South Park Is Tackling COVID in New Hourlong Special Episode

South Park Special COVID-19
(Comedy Central)

After 23-years, South Park has finally found a topic worthy of if its first hour-long episode: COVID-19. The iconic Comedy Central show is airing an hour-long pandemic special on September 30th and the coronavirus and life in 2020 will be skewered in a way only Trey Parker and Matt Stone can.

South Park has ably tackled apocalyptic and depressing stories before, injecting them with a cathartic amount of laughter. Their brand isn’t for everyone, and some people seem utterly intent on never laughing again, but for adults who like jokes, this is going to be a very funny special. We’ve seen COVID humor in 30 Rock and Parks and Rec pandemic specials, but those were limited by the format. This…will be something much greater.

Here’s the full episode description: “Randy comes to terms with his role in the COVID-19 outbreak as the on-going pandemic presents continued challenges to the citizens of South Park. The kids happily head back to school but nothing resembles the normal that they once knew; not their teachers, not their homeroom, not even Eric Cartman.”

The preview shows Randy trying to take advantage of the pandemic, Cartman afraid he might be forced back to school, and Kyle doing his best to practice social distancing. It also shows a classroom with masked kids in plexiglass dividers with a detective as their new teacher.

There’s no official word on the premiere for the show’s 24th season, but the pandemic special promises to be one for the pantheon. The “Pandemic Special” airs September 30th at 8:00 p.m. on Comedy Central and will be available to HBO Max viewers the next day.

Hulu Shares Behind-the-Scenes Footage of November’s Animaniacs Return

Animaniacs Behind the Scenes
(Twitter/Huli)

Of all the reboots and remakes and reimaginings and sequels and prequels and legacyquels that have bubbled up over the past few years, few are as universally approved of as the forthcoming Animaniacs relaunch.

Ever since it was announced, the internet has been nothing sort of delighted at the news that the irreverent, pop-culture saturated cartoon from the 90s was coming back. And animation is the one type of Hollywood production that was able to soldier on despite the pandemic and the quarantine and 2020 in general.

As we’ve previously shared, the new episodes feature the entire original cast, including Rob Paulsen, the voice behind Yakko and Pinky, of the beloved Pinky and the Brain.

The new series debuts in November, but yesterday, to celebrate the 27th anniversary of the original show, Hulu released some teaser footage, complete with a behind-the-scenes look at the current production.

The footage was tweeted out with the caption: “Happy Birthday Animaniacs. To celebrate the 27th anniversary of the original series premiere, we’re giving you a special behind-the-scenes look of your favorite voice cast at work. Stream brand new Animaniacs on November 20th, only on Hulu.”
Check out the footage below and get ready for November 20th!

3D Animator Recreates ThunderCats Intro With CGI, Snarf, Snarf!

Thundercats CGI
(YouTube/Mike Booth)

When I was a kid, I used to pretend my watch gave me Lion-O’s “sight beyond sight” when I angled it to generate a reflection of whatever was behind me. I was pretty lonely.

But I loved Thundercats, and so did you!

The classic 1980s show, with the badass heavy metal intro, about a collection of humanoid cat people with different special abilities who crash-landed on a strange planet and battled with Mumm-Ra and his minions have long been a favorite of cartoon fans and 80s kids. Since ThunderCats went off the air there’s been an unimpressive reboot and a recent bizarre show for pre-schoolers. Many of us would love to see an updated version with new animation and a modern approach. Alas, it has yet to happen, but one fan of the cartoon decided to use the show to practice his 3D animation skills.

YouTuber Mike Booth used the cartoon’s opening credits as a template and remade them with CGI technology, and Lion-O, Cheetarah, Panthro, Tygra, and Snarf (SNARF!) are looking better than ever. Booth described his process in the video’s description on YouTube.

“Earlier this year, I thought I’d have a go at learning how to use 3D animation software, really just so I could do some simple effects in my films… but I got a little bit carried away. The ThunderCats have been a love of mine since I can remember and the intro is something I thought would be a fun challenge to recreate and keep my interest while I was learning the software. I’ve got no plans to make anything else like this… for a few years, at least. I will at some point make a ThunderCats short film, but I’ll wait until the software reaches a point where I can film a performance on my camera and just drag and drop it onto my 3D characters.”

He did a great job, and his video should stir up some fun nostalgia for fans of the original show.

Check it, check it, check it out, BELOOOOOOOOW!

Japan’s Top Studios are Joining Forces to Stream Free Anime on YouTube Channel

Anime Animelog
(Tezuka Productions)

More often than not remakes are worse than the original. Especially remakes of properties that originated overseas. It’s usually better to deal with subtitles than to watch a watered-down Hollywood version of something, whether it’s a movie, a tv show, or a cartoon.

Anime is a form of animation that started overseas and is often repurposed and sometimes remade for American audiences, but you don’t have to settle for lesser versions of these great shows. Not with the new AnimeLog channel on YouTube.

According to a story in Variety, the AnimeLog channel features content from a collection of Japanese animation studios, including Toei Animation, Kodansha, and more, with the goal of having 30 companies producing over 3,000 different shows by 2022.

That’s a lot of content!

Right now, it’s only available to viewers in Japan, but AnalyzeLog, the company behind the channel, plans to add sub-titled content in English and Chinese for overseas fans. So far, the available content available in Japan includes the “Black Jack” series, based on a famous Osama Tezuka manga, “Future Boy Conan,” a 1978 anime co-directed by Hayao Miyazaki, and produced by Nippon Animation.

Part of AnalyzeLog’s goal is to thwart those who pirate this content or acquire bootleg DVDs to view it in North America. “There exists a problem of illegal video distribution service these days, but AnimeLog will distribute only officially-licensed animations and operate as a safe channel that families can enjoy together,” the company told Variety.

Anime is a booming business, with a survey by the Association of Japanese Animations revealing that it generated $20 billion in revenue in 2019, marking the sixth consecutive year of record growth, with anime streaming also growing by 10%.

There’s no official word on when it will be widely available but American audiences will soon get in on the fun, legally!

A SpongeBob Prequel Series Is Heading to CBS All Access

kamp koral spongebob prequel
(ViacomCBS)

Have you ever wondered what SpongeBob’s life was like as a child? Of course you have, and now you will get a little bit of an answer as the SpongeBob prequel series “Kamp Koral: SpongeBob’s Under Years” has a new home.

ViacomCBS announced Kamp Koral will premier on CBS All Access, its streaming offering which is relaunching itself in 2021. This is terrific news for parents who desperately needed yet another streaming service to add to the rotation. But, it is cool news if you have kids who swear by SpongeBob since this is the first spin-off series in franchise history (which includes 10+ seasons of the original show and a few movies).

“Kamp Koral” will focus on 10-year-old SpongeBob Squarepants and friends at a summer camp doing underwatery summer camp things (fishing/swimming/etc.). CBS All Access will have some other quality programming, including Nickelodeon’s “Avatar: The Last Airbender,” the regular SpongeBob show, and a pair of legendary Comedy Central shows, “Reno 911!” and “Chappelle’s Show” in addition to other titles.

So, come for the SpongeBob, stay for the classic sketch comedy shows, perfectly digestible for the streaming era.

The show was originally slated to premiere in July on Nickelodeon but was shifted to CBS All Access as part of a Viacom move to beef up the streaming option (which just got about 3,500 episodes of Comedy Central/Nickelodeon/MTV/BET shows added to its library).

When the show was first greenlit, a Nickelodeon spokesperson said there was “an incredible universe to expand upon” and the show’ was a “testament to the strength and longevity of these characters known and loved by generations of fans around the world.”

The show doesn’t yet have a specific premiere date on the streaming service.

Reimagined Ren & Stimpy Coming to Comedy Central

Ren & Stimpy Return
(Nickelodian)

Back in my day (the 90s!), there was some bizarre, and often groundbreaking animation floating around. From Mike Judge’s Beavis and Butthead to Liquid Television’s Aeon Flux on MTV to the meta Animaniacs and the just plain batshit Ren and Stimpy, animators were going off.

Now, 20+ years later, many of those shows are coming back. Animaniacs is returning to the airwaves this fall, Beavis and Butthead is being revived in a very different era (are they still going to make fun of music videos?), and now it’s been announced that Ren and Stimpy is coming back as well.

The Hollywood Reporter broke the news that 25 years after its initial run on Nickelodeon, Ren and Stimpy, an adult-focused cartoon featuring the misadventures of Ren, a manic, often exasperated chihuahua, and his dopey sidekick, Stimpy. The show ran for 5 seasons and 100 episodes and often featured content – about religion, politics, and more – that didn’t jibe with Nickelodeon’s kid-centric content. Still, it gained a cult following.

Now the show is being reimagined for Comedy Central, which will also air the new Beavis and Butthead and Jodie, a series based on MTV’s Daria.

“We are excited to reinvent this iconic franchise with a new creative team and our partners at the Nickelodeon Animation Studio,” said ViacomCBS Entertainment & Youth Group president Chris McCarthy. “Ren & Stimpy joins our rapidly expanding roster of adult animation including South Park, Beavis and Butt-Head and Clone High as we continue to reimagine our treasure chest of beloved IP for new generations.”

The new, “reimagined” Ren and Stimpy will be made with a new creative team and entirely without the involvement of creator John Kricfalusi, who will also reportedly not benefit financially in any way from the new series. He’s been a controversial figure since Buzzfeed published a story about his relationships with underage girls.

The Legend of Korra, Last Airbender Sequel, Coming to Netflix

Legend of Korra
(Nickelodeon)

In May, in between impossible bouts of remote schooling, my son discovered Avatar: The Last Airbender on Netflix.

I’ll confess, I’m in my 40s and never got into anime. The only thing I knew about Avatar: The Last Airbender is that it has no relation to James Cameron’s forgettable-despite-its-special-effects-and-huge-profits Avatar, and is the basis for M. Night Shyamalan’s botched film adaptation.

Apparently, however, the show itself, which deals with “benders” who can manipulate the four elements of air, water, earth, and fire, originally ran from 2005 to 2008, is great. So great that only a few months after the original series landed on Netflix, they’re bringing the sequel series to their platform.

It’s called The Legend of Korra, and it star’s Avatar Korra, Aang’s successor. According to Nerdist, The Legend of Korra, which was created by Michael Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko, takes place 70 years after the events of Avatar. Korra is a waterbender being trained in the art of airbending by Aang’s son, Tenzin, who narrates the who, which takes place in the United Republic of Nations, a sovereign state founded by Aang during his time as the Avatar.

The series originally ran from 2012-2014 and deals with things like political uprisings and spiritual unrest, making it somewhat more grown-up than the original series. Which still won’t make me watch it. But my son is psyched!

Oscar-Winning Short “Hair Love” Is Coming to HBO Max as a Cartoon

Hair Love
(Twitter/MatthewACherry)

The relationship between a dad and his daughter was at the heart of the short “Hair Love.” It was developed by former NFL player Matthew Cherry, and he won an Oscar for it in 2019. The short depicted an African-American dad trying to figure out how to do his daughter’s hair for the first time.

The short went viral and was seen millions of times, in addition to its recognition at the Academy Awards. The short event spawned a book, which went further into their relationship and quickly became a best-seller. And now, it’s getting turned into an animated show for HBO Max.

“Young Love” will be getting 12 episodes at HBO Max and will dive further into the relationship between the dad and his daughter Zuri. Cherry said he’s thrilled for the series pickup and its potential.

“I am beyond excited to continue telling the story of Stephen, Angela and Zuri and further explore the family dynamics of a young Black millennial family,” he said in a press release. “Couldn’t ask for better partners in Sony Pictures Animation and HBO Max in helping us get “Young Love” out to the world.”

There is no premiere date yet for “Young Love”, but if the success of the short and book are any indication, it could be another strong addition to HBO Max’s stable of children’s programming.

And, any show that depicts a dad as a strong family figure, instead of a bumbling comic device, is going to get a strong endorsement here.

On Twitter, Cherry said the series will take a look into “the world of young black millennial parents Stephen and Angela, their daughter Zuri and pet cat Rocky, as they juggle careers, marriage, parenthood, social issues, and multi-generational dynamics all while striving to make a better life for themselves.”

With Beavis and Butt-Head Returning, Fans Demand “King of the Hill” Revival

King of the Kill
(FOX)

Fans of animated 1990s comedy got a huge boost last week with the news that Mike Judge was reviving “Beavis and Butt-Head” for two seasons and bringing the cult favorite to Comedy Central.

A lot remains to be seen at how the new Beavis and Butt-head will translate into the new era, especially since they will reportedly be parents this time around, but the nostalgia factor is giving them a wide berth with most fans.

In fact, this news left other 1990s animated comedy aficionados feeling jealous. Fans are now hoping Judge can manage to bring back another one of his hit shows: “King of the Hill.”

The show, which ran from 1997 to 2010, is funnier than you remember. It’s criminally underrated, although, like the Beavis and Butt-head revival, there’s no telling if bringing the characters back now would be a good idea.

Still, fans are clamoring for more Hank and Bobby Hill, so if Judge and co-creator Greg Daniels can ever get Disney (which owns the rights to the Fox show) to bring it back, there would be a lot of happy people drinking beers in alleys as a tribute.

Daniels did tell Comicbook.com the duo has an idea for a revival if it ever happens.

“At the moment, there is no plan for it,” Daniels said. “But we do have a plan for it and it’s pretty funny. So maybe one day.”

New PBS Cartoon “Hero Elementary” Features Superhero Kid With Autism

Hero Elementary
(YouTube/SouthCarolinaETV)

Kids have a new group of superheroes on their TV, including a boy on the autism spectrum. The PBS Kids new animated series, “Hero Elementary”, follows a diverse group of superhero students who are learning how to control their special powers.

Autism isn’t frequently depicted on TV shows, and when it is, it’s not normally in a way that feels real (and not overly negative, or a cheap character device). On Hero Elementary, AJ Gadgets is just like the other buddies on his team; just another kid trying to figure it all out.

The show’s creators say they wanted to normalize the idea that all kids are different, and that empathy is important. The other superheroes are aware of AJ’s needs and preferences (one episode is spent searching for his lost backpack) and the creators said it “models how you can, with a few adjustments, adjust to a friend with different needs, whether it’s autism or anything else.”

The creators came from Sesame Street, one of the few kids shows with an openly autistic character.

“We feel like there is so much strength in the idea of portraying a kid on the spectrum as just one of the kids and not making a huge deal about his autism,” said creator Christine Ferraro to the Chicago Sun-Times.

“For the most part, it’s not the focus of attention at all. He’s just one of the gang. And that’s something that we don’t see a lot on television. And that’s why we thought it was really important.”

Representation and inclusion is important for kids, especially when it’s normalized and not seen as “a special episode.”

“Hero Elementary” is geared towards kids between 4-7, so your little ones can check it out on PBS Kids.

Beavis and Butt-Head are Coming Back and They’re Dads

Beavis Butthead are Dads
(Mike Judge/MTV)

Beavis and Butt-Head are making a triumphant return. And just like Bill and Ted, this time, they’re dads. Turns out heavy metal fans turned out just fine. The pop-culture smash of the early-mid 1990s is being reimagined for a new generation as Comedy Central announced a revival, including a two-season commitment to the show and raising the possibility of other spin-offs.

The characters are being rebooted as Gen X parents raising their Gen Z kids.

The announcement is part of an overall deal with creator Mike Judge, who will write and produce the show, in addition to reprising his role as the voice actors for the two main characters.

“Beavis and Butt-Head were a defining voice of a generation, and we can’t wait to watch as they navigate the treacherous waters of a world light-years from their own,” said a spokesman from Comedy Central.

In the briefest of statements, Judge himself said “It seemed like the time was right to get stupid again.”

Judge has since cemented his status as a comedy guru in the intervening years from the show’s first run (Beavis and Butt-head debuted in 1993), thanks to creating movies like “Office Space” and other TV comedy hits “King of the Hill” and more recently, “Silicon Valley.”

The revival is part of Comedy Central’s efforts to double down on animated content geared towards adults, as they try to program more shows to pair with “South Park.”

The news is already firing up fans on social media, who are mostly reduced to GIFs and an endless stream of “heh heh heh ehehs”.

It’s going to be great.

The Smurfs Are Making a Triumphant Return to TV in CG

Smurfs Return
(Amazon)

When we were little kids, my brother loved The Smurfs. He had tons of the little blue figurines all over his bedroom. What a weirdo!

Remember the Smurfs? The tiny blue creatures that each had names corresponding to their personalities, like the seven dwarfs? And they were constantly being threatened by Gargamel and his cat Azrael, who hates the Smurfs for some reason?

It doesn’t matter if you remember them or not, because they’re coming back, in CG form!

Viacom is partnering with the French company that owns the Smurfs to create a new CG-animated series featuring Papa Smurf, Brainy Smurf, Hefty Smurf, Jokey Smurf, Smurfette, and more.

Pam Kaufman, President, ViacomCBS Consumer Products, explained why she’s bringing the little blue creatures back:

“The Smurfs is an iconic global franchise that has resonated with audiences for decades. By partnering with LAFIG, we are able to join our creative forces to bring an all-new line of consumer products across multiple categories to consumers, along with a fresh and original animated series.”

The show will be on Nickelodeon, and, based on her comments, will no doubt spawn a ton of merchandise. My brother had a ton of the little blue figures. I can’t wait to send this to him and laugh about his weird obsession.

The Smurfs originated as a Dutch comic strip in the 50s but exploded into the mainstream with a Saturday morning cartoon in the early 80s, which leaves me with one question: does this mean we’re gonna get The Snorks back too? Weren’t The Snorks just an underwater version of The Smurfs?

Fine, that’s two questions, but I honestly can’t remember. I’m in my 40s, get off my back!