Monday, August 12, 2013

Best Cartoon Network Originals

15. Courage, the Cowardly Dog (52 episodes, 1999-2002)
This was never one of my favorites, but  it is a good show that had a lot of staying power.  The formula is basic enough and flexible enough to change.

14. Ed, Edd n Eddy (69 episodes, 1999-2009)
One of the network's long runners.  There was enough genuineness in these characters to offset their underhandedness.  Much like Dennis the Menace or Bart Simpson, kids were amused by kid characters behaving how they couldn't.

13. Ben 10 (180 episodes, 2005-present)
I have not watched much of this show but it has been going consistently and successfully for close to a decade.  The show is on its fourth iteration and a lot of kids love the toys.

12. Cow and Chicken (52 episodes, 1997-1999)
Wacky, surreal and irreverent animation at its highest.  It was not a copy of Ren and Stimpy or Rocko, it had a very unique Cartoon Network feel.  Just its own brand of oddness and style.

11. Codename: Kids Next Door (78 episodes, 2002-2008)
This is a great premise for a kids show and they got a lot of mileage out of it.  Just an ideal kids only fantasy with caricatured adults and some fun action.

10. Johnny Bravo (67 episodes, 1997-2004)
It is odd thinking back that I used to watch this as a kid, because the main character is really a creep.  But it is done with such energy and fun that it is still accessible to kids.  It has an edge without ever crossing into overly inappropriate.  It also featured the best Scooby-Doo crossover of all time.

9. Megas XLR (26 episodes, 2004-2005)
This geek targeted series premiered on Toonami and the slacker, pop-culture reference humor was welcome among the action series.  This is a show that understands what it is parodying and creates its own mythology.  There is also a lot of wish fulfillment in nerds finding a giant robot.

8. Dexter's Laboratory (78 episodes, 1996-2003)
The first successful original cartoon and one that remains memorable to this day.  Tartakovsky's style stands out and the humor is great.  Dexter is one of those fun kid characters that is much more like an adult that just lives in a kid's world.

7. Regular Show (58 episodes, 2010-present)
One of the network's current hits.  This series is fun because its lead characters and setting is so normal and things just get messed up.  Everybody is likable in the cast, no matter how lazy or self-centered.  This is what a lot of great Cartoon Network cartoons are, something that is funny to adults but accessible and amusing to kids.

6. Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends (79 episodes, 2004-2009)
Perfect concept for a kids show.  Craig McCracken's imagination is showcased well in the many imaginary friends.  It is a show about childhood and imagination that is entertaining and has such a creative premise.

5. Sheep in the Big City (26 episodes, 2000-2002)
Short-lived and not too well remembered, but this was one of the funniest cartoons of the last 25 years.  Very much a spiritual successor to the works of Jay Ward (and created by a writer who did great work on Sesame Street, which also seems fitting).  The show is self-referential and genre savvy.  I hope that this one comes to Netflix soon, because I really want to see the whole series.

4. Star Wars: Clone Wars (25 episodes, 2003-2005)
This series of Star Wars shorts is classified as a Cartoon Network original.  Taking place between Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith this award winning saga is better than the Star Wars prequels or most of the series' many spin-offs.  It works much better as a whole than in short five minute serials, but the artwork is arresting and action is exciting.

3. Powerpuff Girls (78 episodes, 1998-2005)
One of the greatest successes to ever come out of Cartoon Network and one of the few cartoons to break out of the Girl Show Ghetto.  The characters are entertaining to everyone and this is the perfect combination between action and comedy.  Craig McCracken at his finest.

2. Adventure Time (78 episodes, 2010-present)
Even though this show is overexposed, people absolutely love it.  It began life as a single short on Nickelodeon's short-lived Random Cartoons that went viral online.  The series is full of heart and a unique sense of ironic humor.  The storytelling is so in depth and the mythology is constantly expanding.  It is an ode to fantasy and adventure and very much moves those genres forward.  It has a life of its own as a successful comic book series and manages to be both mainstream yet a cult show.

1. Samurai Jack (52 episodes, 2001-2004)
The original series that everybody recognises as an artistic endeavor.  The third cartoon from Genndy Tartakovsky on this list and it is very much his magnum opus.  The style and the action is friendly to television animation while managing to stay exciting and include solid writing.  Best show Cartoon Network has ever produced.

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