The new cartoon my daughter likes hit me as funny. Not that it was funny. Cartoons aimed at preschoolers are less funny than they are cutesy, groan-worthy, sometimes educational, usually incomprehensible and occasionally a threat to the fatty food-eating, anger-infused normal American lifestyle.
Which is fine, if the show makes sense. This cartoon did not make sense.
The main and supporting characters were a human, a talking dog, unicorns, a timid dinosaur, pixies, a wise old gnome, pandas in pink tutus, video games, race cars, magic and a detective. What kind of Tolkien-esque/Scooby-Doo LSD trip is this? It was like a mad scientist took DNA from director David Lynch, author Roald Dahl, artist Andy Warhol and a package of gummy worms, stirred it all together in a big pot and produced this show.
This is coming from a guy who grew up on cartoons about a talking shark and Porky Pig, who wore a shirt but no pants.
It was then, sitting on the couch and wondering why my brain hadn’t leaked onto the floor, that the preschooler laughed and I suddenly understood.
The show was brilliant.
The creators took everything small children like, dropped it into a blender and poured out a great big smoothie of awesomeness. Who cares that the episode plots resemble something those same children could come up with using a box of mismatched toys and the worldview of someone who can’t tie their shoes.
Does the brilliance ever end?
Maybe the new key to success in the entertainment industry isn’t originality (duh), it’s to gather everything a demographic likes and force those elements together, like we do with maple bacon chocolate chip pancakes, KFC’s new Cheetos fried chicken sandwich, and that “Star Trek” episode when every conceivable race, gender, religion and political leaning hugged and laughed during the credits while eating ice cream.
This is my ticket to the big time. The next inappropriate, ratings-grabbing show (on Fox, probably) will be Jason Offutt’s “Great Big Fat Obnoxious Husband Who Likes Spaghetti and Football.”
Dad Goofer Stromboli: Appalachian redneck whose hilarious sassy mob parents immigrated from Italy. He works at a brewery and teaches Boy Scouts how to camp, fish and deal with squealers.
Mom Carrie (White) Stromboli: A shy woman from Chamberlain, Maine, who uses telekinetic powers to keep her children from committing all sorts of sitcom mischief and to punish their rivals by setting them on fire.
Oldest daughter Carlita: Is beautiful and shallow on the surface, but is secretly a government spy and martial arts expert despite her time-consuming involvement in five extracurricular high school activities, including cheerleading and the glee club.
Middle daughter Jan: Cries a lot and plots revenge with her space alien friends.
Son Manny: Has problems relating to girls so he spends most of his time with the monster under his bed.
Grandpa Pasquale: Former mafia don who still worships the goddess Minerva from the Old Country.
Grandma Maria: A vampire.
Whacky neighbor: Ex-Green Beret who lifts weights in his front yard and cooks everything on a propane grill – even instant pudding.
Other whacky neighbor: His name’s Cooter. Hilarity ensues.
Villain: Extra Special Agent Modelo Vincent of the FBI who hunts the undead and the Appalachian mob. His watch never works but his 1976 Gran Torino hums like Andy Griffith at the dinner table.
This may be the last you hear of me, folks. I’m going to Hollywood.
– Jason’s newest novel, “Bad Day for a Road Trip,” is available at jasonoffutt.com.