Two and a half years ago, we explored the early history of Cartoon Network... but it wasn't the only player in the youth television game. As a matter of fact, Fred Seibert -- the man responsible for the most inventive projects discussed in that post -- first stretched his creative legs at the network's truly venerable forerunner: Nickelodeon. Founded as Pinwheel, a six-hour block on Warner Cable's innovative QUBE system, this humble channel struggled for years before Seibert's innovative branding work transformed it into a national icon and capstone of a media empire. Much has changed since then, from the mascots and game shows to the versatile orange "splat." But starting tonight in response to popular demand, the network is looking back with a summer programming block dedicated to the greatest hits of the 1990s, including Hey Arnold!, Rocko's Modern Life, The Adventures of Pete & Pete, The Ren & Stimpy Show, Double Dare, Are You Afraid of the Dark?, Legends of the Hidden Temple, and All That. To celebrate, look inside for the complete story of the early days of the network that incensed the religious right, brought doo-wop to television, and slimed a million fans -- the golden age of Nickelodeon. (warning: monster post inside) [more inside]
Twenty years ago today, the gaming world saw the launch of a truly landmark title: Sonic the Hedgehog. Developed as a vehicle for a new Sega mascot, the fluid, vibrant, cheery-tuned wonderland swiftly became the company's flagship product, inspiring over the ensuing decades an increasingly convoluted universe of TV shows, comic books, and dozens of games on a variety of systems (all documented in this frighteningly comprehensive TVTropes portal). And while in recent years the series has turned out more and more mediocre 3D and RPG efforts, the original games remain crown jewels of the 16-bit era. So why not kick off this anniversary by replaying the titles that started it all for free in your browser: Sonic the Hedgehog (1991), Sonic the Hedgehog 2 (1992), Sonic the Hedgehog 3 (1994), Sonic & Knuckles (1994). Or click inside for music, remakes, and other fun stuff! [more inside]
Toy Story 3 hits theaters today, and it's already winning universal acclaim as an enchanting and heartbreaking wonderwork, employing understated 3D and a "real-time" perspective that deftly capitalizes on the nostalgia and can't-go-home-again angst of a generation that grew up with the series. It has a strong pedigree, with 11-year-old predecessor Toy Story 2 the rare sequel to equal its forebear, 1995's Toy Story (itself the first CGI feature in history). And it joins a lofty stable of films: over the last 15 years, Pixar has put out an unbroken chain of ten commercial and critical successes that have grossed over $5 billion worldwide and collected 24 Academy Awards (including the second-ever Best Picture nom for animation with Up), a legacy that rivals some of the greatest franchises in film history. But there's rumbling on the horizon. Although the studio has been hailed for its originality (of the 50 top-grossing movies in history, only nine were original stories -- and five of them were by Pixar), two of their upcoming projects are sequels, both of them based some of their least-acclaimed films (Cars 2 in 2011 and Monsters, Inc. 2 in 2012). And while 2012 will also bring
The Bear and the Bow Brave, the first Pixar flick to feature a female protagonist [previously], fellow newcomer Newt has been canceled. With WALL-E/Up/Toy Story 3 guru Andrew Stanton focusing on his 2012 adaptation of John Carter of Mars and with forays into live-action already in development, does this mark the end of the golden age of Pixar? Or is this latest entry lasting proof that even the toughest case of sequelitis can be raised to the level of masterpiece? [more inside]
TheSmartAss.info's suite of Java emulators allows smooth, in-browser playback of literally thousands of old-school video games: 517 Atari titles, 148 for DOS, 636 Game Boy games (and 410 for Game Boy Color), 2,019 (!) NES titles, 238 GameGear games, 802 Sega Genesis titles, and 284 for the Sega Master System. Highlights include Space Invaders, Frogger, Galaga, Pitfall!, Super Mario Bros., The Legend of Zelda, Metroid, SimCity, Zero Wing, Duke Nukem, Sonic the Hedgehog, Aladdin, Earthworm Jim, Pokemon, and Metal Gear Solid. Use the search function to find your favorites! You can also register an account to save games on emulators that support it. Make sure to check the purple bar below each game for control info and links to alternate emulators in case the default one is buggy or slow.
Saturday morning cartoons were once a staple of American television, but by the year 2000 they had all but disappeared. Of course, the Internet never forgets. Case in point: Cartoon Network Video -- a free, searchable, ad-supported service that provides hundreds of full-length episodes of classic shows like Dexter's Laboratory, Cow and Chicken, Courage the Cowardly Dog, Johnny Bravo, Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends, and The Powerpuff Girls, as well as current offerings and scads of shorter material. Too recent for you? Then give Kids WB Video a whirl -- it does the same thing with the same interface, but for older programs like Looney Tunes, Tom and Jerry, The Flintstones, The Jetsons, The Smurfs, Scooby-Doo, Thundercats, and the original Space Ghost. If you're in the mood to learn (and don't mind some live-action), PBS Kids Video has educational fare such as Arthur, Wishbone, and Zoom. And don't forget about Sesame Street, The Electric Company, Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood, The Magic Schoolbus and Schoolhouse Rock! Now if only we had some Chocolate Frosted Sugar Bombs...
While Adult Swim is generally regarded as the pioneer of irreverent short-form animation -- especially for 'toons that reimagine past hits -- it wasn't always the king. In fact, the late-night programming block arguably found its birth in a series of short toons and interstitials that ran in the heyday of its daytime alter ego, the venerable Cartoon Network. The brainchild of C.N. Creative Director Michael Ouweleen and Hanna-Barbera chief Fred Seibert, these cartoons reinterpreted the network's properties through stock footage, indie music, and original animation in a wide variety of styles, as well as introducing prototypes of characters that would become some of the most famous in the history of American animation. (warning: monster post inside) [more inside]