Two-D or not 2-D, that is the question.
Since the advent of Pixar and "Toy Story" in 1995, many fans of traditional cartoons have migrated to computer-generated fare. Some, however, remain faithful to old-fashioned two-dimensional cartoons, preferring their artistry and graphic power.
Chief among the practitioners of traditional cartooning has been Craig McCracken, maker of the Emmy-winning Cartoon Network series "The Powerpuff Girls" and "Fos ter's Home for Imaginary Friends." He also worked on the gorgeously produced series "Dexter's Labo ratory," created by Genndy Tartakovsky, also for Cartoon Network.
Making its debut is McCracken's latest creation, "Wander Over Yonder" (9 p.m.,
teresting that it appears on Disney. I've always considered most Cartoon Network fare to be a tad edgier than Disney and usually a knowing, retro send-up of mainstream kids' entertainment, not unlike the way old Warner Bros. and Looney Toons cartoons were aimed at theatergoers a little too hip (or was it "hep"?) for Uncle Walt's fairy tales.
Perhaps, with the rise of Cartoon Network programs such as "Adventure Time" and "Regular Show," with their accent on low-key absurdity and minimalist psychedelia, it's McCracken and his emphasis on powerful graphics that have become the throwback. As with Tartakovsky's work, watching a McCracken cartoon is a bit like getting a history lesson in commercial animation. Every time you look you can see a Warner Bros. reference here and a touch of Hanna-Barbera there. It's always a thoughtful eyeful.
"Wander" involves a simplistic hillbilly character, voiced by Jack McBrayer ("30 Rock"), who continually frustrates the evil schemes of powerful intergalactic dictator Lord Hater (Keith Ferguson). Not unlike Mojo Jojo of "Power puff" fame, Hater is self-absorbed, pretentious, verbose and absurd. He's first seen invading and destroying a pastel-colored planet of lovable little amorphous creatures, given to frequent hugs and kisses. As in "Powerpuff," this cartoon juxtaposes scenes of kindergarten innocence with images of unspeakable evil and malevolent mayhem. It's as if a horde of rapacious bikers savaged a "My Little Pony" universe. The results are always startling, strange, anarchic and amusing.
McBrayer's main character channels every foolhardy simpleton ever created. He's simply too naive or obtuse to see the evil around him, yet he frustrates it at every turn. Gorgeous to look at, "Wander" is loud and manic in the extreme. It seems, or rather sounds, very much like an early Saturday morning cartoon, something the kids might watch while the parents sleep in, preferably in a soundproof room.
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---"Experts" ponder a pos-
sible invasion of our planet by alien armies on "Target Earth" (9 p.m., History 2, TV-PG). Have we run out of "real" history to explore? Or have the History Channels simply alienated intelligent viewers?
---A winner emerges on the encore helping of "So You Think You Can Dance" (8 p.m., Fox, r, TV-14), which was interrupted by a presidential address on Tuesday.
---George Lazenby became the first post-Sean Connery James Bond in the 1969 adventure "On Her Majesty's Secret Service" (8 p.m., Encore).
---A male model has an emotional meltdown on "America's Next Top Model" (9 p.m., CW, TV-14).
New York faces a grim future with its citizens kept alive by formulaic foodstuffs in 1973's "Soylent Green" (8 p.m., TCM) starring Charlton Heston and, in his final screen role, Edward G. Robinson.
---Ross Mathews and Catherine Reitman appear on "Chelsea Lately" (11 p.m., E!, r).
---Dr. Phil McGraw and Tom Dreesen appear on "Late Show With David Letterman" (11:35 p.m., CBS).
---Jay Leno welcomes Zooey Deschanel, Terry Crews and Buena Vista Social Club on "The Tonight Show" (11:35 p.m., NBC).
---Bill Hader, Richard Simmons and Alpine appear on "Jimmy Kimmel Live" (11:35 p.m., ABC, r).
---Scarlett Johansson and Drake visit "Late Night With Jimmy Fallon" (12:35 a.m., NBC).
---Craig Ferguson hosts Seth Green, Andi Osho and Johnnyswim on "The Late Late Show" (12:35 a.m., CBS).
Kevin McDonough can be reached at email@example.com.