2016 Animated Emmy Nominations

Outstanding Animated Program
Archer
Bob’s Burgers
Phineas and Ferb Last Day of Summer
The Simpsons
South Park

Outstanding Short Form Animated Program
Adventure Time
The Powerpuff Girls
Robot Chicken
SpongeBob SquarePants
Steven Universe

So the Emmy nominations are in which include 2 animation categories, program and short form animated program. After getting it really right last year with Over the Garden Wall taking home the prize I am very disappointed with this year’s nominees.  It’s not that any of the shows are awful but some really great shows were missed. No nomination for Rick and Morty and I am sorry but they have taken what South Park did and ran away with it. And no nomination for Gravity Falls. Their 3 hour epic finale was so great and inventive. As much as I love The Simpsons there was nothing last year that came close to Gravity Falls.

Then you have Star Wars Rebels which was so captivating last season with a finale episode that had me in tears and cheering all at the same time. There is no way that Phineas and Ferb Last Day of Summer is better than Rebels. We also get the Powerpuff Girls reboot with a nomination which everyone I know hates and nothing for the final season of Wander Over Yonder.

Netflix’s Voltron also deserved a nomination over one of these tired shows. If you haven’t caught it yet it is so well written and animated.  I haven’t finished but will do a review when I’m done. I also wouldn’t have been sad if The Lion Guard had made it in because that show is very well done for kids.

So all in all it is an epic fail for this year’s emmy nominations. What else is new? These award shows rarely get it right.

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Why Star Wars Rebels is the Best Star Wars…

Happy Star Wars Day!  And May the 4th be with you! I’m kicking myself for not filming something Star Wars related for my youtube channel but it gives me the opportunity to give the blog my main focus!  If you haven’t watched my Star Wars content on the channel I think you will really enjoy it. My friends and I break down each of the movies and rank them.  They are really fun videos.

But that’s neither here nor there.  What I want to talk about in this post is Star Wars Rebels. Check out this trailer for the last half of season 2. If it doesn’t get you excited about Rebels than your Star Wars fandom is of a different kind than mine!

But not only is Star Wars Rebels fantastic show, in some ways I think it is the best Star Wars property out there. Let me explain why

star-wars-rebels-space-whales-05

1. Animation- as an animation buff that’s a huge plus. But even putting that love aside an animated Star Wars world has no limits. You can have space whales and then an amazing light saber battle in the same 20 minutes of screen time. The creators are only limited by their imagination.

ezra2. Non-Skywalkers- Don’t get me wrong I love the Skywalker family but Star Wars is a galaxy full of planets and people. Aside from the occasional cameo, how great is it to have main stories about new characters that aren’t Skywalkers? It makes it unpredictable. A character like Ezra we see leanings towards the dark side but we don’t know him; therefore, am never positive what he will do. His heart is in the right place which can be the greatest threat to darkness of all!

kanan3. Fantastic characters- There are some amazing characters in the Star Wars films but in Rebels we dive into these characters and live with them in a way you just can’t in a movie. Kanan has survived Order 66 and is according to creator Dave Filoni a “cowboy Jedi”.  He was never fully trained but he is force strong.  This makes him unpredictable yet still strong.

rebels women4. Fantastic Female Characters- Aside from Rey, who I will defend until I’m blue in the face, Star Wars hasn’t been the strongest when it comes to female characters. Leia is great but one note and Padme…less said about her the better. In Star Wars Rebels you have Hera and Sabine who have complex backstories involving their family, training, conflicts and everything else. They are not there to have love interests or be tough and I don’t know how anyone claims they are Mary Sue!

asoka5. Ahsoka- Speaking of female characters Ahsoka is an amazing character. She worked along side Anakin and saw him descend into Vader. A part of her still feels loyal to her former master and yet he destroyed everything in her life.  She was once in the Jedi Order but now she is free from such restrictions, yet she is still force strong. This makes her very complex and heart breaking.  And the season 2 finale. Wow!

ahsoka6. Great Writing- Rebels definitely has dud episodes. Don’t get me wrong but for the most part the writing is so good. These feel like real people not just action adventure characters. The dialogue feels genuine and can be very heartfelt and intense. Creator Dave Filoni has a real vision for the series and a love for these characters. It’s unpredictable and layered in a way you can’t accomplish in a movie.

chopper7. Chopper- While not quite BB8 greatness Chopper is such a fun droid. It’s a good example of the spirit of fun in the show. It is after all on Disney XD so there are childlike moments that are very enjoyable. Star Wars started as a film for children and then it appealed to adults second and Rebels gets that balance right.

KananCrew8. Weekly Lore- Let’s be honest waiting 2 years to find out what happens to Rey is brutal!  How great is Star Wars Rebels when each week we learn more about the lore, characters and stories. Even in the less successful episodes none of them are awful with JarJar, so no big let down as some of the movies have been. This is great storytelling and we don’t have to wait!

leia rebels9. Movie Winks- As much as I love the new characters in Rebels we also get winks and cameos from the prequels and original trilogy. Rebels is set 14 years after Revenge of the Sith so we see Vader, Yoda, Tarkin others and this last season we got to meet a young Princess Leia which was awesome. Plus, I think Rebels redeems a lot of what the prequels ruined for Anakin/Vader especially with Ahsoka’s storyline.

Star-Wars-Rebels10. Everything and More- Basically Star Wars Rebels gives you everything you love about Star Wars and even more. It has great action, light saber fights, words of wisdom, adventure, terrific characters and strong world building. It’s a great blend of being its own thing but also being a fantastic Star Wars property.  You could just watch Rebels and enjoy it without watching any other Star Wars property. I don’t know if you could say that about any of the movies? Maybe New Hope? The movies are fantastic as a series and Rebels is just that a series but you don’t have to wait 2 years in between episodes!

rebels2Honestly I like to think of Star Wars Rebels as the true prequels. We learn everything we need to know about Anakin and his fall but it is through the eyes of characters I really care about- something that definitely wasn’t the case for me in the prequels. Rebels shows the world before New Hope in a way that is gripping, heart breaking and exciting. If you haven’t seen it. WATCH IT!!

And may the 4th be with you!

Do you watch Rebels? Why do you love it?

Animated News 3/10/16

Hey guys!  I’m excited to share with you a new video series I am trying out. It’s a video where I cover all the news in both animated TV shows and movies.  I thought of this because I don’t really like reviewing trailers, so it seemed like a good way to cover the trailer but also other topics that I think are interesting.  I figured I could make my viewers aware of smaller projects or shows that might be off their radar.

There are obviously going to be room for improvement but I think it is a pretty good start.  Let me know if you have any suggestions.

Also, what do you think of this week’s news?  In the video I cover:

Box office for Zootopia and Boy and the Beast

Trailers for Kubo and the 2 Strings and Red Shoes and the 7 Dwarves

Movie announcements for animated Ghostbusters and Surfs Up 2: Wave Mania

Utah release of Boy and the World and Only Yesterday

Aaron Springer Billy Dilly Show

Ducktales reboot image review

Cancellation of Wander Over Yonder

Tangled Before Ever After series

Big Hero 6 series announcement

Does any of this news interest you?  Let’s discuss it in the comments section here or on the youtube video.  If you feel so inclined give it a thumbs up!  Thanks so much. 🙂

The Lion Guard Premiere Review

lion guard5I’m not sure who asked for a Lion King animated series for small children but we have gotten it with Disney Jr’s The Lion Guard.  I recently watched the 1 hour premiere and had mixed feelings about it.  I love Lion King and had it in my Top 50 Animated Films, but am not quite as high on it as many who have it as their favorite animated film ever.  I’m not sure what those fans will think of this addition, so if you are let me know!

lion guard3

PROS

Let’s talk about the things I liked in the premiere.

The most important stand-out is the animation.  Disney has been doing an amazing job with their 2D and CG TV offerings.  Whether it is Star Wars Rebels, Wonder Over Yonder, Disney’s Mickey Mouse, Gravity Falls, the TV animation is on par with the film animation.  It really is and Lion Guard is no exception.  While perhaps not the masterpiece quality of the original it still looks great.

I haven’t seen the sequels for some time so I can’t compare the animation in those but Lion Guard I thought looked smooth, bright, colorful with beautiful backdrops.

lion guard4I also thought the mythos behind the Lion Guard and Scar losing his roar was pretty good.  The group of 5 in the guard should be fun for small kids to follow on adventures protecting the Pridelands from villains.

The voice casting was solid with Rob Lowe voicing Simba and Gabrielle Union Nala. I also liked Atticus Shaffer from underrated show The Middle as the voice of Ono the egret of the Lion Guard.

The score by Christopher Willis and Beau Black is excellent even if the songs were very lame.

Here is the trailer

CONS

lion guard81

I am not a fan of the sarcastic, hip tone we got from lead Kion but there was admittedly some of that in the original with Simba wanting to be king and all.  For some reason, I found it more grating here.  Also the character of Bunga, a honey badger that reminded me of Terk from Tarzan, was very annoying.  He’s supposed to be Kion’s snarky friend but most of the time it came across as forced and obnoxious.

THE LION GUARD - "The Lion Guard: Return of the Roar" - The epic storytelling of Disney's "The Lion King" continues with "The Lion Guard: Return of the Roar," a primetime television movie event premiering SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 22 (7:00 p.m., ET/PT) on Disney Channel. (Disney Junior) TIMON, TIIFU, KIARA

I also didn’t like the way the females were all either insecure  or arrogant divas.  In a way I kind of wish that Kiara would have been the lead of the story but she is relegated to being rescued in the premiere. I particularly didn’t like Zuri who complains about her nails and getting dirty.

I also did not like the constant winks to the original.  It felt very lazy to me and forced.  Like they sing instead of Hakuna Matata, Zuka Zamba.  Why not have a reprise or new arrangement of Hakuna Matata?  I mean would Timon and Pumba have gotten a new word/philosophy to life?  Plus, Timon and Pumba are still living by the no worries philosophy?  Wasn’t that kind of proven wrong in the whole ‘it allowed Scar to take over and ruin the pridelands?’

lion guard8Plus Hakuna Matata was not about not working.  It was about not worrying.  That’s not exactly the same thing. It’s about not having problems and Simba realized it was wrong and certainly wouldn’t have been teaching his son some new version of it called Zuka Zamba.

It just felt kind of like a bargain basement rip off of a highlight from the original film.  There are also lots of jokes and puns about the original, which got a little old.  Even Rafiki saying ‘it is time’ and then Kion singing ‘It is Time’ song made me roll my eyes! Couldn’t they have thought about something else for Rafiki to say?

lion guard19I also did not care for a scene where Mufasa visits Kion with the voice of James Earl Jones.  In the original film when Simba see’s his father in the vision of the clouds it is an emotionally powerful moment.  Here it’s like ‘oh hi Grandpa…’

lion guard6I was also disappointed to see the hyenas as the main villains.  They are so stupid that I don’t think they will be tough for the Lion Guard to defeat.  I understand it is a show for very small children but why not have a child of Scar be the main villain?  That would be really cool. You’ve got to imagine as King he fathered cubs? Scar is possibly my favorite Disney villain so this seems like a serious downgrade.

OVERALL THOUGHTS

Overall, I think it is an all right animated series that small children will probably enjoy.  The animation is good quality and the voice work I liked.  It’s basically Lion King fan fiction so its appeal will partly depend on how open you are too new properties in that world.

However, I felt many of the attempts to tie back into the original felt lame and generic.  The attempts at potty humor, songs like Zuka Zama annoyed me.  They don’t show any growth on the part of Timon and Pumba from the original film.  The songs in general were mediocre.

I also didn’t care for the way the girl characters were portrayed and Bunga I found very annoying.

That said, not a bad watch and will be curious how the series works out.

If you have seen it put in the comments section and let me know what you thought- especially if you are a big Lion King fan.

Overall Grade- C+ (good animation make it just a hair above average Disney fare)

Friday 5: 5 Favorite Animated TV Show Theme Songs

There is a really fun series I do over on my youtube channel that I normally post on my other blog smilingldsgirl.com called The Friday 5.  It was set up by a fellow youtuber named Sarah Crawford and each week she picks a topic and we have to choose 5 of our favorite songs that fit that topic.  Normally my other blog is more suited to music but since this one involved animation I decided to include it on this blog this week.

This week’s topic was ‘5 of your favorite themes from TV Shows” and since animation is my favorite I decided to go with that.

I think they are 5 really fun themes and 5 great shows. If you haven’t seen them you should totally check them out.  What are some of your favorite themes from TV shows, animated or not?  I would love to hear.  I do this series every week and next week is wild card so if you have any suggestions of a fun topic I could pick put in the comments section.  If any of you have youtube channels it’s a very fun series to be a part of.

Thanks and have a Happy Friday!!

Raising Shell: A TMNT History from youtuber The Lawn Gnome

Hey guys my friend on youtube The Lawn Gnome has put together an awesome documentary on the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.  I thought he did a great job and I learned something about our favorite teenage fighting team! If anything it is interesting to see how a crazy idea can become a cultural phenomenon. I mean even terrible movies like the recent offering find their fans and makes a lot of money.  So if you like studying trends and pop culture like I do, you will enjoy the videos even if not a huge turtle fan.

I certainly thought it was worthy of a shoutout and deserves more hits!  If you have a youtube account subscribe to his channel. He has a great Disney series and just reviewed Hunchback of Notre Dame which is a pretty divisive film (hint he liked it a lot).  Definitely one of my favorite youtubers and is so supportive of other channels and is so great about doing tags and shoutouts others send him.

So here’s the series Raising Shell: A TMNT History-

Animated Emmy Noms 2015

The Emmy nominations were announced today and like always there were a bunch of shows I don’t watch.  Pretty much the only live action shows I watch that got nominated was Mad Men and Downton Abbey.  I was hoping The Goldbergs would get recognized but no love once again. 

girl meets worldThe one live action nom I was excited about was Disney’s Girl Meets World.  I have been meaning to blog about it but haven’t found the time.  I love it!  I loved Boy Meets World and I think it is one of the few reboots that has worked great.  A wonderful mixture of nostalgia for us grown-ups and lots of good stuff for kids.  It’s a show the entire family can watch together and enjoy. 

Other than that I was interested in the animation categories (of course!) and for the most part I was pleased.

For Outstanding Animated Program we had: 

Outstanding Animated Program – 2015

 Archer

 Bob’s Burgers

 Over the Garden Wall

 South Park

 The Simpsons

Of these 5 the one I am most excited for is Over the Garden Wall which I think is a true masterpiece.  I would love to see it get some recognition and perhaps more people to see it.  It is bold in its storytelling and the animation is stunning.  You can read my review of Over the Garden Wall here.

The Simpsons I also think is worthy.  I know people criticize it but they had an artistically ambitious season for 26 and the Treehouse of Horror that was nominated was brilliant with Simpsons 26 meeting Simpsons 1.

The rest of the nominees are too crass and vulgar for my taste but I see the appeal.

And for Outstanding Short-Format Animated Program we had:

Adventure Time

Disney’s Mickey Mouse

 Regular Show

 Robot Chicken

 Steven Universe

 Wander over Yonder

A few of these I haven’t heard of.  I would have loved to see Gravity Falls nominated which is so clever.  Robot Chicken I’ve heard of but never seen.  Wander over Yonder, Steven Universe, and Regular Show are new to me.  Have any of you seen them?  Are they good?

Adventure Time is a lot of fun but I would have put Rick and Morty in its place (not sure if that is short format or not?).

I am very happy to see Disney’s Mickey Mouse get a nomination. It’s a vintage style 2D show in the spirit of the old Mickey Mouse animated shorts and I love it! If you haven’t seen it, it’s really quite brilliant.  Artist Paul Rudish and his team capture the feel of old school Disney perfectly. I reviewed it on my channel.

What about you?  What do you think of the nominations?  I’d love to know your thoughts especially if you’ve seen some of these shows I haven’t.  It’s just a silly awards show but it is nice when something like Over the Garden Wall gets nominated when it sorely deserves it.

Have a great day!

Over the Garden Wall Series Review

over the garden wallI know I am super late in the world of animation bloggers with this post but I finally got around to seeing the Cartoon Network series Over the Garden Wall from last year and let me just say the hype is deserved.  Wow!

Created by Patrick McHale from a short he did called The Tome of the Unknown, Over the Garden Wall is a miniseries about two step-brothers who get lost in a mysterious forest world.  The only way I can think to describe it is a mixture of Wizard of Oz and Alice in Wonderland.  It has the randomness of Alice and the journey of Wizard.

over the garden wall4For people that bemoan the state of 2D hand drawn animation this is stunning. It looks so beautiful particularly how it uses light to create layers of the forest and to show mood.  I was blown away by the animation! It’s unique and shows a lot of different styles while still keeping a consistent feel.  It is carefully done animation with little details like the lighting on Greg’s teapot hat always reflecting what’s going on or the colors and texture on Beatrice’s wings.  It’s lush, varied, and it reminded me in animation quality of Spirited Away- no small compliment!

Each episode is actually 2 10 minute shorts or chapters in the story of getting the boys Wirt (Elijah Wood) and young Greg (Collin Dean) home.   They are such well written complex characters especially Wirt.  He worries about life and doesn’t like to take risks.  He’s resentful of Greg and I think a little bit envious.  He wishes his family wasn’t a blended family and that Greg  didn’t even exist.  He wants to go back home but he is not unempowered or weak.

Greg is sweet and carefree.  He loves nature and carries around a frog that he often gives historical names too.   He is unafraid of monsters and when given the chance to lead he takes it very seriously.  A character like Greg could be grating and irritating but he’s not.  He also gives most of the humor of the show (and it can be very funny).

They have a third member of their group a blue jay named Beatrice (Melanie Lynskey) who joins the boys to try and find Adelaide a mysterious woman who will break the curse on her family and help the boys get home.  Beatrice gets irritated easily and is free with her opinion about everything.  It’s a funny juxtaposition given she’s a sweet looking bluebird without being too crass or vulgar. Her character arc has much of the heart of the series.

over the garden wall5There is a beast in the forest and a woodsman (Christopher Lloyd) as well as other magical creatures.  It can be quite scary and probably isn’t for very small children.  But the segments are short so you are never left dwelling on the scary for long.

over the garden wall10In a world where hardly anything feels new Over the Garden Wall is such a refreshing surprise.  Every episode feels like something I’ve never seen before.  It’s so creative and different and constantly surprised me.  It might be a little too random for some people but I thought that’s what made it brilliant.  You never knew what to expect.  It could be a bonfire with vegetable people or frogs on a cruise or a trip into the clouds.  Whatever it is I loved it!

over the garden wall7I love how the boys interact with each other.  It felt like 2 brothers, especially two step brothers.  I like that they never had to ‘learn’ anything and yet they did.  It’s not one of those animated shows where there is a moral at the end of every episode.  Sometimes there isn’t even a story.  It’s just the boys interacting with cool stuff (again kind of like Alice in Wonderland in that regard).

over the garden wall8 The music is also wonderful and eclectic.  Some songs are very fun like Potatoes and Molasses, others are spooky, others are very tender and heartbreaking.

I’m not sure who wrote the score but it is perfect.  It manages to feel consistent with all the eclectic stories being told.

Normally I hate when adults play children on animated shows (Simpsons being the exception) but here Elijah Wood is terrific as Wirt.  He captures a skeptical but earnest teen so well.  All the vocals are great including John Cleese, Tim Curry, Chris Isaak, Shirley Jones and more.  You can tell this was a real labor of love for all involved.

over the garden wall3People are always bemoaning the lack of originality in today’s television and movies. Indeed it feels like every day we get a new sequel, prequel, remake or adaptation.  This makes Over the Garden Wall even more of a treasure.  It’s so original in every way. I think you could watch it a thousand times and get something new each time.  Each episode is so rich with details and artistry it is definitely one I want to get on blu-ray.

Especially as lovers of animation we need to support such creative visionaries and let the Cartoon Network know such efforts are appreciated.  I would love to see a series 2 of Over the Garden Wall but I hope at least the network will continue producing such bold entertainment.

Any of you see Over the Garden Wall?  What did you think?  It’s the kind of series you want to discuss so feel free in the comments.

This shows how deep the series is.

My Favorite Simpsons Episodes

simpsons favsSince its animation I thought I would share with you a video I just posted of my favorite Simpsons episodes. It’s a longer video but the list starts at 4:17 mark. Please give it a thumbs up and subscribe to my channel if you haven’t.

My top 13 Simpsons episodes.
13. Brick Like Me
12. Bart the Mother
11. Bart on the Road
10. When Flanders Failed
9. Bart Gets an F
8. The Cartridge Family
7. Treehouse of Horror V
6. Secret War of Lisa Simpson
5. Homer the Great
4. Lisa Gets an A
3. Marge vs the Monorail
2. King Sized Homer
1. Homer’s Enemy.

What are your favorite episodes?