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HOORAY FOR CARTOONS!

Back in the dark ages, one had to get up early on Saturday mornings to watch cartoons. But thanks to the wonders of digital versatile discs, cartoons--arguably, the ultimate achievement of mankind--are now available any time on whatever damn day you please! Hooray for DVD! Hooray for mankind! Hooray for cartoons!

- Aqua Teen Hunger Force, Vol. 1 (2003)--The Aqua Teens are: Frylock (a wise, levitating box of French fries), Master Shake (a shake, and a bastard), and Meatwad (a sweetly innocent, semi-retarded wad of hamburger meat). Be amazed as the Aqua Teens thwart thieving leprechauns, are abducted by scheming aliens, or infuriate Carl, their cantankerous neighbor in the New Jersey suburbs, by kicking it in Carl's above-ground pool, chillin' to a hiphop soundtrack. This is animation--nay, this is humanity--at its best.

- Clerks Uncensored (2000)--While adapting his film Clerks into a prime-time cartoon series for ABC, Kevin Smith managed to retain the acerbic tone of the film, get the original cast to voice the characters, and find a slick animation team. Thus, the animated Clerks was an unmitigated triumphÉ and one that ABC promptly shat on, halting production after six episodes, then airing only two of them. All six episodes are brilliant examples of vintage Smith, but just as entertaining are Smith's fuming commentaries, wherein he repeatedly threatens bodily harm upon one particular ABC exec.

- Spider-Man: The New Animated Series (2003)--MTV's Spider-Man cartoon is a perfectly balanced hybrid of jaw-dropping computer animation and the intelligent verve that Portland writer Brian Michael Bendis brought to the Ultimate Spider-Man comic (perhaps not-so-coincidentally, Bendis also serves as co-executive producer). The truest adaptation of the comics, this Spider-Man flat out kicks ass, with vibrant fight scenes, witty dialogue, and just the right amount of that Dawson's Creek-y adolescent angst. Plus, that hag Kirsten Dunst isn't Mary Jane anymore--so in the cartoon, the Lisa Loeb-voiced MJ is HOT! ERIK HENRIKSEN

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