Monday, August 16, 2004

Caught inside that flickering light beam

Two animated series notes: Huh. Maybe Father of the Pride won't be as bad as I thought: Don’t expect something as blisteringly foul as SOUTH PARK, but it seems more gleefully naughty than THE SIMPSONS or KING OF THE HILL. [...] Julian Holloway and the always-hilarious Dave Herman voice [Siegried and Roy], and one of the coolest things about the show is the way these two are depicted. You’d think that because they officially sanctioned the series, they might be treated with kid gloves, but they are played as deeply eccentric loonies, pampered and pompous and self-indulgent and hysterical. I saw one full episode and bits and pieces from several others, and Siegfried and Roy consistently made me laugh out loud. Hmmm. That could be the faux-wackiness of poseurs, rather than the genuine hilarious insanity of a Sealab 2021 or Aqua Teen Hunger Force - on network TV, I'm more than a bit inclined to suspect the former. And let it not be forgotten that Drew McWeeny was Ain't It Cool's chief cheerleader for Fahrenheit 9/11, a fact I will weigh against his opinions for the rest of his days. It sounds like it'll be a subjective thing; I'll just have to wait to see it for myself. I'm still not impressed, but I'm less hostile, I suppose. On the other hand, the formerly spectacular Justice League seems to be definitely going downhill in the episodes not yet run in Canada. That's just sad. Granted, YTV only runs it once weekly, so it's hard to catch the multi-part arcs anyway, but I appreciate their existence; I appreciate the idea that WB Animation is (was) trying to do something bigger and better with the half-hour timeslot than merely aping spastic tween-targeted anime. On the other hand, it's not like they haven't pulled this kind of thing before - changing the brilliantly noir and stylized Batman: The Animated Series into The New Adventures of Batman and Robin and finally Batman: Gotham Knights, for the sake of increased kid appeal and toyeticism. I miss Gargoyles. I really do. UPDATE, 08/09/05: Drew McWeeny writes me to point out that he's just about the only regular contributor to AICN that isn't a raving lefty, and in fact had gave a decidedly lukewarm review to Fahrenheit 9/11. I don't even remember why I thought otherwise at any point, now. Regardlesss, mea culpa. I think I'll chalk this mistake/sloppy misattribution up to heat-of-the-moment election-season jackassery on my part, and leave it at that.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

It doesn't surprise me that Justice League is going this route-- it's inevitable; all superhero series from the DC universe do that, including the Batman movies. It's just a fact of life.

But it's a real shame that the recent Superman series doesn't get more frequent play; what few episodes I've caught of that have been absolutely stunning. Not necessarily in their animation or acting, but in the audacity of the storytelling. It's enough to bring tears to the eyes in some choice instances.

Justice League always seemed to me to have way more potential than was being realized. Yeah, we all know what it is; its scope was something we children of the 80s never imagined could be salvaged from the wreck of the Nelvana/Filmation hell we grew up with. But JL was always hampered by lackluster jokewriting and abysmal acting, both of which always caught me by frustrated surprise. Who can forget Diana practicing her reintroduction-to-her-mother lines in the cockpit of her jet, flying back to the island? She was a paper doll, her expressions barely changing and the animation not helping a bit. And Flash was such a blank slate, ripe to be turned into a genuine comic character-- the pilot showed some definite promise. So how come the funniest lines he ever gets are variations on "Ooh, that's gotta hurt"? This inexplicable drawback to an otherwise towering series is like, well, the way Lewis Black described the Republicans' response to the Monica Lewinsky scandal: they were poised to reap a massive political windfall. They had the shotgun loaded and cocked; they drew a bead; they closed one eye; and they turned the gun around and blew their own heads off.

It's like, dammit-- they paid for top-drawer story guys and background artists and character designers, and ended up hiring some marketing exec's son-in-law to write the dialogue and his high-school buddies to do the voice acting. I'll never understand what could possibly have been up with that; even if it's explained to me by an insider, I won't understand it.

Ah well. At least we can reassure ourselves that whatever becomes of Justice League, the depths to which Superfriends sunk are forever out of the reach of anything Bruce Timm has ever touched.


8/16/2004 09:22:00 PM  
Blogger Paul Denton said...

Too true. I'll never forget "The Lord of Middle Earth," where the Superfriends go to Hell - and, astoundingly, a vision of it more psychedelically bizarre than anything offered by even Rocket Robin Hood. The first time I saw that in a late-night timeslot, I thought the next day I must have dreamed it, until I checked an episode guide.

Justice League, admittedly, has some serious problems. I'd put the ensemble cast nature of the series above lame voice acting; it was nice to see some characterization in the series, but the sheer number of characters did make it difficult getting a handle on any of them individually. I suppose my default fondness for it is a product of the lack of alternatives - as well as a weakness for multi-part arcs, to be fair. When half of the rest of the schedule (from Hell's heart, I stab at thee, YTV) is inane anime, it's hard to be too dismissive of even mediocre WB productions.

8/16/2004 09:58:00 PM  

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