I love cartoons.
So my recent trouble in finding any good new cartoons on the air has represented an extreme cultural crisis in my world.
No good cartoons!?! Will the end of the world not be far behind?
Honesty break here: There are a handful of cartoons to come out over the past few years that I do actually like. Kid vs. Cat is a brilliant cat-and-mouse update that is sure to leave any cat owner in stitches. I thought Skunk Fu was also brilliant, but sadly, it doesn't seem to be on anymore. Star Wars: Clone Wars is very entertaining too, but different than a real cartoon cartoon. And of course, Avatar: The Last Airbender is one of the best epics of our time. But surely there had to be more...
The other day, I was flipping around and discovered the wonderful Charlie & Lola show on Disney Channel. It's been on for a few years I believe, but for whatever reason, I never watched it. I'd always been curious. I'm a huge fan of the Lauren Child picture books the show is based on. I Will Never Not Ever Eat a Tomato and I Am Not Sleepy... are both hilarious stories. I love the characters and the art style is very appealing to me. Back in my bookseller days, I tried very hard to sell these with mixed results despite the series being quite popular in the UK.
I admit to being nervous watching children's shows based on books. Typically the art is ruined and the characters "hipped" up for advertisers. I was shocked (and very impressed) at the integrity Charlie & Lola has for the books it's based on. The show actually plays out very much like a written story. The jokes are subtle and come about do to outstanding writing and not cheap gags. And each episode unfolds slow and careful, but always to a rewarding end. If writing children's books is something you're planning on doing, this would be a great show to watch. It has a great ear for authentic dialogue and interaction. (Oh, also...no commercials!)
Most cartoons these days assume crude equals funny and noisy equals action. Even more upsetting is that many books are moving in that direction. It was quite refreshing to find this show on the air. You don't have to be loud and obnoxious to offer something that is funny and entertaining. It's also educational without beating you over the head with it like those nauseating children's shows like Dora. Of course, the funny British-isms help. There's just something about kids with accents that cracks me up. But maybe that's just me.