Netflix Binge

by Mr. Nobel

Several oldie Cartoon Network and Nickelodeon shows recently got put on Netflix. In honor of the occasion, I’m rewatching/catching up with some of the  ol’ goodies.

Samurai Jack

Watched: 2 episodes

Wow. If I saw this show as a kid…well, I don’t think I would have liked it very much – it’s more of an art film than a kiddie show. Ostensibly a tale of killing some evil demon king thing, Samurai Jack’s really all about the drop dead gorgeous art design. My mouth was agape through most of the first two episodes, especially throughout that bravura silent training montage in the first episode. How did this ever get greenlit?

Ed, Edd ‘n’ Eddy

Watched: 2 episodes

I remembered watching and liking this show a lot as a kid. Going back, I’m surprised by how surreal and flat out creepy most of the show is. Think a Beavis and Butthead interpretation of Charlie Brown by way of Malcolm in the Middle, David Lynch and Harmony Korine. When I watched it originally, I had no idea what jawbreakers were, leading to a lifelong misinterpretation of the candy as those giant, spherical boulders from this show.

The Kids from Room 402 

Watched: 3 episodes

Charlie Brown for the ADD generation, this show moves at a ferocious clip. Often times, dramatizations of K-12 education makes all the boring and self-righteous day-to-day stuff palatable by exaggerating and intensifying standard plots to operatic levels. The Kids from Room 402 gets around this by jamming an impossible amount of stuff into each episode. Each day of school passes by in like 3 minutes. I was fucking shocked by how fast time whizzes by in the show.

Otherwise, the show is mostly notable for its characters – a weird mix of pop-culture stereotypes. There’s Vinnie, who might have wandered in from an off-Broadway performance of The West Side Story Jr., the utterly insufferable jingoist Polly and Nancy, with her Hairspray hairdo  and equally retro glasses. The show is at its best when utilizing Polly and/or social shame like a WMD. You just know that the story’s going to end with Nancy forced with Polly or Jessie getting shamed in front of the whole school, but the damned intentions on this road to hell make the endings very cathartic.

Angela Anaconda (CANADA)

Watched: 4-fifteen minute “episodes”

This is one of the few shows on Teletoon that was produced by Canadians. Go Canada!

I didn’t remember how absolutely and utterly creepy this show was. Here I was, thinking that children’s television was going through a mini-renaissance with Adventure Time and Gravity Falls, when all the stuff I watched as a kid turned out to be fucked up fever dreams. Okay, so Angela Anaconda is about Angela, an overly verbose grade school girl with an incredibly overactive and often grotesquely violent imagination, who goes to school with her friend Johnny, a thick-headed numbskull whose uncle is pretty much a composite of all the guys whacked in Goodfellas, to be in Mrs. Brink’s class, a sadistic, overweight exhibionist. Oh yeah, and everyone’s modeled with black and white cut out pictures. Enjoy the nightmares!

Johnny Bravo

Watched: 1 episode

Douchebag Looney Tunes. Yep, that about covers it.

Courage the Cowardly Dog

Watched: 1 episode

I’ve always thought of this show as the Spongebob take on the Simpsons’ Treehouse of Horror episodes. They tackle dark and lurid stuff with the zany, ironic bent of Mr. Squarepant’s undersea adventures. Courage manages a tricky balance of spineless and endearing – he’s always whiny and big ‘fraidy-cat, but those bursts of courage at the end feel genuinely earned and weirdly uplifting. The show suggests that the world can be a dark, twisted place, but that a bit of courage and resolve, more often than not, will set things right.

Also, the soundtrack is extremely catchy.

Codename: Kids Next Door

Watched: 1 episode

Yeah, this is really generic. I had some really fond memories of this show, but, after watching one episode, I can’t fathom why. This lazy genre pastiche would have had more novelty as a live action show.

Dexter’s Laboratory

Watched: 1 episode

Can we take a moment to talk about how awesome the title sequence is? Not only is the music insidiously catchy, but the little sequence is a perfect encapsulation of the show’s standard Dee-Dee screws up Dexter story arc. It’s also pretty funny, even after repetition.

The rest of the show has aged pretty well. I love many of the smaller flourishes, especially Dexter’s faux-German accent, and a lot of the gags are gut bustingly funny. However, the stories are fairly gosh darned samey – there are only so many times you can watch Dee-Dee beat Dexter because of Dexter’s hubris – and all the empty, bubble-headed characterization of Dee-Dee is a bit icky. It’s the butt of the joke a lot of the times, but you can’t help feeling like Dee-Dee’s got some serious brain and/or psychological damage throughout.

Powerpuff Girls

Watched: 1 episode

Another fantastic title sequence.

I’m immensely impressed by this show because I can never get a handle on how much piss it’s actually taking. Paired with the amazingly sardonic narrator and the comical juxtaposition of superpowers and the very young protagonists, Powerpuff Girls ends up being a show that doesn’t really take anything seriously.

That South Park reference also doesn’t help.

Ren and Stimpy

Watched: 1 episode

What else is there to say about Ren and Stimpy? It’s more than a show; it’s a cultural institution.

Cow and Chicken

Oh fuck off.