Unpopular Opinions: 2000s Cartoon Network Shows
There were three channels that reigned over all the rest in the 2000s of our youth: Nickelodeon, Disney Channel and Cartoon Network. Last week, we strolled down memory lane and reminisced on the underappreciated and overrated shows of Nickelodeon. This time, we’re bringing the debate to the darker and scarier of the remaining two networks in Unpopular Opinions: 2000s Cartoon Network Shows edition.
“Scooby Doo, Where Are You!”
Daniella Nichinson, Arts Editor
No, “Scooby Doo, Where Are You!” was not a 2000s show — it ran for two seasons from 1969 to 1970. And it was also not a Cartoon Network show — it premiered on CBS. But as an adolescent who adored Cartoon Network, I ate up any and all reruns of “Scooby Doo” that the channel played. The Mystery Gang lit up my imagination with visions of solving mysteries and putting bad guys in their place. The characters composed a balanced range of personalities: Fred and Velma were the smart ones, uncovering clues and secrets, Daphne always ended up in danger and Shaggy and Scooby accidentally stumbled upon the villain in their perpetual quest for food. Shaggy and Scooby remain my favorite duo of the gang. They’re essential comic relief, and their goofy nature is endearing but, most of all, they show that everyone, even those who seem clumsy and clueless, has a role to play in cracking mysteries. “Scooby Doo” was an intelligent show that taught me the importance of teamwork, bravery and standing up to evil.
Nicole Rosenthal, Music Editor
Off-beat, stylistically unique and hilarious, “Chowder” emerged in 2007 as one of Cartoon Network’s biggest creative accomplishments. The animated comedy follows purple cat-bear-rabbit composite Chowder, a young chef’s apprentice with a passion for gourmet food. While the titular character is adorable, it’s also hard to forget the iconic lineup of supporting characters, from moustache-clad Mung Daal to his sassy fairy wife Truffles and — of course — everybody’s favorite rock monster Schnitzel. Without relying on slapstick or bathroom jokes, the dialogue of Chowder is still hilarious to this day as it incorporates more situational humor than anything else. Another honorable mention goes to the animation team’s out-of-the-box approach to textures. While the food-centered world of Chowder still contains the basic geometry of classic Cartoon Network shows, its use of vibrant colors, claymation scenes and moving patterns on characters’ clothes makes Chowder an animated oddball, even by Cartoon Network’s standards.
Guru Ramanathan, Film & TV Editor
With hits like “Dexter’s Laboratory” and “Samurai Jack,” “Sym-Bionic Titan” was one of Genndy Tartakovsky’s string of critically acclaimed cartoons. Tartakovsky is an animation genius but “Sym-Bionic Titan” is one of his greatest creations that never got enough appreciation. The show follows three human-looking aliens who crash land on Earth after the evil dictator General Modula takes over their home planet. While Lance, a soldier, and Octus, a robot, have to protect Princess Ilana and Earth from mutants sent by Modula, they also have to try to fit into everyday life and go to high school. The show is a mix of “Star Wars” and a mature high school drama but with Tartakovksy’s strange and infectious imagination morphing it all into a unique concoction of his own.
“Sym-Bionic Titan” was probably too dark to thrive on Cartoon Network but personally the show came out right at the time when I was searching for older protagonists to look up to. Each of the characters is beautifully written with their own vices and insecurities as runaways, which are further amplified by the insecurity of high school. Tartakovsky unrelentingly captured the awkwardness of traversing high school, especially from the perspective of an outsider and new kid — relatable for someone like myself who moved around a lot. But the show remained quirky even in tackling these darker topics; it was a cartoon, after all. The show had thrilling action sequences, much like “Samurai Jack,” but the creature designs for the monsters were so wacky and outrageous, it could only have come from the mind of Tartakovsky. “Sym-Bionic Titan” was more mature, more violent and more creative than a lot of shows going into the 2010s, and I only wish it stayed on air longer.
“Total Drama Island”
Guru Ramanathan, Film & TV Editor
Call it a guilty pleasure but I absolutely loved this show. I never got into “Keeping Up with the Kardashians,” but, as far as reality TV goes, “Total Drama Island” was a consistently hilarious show that I’m not afraid to admit I enjoyed every season. The show was a spoof on survival shows and pitted the cartoon teenagers against each other in bizarre activities week to week while also building up high-stake-relationship drama and behind-the-scenes sabotage. The show’s wild cast of characters and zany challenges were super entertaining and kept me on the edge of my seat. The show kept evolving with larger competitions, an international expansion, and at one point, even a new cast of characters were introduced to battle the original stars. Why ironically laugh at shows like “Survivor” when you can unironically enjoy this lovely show?
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