2011 was a busy year for Animated TV. New cartoons came and went, dozens of DVDs were released and news of new cartoons in production was announced. Here, I pick the best and worst of the year in cartoons.
Best New Cartoon: Bob's Burgers
Bob's Burgers premiered on January 9, 2011, a refreshing start to the new year. The cartoon featuring restaurant owner Bob Belcher and his family elbowed its way into Fox's Animation Domination schedule, earning solid ratings and positive reviews. Bob's Burgers cast includes top talent, like H. Jon Benjamin and Kristen Schaal, whose portrayals of Bob and Louise, respectively, are complemented by hilarious performances by John Roberts, Eugene Mirmam and Dan Mintz.
Worst New Cartoon: Allen Gregory
By far, the worst new cartoon to land on TV this year was Allen Gregory on Fox. Hope was high for this cartoon, created by Jonah Hill, a well-known comedic actor from Get Him to the Greek and Superbad. But the premiere on October 30, 2011 brought poor reviews and middling ratings, even with a lead-in from The Simpsons. Thankfully, only two days after the premiere, Fox announced the network would be bringing back Bob's Burgers. No more condescending humor wrapped in pastels for us.
Best Cartoon in Development: The Last Airbender: Legend of Korra
The Last Airbender: Legend of Korra can't premiere soon enough. This installment of the Airbender cartoon series takes place 70 years after Avatar: The Last Airbender and stars a female Avatar, Korra, who seeks to learn the last of her skills, air bending, from Aang's son, Tenzin. Much of the story and action will take place in Republic City. Korra is being developed by Michael DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko, the same team behind Avatar: The Last Airbender, which makes it likely this new series will have the same depth, action and humor that made the first Avatar cartoon a hit for Nickelodeon and fans.
Worst Cartoon in Development: The Annoying Orange
On November 17, 2011, we took another step closer to the end of the world when Cartoon Network announced they are developing web series The Annoying Orange into a half-hour weekly show. The plot of each episode will center around the produce gang time traveling in their magical fruit cart and falling into prickly adventures they must squeeze their way out of. (Just writing that sentence is making me sleepy and nauseous.) Creator Dane Boedigheimer must feel like he hit the lottery, but he should invest that money well because how many episodes can viewers really stand to watch Orange and his fruity friends bat their lashes and talk like they're on helium? Not enough to fill a peck, I'd say.
Best Return of a Cartoon: Beavis and Butt-head
Beavis and Butt-Head officially aired for the first time on MTV in 1993, and quickly became MTV's highest-rated show. Beavis and Butt-Head continued to air new episodes until 1997, when re-runs began airing during Sic'Em Friday and then on MTV2. Finally, with King of the Hill finished on Fox, Mike Judge brought these two headbangers back to MTV with all new episodes. The new season aired on October 27, 2011, hitting high ratings with the same successful formula of previous episodes. The boys are just as stupid, just as rude, but their TV fare now includes shows like Jersey Shore. Welcome back, guys.
Worst Return of a Cartoon: The Looney Tunes Show
Disappointment awaited for anyone hoping The Looney Tunes Show would recapture the zany, clever humor of the original Looney Tunes cartoons. Cartoons featuring Bugs Bunny or Daffy Duck relied heavily on sight gags, traditional "squash and stretch" animation and characters with clashing personalities. In The Looney Tunes Show the characters sort of clash, but as roommates. Yes, roommates. Daffy and Bugs have been modernized into roommates, with Yosemite Sam as a neighbor. My question is, why would a classic cartoon that has brought laughter to generations of people need to be modernized at all?