One of the most under-appreciated television genres is undoubtedly the humble cartoon series. But with the rise of animation technologies, the TV cartoon has triumphed in its evolution as a stop-gap between programmes, to its current prestigious role as the source of inspiration for online games, blockbuster movies and even soundtracks by legendary recording artists.
The 1940s Hanna-Barbera series Tom and Jerry instantly summed up how action-packed the cartoon format could be. And as such, the cat-and-mouse capers have become the focus of some fun browser-based games to further the cause of this dynamic duo.
The rise of the cartoon led to a treasure trove of animated heroes such as Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck. But it was with the arrival of The Flintstones that we saw iconic human characters being depicted in the animated format. This eventually led to a 1994 Flintstones movie being made, and similar cinematic treatment awaited Scooby Doo with a pair of recent movie adaptations.
The 1980s saw our cartoon heroes becoming a little more heroic with He Man and the Masters of the Universe and Thundercats bringing dramatic elements to the viewing public. But it was the incredible Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles craze of the decade that brought a surreal edge to animated entertainment that still lingers in our nation’s waterways.
Generation X also managed to get in on the cartoon action with the likes of Beavis and Butthead providing suitably mind-numbing entertainment for MTV viewers. Whereas the Ren and Stimpy characters provided a weird and wonderful take on the traditional animal-based cartoon aesthetic.
However such breakthroughs pale in comparison to the genre-smashing institution that is The Simpsons. Since the start of the 1990s this has become an award-winning TV show, movie and gaming title thanks to the irreverent charms and sharp political edge of the Simpson family. Such is the success of the format that it launched many adult-centric cartoons such as Family Guy.
Few cartoons have managed to court controversy as much as the South Park series however. This gleefully irreverent series has successfully managed to court controversy with numerous political figures and institutions, with the prospective US president Donald Trump recently receiving his own withering put-down from the series.
And with the recently-passed David Bowie appearing on Spongebob Squarepants, it’s further proof that it’s not just online casino games and Hollywood blockbusters that are endlessly in thrall to the power of the animated TV show.