Monday, May 28, 2007

The big news at Celebration IV

Right here, gentle readers. Clone Wars, the series.

The Force is strong with this one. Very, very, VERY strong. If anything, the CGI in this makes more sense than the CGI in the Prequel Trilogy because it doesn't look as alien and lifeless as it did when it was added to live action animation.

I like the fact they have purposely made the character designs reminiscent of Genndy Tartakovsky's drawn character designs for the Clone Wars shorts. They also are reminiscent of Gentle Giant's Star Wars maquettes.

This, and the live-action teen comedy 5-25-77, are the things that make me say "impressive, most impressive" at this biennial fan confab. Hopefully we'll get to cover these on the Cartoon Geeks podcast in future episodes.

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Thursday, May 17, 2007

2 Weeks to new podcast...odd stuff right now.

Modified: new stuff at bottom.

First, we're planning to record a new podcast in about a week, which should result in a new show up in two weeks. Our schedules and chaotic lives have calmed down. We hope to have Doctor Toon on board, but if he's too busy, it'll just be Ms. Geek and me.

Second, although I haven't sent any of this out to the other Geeks, I wanted to say something about these pilots. I just sent out the videos of the two awful live-action shows Saul of the Mole Men and Tim and Eric Awesome Show - Great Job! and am already regretting it. How did I know these losers would show up?

I will admit that Saul has grown on me a little, since the episode "Moustache Ride." Frankly, I'm a sucker when someone sings a quality song; it brings a bad show up to tolerable at least. And the imitation Bachman-Turner Overdrive song, and a mutant girl in an 80's stripper dress, was kind of cute. No such bennies for Tim and Eric, which still looks like something from a college video course.

Previously, I've called some Adult Swim shows for the "dorm and bong water crowd." But the five fifteen-minute pilots shown last weekend look like they were made by that crowd.

It's most frightening that the pilot I found most offensive, the animated Superjail, is currently top-rated. If you didn't see it, imagine there is a jail for super-criminals that's run by Willy Wonka, except that Willy is on crystal meth and hired a bunch of mutant freaks from the most violent 70's underground comics as his staff. You get the picture. Sadism, blood, guts, cynicism. Something I'm afraid I'll never unsee.

Based on the relative success of Saul - they have aired over twelve episodes, and no one's set Williams Street on fire yet - someone decided another live-action-chroma-key-against-animated-backgrounds show would also hit. Fat Guy Stuck In Internet is...well, Captain N: The Game Master, but set in the Internet, with a conceited techie winding up in the net. This is the only show that seems to be aiming towards a continuing story. It also includes an incredible faux pas.

In comic books, women represent sex; that's why most comic book females have breasts as large or larger than their heads. Men are not supposed to represent sex, so their primary sexual characteristics are pretty much padded and hidden. In this show, the "fat guy" arrives in the Internet wearing tights - tight enough to show the outline of his penis and scrotum. The only time I've seen this on broadcast TV was when the sexually-open Todd Rundgren did a concert in tights like that. This is bound to raise the homophobic shackles of people not normally homophobic. It is incredible that AOL Time Warner couldn't buy him a jockstrap or something.

The Drinky Crow Show is almost as upsetting as Superjail, but it comes by more honestly; it comes from the underground comics of Tony Millionaire. It is also kind of desolate, but it is several jumps ahead in graphic sophistication. They managed to do CGI animation that kept the 2-D appearance of the characters but managed to integrate 3-D motion into it. When a cannonball takes off half the head of the title character, there's a 3-D hole through his head.

Let's Fish has live-action characters against what looks like a Flash-animated lake. You know, it's been at least ten years since I've even seen a fishing show on television. There's a generation that never put up with those long, endless, pointless shows where two guys are videotaped in a boat. It is way too late to parody fishing shows, which were pretty much a parody in themselves already.

Leaving aside That Crook'd Sipp, which right now I can't recall a moment of, I got a very bad feeling about this crop of pilots. At a time when Saturday Night Live and Mad TV have run out of steam, these shows have guys without performing credentials basically doing bad extended sketches. SNL's "Lothar of the Hand People, '' one of the dumbest sketches in the show's history, looks good compared to Fat Guy.

I understand AS's need to fill up time. They have more on-air hours now and they need shows. And they're afraid to do half-hour shows because that requires more writing and forethought than fifteen-minute quickies. But putting on parodies that might have been funny in college video courses - twelve years ago - won't solve their problem.

If they want to do a show with live actors that's cheap, there's a guy named Joel Hodgson who came up with a really good idea. It might be painful for AOL-TW to hire him back, since it was their own Comedy Central that fired him, but getting the rights to do a Mystery Science Theatre 3000 sequel, even if it's only with educational shorts, is a better idea than any of this crop of pilots. Sorry that you can't use the gang at Williams Street for this, guys; sometimes you have to think outside the box, or even the Atlanta area, for good ideas.

Addendum: I glanced at That Crook'd Sipp the next day. It's remarkably similar to Squidbillies in intent; it's about a corrupt, decadent Southern family living in a mansion with slaves/servants, and it's all about the corruption. They seem to be following the philosophy that racism isn't racism if it mocks white people, especially Southerners. Teenage girls in the company of what used to be called "huge black Mandingos" for an afternoon romp...and old guys in wheelchairs drinking bourbon like it was K-Mart bottled water. The art style seems somewhat reminiscent of the 2-D illustrations of Tim Burton. But the characters are all...well, "sluts 'n' nuts" doesn't sound too incorrect. Maybe it's someone trying to expiate the racism of the South retroactively, although the only Georgia plantations these days are owned by multinational corporations with headquarters in the Cayman Islands.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Pixar redeems themselves: Ratatouille cooks.

Leave it to Brad Bird to save Pixar's reputation after Cars. Ratatouille is going to own. Big time. Bird seems to be the first person to really get the knack of doing cartoony CGI human characters that don't look like crap. And Our Rodentine Hero...c'est magnifique!

I don't like the "deus ex machina" aspect of the deceased chef, Auguste Gusteau, becoming Remy's guardian spirit. Too neat. Too tidy. Oh well, it's a big part of the movie. At least he's not made of stone and fairly crying out to be thrown into a concrete recycling machine like the wacky sidekick gargoyles in the last movie where Disney went a la Francaise.

Brad Bird did sentimental without being sappy in Iron Giant. The Incredibles was action, action, action 98% of the time, with only a little sentimentality. This one you might want to bring your kleenex for, because you needed it with IG.

Interesting that the one animated movie that didn't blow goats last year featured a mouse or rat or whatever he was. Also this IS just a clip. This might be the entirety of what's good in the movie, and I run the risk of having to eat crow (in sauce Bearnaise, mais bien sur!) if this turns out to be crap.

Nine minutes of Ratatouille can be found at for a "limited time." Have at it. Yomigaeru iyaaan RAAAT!

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