Check out this article about these Cartoon Network originals!
I know what a lot of you are thinking right now: "This is NOT retro." but to me, it is. Cartoon Network's Cartoon Cartoons hold some of the most fond memories of my past. Today, they're almost all cancelled, but the memories stay. I should let you know that I'm not really a buff on some of these shows. So, just a forwarning, there may be a few innaccuracies in this article. I'm going to give some details on each of the Cartoon Cartoons, but before I do, here's how it all started out...
In 1995, Cartoon Network started this line of short cartoons all made by different animators known as "World Premiere Toons". Basically, these were all pilot episodes of new cartoons that would hopefully be made into their own series.
After a big batch of them made their debut, a new series was launched on Cartoon Network known as "World Premiere Toons: The Show", which was basically a half-hour show containing three of the World Premiere Toons. The show was later renamed "The What A Cartoon Show!"
"Dexter's Laboratory", one of the most successful WPT's, was the first one to be made into a series. The pilot was so successful that three more pilots were made to promote the debut of the series. It officially premeired in the spring of 1996. "Dexter's Laboratory" is a pure genius show. Every episode contains an original idea, and it supplies a great amount of action and comedy at the same time. The show is basically about Dexter, an extremely smart child who has a mighty laboratory in his bedroom which he keeps hidden from his oblivious parents. There are other main characters like his older sister, Dee Dee, who has a free spirit, and his rival, Mandark. Most episodes of this show are basically Dexter has a problem, solves it with an invention, and the invention goes haywire. During its production, the show also evolved a lot. Dee Dee started out as a complete moron, but throughout the series, she gained more spiritual wisdom. Dexter also gained closer relationships to his parents. In the summer of 1998, the supposed series finale aired, but after a 3 year hiatus, the show was brought back into production by popular demand. The series made a major change with more obscure animation, larger roles for other characters, and Mandark acting more as a villain than a rival. During the show's hiatus, a made-for-TV movie was released known as "Ego Trip". "Dexter's Lab" officially ended its production in September 2003.
"Johnny Bravo" was another successful WPT, which had two pilot episodes. It premeired as a series in July 1997. This show is basically about a cool, muscular, blonde, and very stupid man. Basically, the show is about Johnny trying to get girls to dig him. The problem is, he has too many problems. The series itself had some problems too. While there were some episodes that give some good laughs, a lot of the episodes are just poorly-written. This show also has a lack of main characters. When the series started out, there were really only three main characters: Johnny, his mom, Bunny, and an annoying little girl names Suzie. Later on, new characters were added like a diner owner named Pops, and Johnny's anti-friend, Carl. It ended its production in 2003.
"Cow and Chicken" only had one pilot episode, and when the series debuted in July 1997, the pilot was banned. "Cow and Chicken" is in some ways a new age "Ren & Stimpy". This show is basically about the everyday life of this family. The son of the family is a little chicken who often says things the wrong way, his little sister is a 400 pound cow. As for the parents, they're simply just pairs of legs, and like the parents on "Dexter's Lab", they never reveal their names. They also have two friends named Flem and Earl, and a bunch of bizzare cousins. There's also this red guy with a big butt who often pops up to pick on Chicken or cause trouble for both Cow and Chicken, and he's usually stopped by Super Cow. This is a good show for fans of bizzare humor. This show ended its production in 1999.
We had a long wait for this series. "The Powerpuff Girls" had two pilot episodes in the WPT lineup. The series premeired in November 1998. Back in the late 90's and early 2000's, "The Powerpuff Girls" was one of the biggest franchises on Cartoon Network making it one of their most popular shows. Now, don't tell me this show never was popular, because why else would it have so much merchandise? "The Powerpuff Girls" happens to be one of my favorite cartoons of all time, and I ain't ashamed of it. Most of the people who worked on this show were the comedic geniuses of "Dexter's Lab" (Dexter even made a few cameos in this show). Basic runthrough of the show: Three kindergarten girls who were born with superpowers created by Professor Utonium basically save the world from crime and the forces of evil. We've got Blossom, the leader, Bubbles, the cute one, and Buttercup, the tough one. This series had a six season run and tons of memorable episodes. If you like "Ninja Turtles" and "Darkwing Duck" or other shows that have a wide variety of villains, then you'll like this show, since it offers a lot of villains with all these different powers, some more evil than others. I know that a lot of you may think this is just a girly kids show, but you know what they say: "Don't judge a book by it's cover." This is a genius cartoon. This was also by far the only Cartoon Cartoon to have its own theatrical movie. Sadly, since the movie's release in 2002, the show's popularity was dropping significantly. "The Powerpuff Girls" ended its production in March 2005, and it was cancelled shortly after that. I've been hearing rumors, however, that Craig McCracken is planning a comeback for the Powerpuffs sometime in the future, but only time will tell. Anyway, this is overall a great cartoon. Don't waste your time on that Japanese rip-off; these are the real Powerpuff Girls!
"Ed, Edd n Eddy" was the first Cartoon Cartoon not to be based on a WPT; it premeired in January 1999. While this show is a favorite to a lot of people, including myself, this is a very shallow series. Now, don't get me wrong; I love this show, but I'm just saying that it's basically the same thing over and over again with a small cast of very predictable characters, but it surprisingly ran for quite a few seasons. Basically, each episode starts out with Eddy setting up some kind of scam with the other two Eds to trick the other kids in the cul-de-sac out of their allowance so that he could buy jawbreakers, nobody buys into it, something distracts the Eds from the scam, and that distraction becomes the main plot of the episode. The only character that makes this show worth watching is Ed. Ed gets most of the laughs due to all the stuff he says and does. This show ended its production in 2006, but it's one of the three remaining Cartoon Cartoons still playing on Cartoon Network as of this date.
"I Am Weasel" was originally a side show that played on "Cow and Chicken". It became an official spin-off series in June 1999. This was one of my least favorite Cartoon Cartoons. It's basically about this stupid baboon trying to prove that he's better than an intellegent weasel. It usually results in Weasel fixing Baboon's failures making him look better. This show was quickly cancelled in 2000 due to a lack of popularity.
"Mike, Lu & Og" debuted in November 1999. The premise of this show is similar to "Ed, Edd n Eddy"; it contains a small cast of predictable characters and is basically the same thing over and over again. This show is basically about Mike, a girl from Manhattan, who is stranded on an island in the south Pacific that nobody knows about. Amongst the people who live on the island, her two best friends are a spoiled princess named Lu, and a brainy kid named Og. Each episode has the same basic layout. Mike talks about something she misses from civilization, Og builds it, the entire island gets into it. There's another memorable character on this show. There's this little turtle named Lancelot whom Lu treats as her royal servant. Lancelot seems to be a fan favorite. This was sadly a short-lived series as it was cancelled in 2001.
Also in November 1999 came a show called "Courage the Cowardly Dog", another series based on a WPT. The pilot to this episode had no dialogue with the exception of Courage saying one line at the very end. Courage is an abandoned dog who was adopted by two senior citizens named Eustice and Muriel who live in the middle of nowhere. A lot of creepy stuff happens where they live, so Courage always does his best to save his home. This is most likely the scariest of the Cartoon Cartoons. It ended its production in 2002.
"Sheep in the Big City" was based off of a pilot from a series of cartoon pilots that were shown in the summer of 2000. This one didn't make the finals, but it was made into a series anyway. It debuted in November 2000. The story behind "Sheep in the Big City" is as follows: A sheep named Sheep once lived on a farm with Farmer John. Suddenly, a military general known as General Specific has created a sheep-powered ray gun and needed a sheep to test it on. Sheep thought that he could hide from General Specific and his men by moving to the big city. No matter how many times he tried to hide or disguise himself, General Specific kept him on the run, and he kept running into other obstacles. Sheep falls in love with a poodle slightly taller than him named Swanky. Throughout the series, Sheep and Swanky continued developing a stronger friendship, but they rarely ever spent any quality time together, especially since Swanky's owner was a sheep-hating aristocrat named Lady Richington. Each episode of "Sheep in the Big City" is divided into three chapters with commercials in between mostly for products by a company known as Oxymoron and is concluded with a rant by the Ranting Swede. This series is pretty funny, but also somewhat boring. It's loaded with terrible puns. It's one thing to put puns in a cartoon, but this one went way too far. Appropriately, the show also had a narrator who hated his job. "Sheep in the Big City" ended it's production in 2002. Even though it went overboard on the puns, I still enjoyed watching it, and I wish Cartoon Network kept it running just a little longer.
Sometime in 2001 came two more Cartoon Cartoons that were combined into one. The show was known as "Grim and Evil", which consisted of two different series': "The Grim Adventures of Billy and Mandy" and "Evil Con Carne". They were split off into two seperate shows in 2003. "The Grim Adventures of Billy and Mandy" was the winning Cartoon Cartoon from the summer of 2000. Basically, the plot of the series is this: In the pilot episode, Billy and Mandy's hamster was about to be sent to the Great Beyond by the Grim Reaper. However, Grim lost a bet with the kids, so now he has to live with them and give them pretty much whatever they wish for. Billy and Mandy have different personalities. Billy is a complete moron, and Mandy is like seriously evil. This series is currently still in production, and it's one of the three Cartoon Cartoons remaining on Cartoon Network. As far as "Evil Con Carne" goes, I haven't really seen enough episodes to get an idea of what the show is about. All I know is that there was this evil genius who died, and one day, his brain and stomach were found and transplanted into this bear. "Evil Con Carne" was canceled in 2004.
"Time Squad" was a short-lived Cartoon Cartoon, which debuted in the summer of 2001. I actually remember around the time this show premiered, they had a special that showed time travel episodes of each Cartoon Cartoon. I was actually amazed that every Cartoon Cartoon series to that date had an episode about time travel. Basically, the show is about this squad known as the Time Squad who go back in time to meet some historical figures who have gone insane and try to change them to the way they should be. The time squad consists of Otto, an orphan boy who loves adventures, Larry, a very intellegent robot, and Todd Russel, a big tough guy with a very little brain. This show was sadly canceled in 2003 after airing a mere 26 episodes.
"Whatever Happened to Robot Jones?" is sadly one of the shortest-lived Cartoon Cartoons with only 13 2-part episodes. This show had a pilot episode, which aired in 2000, and was officially a series in 2002. It was canceled only a year later. This show is basically about a robot who goes to school to analyze humans. Originally, Robot Jones was voiced by a computer voice that can be heard on Macintosh computers, but later, the episodes were all remade with an actual voice actor doing his voice. I guess Macintosh got mad and demanded that the creators changed it or else they'd get sued. The show was canceled in 2003 due to a lack of support from Cartoon Network.
In December 2002, "Codename: Kids Next Door" debuted. This turned out to be a hit series for Cartoon Network. In this show, a group of kids known as the Kids Next Door save kids from around the world from adults and all their terrible doings. Like most action shows, there's a variety of villains on this show that can be memorable to fans. Each operative has a codename, simply a number. Numbuh One is the leader and the operative of the team with the most common sense. Numbuh Two is the action-loving tech guy of the group, but he's often clumsy. Numbuh Three is the bubbly one who is often living in her own little world and is usually very funny to watch. Numbuh Four is the enthusiastic tough kid who seems to be unstoppable (he's a fan favorite). Numbuh Five is sort of the quiet layed-back member who seems to have as much common sense as Numbuh One. This show is pretty awesome for an action show, and it's kind of hard to believe that it's made by the same creators of "Sheep in the Big City", unless you happen to spot any references from that series. This is the third of the three Cartoon Cartoons remaining on Cartoon Network. The series will be ending its production in November 2007.
Any original Cartoon Network series that aired from 2003 on is not considered a Cartoon Cartoon since they have officially stopped that tradition. These shows do hold some of my greatest memories, and I do fondly miss these shows, but all shows must come to an end eventually. (I wonder why "The Simpsons" hasn't yet.) Things do change, and Cartoon Network is not really worth watching anymore (with the exception of "Adult Swim"), but these cartoons are being shown on Boomerang now. If only I had that station, I can watch them more. If you want to share with me some of your memories about the Cartoon Cartoons, please do so. I know these are fairly recent, but they are retro in my book. All I can say now is...