CARLTON FLETCHER: This younger generation today needs ... better 'toons

OPINION: A closer look at the best and worst animated shows of all-time

Carlton Fletcher

Carlton Fletcher

Goin’ down to South Park gonna have myself a time. Friendly faces everywhere, humble folks without temptation.

Les Claypool

I was watching Nickelodeon with my 11-year-old over the weekend — and they say men control the TV remote — when something called “Sanjay and Craig” came on. As someone who was raised on the Bugs Bunny, Bullwinkle, Yogi Bear and Tom & Jerry classics of the so-called golden age of cartoons, I’m always up for a little animation fun.

After about two minutes of “Sanjay and Craig’s” brand of “humor,” though, I’d had enough.

This was some of the worst, most crass and poorly conceived drivel I’ve ever seen on TV. I was pleased when, maybe for the third time in her 11 years, my daughter actually agreed with me.

Watching the aforementioned show, and others like “Kick Buttowski,” “Phineas and Ferb” and “Fish Hooks,” it dawned on me that one of our primary concerns for our younger generation ought to be that they’ve got only one — yes, one — decent cartoon to watch. The rest is a mix of bathroom humor, weirdness — but not in a good way — dubious animation skills, mindless plots and one endless succession of gaseous emissions (which, admittedly, is pretty funny if you’re under the age of 13 or if you have a Y chromosome).

Later, when that one modern-day animated kids classic came on — yes, it’s “Spongebob Squarepants,” which admittedly has its share of the above bad ‘toon characteristics but is still way more clever than any other modern-day animated series on the air — and we both settled in to watch, I harkened back to the Saturday mornings of my youth. My brother, sister and I spent many an hour in front of the TV watching Huckleberry Hound, Quickdraw McGraw, Road Runner, Mickey Mouse, Woody Woodpecker, Chip and Dale, the Pink Panther, Wally Gator, Cool McCool and others, oblivious to the world around us.

(A side note: One of the things “Spongebob” has going for it that many of today’s ‘toons don’t is a cool theme song. Try to find a kid under 13 — or a stoner college student — who can’t jump in when they hear “Who lives in a pineapple under the sea …” In that same vein, I could probably give you my admittedly crude rendition of most of the greatest cartoon theme songs of all time if you asked: From “Wally Gator is a swinging alligator in the swamp …” to “M-I-C … see you real soon, K-E-Y … Why? Because we like you …” to “O … double O … C double O … C double O L, Cool, McCool …” to “Here I come to save the day, Mighty Mouse is on the way …”)

But I digress.

In my musings on cartoons of bygone days and other more modern animated offerings that I came to as an adult, I devised my personal Top 10 list of best ‘toons ever:

  1. Archie

  2. Johnny Bravo

  3. The Jetsons

  4. Spongebob Squarepants

  5. The Powerpuff Girls

  6. The Simpsons

  7. The Flintstones

  8. South Park

  9. Rocky and Bullwinkle

  10. Underdog

Which also led to my approximation of the 10 worst animated series ever:

  1. Beany & Cecil (from back in the day)

  2. Cow & Chicken

  3. Ren & Stempy

  4. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

  5. Speed Racer

  6. Dora the Explorer

  7. Pokemon

  8. Phineas & Ferb

  9. Kick Buttowski

  10. Sanjay & Craig

Having witnessed the golden age of ‘toons and the golden age of animated movies — “Toy Story,” “The Lion King,” “Shrek,” “The South Park Movie,” “Despicable Me,” “The Nightmare Before Christmas” — I have a deep appreciation for the art form. I have nothing but respect for the men and women who manage to tell a compelling story using characters that, generally, don’t walk, talk, survive falls off 500-foot cliffs or have weapons of mass destruction at their fingertips in real life.

But when, like the folks who created “Sanjay and Craig,” you can’t even make a fart joke funny, you’ve missed your calling.