Danny Phantom is one of Nickelodeon's most obnoxious cartoons. It's a cliche storm of stale, unfunny humor, by-the-numbers fighting, and condescending caricatures of the way adults (of the unhip, totally not down with it variety the show delights in mocking) think children and young teenagers see the world. It has some interesting ideas working for it, but most of them are executed poorly, and many others are left hanging in the ether, without an adequate explanation in a show that very badly needs one. Its first big problem is the art style. It may seem like I'm judging a book by its cover, but I doubt the person who coined that phrase had conceived of a book with a cover that actually affected its content. Danny Phantom is a show that, like its young protagonist, desperately wants to be taken seriously, but can only ever fail. For the character, this is because he's a little goofy and bad around girls. For the cartoon, it's because it looks like The Fairly Odd Parents, yet still expects us to believe that the predicaments it thrusts onto its characters will have serious consequences. I can't help but roll my eyes at the fact that someone in the design department thought they could circumvent this problem by giving the characters the correct finger-to-hand ratio. "TFOP was the silly show, yes," they seem to say, "but here, they have five fingers! Realistic!" Danny, Sam, Tucker, and entourage have little personality to speak of. If I were feeling cruel, I could say that they have no personality at all, just a series of traits. Stimulus-and-response, but no soul. The romance between Danny and Sam, for instance, is the most transparently scripted thing since Padmé and Anakin, and it's handled with all the subtlety and finesse of Edward Scissorhands trying to send a text message. To say nothing of that dreadful habit all bad cartoons have, if they think their young (or not-so-young) audience is stupid: at the end of each episode, everyone will just burst into spontaneous laughter, even if there's nothing funny going on. Like a laugh track, basically, but extra condescending. This show has gathered quite a fan base, so if you like it, good for you. But I was personally very disappointed.
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