Those Cartoon Network Shows Recently Added to Netflix? Start With These 9

Clearly deciding our collective productivity needed to take a huge hit, Netflix added at least 33 Cartoon Network shows to its Instant Streaming catalog last Saturday.  There are now a LOT of all-ages cartoons as well as a handful of the edgier fare from Adult Swim, Cartoon Network’s after-hours programming block.

Where do you start?  Even though some of these shows feature episode lengths of no more than 11 minutes, this is a staggering amount of new content to sort through.  Sick days eventually run out and there is only so much time for weekend marathons.  Here are the shows  I immediately recommend, and the specific episode for each show you might want to sample first before starting at the beginning.

Aqua Teen Hunger Force [Adult Swim – 2000-Present]

What Is It?: Three anthropomorphized food items, a hovering case of fries (Frylock), a milkshake cup (Master Shake), and a meatball (Meatwad), live in a house together in New Jersey and encounter insanely bizarre, “WTF!” plots and characters.  In practice, Frylock is like the single father, Master Shake his irresponsible younger brother, and Meatwad his son.

Episode Length: 11 minutes

# of Seasons: 10 / 120 episodes

# of Seasons on Netflix: 1 / 18 episodes

Episode: “Dumber Dolls” (Ep. 10)

What Happens?: Frylock buys a “Happy Time Harry” doll for Meatwad, but the doll, voiced by David Cross and animated to resemble an older, more beaten-down version of him, is actually manic-depressive.   Harry wreak’s havoc on Meatwad’s happiness, undermines Master Shake’s confidence, and helps bring about an existential crisis in one of Meatwad’s other toys, Jiggle Billy.

Why This Episode: It is among the tamest entry points into the show, as a children’s doll that behaves like an eternally down on his luck 40-something is positively normal by their standards.  Plus, it is laugh-out funny, especially the bits involving Harry and Jiggle Billy.

Batman Beyond [The WB – 1999-2001]

What Is It?: It’s 40 years in the future, and Bruce Wayne has retired his cope and cowl.  However, a teenager named Terry McGinnis continues on as Batman, under Wayne’s tutelage.  This new Batman encounters his own set of mostly new villains while struggling with his normal high school student life.

Episode Length: 22 minutes

# of Seasons: 3 / 52 episodes

# of Seasons on Netflix: 3 / 52 episodes

Episode: “Out of the Past” (Season 3 / Ep. 6)

What Happens?: Bruce Wayne, already a cold, mean old man with Terry his only real human companion, is repeatedly reminded of his increasing age on his birthday.  Thus, ex-flame Talia al-Ghul’s timing could be not be better for approaching Bruce with an offer to re-store his youth.  Why is Terry the only one suspicious of Talia’s intentions?

Why This Episode?: The opening scene involving Bruce and Terry attending The Legend of Batman has to be seen.  Plus, the overall episode is mostly about Bruce Wayne, thus hooking you with someone you know while also featuring someone new, i.e., Terry.

Batman: The Brave and the Bold [Cartoon Network – 2008-2011]

What Is It?: An homage to the quick-witted, generally easygoing Batman of the 1950s and 1960s featuring story lines which call for Batman to team up with at least one new DC super hero a week.  It is very much so not the Dark Knight version of Batman, but also aware of that and able to charm you with its self-awareness.  

Episode Length: 22 minutes

# of Seasons: 3 / 65 episodes

# of Seasons on Netflix: 2 / 39 episodes

Episode: “Chill of the Night” (Season 2 / Ep. 11).

What Happens?: Batman, solo beyond a brief partnership with Zatanna before the opening credits, tracks down his parents’ killers.  Partially omniscient on-lookers, one a god figure and the other a devil figure, observe from the periphery, betting each other over whether or not Batman is going to murder the killer once he is found.

Why This Episode?: It is a Batman fan’s wet dream.  Adam West and Julie Newmar guest as Bruce Wayne’s parents, and Batman: Animated Series veterans Kevin Conroy, Mark Hamill, and Richard Moll also lends their voices. The script is from Animated Series veteran Paul Dini, who adapted the story from a classic Silver Age comic book.

A good follow-up episode would be “Deep Cover for Batman” (Season 1 / Ep. 12) in which Batman goes under cover in an mirror (“evil”) universe in which the Joker is actually Earth’s last great super hero.

Children’s Hospital [Adult Swim – 2010-Present]

What Is It?: A live-action cartoon mockery of medical dramas, most specifically Grey’s Anatomy with a touch of ER and General Hospital.  The humor is remarkably absurdist, e.g., Rob Corddry’s Patch Adams-esque doctor repeatedly tries to use humor to cure patients.  Similarly, the continuity is purposefully non-existent, e.g., the characters consistently can’t keep track of who’s supposed to be their boyfriend or girlfriend.  The most recognizable stars are Megan Mullally and Henry Wrinkler.

Episode Length: 11 minutes

# of Seasons: 4 / 45 episodes

# of Seasons on Netflix: 2 / 17 episodes

Episode: “End of the Middle” (Season 2 / Ep. 6).

What Happens?: Via interviews with a 60-Minutes-esque news magazine show, everything we have seen before this episode is revealed to actually be scenes from Childrens Hospital, a long-running tv show.  The characters we know are in fact played by actors, each of whom are comedically dissimilar to their character.  So, this means we have Rob Corddry the real life actor playing Cutter Spindell, a fictional actor who is playing Dr. Blake Downs on a past-its-prime show named Childrens Hospital.

Why This Episode?: This is probably as grounded in reality as the show got in its early days, and is more indicative of the show as a whole than the straight Grey’s Anatomy spoof of earlier episodes.  Plus, when Rob Huebel’s character unexpectedly throws confetti in the air at the 6 minute mark I laugh very, very hard.

Justice League [Cartoon Network – 2001-2004]

What Is It?: A Superman-led team of Wonder Woman, Green Lantern (Jon Stewart version), the Flash (Wally West version), Martian Manhunter, Hawkgirl, and Batman (who is a part-time member) constantly save the world.  Existing in the same continuity of Batman: The Animated Series, Superman: The Animated Series, and Batman Beyond, the first season is a notoriously flawed endeavor, described by creator Bruce Timm as “Super Friends but played straight.” The second season is when the writers figured out what they were doing.

Episode Length: 22 minutes

# of Seasons: 2 / 52 episodes

# of Seasons on Netflix: 2 / 52 episodes

Episodes: “A Better World I & II” (Season 2 / Eps. 11-12).

What Happens?: Our Justice League meets an evil Justice League from an alternate universe, where they have established Earth as a totalitarian state under their rule.

Why This Episode?: The opening scene in which Superman kills Lex Luthor is jaw-dropping, as we don’t know we’re watching an alternate universe at that point.  Beyond that, this episode addresses the question of what exactly keeps our heroes together by presenting us with evil dopplegangers who gradually went dark without realizing it due to their version of Flash dying.  The events in this episode become incredibly important down the road in follow-up series Justice League Unlimited.

Justice League Unlimited [Cartoon Network – 2004-2006]

What Is It?: Justice League with a massively expanded roster of heroes and villains, incorporating even the most obscure of DC characters (e.g., The Question) as well as the well-known ones previously left out (e.g., Green Arrow, Black Canary).  The multi-part episodes of Justice League were dropped in favor of standalone episodes in service to season-long story arcs.

The show explored the more humorous side of things, turning Wonder Woman into a pig at one point (“Little Piggy”, an homage to the classic “Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered” episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer) and Wonder Woman, Batman, Green Lantern, and Flash into little kids at another point (“Kids’ Stuff”).  However, the humor was used to ease the tension of a slow-building serialized storyline involving the government building defenses in secret for the day when they believe the Justice League will turn on Earth.

Episode Length: 22 minutes

# of Seasons: 2 / 39 episodes

# of Seasons on Netflix: 2 / 39 episodes

Episode: “The Greatest Story Never Told” (Season 1 / Ep. 7).

What Happens?: While the entirety of the Justice League battles a humongous villain, limelight-seeking B-squad hero Booster Gold is assigned crowd duty to help manage the civilians running for cover.  Against his better judgement, he stumbles upon an even bigger threat to the world, but must solve it on his own as no other Justice League member is available to help.

Why This Episode?: A team of superheroes battles a huge foe in the background while in the foreground the least of our heroes has his own largely comedic adventure against a threat.  Think Buffy the Vampire Slayer’s classic episode “The Zeppo” but in cartoon form.  This is a completely standalone episode meaning it has no bearing on the show’s larger serialized story.  As such, you can watch this one with no more than a general understanding of the Justice League and be good.

MAD [Cartoon Network – 2010-Present]

What Is It?: A satirical, animated sketch show based off of the long-running comic book/magazine of the same name which.  Their favorite joke is to combine two different intellectual properties together, such as Shaun of the Dead and Bambi.  The animation varies from the traditional to South Park-style cartoon characters with cut-outs of celebrity heads for faces.   The tone of the show is best thought of as a family friendly version of Robot Chicken.

Episode Length: 11 minutes

# of Seasons: 4 / 78 episodes

# of Seasons on Netflix: 1 / 26 episodes

Episode: “Force Code/Flammable” (Season 1 / Ep. 26).

What Happens?: Source Code and Star Wars are combined to put Jake Gyllenhal’s character on the death star repeatedly until he can figure out who caused it to explode.  Sue Syllvester from Glee introduces the Glee VR, a product which allows you to turn anything you are watching into a musical.  This is in addition to at least to 6 other sketches.

Why This Episode?: MAD is a fiercely topical show meaning many of its sketches date themselves rather quickly, and the quality of each individual sketch is ridiculously hit or miss.  I suggested this episode simply because I really, really like the Source Code/Star Wars sketch.

Robot Chicken [Adult Swim – 2005-Present]

What Is It?: Unabashedly vulgar stop-go animation of old movie/tv/comic book tie-in toys, most of which come from the 1980s/1990s,  in a wide variety of sketches.  The voice acting is a mixture of creator Seth Green and his various friends (e.g., Sarah Michelle Gellar, Mila Kunis, Breckin Meyer) and voice acting legends, such as Frank Welker voicing Inspector Gadget in a Inspector Gadget/Terminator mash-up.

Episode Length: 11 minutes

# of Seasons: 6 / 120 episodes

# of Seasons on Netflix: 1 / 18 episodes

Episode: “Adultizzle Swizzle” (Episode #18)

What Happens?: An alien and a predator go on the dating game show First Date, the guys from Halo do what Mario never could in Donkey Kong, an alternate point of view on the fight in the cantina in Star Wars IV: A New Hope, and many other sketches.

Why This Episode?: The show is famous for its Star Wars specials, and this episode contains one of their earliest such sketches.

Venture Bros. [Adult Swim – 2003-Present]

What Is It?: Rusty Venture, the grown son of a former super genius, struggles with his own comparatively meager super villains while raising two sons (Hank & Dean) with the assistance of his bodyguard, Brock Samson. The series is inspired by Johnny Quest (Rusty is basically an adult Johnny Quest) and comic books as well as a possibly unhealthy obsession with David Bowie.  Patrick Warburton’s performance as Brock is particularly inspired.  Go Team Venture!

Episode Length: 22 minutes

# of Seasons: 4 / 55 episodes

# of Seasons on Netflix: 1 / 18 episodes

Episode: “Ice Station – Impossible!” (Episode #8).

What Happens?: Rusty encounters a slightly askew version of the Fantastic 4 when he is recruited into a government think tank to work with notorious genius Richard Impossible (Stephen Colbert, in a characteristically brilliant vocal performance).  Meanwhile, Brock struggles to keep Hank and Dean safe.

Why This Episode?: It puts the characters in their most optimal settings for comedy with Hank & Dean paired with their true father figure, Brock, and Rusty failing in a professional endeavor.  Plus, it contains a particularly inspired skewering of the Fantastic 4 with a mentally challenged version of Thing, a Human Torch doomed to a hyperbolic chamber, an Invisible Girl whose insides show on her outside instead of becoming invisible, and a controlling, deranged Mister Fantastic who holds the other three hostage.

What else has been added to Netflix?  Here’s a list:

Cartoon Network:

  • Adventure Time
  • Ben 10
  • Camp Lazlo
  • Chowder
  • Courage the Cowardly Dog
  • Cow and Chicken
  • Dexter’s Laboratory
  • Ed, Edd ‘n Eddy
  • Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends
  • Generator Rex
  • The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy
  • Johnny Bravo
  • My Gym Partner’s a Monkey
  • Powerpuff Girls
  • Problem Solverz
  • Regular Show
  • Robotomy
  • Samurai Jack
  • Secret Mountain Fort Awesome

[Adult Swim]

  • The Boondocks
  • Delocated
  • Metalocalypse
  • Squidbillies

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: