In the Limelight

If there is one good thing to come out of the current health crisis we find ourselves in, it’s having the chance to enjoy some much needed family time! Maybe your little ones are on an extended break from school, or the older ones have returned home from college, but either way, we are all looking for things to do while social distancing. Here at Scoop, we wanted to offer some suggestions on animated programs that are perfect for enjoying with the whole family. 

Regular Show

Long before we were encouraged to stay home and binge, this show has been a go-to in my house. The series follows best friends Mordecai and Rigby, who work at a seemingly ordinary park as groundskeepers. This 80s style workplace comedy series sees the slackers trying to get out of work only to inevitably find themselves in increasingly absurd situations. Like a hot pepper eating contest, rescuing a film star, saving the day after everyone is brainwashed, being sucked into a video game, and so much more. 

Series creator J.G. Quintel voices bluejay Mordecai with Rigby the raccoon voiced by William Salters. Rounding out the cast is rigid manager Benson (Sam Marin), the eternally whimsical Pops (Marin), the ever-chill Skips (Mark Hamill), short-tempered Muscle Man (Marin), High-Five Ghost (Jeff Bennett), love-struck Eileen (Minty Lewis), and super cool Margaret (Janie Tompkins).

Regular Show is anything but regular. Between the quality animation, homage to all things pop culture, and believable character development, this series is so much more than a “children’s show.” While all 261 episodes are top notch, my top favorites include “Weekend at Benson’s” in which an unconscious Benson is pulled into a series of hilarious antics; “Ello Gov’nor” which sees the gang terrorized by a British taxi; and “Karaoke Video” in which an innocent night of karaoke turns physical.  

The entire series, as well as Regular Show: The Movie, is currently streaming on Hulu.

Final Space  

From YouTube funnyman, Olan Rogers comes an animated space opera comedy-drama for the ages…or rather, all-ages. The series follows boisterous, albeit inept, astronaut Gary Goodspeed who is in the midst of working off his five-year sentence on the prison spacecraft Galaxy One. During his last few days, Goodspeed encounters an adorable alien that he immediately befriends and names Mooncake – unaware of the alien’s planet-destroying power. 

Telekinetic Lord Commander has sent powerful forces to acquire Mooncake, spurring  Gary and Mooncake on a quest to save the universe. The pair are joined by the ships computer HUE, an army of unfalteringly loyal robots, and a growing crew of new shipmates as they uncover the mystery of what “Final Space” really is. Rogers voices Goodspeed, with the cast including such talents as Fred Armisen, Tom Kenny, David Tennant, Steven Yeun, Caleb McLaughlin, John DiMaggio, Alan Tudyk, Jane Lynch, Ron Perlman, and Conan O’Brien – who also serves as series producer.  

The charmingly animated style of the series is offset by the notably darker elements within the plot, including the galactic turmoil separating father and son duo Avocato and Little Cato. The plot is easy to follow, with a built-in cliffhanger keeping viewers engaged as the adolescent humor offers escapism in a time where that is very much appreciated.  

The first two seasons are currently streaming on Netflix, with a third season on the way. 

Spider-Man ‘81

The scarlet web-slinger has had more animated series than any other Marvel hero, but thanks to Disney+ fans can enjoy an often forgotten piece of Spidey’s history with 1981’s Spider-Man. This series was similar to Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends, which debuted on the same day, in terms of visual style and the musical score by composer Johnny Douglas. However, this animated classic stayed more faithful to the Spidey mythos as it followed Peter Parker’s attempts to balance his crimefighting, responsibilities as a university student, a part-time job at the Daily Bugle and caring for his elderly Aunt May. 

The series featured Ted Schwartz as the titular hero with Williams Woodson as J. Jonah Jameson, Morgan Lofting as Aunt May, Lee Bailey as Robbie Robertson, and Mona Marshall as Peter’s love interest Betty Bryant. Rather than his primary foes Green Goblin and Doc Oc, Spider-Man’s most frequent enemy was – surprisingly – Doctor Doom. He does, of course, face his traditional foes, as well as Kraven the Hunter, the Lizard, Kingpin, and even Magneto. Along with the debut of Black Cat, Captain America, Ka-Zar and Namor make appearances over the course of the series. Although only 26 episodes were produced, Spider-Man captures the spirit of the early ‘80s in all its web-slinging glory.  

The entire single season is currently streaming on Disney+. 

Batman: The Animated Series

No list of “animated series to watch” would be complete without one of the most beloved Batman series of all time. The complex writing, faithfulness to the comics and film noir styling spurred this 86-episode series to massive critical acclaim. It elevated elements of the Batman mythos, introduced the now-iconic Harley Quinn, transformed Mister Freeze into a darker character, reimagined the gimmicky Mad Hatter into a fragile villain, created the now frequently used two-tone suit for Two-Face, and proposed the idea of villains becoming partners with Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy. 

Throughout the series, the Caped Crusader tackled various villains operating within the city of Gotham, often with more explicit scenes of violence than traditionally used in cartoons of the ‘90s. However, it also showed examples of Batman expressing empathy for even his most notorious antagonists. The series perfectly blended high-stakes action with light-hearted humor for a run that was consistently high in quality. 

Developed by Bruce Timm, Paul Dini and Mitch Brian the series features the gravel-voiced Kevin Conroy as Batman and the gleefully sadistic Mark Hamill as the Joker. The all-star cast also includes Loren Lester as Dick Grayson/Robin, Bob Hastings as Commissioner Gordon, Melissa Gilbert as Barbara Gordon/Batgirl, Richard Moll as Harvey Dent/Two-Face, Arleen Sorkin as Harley Quinn, Paul Williams as Penguin, Adrienne Barbeau as Catwoman, Diane Pershing as Poison Ivy, Michael Ansara as Mr. Freeze, and Henry Silva as Bane. 

The entire series is currently streaming on DC Universe. 

Vintage Mickey Mouse And Friends Cartoons  

After discovering some new favorites, why not take a look back at the funny little mouse who became a family favorite around the world with some vintage Mickey Mouse cartoons. Kick things off with the first Mickey Mouse cartoon released, Steamboat Willie. Join the mischievous Mickey as he works as a deckhand on a riverboat under the command of the tyrannical Captain Pete. The cartoon, directed by Walt Disney and Ub Iwerks, originally premiered in 1928. 

Jumping to 1937, Lonesome Ghosts follows Mickey, Donald Duck, and Goofy as they operate the “Ajax Ghost Exterminators” agency. After unknowingly receiving a call from lonely and bored ghosts they are scared silly by the hilarious haunts and taunts of these spirited pranksters. It was directed by Burt Gillett and animated by Izzy Klein, Ed Love, Milt Kahl, Marvin Woodward, Bob Wickersham, Clyde Geronimi, Dick Huemer, Dick Williams, Art Babbitt, and Rex Cox.

Watch Mickey outwit Pete in a series of disguises in 1940’s Mr. Mouse Takes a Trip, follow a jealous Pluto in 1941’s Lend a Paw, or learn the perfect cast with Goofy in 1942’s How to Fish. These timeless cartoons are presented as they were originally created and offer an enjoyable glimpse of the shorts that turned Mickey and his friends into international icons. 

A collection of vintage Mickey Mouse cartoons are currently streaming on Disney+. 

These are just a few suggestions to make staying at home a little easier. Check out previous entries on Scoop for suggestions on Five Funny Movies and Five Video Games to help pass the time. 

Braelynn Bowersox