12 Great (and Terrible) Things That Happened in TV Cartoons in 2012

12 Great (and Terrible) Things That Happened in TV Cartoons in 2012

Garibaldi fish in 3d cartoon
BaloOm Studios / Getty Images

While 2012 didn't see as many new series premieres or comeback cartoons ( Futurama, anyone?) as previous years, there were still plenty of high times and low points throughout the year. Here were the best and worst things that happened to TV cartoons in 2012.

Worst New Series

Squabbits - Brickleberry
Squabbits - Brickleberry. Comedy Central

Before the cartoon premiered on Comedy Central on September 25, 2012, Daniel Tosh's controversial behavior toward a female audience member and last-minute editing of the pilot episode foretold problems in Brickleberry. Thin plots, even thinner characters, and a complete lack of creativity makes Brickleberry the boring cartoon it is.

Best New Series

Cast - The Legend of Korra
Korra, Naga, Bolin, Mako, Tenzin in The Legend of Korra. Nickelodeon

is an adventure cartoon that both children and adults can not only watch but become lost in. Korra stands out easily as the best cartoon of 2012.

The Legend of Korra occurs 75 years after Nickelodeon's Avatar: The Last Airbender, another epic adventure series by the same creators. Each episode has a dash of humor mixed into a recipe of action and drama that tells the story of the newest Avatar. Every character is fully realized, with strengths and flaws that draw in the audience. From the setting to the soundtrack to the beautiful animation, The Legend of Korra is a must-see series.

Honorable Mention: Unsupervised, Good Vibes and Dragons: Riders of Berk.

Worst News About Cartoon Development

The Birth of Pebbles - The Flintstones
The Birth of Pebbles - The Flintstones. All images TM & © 2010 Cartoon Network

In 2011, FOX announced that the-man-who-can-do-no wrong, Seth MacFarlane, was developing a re-imagining of The Flintstones slated for the 2012-2013 season.

The Flintstones harkens back to a gentler time, with Fred and Barney Rubble getting caught up in wacky, but innocent, schemes. How could The Flintstones maintain its iconic, classic dynamic when it would (possibly) be full of potty-mouthed cutaways full of porn jokes? 

Best News About Cartoon Development

Seth MacFarlane - SXSW
Director Seth MacFarlane attends 'A Conversation with Seth MacFarlane' Panel during the 2012 SXSW Music, Film + Interactive Festival at Austin Convention Center on March 11, 2012 in Austin, Texas. Photo by Michael Buckner/Getty Images for SXSW

But in April 2012, FOX announced that they were putting Seth MacFarlane's vision of The Flintstones on the backburner. The official story from FOX is that Seth MacFarlane's schedule was too busy, but many speculate that FOX realized a bad idea before it began when fans, critics, and the animation community protested. 

Worst Adaptation

Thundercone - Napoleon Dynamite
Thundercone - Napoleon Dynamite. FOX

Napoleon Dynamite should have been a hit. The cartoon was based on the movie by the same title, starring the same characters, who were played by the same actors from the cult hit movie.

What happened? With a built-in fan base from the feature film, Napoleon Dynamite easily should have been a ratings success. Perhaps the magic of the movie, a beloved indie, was lost when it made the leap to TV animation? Perhaps the time to strike had passed and Napoleon Dynamite's fans had grown up and couldn't relate to its teenage losers? Perhaps a mid-season premiere date hurt the cartoon's chances? Or perhaps the storytelling was too cerebral for an audience who had tuned in to see Homer Simpson's goofy antics and Family Guy's obscene humor?

Whatever the reason, Napoleon Dynamite caught between 3 million and 4 million viewers and was quickly pulled from FOX's schedule, barely burning off its 6 total episodes.

Best Adaptation

Black Dynamite
Black Dynamite. Adult Swim

Another independent movie, however, very successfully transformed into a cartoon series on Adult Swim. had no trouble maintaining the satirical humor that made the movie a fun parody of Blaxploitation movies of the '70s. With vivid colors and dark shadows, and hilarious dirty humor, Black Dynamite quickly found an audience in the wee hours on Adult Swim. 

Worst News About Cartoon Movie

Hong Kong Phooey Giant Decal
Hong Kong Phooey Giant Decal. Pricegrabber.com

Every fan of a TV cartoon worries when he hears that a movie is going to be made that is based on said cartoon. We've grimaced through The Smurfs, Yogi Bear and The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle. In 2012, we waited to find out if beloved Hanna-Barbera character Hong Kong Phooey will chop his way to success, or spin out and bomb. Early video from Hong Kong Phooey was leaked in late 2012 and promised a clever live-action movie starring the voice of Eddie Murphy. Years passed without a release.

Best News About Cartoon Movie

SpongeBob SquarePants and Patrick Star
SpongeBob SquarePants and Patrick Star. Nickelodeon

I'm read-y! I'm read-y! In March 2012, Viacom (owner of Paramount Pictures and Nickelodeon) announced a new SpongeBob SquarePants movie would be released in 2014. (It was released in 2015.) Many SpongeBob fans were delighted with the first SpongeBob SquarePants Movie, released in 2004, adding to the anticipation for the sequel.

Worst Celebrity Parody

Lady Hooha - Ugly Americans
Lady Hooha - Ugly Americans. Comedy Central

Ugly Americans isn't the best cartoon Comedy Central has ever produced, but it continues to find an audience for its gross-out humor. In "The Stalking Dead," Ugly Americans did a send-up of Lady Gaga in the form of Lady Hooha. Her music video, full of decomposing body parts, starts a zombie trend in New York City.

Comedy Central really hyped this episode, hoping to cash in on the Lady Gaga reference. Frankly, Lady Gaga's real-life performances and videos, full of strange visuals, isn't much different than the Ugly Americans treatment. She did wear raw meat as a dress, remember? Just mentioning she would be in an episode was the punchline of the joke.

Best Celebrity Parody

Food Truckin' - Bob's Burgers
Food Truckin' - Bob's Burgers. FOX

Actress Megan Mullaly is all over Bob's Burgers. She guest-starred as Linda's sister Gayle in "Art Crawl" and as a marijuana farmer named Beverly in "Bob Fires the Kids." But her turn as Tabitha Johansson, a character who is a parody of Tori Amos, was pure genius in "Food Truckin'." Even Tori Amos fans had to agree that the character's piano stool gyrations combined with Mullaly's performance was a spot-on satire of the fiery-haired singer. If you re-watch "Food Truckin'," be sure to stick around for the credits when you can hear the longer version of "Oil Spill." The lyrics are not to be missed.

Worst Documentary Related to Cartoons

Bill Plympton
Animator/director Bill Plympton arrives at the 2008 AFI FEST held at Grauman's Chinese Theatre on November 6, 2008 in Hollywood, California. Frazer Harrison/Getty Images for AFI)

Full disclosure: I couldn't get past the first 30 minutes of Adventures in Plymptoons!, the documentary about the allegedly groundbreaking animator Bill Plympton.

Plympton is said to be a visionary; he has earned Academy Award award nominations twice. Based on the way Bill talks about himself and how his sister and friends talk about Bill, he's a creative genius. But he emerges as an artist with a bent toward the lascivious and spent a lot of time in school drawing pictures that got him in trouble.

Plympton talks a lot about how all of his hard work got him where he is today. He fails to mention the connections he had or how almost all success in an artistic field is sheer luck. He came across as arrogant and lewd.

Best Documentary Related to Cartoons

All There Is: Love Stories from StoryCorps
All There Is: Love Stories from StoryCorps. StoryCorps

StoryCorps is a production company that records audio tracks of real people telling their own stories, usually about a turning point or milestone in their lives. Then their animators go to work, using the audio tracks to paint a visual story to match.

In 2012, StoryCorps released their first DVD compilation, which includes 10 animated shorts featuring the extraordinary events that occur in the lives of ordinary people.