Monday, July 07, 2008


I miss Cartoon Network.

You may think that's a silly thing to say as the channel still exists, but the Cartoon Network I was turned on to is not around anymore. That honor now goes to Boomerang, which is where most of the cartoons I grew up with now appear, and which is beginning to fall by the wayside too. There was not as much good stuff on there the last time I was at my parents' home, which is where I see Boomerang because the cable company in my hometown is run by Philistines, who see fit to have two feeds for BET and two religious networks featuring People With Big Hair and Joel Osteen, but cannot bring themselves to add BBC America and Boomerang to compensate.

But I digress. CN once had shows like Teen Titans, Justice League Unlimited, Megas XLR and so on; now they show anime almost exclusively as part of their adventure lineup (though they are doing Spider-Man and Transformers). Their "cartoons" consist of horribly drawn, eye-wateringly stylistic characters with no heart or soul that aren't funny. (Don't get me started on the rehash of George Of The Jungle. That rumbling you hear is Jay Ward doing doughnuts in his grave.) It almost makes me want to go to Youtube and watch old 1930's animation, which is so frenetic that it usually drives me nuts, just to see a character that someone has built out of an actual shape, as opposed to some effed-up-looking abstract idea thing.

Some hope may be at hand this fall, though, with the release of The Secret Saturdays. Created by Jay Stephens, this cool-looking cartoon depicts the adventures of a family of cryptozoologists who travel the globe on various missions tracking down ancient mysteries and fighting monsters. Unlike its predecessors such as Jonny Quest and Challengers Of the Unknown (which both cast a long shadow over this series), TSS takes more of a quasi-environmentalist stance, concerned with not only protecting the world from Things Man Was Not Meant To Know, but also protecting those very same Things from those who would exploit them for nefarious purposes. The Saturdays team consists of eminent scientist and adventurer/cryptozoologist Doc Saturday, his true-believer wife Drew (who serves as a Mulder figure to Doc's Scully-like "hard facts" stance) and their son Zak, who comes across as Jonny Quest with an X-Games attitude, throwing himself into missions with gusto. The mascot of the team is Fiskerton, a strange-looking but intelligent "gorilla-cat" creature who is comic relief and pet/protector/older brother to Zak.

The Secret Saturdays has so far gotten good word-of-mouth from those in the know, and was once the subject of a clumsy name change from Cartoon Network (who wanted the generic-sounding title The Secret Adventures Of Zak Saturday; fortunately, common sense and coolness prevailed). For my own part, I am looking forward to TSS. The characters are very likable and personable, the style is pleasingly retro (atomic science is always more fun than nuclear science), and we haven't had a good Jonny Quest-style adventure series on TV since, well, Jonny Quest. Plus there are monsters, and if you've seen my own stuff you know I likes me some monsters, so hopefully this will hang around for quite a while.

A preview of the treats this series has to offer may be seen not only at Cartoon Network's website but also in the DC comic Cartoon Network Action Pack. The latest issue, #26, features the Saturdays as its cover story, and according to Stephens' blog Monsterama, Saturdays tales will appear in every other issue until its premiere in the fall. Personally, my money's on this one as my new fave for this fall season. I have already caught a bit of The Marvelous Misadventures Of Flapjack, and I just wanna say this... Jesus H. Roosevelt Christ with pliers, Cartoon Network needs help! Viva Saturdays!