The adventures of George, Ape, Ursula, and Magnolia have found a new home on Cartoon Network. "George of the Jungle
," which is written and directed by industry vets responsible for series ranging from Lilo and Stitch
to "Beast Wars," has the makings of a top-notch cartoon. Does George swing to new heights or crash into a tree?
The animation style reminds me of a really high-end flash cartoon, with simple character models and backgrounds. I am assuming this is to appeal to younger audiences as the jungle is brought to life using bright colors and characters. Really though, how realistic do you want a show about talking animals and a tree smacking Tarzan?
The main characters include George, an ape named Ape, as well as two lady friends, one of whom seems to be on an extended vacation and the other who is more of a jungle dwelling valley girl. Lions and tigers and shrews fill up the landscape, and each group has specific traits that set them apart. The show never resorts to static images for very long, with even dialogue sequences broken up with plenty of character movement. Visually the show ends up being appealing if not overly complicated.
"George of the Jungle" features some top-notch voice acting, with the titular character's voice often flipping between naive enthusiasm and utter confusion in the span of a sentence. Not once did I cringe at line delivery or a specific characters voice, which is usually more than can be said for a lot of shows skewed towards younger viewers. Ape has the voice of reason and generally sounds far more intelligent than the rest of the characters, but he is often left without anything to say. Ursula and Magnolia, while generally confusing as far as names go, are separated by their voice actresses' delivery. When watching just remember that Ursula is the visitor and Magnolia is the native. Once you have that down the interaction between the two is usually the most enjoyable aspect of the show.
Many times cartoons are either completely unwatchable by adults or feature so many winks to older audiences that I'm surprised an 8 year old can even understand what is going on. Thankfully, "George of the Jungle" finds a happy medium between the two. While definitely made for the kiddies I found myself chuckling a few times, especially when George suggests that the predators became vegetarians and they spend the rest of the episode as peace loving hippies. The very same episode also has Ursula and Magnolia teaching self-defense classes to the smaller jungle creatures, which ends up going horribly wrong. Story lines like these make the show enjoyable for grown-ups, without the cynicism that usually comes with the territory.
Will "George of the Jungle" entertain children? Without a doubt yes. The show is funny without being crude and sends a positive message without being preachy. Adults will be able to watch the show without sitting through groan-inducing moments where you question why you had children in the first place, and really that is the best praise cartoons today can receive. If you're without kids, it might be best to politely pass on this one. The original "George and the Jungle" was harmless fun, and the update continues the tradition.
"George Of The Jungle" airs Fridays at 7:30 p.m. on Cartoon Network.
Review by Dan Chruscinski
Starpulse contributing writer