Thursday, June 23, 2011
Regular Blog Post
by Brendan Cavanagh
When I'm not working, I spend a lot of time lounging on my couch watching TV. At the beginning of the summer, I tried to educate / entertain myself by watching a lot of TCM- vintage Westerns, obscure foreign films, classic American cinematic staples, etc. But as of late, the amount of time I allow myself of watch TV has dwindled, as I'm picking up more hours at work and becoming bored much easier. Therefore, I've stuck with television shows that pack more entertainment into smaller increments of time. Also they have to be funny. So where else do I look to find these programs? The "kids" channels, of course!
What is it about Nickelodeon and Cartoon Network that makes them enjoyable for children and young adults alike? Perhaps it's nostalgia, becoming increasingly pronounced in our generation and the one preceding ours. Or maybe we know that children's programming was much better in our childhood than in years before, causing our once-favorite shows to preserve themselves in timeless entertainment. Or maybe, now that we're older, we understand some of the more adult jokes or find appreciation for inappropriate jokes and subtleties that are hidden in the scripts.
I used to watch Spongebob Squarepants a lot, and I liked it for several years, but I remember growing out of it at some point, thinking it was too immature and annoying for my tastes. But now I munch on episodes every morning instead of eating breakfast. I like that as the series progresses, the episodes become much more fast-paced and illogical, with arbitration and unintelligible jokes around every corner. Now that the show's been on for, like, thirteen years, it's become clear that the show's writers cannot continue to rehash the same scenes and storylines because even the littlest of children will recognize its repetition and lack of inventiveness. While the length of a television program can be a crippling detriment to the show, the writers of Spongebob have figured out how to expand their universe and try new things given what characters and settings and such that they have. For instance, one of my favorite episodes details the mysterious disappearance of everyone in Bikini Bottom, leaving Spongebob stranded alone in the city. While at first taking advantage of his new found freedom (the spongey menace to the road gives himself a boating license), he soon becomes aware that he is being stalked by his boat, and the episode, like many since, takes on a surreal tone as Spongebob becomes more and more mentally unstable. Or today, Spongebob got a song stuck in his head and went insane after too long. We can relate to that, right?
Another show I'm growing to like a lot is on Cartoon Network, a cesspool of bizarre shows that seem totally inappropriate and psychotic for children. Watching those shows is like suffering two fifteen-minute periods of epilepsy. But this one show, Regular Show, is hilarious. It follows the professional lives of a group of animals and...monsters and...things that work at a small-town park. We have:
Mordecai & Rigby - a blue jay and a raccoon, respectively. Two slacker groundskeepers who seem to mess up every single task they're assigned
Benson - a living gumball machine, also the park manager. Kind of the Squidward to Mordecai and Rigby's Spongebob and Patrick
Skips - a deadpan yeti who doles out sound advice as often as he works out (a lot). Also, despite his gruff and tough demeanor, he skips girlishly instead of running.
Pops - an anthropomorphic lollipop with a British accent. He is super naive and flitty, but provides some of the funniest scenes in the show, like when Mordecai walks in on him naked. Very realistic and uncomfortably funny.
Muscle Man & High-Five Ghost - the other groundskeeping duo. A short, Frankenstein-looking character and his high-fiving ghost friend (reeeaally?). Muscle Man is obnoxious and crude and often busts out with a "My Mom!" joke, confusing his jokes with "Your Mom!"
I have a penchant for surreal kids' shows, like The Adventures of Pete & Pete of the 90s or Ned's Declassified School Survival Guide, in a addition to the aforementioned shows in the blog. But in a way, I don't think they're really just for kids. They deal with themes that can be foudn in adult life, or even if they don't, their writers find ways to slip in jokes only the generation older will understand, so it's cool to go back to the same show you watched as a kid and discover new things about it, like listening to the same musician or album in a totally new and profound way.