With a 7 year old daughter, a 13 year old daughter, a 40-something year old wife and myself in the house, it is often difficult to find something we can all watch on TV together- despite the fact we all love SFF. Generally, what ends up happening is mom gets the upstairs TV to herself to rewatch Game of Thrones, while the kids and I retreat underground to the Dadcave and fight over the TV there.
This means I have to suffer through a lot of Spongebob, Victorious, Dog With a Blog, etc. Don’t get me wrong- those shows are all swell… the first three or four times you see them. But kids seem to be able to stomach repeats far more than us adults. Plus, some nights, I just want to watch some SFF and not the latest antics of the Kurgan under the sea.
Thankfully, Cartoon Network has felt my pain. They have two shows that aren’t just for the kids. Regular Show and Adventure Time.
Now, Regular Show might at first seem not very SFF. It’s about a bluejay named Mordechai and a raccoon named Rigby who live and work in a city park. Their boss is a talking, walking gumball machine named Benson. Their co-workers are the green-skinned, flabby “Muscle Man”, High-Five Ghost, the insanely big-headed Pops, and Skips- an immortal Yeti (and who is voiced by the incredible Mark Hamill).
Most of the episodes deal with magic. There was the wereskunk. Or the time Death wrestled Skips for his immortality. But there’s a lot of Science Fiction as well. Like the time the guys competed for a car and ended up in the distant future, and had to use a time machine to get back to the present.
And speaking of time travel, I’d put the level of SFF in Regular Show at the same level as Bill and Ted’s Adventures. Comedic, bizarre, but somehow interesting enough to keep even my attention.
Then there’s Adventure Time. It’s the story of Jake the Dog and Finn the Human- brothers raised by Jake’s dog family in a post apocalyptic world primarily filled with magic. Like the Ice King, who has ice powers thanks to his magic crown.
Finn’s twelve years old (the last human boy), but adventures like Conan with the help of the magical Jake, who can change form, stretch, increase and decrease his size and who has a “Rainicorn” girlfriend who speaks only Japanese.
Oh, yeah, this show is clearly not just for kids.
The animation in both of these shows is not what I tend to like- I go more for the Warner Brothers animated super hero style, or even traditional Anime. But don’t be put off by the child-friendly style- something that resembles the Simpsons way more than Heavy Metal.
There are lots of jokes in both shows. Some are even clearly aimed at us parents watching. Take the other night on the Regular Show, when someone said something about waiting for the balls to drop. They weren’t making a reference to genitalia and adolescence- they literally were waiting for some balls to drop in a game of Skeeball. But the two male characters broke the fourth wall, glancing into the camera for a split second, then broke out in a fit of giggling. My girls completely missed the joke and never paid any mind to me laughing along too. It was a very Beavis and Butthead moment.
I guess when I think about it, both of these shows share a lot with the crazy adventures of the Simpsons, except that both are innuendo free and perfectly safe for all ages. Well done, Cartoon Network. Well done.
Adventure Time airs new episodes, Mondays at 7:30PM Eastern/Central
Regular Show airs new episodes, Mondays at 8:00PM Eastern/Central
Adventure Time is some of the best quality television running, hands down.
If you like those, I would take a look a Disney XD's Gravity Falls created Alex Hirsch. Think a little of Twin Peaks meets supernatural americana lore, all mushed into Scooby Doo. It's great.
Also, Boom! Comics has been releasing a variety of Adventure Time comics which have been really great. There's an ongoing Adventure Time story, a complete Marceline and the Scream Queens story, and an ongoing Fionna & Cake line. It's actually really awesome because Pendleton Ward (creator of Adventure Time) has allowed a lot of talented webcomic writers and artists to write and draw genuinely published comics.
Lastly (and this wouldn't necessarily be safe for you kids), you should take a gander at Ward's youtube series (completed with awesome comic), Bravest Warriors.
Basically cartoons rock.
Another one to watch out for is Disney's 'Gravity Falls'. Kind of like 'Eerie Indiana' and 'Lost', I'd put it on par with 'Regular Show' and 'Adventure Time', maybe a little higher.
Ah! I spent too long on my comment! Glad to see others enjoy Gravity Falls.