The first of my contributions to the Smorgasbored websites Six Of The Best articles, here's six of my favourite children's shows.
Star Wars: The Clone Wars
Whilst the prequel trilogy of Star Wars films were not the best received this new era of the franchise did give birth to one of the best parts of the whole Star Wars saga, The Clone Wars. The films glossed over the Clone War conflict, something that was first mentioned way back in A New Hope, but the series was able to explore this so far untold story.
The series showed us why Anakin Skywalker was considered a great warrior, why he was respected by many. It showed us how awesome a fighter and tactician Obi-Wan was. Most importantly, however, it gave us some of the best characters in the franchise.
The Clone Wars introduced Ahsoka Tano, Anakin's apprentice who would go on to be not only an incredibly important character in the Clone Wars itself, but to be one of the most popular new characters in the Star Wars universe. Along with Ahsoka we we given Captain Rex, one of the coolest clone troopers around, and Asaaj Ventress, the deadly sith assassin.
The show had some dull moments yes, three episode stories following C-3PO and R2-D2 could often become quite dull, but when you had epic lightsaber duels between Obi-Wan and General Grievous, hordes of battle droids fighting clones, and even the surprise return of Darth Maul the high points definitely outweighed them.
The Clone Wars is a must watch for any Star Wars fan, especially if you want Revenge of The Sith to feel like a better film, because this show will make you actually care about what happens in it.
Dragon Ball Z
Dragon Ball Z rocks. That's pretty much the main argument for why this is on my list.
Dragon Ball began the franchise as a whacky adventure series that was loosely based off the Legend of the Monkey King, as was a great show. But when the series evolved into Dragon Ball Z things went from good to amazing.
The action ramped up to such a degree that it bordered on the ridiculous (the third season DVD set is a whole season for one fight!), but even at it's most ridiculous there were moments that kept you glued to the screen and made your draw drop with awe.
There have been a number of follow-ups to Z, with Dragon Ball GT having now been erased from continuity to make room for Dragon Ball Super, but none have managed to capture the fanbase in the way that Dragon Ball Z did.
Despite having finished airing in 1996 the show has remained on the air since in reruns, with video games based on the series released every year, and enough merchandise to fill a museum there's no sign of the series popularity fading any time soon.
Gravity Falls is the show on this list that I've discovered most recently, and it's one that I fell in love with almost instantly. The show follows twins Mabel and Dipper as they spend their summer staying with their great uncle Stan at his mystery shack in the town of Gravity Falls when they discover that the town may hold the secret to many supernatural and bizarre mysteries.
The best way to describe Gravity Falls would be by mixing Twin Peaks, the X-Files, Stephen King and Doctor Who all together into a blender and animating the results. It's got a great mystery that plays out slowly over the two seasons, but leaves enough hints and clues at the early stages that avid viewers are still finding easter eggs and connections.
The show might be a cartoon aimed at kids but it's easily a masterclass in how to balance character development and plot, humour and horror, and to create a mythology that at times feels wacky and random but makes complete sense.
Out of all the shows on this list Gravity Falls is the one that I will recommend every time someone asks for a good show to watch, even if they don't watch cartoons.
Star Wars: Rebels
Okay, so yes there is a second Star Wars series on this list, but it is my list and I think Rebels is worthy of a place on it. Star Wars Rebels covers four years in the expanse between Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope and follows a misfit group of freedom fighters who eventually become a part in the creation of the Rebel Alliance as we see them in the later films.
Rebels takes a lot of design queues from the original concept art for the first film and as such has a look and style very much its own yet in keeping with the feel of the larger Star Wars saga. The series also uses its position as a middle stage in the saga to continue on the stories of several prequel/Clone Wars characters whilst also putting into place things that we see play out in Rogue One, A New Hope and even further beyond.
The series has just completed its third season and will soon be beginning its third and final year, so now's a great time to catch up.
Whilst the series is made for kids any adult fan of Star Wars is going to get a whole lot out of it too, and with the final season looking like it's going to end very dark and with probably more than one death (remember, there were no Jedi other than Luke in the rebellion come Episode IV) its sure to offer a satisfying and impactful ending.
PokemonWith video games like Grand Theft Auto and Call of Duty dominating a great deal of shelf space in stores and being the franchises of choice for 'hardcore' gamer it may be easy for people to overlook how much of a force the Pokemon franchise is, it's the third biggest selling game series of all time behind Super Mario and Sonic.
A part of the success of Pokemon is down to the animated series, which began in 19197 and hasn't been out of production since. With close to 1000 episodes (it's going to be 962 as of 18th May) there's a lot to this series, and with no sign of this monster franchise going anywhere anytime soon there may be another 1000 by the time you get up to date with where the show is now.
I'm a long, long, long way from being up to date with this series, but it holds a very special place in my heart, as I'm sure it does for a lot of people who were the target age when the show started. Whether it's the amazing original theme tune, the bumbling misadventures of Team Rocket or what is still the fantastic Pokemon The First Movie this is a series that is sure to have something for everyone.
It might be easy for people to forget but Doctor Who started as a show principally designed to appeal to children, albeit one that adults could also watch. The show might not have as many episodes as Pokemon, only 832 so far, but its reach is just a huge.
One of the longest running genre shows of all time the series has been on the air for over 50 year, though with a few decades gap in the middle. It might not be to everyone's tastes, some episodes are very silly and childish, some are very dark and have some high concept sci-fi, but of all the shows on this list it's probably the one with the broadest appeal.
The current series is seeing the final year from both the current show-runner Steven Moffatt and current Doctor Peter Capaldi, so now may be the time to give the series a go if you've not watched it before or if you've not watched the show in a while.
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