Not a lot of animation has been released on DVD this year (studios called off most cartoon releases aimed at grown-ups), so I’m hoping this announcement, though it’s been forthcoming for a while, will be the start of better things for 2010: CBS is releasing one of the most important shows in the history of TV animation, Ralph Bakshi’s Mighty Mouse: The New Adventures.
One of the reasons for this show’s importance is, as the press release states, that Bakshi assembled a young crew of people who went on to do big things, applying the lessons they’d learned on the show. The writers and directors included people like John Kricfalusi, Eddie Fitzgerald, Bruce Timm and Tom Minton, people who had worked at Hanna-Barbera and/or Filmation and used this show as their first opportunity to do what they thought was funny. Other writers were hired on the basis of student films, like Andrew Stanton (who went on to direct Wall-E) and Jim Reardon (who went on to become supervising director of The Simpsons).
The show was also hugely important because just about every good TV animated show that followed was influenced by it in some way. Kricfalusi used many of the same visual ideas and design styles on Ren and Stimpy; other writers took the caustic, genre-busting humour (one of the most famous episodes, “Don’t Touch That Dial!,” is a critique of television in general and television animation in particular) to shows like Tiny Toons; and the idea that kids might want to see loud, over-the-top shows rather than sweet and cute ones became the basis of almost every U.S. cartoon produced in the ’90s.