Monday, April 1, 2013

Ranking the best cartoons of all time

One of my favorite blog posts I've written was one I did last year on the best breakfast cereals ever produced. I love cereal, which is why I enjoyed putting that one together.

I also love cartoons. I grew up on them and I still watch them when I get a chance. And I'm not necessarily talking about the adult-oriented modern ones like The Simpsons or Family Guy, though the writing on both shows is occasionally brilliant.

No, I'm talking about the stuff people of my generation and older used to watch on Saturday mornings. Or weekdays after school. I'm talking about the classics, my friends.

There are many old-time cartoons worthy of inclusion on this list, but here are the five that I would put at the very top. You may, of course, disagree. And you may, of course, be wrong.

Anyway, here we go:

#5 - The Jetsons
I struggled mightily choosing between The Jetsons and Tom & Jerry. Both are great, but I've always been a slightly bigger fan of George Jetson and his space-age family. For one thing, the theme song rocked. For another, The Jetsons had Astro the talking dog, whose approach to the English language was a precursor to Scooby Doo. Speaking of which...

#4 - Scooby Doo
All you need to know about Scooby Doo comes from Norm Macdonald playing the part of Burt Reynolds in Saturday Night Live's "Celebrity Jeopardy": "That was a funny dog, Scooby Doo. Rode around in a van and solved mysteries." That he did. Except he didn't. Fred, Velma and Daphne pretty much solved the mysteries, while Scooby and Shaggy walked around in fear of ghosts and looking for food. There are also intimations (played up in the 2002 movie version of the cartoon) that Scooby and Shaggy would partake of certain illegal organic substances. I can believe that.

#3 - Popeye
It's nearly impossible to expose your kids to the wonders of Popeye nowadays. I just can't find it anywhere (though there's probably a 24-hour Popeye Network in the upper reaches of our digital cable offerings, like somewhere around Channel 7,000). Popeye is outstanding. Not so much the individual plotlines, which almost always involved Popeye having to win over Olive Oyl from Bluto/Brutus. The hilariousness of Popeye comes in the stuff he says under his breath. Popeye can make me laugh so hard I'll cry.

#2 - Looney Toons/Merrie Melodies
Most people just call these cartoon shorts "Bugs Bunny" because he's the character most associated with them. But my favorite episode − by far − stars Daffy Duck. If you are capable of watching Daffy as Robin Hood and not at least chuckling a few times, then I'm not sure you and I are from the same planet. Outstanding writing, outstanding animation. I hear that Looney Toons theme song and I'm immediately transported back to the mid- and late 70s, when I would watch a full half hour of these 'toons every morning before school.

#1 - The Flintstones
It does not get any better than the 'Stones, as far as I'm concerned. But I'm actually very particular when it comes to which vintage. I'm talking about the early Flintstones episodes when the characters were drawn a little more clumsily (with thick black outlines) and Mel Blanc gave Barney a deeper, more "dumb guy" voice. That's classic 'Stones right there. I refused to acknowledge most of the episodes from the last season or two of the show, especially once the Great Gazoo came into play. And the one where the two families traveled back in time was just plain weird. No, just give me Fred and Barney driving to work every morning and the boys somehow extricating themselves from a wacky situation and I'm happy.


  1. C'mon Scott... no Spiderman And His Amazing Friends?

    -Jeff Bosco

  2. Never a Spidey fan, Jeff, but still a deserving candidate!

  3. When I hear the Jetsons song, I do the robot and fly into another room. I don't know why. And, I know what you mean about the "weird" episode when they all went back in time. It was the same weird feeling you got when Tom and Jerry had about 10 cartoons, where they changed the music in the background and it was almost psychedelic. I hated all the other Hanna Barbera cartoons, btw. - Laura Jones

  4. Most of the other Hanna Barbera cartoons weren't worth the time, Laura, I fully agree. Quick Draw McGraw and Huckleberry Hound were unwatchable. I did, however, like Magilla Gorilla and Yogi Bear. And I could at least stand Jonny Quest and Space Ghost.

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