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   Toonhound's Top Ten Toons of the Noughties!
Top 10 Toons    (30.12.09)

   Well, here we are, on the cusp of another decade. The Noughties
   are just about played out, and it looks like we survived the turn of
   the Millennium in one piece, or thereabouts. Of course, 2012 now
   looms large on the horizon, but we won't let that dampen the
   celebrations. Er-hum.

   So. Yes. The Noughties. My, what a decade it was/has been.
   Everywhere you look, there are folks drawing up their Lists Of The
   Decade. Best Films, Best Books, Biggest News Stories - there
   seems to be a list for every occasion. Which has got The Hound
   thinking. What about our favourite TvToons? Surely they need
   a list, too? So The Hound's put his Thinking Cap on and he's
   thought and thunked his way through the decade in order to
   bring you his very personal list of Favourite TvToons from the
   last ten years.

   Bear in mind the following:

   a) This is just for fun and what The Hound thinks probably won't
       correlate at all to what you think. That's the fun of the game. 
       Remember that, when you're cussing at this list and the fool
       who made these darned stoopid choices...

   b) If you've produced a Top TvToon that The Hound has overlooked,
       please don't take offence. Deciding who to leave out has proven
       a nightmare. There have been so many top toons over the last
       ten years...

   c) This is the Big Reminder. Toonhound exists to celebrate British
       toons and creations only, so you won't find your favourite anime
       here, or any of those American imports. And we're only listing
       series that started airing in the Noughties...

   So, with the rules in place and the tables cleared, ladies and
   gentlemen, boys and girls, let's commence our Noughties TV
   rundown, and stay tooned for regular updates as we count
   down the shows!...



     Top TvToons #1 - Shaun the Sheep from Aardman Animation

    #1 - Shaun the Sheep (2007)


    So here we are, at last, with our number one UK toon series of the
    Noughites. And it's surely no surprise to see our fleecy friend from
    West Wallaby Street bleating his way to the top of our list. Let's
    face it, that first series of Shaun the Sheep was really quite brilliant,
    and The Hound has loved every episode, right down to the last
    sheep dropping...

    From the very first bars (baas?) of its clatter-bang, sing-a-long theme
    song, you just know you're in for a treat. And sure enough, over the next
    ten minutes, Shaun and his funny flock proceed to run rings around that
    old whistle-blower Bitzer, the Naughty Pigs and the gurning Farmer.
    On the one hand, it plays out like some fab old-time Beano strip, with
    lots of broad brushstrokes of action and silliness. And on the other, there
    are just so many subtle and sublime extra details to savour; a glance
    here, a gesture there, all those spoof product labels in the Farmer's
    kitchen, and even - yes, we're talking pooh again - the smatterings
    of sheep droppings littering the fields which still make this 
    viewer smile, when ever he sees them.

    There's something of a Porridge-like relationship between Shaun and
    Bitzer, as they jockey for position and control of each debacle. Bitzer's
    Mr Barrowclough, put in charge of the sheepish inmates, but rarely
    in the driving seat when Norman Shaun-ley Fletcher's around. In that
    sitcom Fletcher has a gift with the gab, but there's no dialogue here,
    which is another stroke of genius about this production, because anyone
    anywhere can follow the stories. Each bleat and shrug and frustrated
    whistle blow speaks volumes.

    That first season DVD has been played to death in The Hound's home.
    And every time an episode pops up on CBBC, this toon fan stops what
    he's doing to watch and savour the action once more. And invariably,
    he winds up jollying and whistling along to that darned catchy theme,
    until his own two Springer Spaniels catch his eye and he can clearly
    see them thinking their own Bitzer-type thoughts. Honest. He can read
    their minds, clear as day.

    Oh yes, the Aardman team brought all their immeasurable film expertise
    to bear on this series. You really can't see the join between Shaun's world
    and the worlds of Wallace and Gromit, and Chicken Run. It's beautifully
    staged, dressed and lit. Flawless, in fact. But there is one small grey cloud
    hanging over the farm, and it feels almost churlish to mention it here,
    in the midst of our Number One celebration. You see, whisper it quietly,
    but The Hound has struggled to get to grips with the changes that
    have been made in the now-broadcasting second series. The reasoning
    is sound, and completely understandable, and the new-look Farmer
    and Pigs can be adjusted to. But the new fuzzed-up Bitzer just looks
    odd. In fact, the first time he caught that new appearance The Hound
    thought he was portraying Bitzer's evil twin. After all, that's a trick
    performed throughout the cartoon ages. Only, this isn't a trick. It's
    for keeps. And having spent forty fab episodes with the original, it looks
    like someone's stolen the poor chap away and thrown him in a tumble
    dryer. Ecky-thump, The Hound wants his old pal back to play!

    But that's quite enough whinging. We're here to party and praise, after all.
    Shaun the Sheep is the thoroughly-deserved Number One on our list.
    Although, ultimately, the real winners here are us, the viewers. We've
    had so many UK toon treats during the last decade. And who knows
    what tv delights the next ten years might bring...?


     Top TvToons #2 - Summerton Mill from Summerton Mill Ltd

    #2 - Summerton Mill (2005)


    You know, we're always told they don't make 'em like they used to.
    But they do, they do, they really do. If you look hard enough. If you
    turn over the right stones. And here's Dan and Fluffa and their special
    friends, surprising everyone with their appearance at number two in in
    our rundown. But they've more than earned their inclusion here, yes,
    even one this high in the list, because Summerton Mill is a once-in-a 
    lifetime creation, a homemade little world that crystallized from out of
    nowhere in the middle of the Noughties. And it's brilliant. And the two
    promo DVDs that The Hound received in the post from the film makers
    have been on constant rotation over the last few years. When ever this
    dawg wants to escape the world, when he seeks a little sanctuary,
    this is the sunny funny series that hits the sweet spot...

    Pete Bryden and Ed Cookson just followed their hearts. There was no
    roundtable discussion, no creativity by debate. They went the route
    of our animated heroes, Peter Firmin and Oliver Postgate, in conceiving
    of a magical valley that blends wonder and whimsy and just a pinch of
    melancholy. They conceived the stories, put together a tiny team to
    build the models and sets and they filmed them on their own, outside
    of the system, just like those perfect little small films, constructed in
    that Kentish barn. There's a mill in a magical valley, whose wheel turns
    back time to a happier point in the past, where Dan the mill owner
    can step out in to the world again, and Strange Things Happen. What
    we get aren't so much stories as magical interludes and moments in the
    valley. The biggest surprise is that it's so funny, as Dan and his friends
    Dr Naybhur and Mrs Naybhur make fresh discoveries and unearth new
    valley treasures. Obviously the film makers are aware of where their
    series is coming from, they have one eye on the tv past and the other
    looking forward. Almost anything can happen in the valley, but it all
    makes sense, in a Summerton kind of way.

    Alas for us, what doesn't make sense, is the fact that most folks reading
    this rundown won't ever have seen this special series. You see, Summerton
    Mill's olde worlde conception outside of the industry meant that it didn't
    and still doesn't conform to expectations. The series appears to defy today's
    schedules, and has left broadcasters scratching their heads. What's it
    about, exactly? Where can they show it? There's no place for such
    whimsy, nowadays. Teatime TV no longer exists. So it sits on the
    shelf, waiting to be discovered.

    But - oh - if they would only stop and listen to the wind, they might
    hear the Oocock calling them.. the soft churn of the mill wheel, and
    Mousey-tongue purring contentedly.. and they might see that lush green
    valley properly, at last, with its blue skies overhead and its soft breeze that
    tussles the hair and whispers funny magic in your ear...

    If you air it... they will come!...


     Top TvToons #3 - Gerry Anderson's New Captain Scarlet from  Anderson Entertainment Ltd

    #3 - Gerry Anderson's New Captain Scarlet (2005)


    This is here because it aimed so very high. This is here because it tried
    so damned hard to reinvent the wheel. This is here because it was not only
    one of the very best animated shows on tv in the Noughties, it was one of best
    tv shows, period. The fact that it fell short, so near, yet so far from universal
    greatness is not the show's fault. It's not Gerry Anderson's fault, not the
    writers, directors or animators. No, the reason this show has been all-but
    consigned to the tv bargain bin is because ITV dropped the ball so
    spectacularly and because the media at large failed to grab all that
    potential and run with it. Woe, for what could have been, folks.

    If you think The Hound is exaggerating, just you go and dust down that
    second series DVD box set. Go on. Go and watch episodes like "Enigma",
    "Dominion" and "Grey Skulls". This is fabulous sci-fi tv, streets ahead of
    "Dr Who". And unlike that BBC re-imagining, Captain Scarlet was never afraid
    of its genre. It embraced it wholeheartedly, and packed one heck of a
    sci-fi punch in to its 22mins adventures. Sure, five years on, some of the
    first season graphics have lost their sheen, but the stories they tell are still
    rock-solid and the show's central theme of subterfuge and terror from an
    an unseen enemy are still coldly relevant here in 2010.

    All we had to do was to look beyond its animated roots. That's all. But we
    couldn't. The ITV schedulers couldn't, because they completely failed to get
    their heads around the maturity of this series. Gerry Anderson's New
    Captain Scarlet demanded a peak-time Saturday slot. Perhaps they still
    had Mr Bean on their mind when they were weighing up their options?
    Whatever the reasoning, ITV got cold feet. They simply let the show
    get hacked to pieces and dropped in amongst the morning
    cacophony of a needy kids magazine show, where every sentence had
    to be shouted IN CAPITALS. And what's more, the media at large failed
    us all as well, because they too insisted on treating this is as just
    another toon series. After all, cartoons are for kids, right?


    Recently, The Hound has been feasting on some thrilling and inspiring
    anime films and series. Paprika, Death Note, Haibane Renmei, and
    the sublime Mushi-Shi push the boundaries of fantasy and sci-fi
    storytelling. The fact that they happen to be animated is irrelevant.
    These are sophsticated productions, with complex themes and some
    adult situations which utilise their animated environments to further
    their scope. And Gerry Anderson's reimagined series sits proudly
    alongside them on The Hound's DVD shelf. And if it had just been given
    the right chance, we could be talking about a whole slate of similar
    superior UK animated series on air, or en route to our screens as you
    read this. Oh, yes indeed. Woe, for what could have been.
    Darnit. Woe for what should have been!...


    #4 - Peppa Pig (2004) / The Koala Brothers (2003)


    Yes, yes, so we're cheating. Our number four spot is a split-vote
    between the best new preschool toons of the Noughties. But The
    Hound simply couldn't slip a cigarette paper between them, so we're
    going with the notion that the former is the very best of the 2D
    preschool offerings, whilst its compatriot is its stop-motion equivalent.

    Well, alright, it's still cheating. And we'll have to apologise to the parents
    offended by that smoking analogy. But now we have the chance to celebrate
    two top shows for the price of one. And it's also the perfect place for us
    to talk about the preschool genre in general. Now, if you've read the
    rest of this Top Ten rundown, you'd be forgiven for thinking that The Hound
    has something of a vendetta against the whole preschool thing. But he
    doesn't. Honest. It's just that here in the UK, we seem to have fallen into
    the trap of putting all our animation eggs into this one basket, though it's
    easy to see why. Preschool toons can earn big bucks, if you get 'em right.
    And if you're one of the big rights holders, with all those big overheads,
    they're just perfect for raising your stock and bringing home the moolah
    for your hungry, hungry investors. And if the end of that last sentence
    sounds like a game, that's because it is. It's actually a very expensive
    game, and if it goes wrong you can bring your whole house of cards
    crashing down around you. Preschool toons can be great. But there
    are also a great many of them that just pass this viewer by as he channel
    hops. They kind of merge into one singular gang of characters with
    the same old hurdles to overcome. However in the Noughties, Peppa,
    Frank and Buster stood out from the crowd rather brilliantly...

     Top TvToons #4a - Peppa Pig from Astley Baker Davies and Contender Entertainment

    Peppa Pig has been an oinking, squealing triumph, hasn't it? Go on.
    Try watching this show with a straight face. Peppa, Mummy, Daddy
    and their animal pals snort and snigger their way through their
    mini-big-adventures and you just can't help giggling along with them.
    It was quite inspired to have a young lead character actually voiced by a
    child of around the same age. Or rather, it was an inspiration back
    in 2004. And - oh - the timing of the thing is just perfection.
    There are some full-term pregnant pauses here, usually just before
    Peppa's brother George bursts into tears, or Peppa herself throws
    a hissy fit. And that's another wonderful thing about this show. The
    triumvirate of  Astley Baker Davies have embraced all the ups and
    downs of childhood. The fun and frolics go hand in hand with the tears
    and tantrums. When these elements are married to those flat-perspective
    characters, jigging through frame - snort! - it's infectious viewing!


     Top TvToons #4b - The Koala Brothers from Spellbound Entertainment and Famous Flying Films


    The Koala Brothers have also captured this viewer's attention, and
    affection. There's that big bright Outback setting, for starters, and
    that skiffling theme song that accompanies Frank and Buster, as they
    take to the skies in their buzzing biplane, looking for folks to help.
    The antipodean animals make a delightful change from all those
    so-familiar garden gangs and woodland pals. Ned's an unsure delight,
    who just needs a little confidence boost, now and again. And young
    Mitzi, with her big glasses and sun dress and flip-flops, is as cute
    as a button. The originality even extends to the voicetrack, with all those
    Down Under accents. Back in the day, when The Hound and his wife
    were operating their now defunct web store, Frank and
    Buster's arrival sent the shop's profits soaring to the sky. Demand
    for the tie-in toys was a real eye-opener. And in a funny way, their
    success opened our eyes to the failings of the UK's preschool licensing
    business, in general, which was simply not geared up to react to the market
    with the immediacy that was required. We didn't have the clout to buy
    direct from the manufacturers, and thus were left at the mercy
    of their resellers and middlemen who just weren't geared towards such
    targeted purchasing. But we're digressing. Never mind The Hound's woes,
    Spellbound Entertainment and Famous Flying Films flew so high with this
    Noughties series. And the fact that they're sharing this number four spot
    with Peppa Pig and co. seems to be quite appropriate. They're here to help,
    and all that...


     Top TvToons #5 - The Secret Show from Collingwood O'Hare / BBC

    #5 - The Secret Show (2006)


    Zowee. Here we are now, commencing The Hound's rundown of the
    Big Five toons of the Noughties, and it's Collingwood O'Hare's
    multi-coloured zap, bang, pow spy series which has karate
    chopped its way into the number five spot.

    It really was a fantastic decade for Tony Collingwood and Christopher
    O'Hare. Animal Stories, Gordon the Garden Gnome and Yoko!
    Jakamoko! Toto! won them many fans, and industry plaudits, and
    indeed the latter of these productions had this number five slot in
    its grasp... until Victor Volt and Anita Knight abseiled into frame
    and stole the trophy!

    The Secret Show is an all-out action-packed homage that takes its cue
    from Danger Man and James Bond. It's just lots of fun, with exotic
    Bad Guys and Super Villains galore, and fluffy pink bunnies to boot.
    It's a series that consistently catches your eye, when ever it's broadcast.
    Seriously, next time you're in your local Currys or Comet, look how the
    heads turn when this crashes on to the tv screens. It's bright and shouty
    and fab.

    Actually, this series grabbed The Hound's attention even before it was
    broadcast, when a black, bomb-like-box of promotional goodies arrived
    in the post. The Hound was wanted by U.Z.Z. to join the fight against
    T.H.E.M. with Victor, Anita, Professor Professor and Changed Daily.
    It was a call that was hard to resist. The Spy Vs Spy battle has been
    raged online too, via a fantastic BAFTA-winning web site from Complete
    Control, which was one of the first tie-in sites to properly embrace
    the potential of the web.
    The thing is, we don't really "do" the whole action-toon thing, here in
    the UK. It was never really part of our scheduling. We let the Yanks fill
    the void, whilst we created little whimsical worlds and went on to
    perfect the preschool genre. And, boy, we are seriously good at that.
    Our preschool stars already receive ample attention from the media. It's one
    the reasons The Hound has avoided some of the more obvious candidates in
    this rundown. That, and the fact that there's a certain familiarity about
    a number of them. Oh yes, they're beautifully made, but the same writers
    and voice artistes are often passed from toon to toon. Episodes seem
    to tread the same water.

    But "The Secret Show" is different. It's got that big brassy Giacchino-style
    theme, and all those suited agents ranging across the screen. They even
    steal an old woman's cloying sing-a-long sequence out from under her nose.
    This show's stories spin out everywhichway, as we pursue the Bad Guys.
    It's F.A.S.T., F.U.N.K.Y. and F.U.N.N.Y.and has snazzy-jazzy action
    all the way to the end of its credits...

    Hi-ya! - Take that, all you preschool toons!


     Top TvToons #6 - Pedro and Frankensheep from The Brothers McLeod

    #6 - Pedro and Frankensheep (2007)


    If Frankenstein's Cat was odd, then this series is ... well... let's just say
    it drinks deep from the Well of Cartoon Insanity. Greg and Myles McLeod,
    aka The Brothers McLeod irradiated Phil Cooper's loony toon project and
    brought to life a cartoon pairing that's akin to Animated Marmite.
    You may not like it at all, but The Hound loves its utter lunacy.

    This toon is just out there - out of its head and out on a limb - and its
    scrawled, higgledy-piggledy homemade feel sits defiantly at odds
    with all the preformed preschool gloss that surrounds it in the schedules.
    This series could have leapt straight out of a schoolboy's notebook.
    The characters look like they were doodled in a free period and The Hound
    is a sucker for mad Mr Sheep, who speaks all yokel-like. It's Myles McLeod
    channeling Justin Collins and Frank's a laboratory-born ovine with flitting
    wings, and an additional tentacle, and a pair of performing brain ticks
    on his forehead. No wonder he's bonkers!

    Okay, now here's the important stuff. The Noughties witnessed the arrival
    of two very distinct forms of tv animation. On the one hand, we saw how a
    batch of multinational conglomerates rose to power, swallowing up beloved
    characters and spitting out "franchises" and "platforms" that became part of
    a Corporate Plan to swell stockholders' profits and take over the world.
    Cue Evil Laugh here. But away from the corridors of power, we also saw
    how the rise of affordable animation software and technology empowered
    the Little Guys. Today, you can make an animated series in your very
    own living room, should you so choose. And it feels like The Brothers
    McLeod are right at the hub of the exciting cartoon revolution that we're
    witnessing everyday on YouTube and Vimeo and on our daily blogs
    and embeds. It's so exciting.

    Oh, alright, so we're wearing rose-tinted spectacles here. It's not as
    rosy in the garden as we're describing. Making your own toons is one
    thing, but actually getting them on air properly anywhere, so's you can
    make a decent return, well, that's probably harder than ever. But we'll
    stick with the dream, if you don't mind. Pedro and his fleecy pal have
    won their place in our top 10 by virtue of their complete and unabridged
    originality. And he loves how they inspire him to maybe make a
    mad tv toon of his own someday...

    You can cue that Evil Laugh again now, if you want.


     Top TvToons #7 - Frankenstein's Cat from Mackinnon & saunders / A Productions / Kayenta

    #7 - Frankenstein's Cat (2007)


    Gather round, kids, 'cos here we have a tail, and a leg and an eye and
    plenty more crossstitched body parts belonging to that mismatched
    moggy pal, Nine.

    Frankenstein's Cat was the first standalone toon project from Bob the
    Builder's designer, Curtis Jobling, who teamed up with those stop-motion
    puppet masters Mackinnon & Saunders, A Productions and Kayenta to
    bring us the adventures of this fly-infested cat from a kit, knitted together
    so haphazardly by his mad master that he keeps shedding appendages
    and organs everywhichway. It's an 'orrible concept, when you think about it,
    but it all works brilliantly thanks to the bright bobbled design of the characters,
    and some fearfully funny storylines, as coralled by Alan Gilbey. Alan also
    penned the series theme song, which is destined to become a highlight of
    future Pub Quizzes around the country. This spooktacular show
    brings us free-floating brains, giant pustulating spots and lots of witty
    underworld humour. It's a genre buff's delight, packed with monster movie
    references for those in the know. And there's even a message buried alive
    somewhere in the madness, as Nine and his outsider girlfriend Lottie
    try to "fit in" to the Oddsburg way of things.

    Originally Nine and Lottie were to be brought to life as stop-motion models,
    but that's very hard to envisage, now that we have this top 2D toon to view,
    with its rich, inky backgrounds and action-packed encounters. And casting
    Joe Pasquale as the voice of Nine was an inspired move. Is there a voice
    any "odder" than his?

    "Frankenstein's Cat" plays like an animated Monster Fun strip. And
    as regular visitors here will know, The Hound has a ripe, oozing
    softspot for this type of material. And Curtis Jobling obviously has one,
    too, because his next project is titled "Max Helsing: Monster Hunter".
    It sounds like we're going to love him to bits, as well...


     Top TvToons #8 - Mr Bean: The Animated Series from Tiger Aspect,  Richard Purdham productions and Varga Holdings

    #8 - Mr Bean: The Animated Series (2002)


    What were ITV thinking? Back at the beginning of the Noughties, the
    honchos at the UK's main commercial channel decided to commission
    their very first primetime animated series, to be aired on a Saturday
    evening. Clearly, they were hoping for another "Simpsons", something
    with across-the-board appeal that would get the critics and public
    squealing with delight and tuning in like mad. Only, the project they
    chose for this esteemed, groundbreaking, commission was this
    live-action-to-toon translation from Tiger Aspect.

    Talk about going out on a limb! Tiger Aspect had a background in
    live-action production. Animation was a whole new ball game for them.
    And then there was the project itself. They were going to adapt Rowan
    Atkinson's monosyllabic buffoon into an animated character. Now, no one
    could deny that Mr Bean was a bona fide star turn from one of our most
    favoured comedians. But the success of the character stemmed from
    Rowan's precise and preposterous live performance. Translating that in to
    animated form was... well... it was quite a ridiculous notion, and nigh
    impossible to pull off.

    But they did it. And now we have 52 triumphant encounters with
    Mr Bean, as brought to life by Tiger Aspect and their friends at Richard
    Purdum Productions and Varga Holdings. Let's just come right out and
    say it, this series is fab. It's got great design, the performance capture
    is spot on, and - most importantly, even eight years on - it's very funny
    indeed. There are so many little pleasures to be had with this one.
    There's that pliny-plonky Howard Goodall theme tune, which sets the
    mood brilliantly. Mr Bean's emotive interaction with Teddy is just
    marvellous. He loves and hates that bear in equal measure. And
    then there are lots and lots of little in-jokes and references for us
    cartoon trainspotters to savour. Even the new characters fit in
    beautifully. Mr Bean's new girlfriend, Irma, shares many of his
    lifestyle quirks, only she's more grounded and - well - "normal".
    Mr Bean's attempts to both appease her and still do things in his
    own unique way takes his character down a clever new path...

    Of course, there is one ironic twist in Mr Bean's extraordinary tale.
    You see, this animated gem wasn't quite the hit that ITV wanted. It was
    shunted around the evening schedule, in pursuit of viewers, before
    quietly sloping off to the children's' slot (back when ITV still had a
    children's' slot). But the show had picked up some rock solid fans.
    And it's continued to accrue a fanbase on DVD, to this day.

    As for Tiger Aspect, well, this was just the start of a most beautiful
    relationship with the animation industry, and today we have young
    Charlie and Lola sucking on awards like sweeties.

    But in the beginning, there was the endearing, infuriating, floaty-footed
    Mr Bean and his put-upon Teddy!


     Top TvToons #9 - Fluffy Gardens from Jason Tammemagi/Monster Animation

    #9 - Fluffy Gardens (2007)


    There's certainly a whiff of Roger Hargreaves around this deceptively simple
    series from Jason Tammemagi and the team at Monster Animation, with
    its parpling theme tune and episodes that concentrate on an individual
    character. But to pigeonhole Fluffy Gardens as an homage, or a spoof
    of the Mr Men or Timbuctoo is to do it a complete disservice, because
    Fluffy Gardens exists quite precisely in its own time and place. And it's
    a place where Paolo the clever cat and Colleen the stargazing cow
    can co-exist quite happily alongside the likes of Lenny the lazy octopus
    and Lola the muddled mosquito.

    That's right. A muddled mosquito. You won't find that in Misterland!

    In Fluffy Gardens, each fluffy creature has an odd quirk or foible to contend
    with, but there's nothing that can't be overcome with a little help from their
    friends. It's a lovely message.

    You know, there's such a wonderful, sunny vibe about this show. And
    Michael Maloney brings just the right level of whimsy and mischief to his 
    precise narration, with lots of little asides to the audience that break
    the Fourth Wall and invite us to chuckle at the antics of the characters.
    Fluffy Gardens has that small but perfectly-formed feel to it, as if it's
    been created outside the corporate loop, by a team that's simply been
    following their creative instincts. It's a happy little world in a snowglobe.
    Only, there's no snow. Just sun. And Fun. And it's a place The Hound
    can happily visit again and again...


     Top TvToons #10 - Little Red Tractor from Little Entertainment Company/Entertainment Rights

    #10 - Little Red Tractor (2004)


    Tenth spot on The Hound's list was a tough call - the toughest of all, in fact,
    with several top toons jostling for that coveted final spot. So why have we gone
    with Stan and Red and the folks at Babblebrook? Well, The Hound was
    finally won over by its down-on-the-farm simplicity. You see, there are no
    bells and whistles here, no High Fantasy, no cute or crazy critters, just
    honest-to-goodness everyday country folk going about their business and
    grappling with various farmyard and family dilemmas. Which means the
    accent is most definitely on the writing and production values and on
    what has to be some of the best characterization seen on kids' TV
    during the last decade.

    The folks at Little Entertainment have cleverly pulled an "Emmerdale",
    in that they've taken a rather staid concept and dragged it in to the
    Noughties with some thoroughly modern characters and encounters,
    and a field's worth of newfangled machinery. They've given us a funny
    and at times touching series, with a lovely soapy aspect to it. It's
    beautifully produced and animated, and voiced too, because Derek Griffiths
    and co. have been able to take their animated roles and run with them.
    Muttonchopped Stumpy is a legend in the making, as he zips around on
    his out-of-control quadbike. But he's no mere caricature. He's been given
    a lovely chiding relationship with his wife Elsie, at Babblebrook Windmill.
    Similarly, there's Jasper, Walter, and Mr Turvey forever competing with
    one another as their Better Halves look on, bemused. And the kids
    have their own ups and downs to consider, as when young Thomas
    moved to the farm and struggled to fit in.

    Little Red Tractor may be bit of an underdog, next to the stop-motion
    juggernauts of Bob the Builder and Postman Pat, but it's actually a
    Tortoise-Hare situation, with the dependable qualities of this series
    coming to the fore. See, you don't need to go to out on a limb with
    every new toon. Sometimes good old-fashioned stories and rounded
    characters is all you need. Yep, The Hound reckons Stan and Red
    are most definitely King of the Field...

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