The Return of Good Cartoons

What better time to write about the return of awesome cartoons than a Saturday morning.

Do you remember when we were kids and cartoons were awesome (by we, I’m referring to those of us that grew up in the 80s)? There were shows that would make you get up early on Saturdays and hurry home from school. There were shows that would make us go into the backyard and start spinning a broom handle in true Donatello style. There were shows that would make us kidnap our parents and hold them for ransom until they would drive us to the toy store. “Mom, I just saw a robot that turns into a radio. You will buy it for me now, or I will pee on all of your plants.”

There were terrific shows like Master’s of the Universe, G.I. Joe, and Inspector Gadget. Then, there were the awesome shows that ruled our (or at least my) life. I’m talking about shows like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Transformers, and (my personal favorite) Thundercats. The cartoons were awesome, the toys were better, and life was all around pretty good.

Enter the 90s. What just happened? Where did all of the good stuff go? It’s like the calendar turned and television stations instantly starting showing rubbish. This is probably a good time to mention that I’m only talking about cartoons for kids. The Simpsons, South Park, Beavis and Butthead, Futurama, and the Family Guy all started in the 90s, and they comprise the top 5 shows of this list. Those shows are great, but how many of them would I be comfortably letting my 5 year old daughter watch? The answer is zero. Look past #5 on that list and try to find a show that was both good and you would actually want to watch if you were less than 15 years old. Please don’t get me started on Sponge Bob.

Then came the 2000s which made the 90s look like the greatest decade for cartoons ever. I don’t even recognize any of the cartoons on this list.

I was starting to give up all hope. I had come to terms with the fact that I would never be able to sit down and watch cartoons with my own kids. I would have to lock myself in my room and stuff cotton in my ears. One of the greatest joys of fatherhood was being taken away by awful cartoon productions.

I’m thinking the renaissance is starting though. There’s a couple cartoons on right now that aren’t horrible. In fact, they’re actually pretty good. The first one is Planet Sheen. It’s a cartoon about a young man that gets stranded on an alien planet. Mostly by accident, he becomes a local hero. The dialogue is witty, it’s funny, and it’s something that the kids can actually watch. I’m not a huge fan of the over the top computer animation, but it doesn’t take away too much.

The other cartoon, which is quickly becoming my favorite, is Phineas and Ferb. This is a terrific show about two young step-brothers that spend their summer break building amazing inventions while trying to avoid getting busted by their sister. They also have a pet platypus that is actually a secret agent charged with foiling the evil (and mostly incompetent) Dr. Doofenshmirtz. The show is funny, original, and incredibly good. I’ll sit down and watch this show with the kids all day long.

Disclaimer: Obviously few cartoons ended exactly at the end of decades, so I realize that many of the shows from the 80s extended into the 90s, and so on. I also realize that one of the main reasons I didn’t like cartoons from the 90s and 2000s is that I had outgrown them. I do believe, however, that cartoons did go down hill for a couple decades. No doubt you disagree, and if so, I would love to hear your thoughts. Until then, please enjoy the title sequence from Phineas and Ferb.

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