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They really don’t make them like they used to

Submitted by on Thursday, 11 March 2010 No Comment

It was garden-variety stuff – cat chases mouse, cat catches mouse, mouse bonks cat’s head with an iron skillet, dog pummels cat – but I hadn’t heard Big Guy laugh so hard in ages as he did the day he watched “Tom & Jerry” as we waited for a doctor’s appointment.

Not while he’s watching “SpongeBob,” which he says he loves. Not while he’s watching “Danny Phantom,” which is taking up half the hard drive on my DVR at the moment. Not even during “Fanboy and Chum Chum,” which he defends against my complaints by saying, “but it’s funny!”

And yet, if would take months for any of those to draw the number of belly laughs generated by mere minutes of “Tom & Jerry.”

It’s not just because I was 10 years older than dirt when I had kids and long for “the good old days.” I didn’t watch that much “Tom & Jerry” when I was a kid. “Josie and the Pussycats” was more my speed.

It’s more because there’s simply something missing from today’s cartoons. Or maybe it’s something that’s been added: Snark and attitude.

Look at SpongeBob, for example. I defy you to find one totally lovable character in the entire ensemble. SpongBob is not the brightest creature in the sea, and Patrick is even slower. Squidward is a grump, and Mr. Krabs is obsessed with money.

“Danny Phantom” is one of a number of shows that plays heavily on the “parents as dolts” theme – count “Fairly Odd Parents” in that category, too. Watch Danny’s dad blow another ghost hunt! See Timmy Turner’s oblivious parents turn him over to the evil babysitter!

Granted, in the classics someone was always going to get hurt – Wile E. Coyote, Elmer Fudd or Jerry. But those cartoons also were, in a way, feel-good lessons that usually left the little guy winning. Road Runner,  Bugs Bunny and Tom always found a way to come out on top. I miss the simplicity of life being divided between good and bad guys.

Most of all, I miss the funny. Predictable, but funny. Anvil to the head? Hilarious no matter how many times you’ve seen it. Gun powder all over Elmer’s face? Side-splitting.

Don’t just take my word for it, though. The classics have Big Guy’s endorsement as well.

Note to self: Set the alarm for early Saturday morning and tune the TV to Boomerang before the guys have a chance to turn to Nickelodeon.

Copyright 2010 Debra Legg. All rights reserved.

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