinch Stole Christmas with Mr. Burns, Springfield’s dark specter of nuclear power, taking center stage as a post-modern Mephistopheles. The result is self-referential theater about a popular television series that deftly manages to dodge the precious, the pretentious and the snarky, high art about low art and the fuzzy line between the two. It’s a clever, compelling embodiment of storytelling as a cornerstone of our society and asking what, in our world, will live on after society falls and we are forced to rebuild.

Mr. Burns, A Post-Electric Play will be staged through October 20 at Playwrights Horizons’ Mainstage Theater. It is written by Anne Washburn, directed by Steve Cosson, with music by Michael Friedman.

(Photos: © Playwright Horizons & The New York Times)

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23. Live-Action TV Director Sues “Johnny Test” Producer For Creator Credit

Veteran primetime television director David Straiton, (House, Grimm, and the upcoming Marvel series Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D) is demanding that a former writing partner, Scott Fellows, compensate him for the joint creation of the animated series Johnny Test, reports Deadline. The animated series, which Fellows is credited as sole creator and executive producer, is about a suburban kid who is frequently used as a scientific test subject by his genius-level twin sisters. Fellows is also the creator of the early Cartoon Network series The Moxy Show and the Nickelodeon live-action series Big Time Rush, and has worked as a staff writer on The Fairly OddParents.

Straiton alleges that he and Fellows created the concept together in 1995 and after an unsuccessful pitch to Nickelodeon, they went their separate ways though they never terminated their joint venture on this project. Then in 2005, without informing or including Straiton, Fellows sold the series to the Kids’ WB, which the show outlived and went on to air on Cartoon Network in the US and on Teletoon in Canada, where the show currently resides in its sixth season.

According to the complaint filed Tuesday in Los Angeles Superior Court (download PDF HERE), Straiton has a good reason for waiting eight years to make his claim. He says in court documents that he has no familiarity with the children’s television market because he is an “adult and primetime drama television director.” Further, even though he has a daughter, she hadn’t seen the show because “his child was not permitted to watch television or movies until this year, pursuant to the rules of her preschool and elementary schools, which adhere to the Waldorf education philosophy.

Last November, Straiton, who only recently began letting his young daughter watch TV, noticed the show in his digital cable directory. He contacted Fellows requesting an accounting of revenues derived from Johnny Test. When Fellows refused to comply, Straiton filed the complaint with the Los Angeles Superior Court accusing Fellows of constructive fraud, breach of fiduciary duty and accounting.

Straiton is seeking a fifty percent share of all earnings and compensation received by Fellow in connection with Johnny Test, as well as a co-creator credit, punitive damages and court costs.

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24. Downton Abbey Season 4, Episode 1: Don’t Mess with Thomas. But Please, Please, Do Mess with Mary.

Downton Abbey Season 4, Episode 1

This two-hour episode took me a few nights to get through. All the time I was watching it, I was thinking, am I going to recap it this year? I’ve recently stepped away from GeekMom to take a new position as editor at DamnInteresting.com (a site that more than lives up to its name, and one Scott and I have enjoyed for years), so I won’t be recapping over there this year. I loved writing those posts last season, but I admit it’s a bit of relief to let go of the self-imposed pressure to get a recap up the night an episode airs. Those were some late nights I was pulling, for a while there!

But I’ll miss the conversation, and since I’ve been getting a lot of email inquiries about the recaps, I thought I’d open the topic for discussion over here. As always, this is an open thread, not a sequential play-by-play of plot points. So I’ll throw out a few things, and you can all chime in as you wish.

OBLIGATORY SPOILER LINE IN THE SAND

Once again PBS is conflating two one-hour British episodes into one long one for the American audience. Honestly, I don’t think this serves the show very well, nor will, I’d hazard, binge-viewing it on DVD. We have too many repetitive conversations in these two hours. A week’s space between them would have rendered the repetition less obvious. How many times must we listen to Lord Grantham orate that Mary must be kept wrapped in cotton-wool? How many times must Mrs. Hughes harangue poor Carson in one night of television viewing? It’s rather amazing, actually, that with the quantities of plotlines being unfurled here (I’ll attempt a tally in a moment) we wound up with so many repeated conversations. By the end, my head was smarting from all the hammer-blows.

Now, plotlines: let’s see.

1) Mary is very sad, and not terribly interested in her baby.

2) Lord Grantham wants to sell land to pay the death duties on the estate, and while he’s at it unravel most of the work Matthew did to save said estate’s bacon.

3) Tom and the Dowager Countess are united (among others) in wanting Mary to play a more active role in estate decision-making, and they’re annoyed with Lord Grantham’s reluctance. (See above, cotton-wooling.)

3b) Matthew left a will of sorts after all! Should we let Mary read it?

3b.1) Also, the stuffed doggy. ::sniffle::

3c) Mary owns half of Downton. Stay tuned for epic showdowns. Will there be anything left for wee George but rubble?

4) Carson’s shady old theater chum wants to see Carson to set things right, and also wants help climbing out of the pit he’s in. From the moment Mrs. Hughes digs through Carson’s trash, this becomes her mission in life.

4a) Said mission dovetails nicely with a push to snap Isobel out of her own grief-induced apathy. (I enjoyed that bit very much.)

5) Everyone’s got a Valentine! Who gave whose?

5a) Belowstairs love triangle continues from last season with no apparent progress. Daisy likes Alfred likes Ivy likes Jimmy likes messing with people.

6) This week’s special guest: new-fangled electric mixer, aka the worst thing to happen to Mrs. Patmore since presbyopia.

7) Nanny DARES to tell Thomas not to touch the baby? Beware his diabolical machinations.

7a) Oh but wait! Turns out Nanny’s a horrible person. Hooray, Thomas!

8) Boo, Thomas. Saucy former-housemaid-turned-lady’s-maid Edna fills all vacancies left by O’Brien’s departure, especially Co-Conspirator of Thomas. Watch your back, Anna. That’ll learn you to be nice.

8a) Really? REALLY? Lady Grantham is that ready to believe Anna would vandalize a garment out of spite? Has she MET Anna? Not buying it. Nor the dispatching of Lord G. to have Mr. Bates bring his unkind wife in line. I MEAN COME ON. (Sorry, that was the one that really got to me.)

9) Young Rose wants adventure, and what’s more adventurous than posing as a housemaid and half-falling for a winsome young under-gardener or whatever he was. Sorry, it was noisy in that dance hall.

10) Oh, Molesley. Poor Molesley. Chucked out of Downton, no new prospects. Pounding tar. Racking up debt. Pitied by all.

10a) Just because the Dowager Countess thinks highly of her butler doesn’t mean he is above petty jealousies and sabotage. Sorry, Mose.

10b) But if your plight makes Anna sad, you’ll be okay, because Mr. Bates won’t stand for that. In prison they teach you how to sneakily give money to people.

11) You didn’t think I’d forgotten Edith, did you? What am I, her mother? I adore Edith. She’s blooming with love, wearing fabulous garments, and gearing up to shock the bluebloods with her impending nuptials to a divorceé and (even worse) voluntary German national.

Plotlines I’m really invested in: 3c. I’m sorry Lord Grantham has become so insufferable, but in a way I think his character arc is the most realistic. A decade-long series of tragedies, shocks, and disappointments has left him insecure, vulnerable, and obstinate. He has felt powerless ever since losing his wife’s fortune and imperiling the estate, and his WWI chapter (here, be a jolly good figurehead, old sport) didn’t help. The more the women and former chauffers in his life berate him for his bad behavior (and it IS bad), the more stubbornly he digs in. He’s the 85-year-old who refuses to give up his driver’s license even after the fourth time he’s backed into the mailbox.

So I may not like his character, but I buy it, and I buy Mary’s too. She prophesied her position at the end of last season and reiterates it here: Matthew brought out a side of her (I smiled at “soft”—not a word that describes even happy-bride Mary) that was buried deep before, and has gone more deeply dormant now. What she needs is a good fight, and who better to clobber than Papa? Much better him than poor old Carson. The scene between Mary and Carson when she chided him for his familiarity broke my heart—and that’s how I know it was a good scene. It was one of the few where I had a genuine emotional reaction instead of a distanced, analytical one. And the thing is? I’m a viewer who wants to be drawn in and emotionally manipulated. Really. If I’m outside the story, picking, then your story hasn’t swallowed me. And I’m sorry to say that very little in this two hours truly swallowed me up. But it’s early days yet. We’ll see where things go.

Mrs-Hughes-Downton-AbbeyWhat did you think? Favorite & least favorite bits? For once I’m not giving Best Line to the Dowager. It’s Mrs. Hughes, in response to Isobel’s “It’s none of my business”: “I never thought I’d hear you say that!”

Related: my Season 3 recaps at GeekMom

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25. Downton Abbey Season 4, Episode 2: I don’t even know any more, you guys

anna

Spoilers below.

I don’t have the heart to do a full recap right now. That was a horrible turn of events, wrenchingly depicted, and I’m upset on about fifty different levels, not least of which is a fear that this plotline is being played for drama only and won’t succeed (even if it wants to) at taking a really meaningful look at that issue, which ought never never never to be played for drama only.

I will say this: even before we arrived at that terrible point, I was frustrated as all get-out by the way Anna and Bates were being made to behave. I say “being made to” because their interactions felt absolutely contrived, not organic. His cantankerous jealousy, her obliviousness to the villain’s obvious flirting. (And what are we to make of THAT? The price of friendly banter? Infuriating, and treads perilously close to suggesting her behavior played a role in what happened next.)

I set too much stock in TV relationships; this is a running joke between Scott and me. For a couple of seasons of The Office, I took it very hard if there was any whiff of trouble of a certain kind between Jim and Pam (after they were together). I welcomed organic challenges to their relationship—smooth sailing does not gripping viewing make—but I wanted believable challenges, not manufactured ones. And for many seasons, that show was remarkably successful in placing organic obstacles in their path. It was fun and refreshing to see them as allies and co-conspirators. So often, television seems to feel that as soon as the long-yearned-for romance is realized, it must Get Rocky and Face Threats. The Office accomplished something unusual in presenting us a strong Jim-and-Pam team that endured many years before a writerly wedge was thrust between them. (And for the record, during that final season, I kept hollering at Jim to SHOW PAM THE FOOTAGE. It was all there, his dogged devotion. My satisfaction when he finally listened knew no bounds.)

In Downton, I’ve taken a similar pleasure in the Anna and Bates relationship. They’ve weathered trials together, united. And now, even before the rape (it pains me to write that word so casually, as a plot point, which is my much larger problem with this episode than the subject of this paragraph), we’re shown little tendrils of doubt and discord coiling between them, and I don’t buy that for a second. Not to go all Kathy-Bates-in-Misery on Julian Fellowes, but, well, Annie Wilkes, whatever else her failings, did have a sound understanding of story.

Kathy Bates in MiseryMr. Bates would never embarrass his wife in public!

But even that, the hamhandedly portrayed strife between Anna and Bates, seems almost inappropriate to complain about after what happened next. As for everything else that happened in this episode, I hardly know how to feel about any of it. I mean, how can there be a rest of the episode after what happened to Anna? I’m supposed to care about Jimmy’s sprained wrist and his oddly ambiguous behavior toward Ivy? About Robert’s deep discomfort over dining with a (gasp) world-famous opera singer?

I liked Lord Gillingham but am, like Isobel, not quite ready to watch Mary edge toward a new romance. Two episodes on, perhaps. I did enjoy their conversations and was happy to hear the tartness return to Mary’s voice. Much better than Zombie Mary.

Boy, the good doctor hovers mighty close to Isobel’s side these days, doesn’t he?

Does anyone who talks to Tom remember that he, too, has lost a cherished spouse?

Molesley. I just. He’d be much less pathetic if he’d stop talking about how pathetic he is. But it rings true to character, at least. Molesley never has done himself many favors. Grumping aloud to the Dowager while serving dinner was a bit of a stretch, however.

I cared a lot about the Edith and Mr. Gregson storyline, until I didn’t. Trouncing the card sharp might have been an entertaining thread in another episode, but the show’s final moments retconned the rest of it for me, rendering all the mini-dramas frivolous.

Someone who’s seen the rest of the season, tell me it’s worth hanging in there for.

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