It’s been a while since we’ve had a new Show Of The Mo here on Square Eyed, and there are many reasons for that. That’s not to say we haven’t seen some great TV since last September, there just hasn’t been a show we’ve obsessed over. Shows such as 30 Rock or This Is England… came close but we like to use this feature to highlight shows that most people would’ve skipped out on or have simply never heard of. Taking that in to account, it shouldn’t come as a surprise when I tell you that our new Show Of The Mo comes in the form of a short-lived kids cartoon based around everyone’s favourite X-Man.
Firstly let me give you a bit of back story, I’m somewhat of a comic book guy and for Christmas I got a massive book called Astonishing X-Men which was written by Joss Whedon AKA the creator of Buffy The Vampire Slayer (amongst over equally great things). Needless to say, the book was bloody great but after finishing it I was jonesing hard for some more X-Men. This eventually lead me to checking out a cartoon from 2009 called Wolverine And The X-Men.
Wolverine And The X-Men comes from the creators of previous (and equally great) X-Men cartoon X-Men: Evolution. It follows Wolverine and all the usual X-Men suspects (Cyclops, Rouge, Beast, etc.) however the central premise for this series is that the infamous Professor X (Patrick Stuart’s character from the films) is out of action, meaning that little old Wolvie has to take charge. That doesn’t mean that the Prof. is just sitting on his laurels the whole time, quite the opposite, as we actually follow him in a dystopian vision of the future. A future that the X-Men are trying to prevent.
What makes shows like Wolverine & The X-Men so good is that the writers don’t patronise their demographic. Firstly, they don’t feel to need to explain every little detail and reason behind every action. There are the references to the comic that only long-time readers would get, most likely put in to appeal to an adult audience. But mostly it’s the fact that they’re not afraid to have moral shades of grey. Wolverine himself is a good guy that basically has a rage problem, a lot of the “bad guys” in the show come across as sympathetic and some of the good guys (Cyclops) are just dicks. [See also: the 1992 X-Men series and Batman: The Animated Series, commonly regarded as one of the best cartoons series ever.]
A few months ago I went on somewhat of a rant about cartoons always being written off as “children’s television”, citing that a lot of anime shows are actually aimed at adults as they can feature more blood, swearing, sex and violence than most post-watershed live-action shows. Having said that, more often than not, children are the target audience for most cartoons (particularly ones from The States). But just because something is a kids show it doesn’t its mean it can’t be enjoyed by adults. Does this show contain blood or guts? No. And whilst there are deaths, they’re more implied deaths than brutal, blood-soaked fatalities. But that’s more of an issue with censorship than anything else, and does it stop a great story from being told? No, it doesn’t.
Spongebob…, Ren & Stimpy, and forgotten 90s classic Aquila (a favourite of a my Dad’s) are a few examples of children’s TV shows that transcended their demographic. And more recently CBBC show Horrible Histories even became the first children’s TV show to with a British Comedy Award. This is because they’re all shows that don’t talk down to kids, and as such adults can get on board.
If you like superheroes and you like cartoons, then give Wolverine And The X-Men a go. It only lasted one series due to funding, but every one of its 26 episodes make for great television, and why should you deprive yourself of great TV just because you’re an adult?