Live action does the Cave of Wonders good. Disney has finally released a teaser trailer for its upcoming Aladdin remake, showing the title character (played by Mena Massoud) heading into that irresistible realm, which houses the treasure of all treasures: the Genies lamp. In the reboot, the cave still has that familiar tigers-mouth entrance, but its rougher—more of a stony structure than the gobby sand design of the original animated movie. But some things never change—specifically, that familiar warning the cave poses to Aladdin before he goes inside: “Only one may enter here. One whose worth lies far within. The diamond in the rough.”
The trailer doesnt give much away, but we do get a glimpse of Aladdin himself going through the magical cave and laying his hands on the Genies lamp. In this new version, directed by Guy Ritchie, Aladdin also eschews the shirtless look of the animated film; this time around, he has a short-sleeved shirt under that familiar purple vest. Massoud, it was reported last year, won the part after Disney spent months trying to find a lead actor who could do the part justice (singing, dancing, street ratting, and the like!), winning it out over more famous names like Dev Patel and Riz Ahmed. It was similar to the exhaustive search the studio embarked upon while casting the new live-action Mulan, eventually tapping actress Liu Yifei. Aladdin is easily Massouds biggest role to date, a leap up from his smaller parts on shows like Amazons Jack Ryan. You could even say its . . . a whole new world for the young actor.
The other throwbacks in this all-too-brief teaser are fairly minimal. We see the evil parrot, Iago (voiced in the original by Gilbert Gottfried), flying over the deserts of Agrabah and over the cave. We hear soaring orchestral covers of original bops like “Friend Like Me.” What were still dying to see, however, is the first look at Will Smith as the Genie, taking over the role that Robin Williams gave legendary voice to in the 1992 original movie. Smith has teased his performance on social media, writing that he “cant wait for yall to see Me BLUE!” Then show us, coward!
Disney will deliver a glimpse before long, though, since theres a long way to go until the films May 24, 2019, release date.
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- Doug (1991-1994)
I was a Nickelodeon kid, not a Disney/ABC kid. (Millennials know that this is a crucial distinction.) So when Doug Funnie, Patti Mayonnaise, Skeeter, and the gang made the jump from the latter network to the former in 1996, I didnt follow them. But for awhile there, Doug was home to the most relatable goober in childrens TV. Lovelorn for Patti, with an adorable dog named Porkchop, a chic older sister, and more than his share of #kidproblems (I still, for some reason, think often about him having to write an essay on silt deposits—I still dont know what those are), Doug was the ideal everyman for boring kids like me. His show also had some of the best character names on TV to date: Tippi Dink, Roger Klotz, Mosquito Valentine. Dickens would be proud. — K. Austin CollinsPhoto: From ©Nickelodeon Television/Everett Collection.
- Over the Garden Wall (2014)
This wonderfully strange animated miniseries debuted just a few years ago on Cartoon Network, but owing to its surprising allure, it has already established itself as an all-time great. Patrick McHales limited series aired five nights in a row and unfolded with the surreal logic of dreams, presenting two brothers in an enchanted forest who dont know how they got there or what theyre supposed to do next. At first, the series is mystifying. But as the characters assert themselves and the weirdness resolves, it turns Over the Garden Wall into not just a fairy tale but a sliver of a coming-of-age story, with reverence for both the real world and the need to run away from it. Starring the voice talents of Elijah Wood, Melanie Lynskey, and Christopher Lloyd, its an artful fantasy for all ages. — Sonia Saraiya
- The Powerpuff Girls (1998-2005)
While female-led cartoons still remain few and far between, these three bobble-headed heroines redefined what a “girls show” could be (with a little help from Chemical X). Created by Craig McCracken, the mind behind the equally zany and creative Fosters Home for Imaginary Friends, Powerpuff Girls is about female heroes—but really, its for everyone. A 2016 reboot was met with average to negative reviews from fans of the original—but the legacy of Blossom, Bubbles, and Buttercup remains. The members of this trio were equalizers on-screen, bravely facing villains as they learned self-assurance and how to work as a team. In their endearing, pastel-wearing way, they were examples of gender equality and heroism, the sort we could use more of on our screens today. — Sarah Shoen
- Arthur (1996-present)
What a wonderful kind of day it has been, thanks to 21 seasons (and counting!) of Americas favorite aardvark. Created in 1996 by Marc Brown, Arthur has won over the hearts of audiences by doing exactly what most of his viewers are doing: hanging out with his best friend (in this case, a lovable white rabbit), getting through the school day, and trying to figure out how this crazy world works. From navigating the trials and tribulations of being a big brother to grappling with long-distance friendship, Arthur has experienced all the problems and questions kids face every day. Over more than two decades, the show has documented the best and worst of what growing up can be, and its relatable nostalgia still rings true today. Arthur has also reminded us that having fun isnt hard as long as you have a library card, and that treating yourself to a sundae at the Sugar Bowl is always the best way to end a day. Now, all thats left to do is wait for the Pal spin-off show. Who doesnt love a never-aging puppy with a British accent? — Sarah ShoenPhoto: From ©PBS/Everett Collection.
- Animaniacs (1993-1998)
Animaniacs wasnt just a cartoon—it was a chaotic, old-fashioned variety series, one that won a Peabody award in its inaugural season due in part to the way the show reminded the Peabody committee of the glory days of Hollywood animation. With the backing of Steven Spielberg, frequent celebrity cameos, and the characters home base on the Warner Bros. Studios lot, Hollywood was indeed central to Animaniacs DNA. As the story goes, animated siblings Yakko, Wakko, and Dot Warner were locked away in the studios water tower in the 1930s—then emerged six decades later to unleash their brand of wild humor onto the world, as well as more than a few exceptionally catchy educational musical numbers. (“United States, Canada, Mexico, Panama, Haiti, Jamaica, Peru . . .”) They bridged the gap between Hollywoods golden age—particularly the inspired lunacy of Bugs Bunny and co.—and the present day, with a satirical edge and pop-cultural references aplenty, the sort that appealed to children and adults alike. And with two new seasons coming to Hulu in 2020, Yakko, Wakko, and Dot are getting ready to take over once again. — Christine DavittPhoto: From ©Warner Bros./Everett Collection.
- BoJack Horseman (2014-present)
The age of Peak TV is crowded with shows about show business—and Los Angeles, and nostalgia, and self-medicating male antiheroes. But none of them hold a candle to BoJack, which also happens to be the most moving comedy (or is it the funniest drama?) on television. In its early days, Raphael Bob-Waksbergs centauric creation seemed like a minor blip with a two-joke conceit: 90s sitcom has-been struggles to navigate 21st-century Hollywoo. (The D got destroyed in episode 6.) Also, hes a horse. As its first season went on, though, the Netflix original gradually transformed from a simplistic showbiz satire into something deeper, richer, and altogether more daring—a series that tackled all those Peak TV pet topics, but one that also wasnt afraid to thoughtfully undermine its own premise. Why should we care about BoJack Horsemans redemption? And what does redemption really mean, anyway?
As rendered by Bob-Waksbergs talented writers and an endlessly imaginative animation team headed by Lisa Hanawalt, the anthropomorphized animals and occasionally beastly humans that populate BoJack are richly layered, capable of provoking both belly laughs and heartbreak—sometimes within the span of a few seconds. Yet BoJack doesnt feel disjointed; its simultaneously hilarious and haunting, self-conscious and sweeping, gravely serious and unabashedly silly. (The Simpsons may have invented the modern blink-and-youll-miss-it gag, but BoJack has perfected the form; you could spend hours combing each frame for hidden jokes and puns capable of impressing even the most seasoned dad.) The only real knock against it is that in between those flights of fancy, BoJack can be a tremendous bummer—the sort of show where nobody is allowed to be happy for very long. But even in its most relentless moments, theres enough humor to keep BoJack from sinking as low as BoJack himself often descends—and enough poignancy to keep viewers coming back, ideally for several seasons to come. — Hillary Busis
Photo: From ©Netflix/Everett Collection.
- South Park (1997-present)
First things first: this show is not perfect. Trey Parker and Matt Stones offensive comic masterpiece—a television staple since 1997 that starts its 22nd season this September—definitely reached the height of its run during the Bush years. Its beginnings in the Clinton epoch relied mostly on shock value and gross-out humor; its Obama-era episodes were funny, but not always incisive. And in the Age of Trump, its fair to wonder whether the show may have lost its way entirely. But those glory days certainly were glorious. At its peak, South Park was (and is still capable of being) as sickeningly funny (“Scott Tenorman Must Die”) and socially astute (“Here Comes the Neighborhood”) as it was maddening.
In a good way. Few post-Simpsons animated shows have managed to battering-ram their way into the cultural lexicon as thoroughly or mischievously as South Park. Few have enough iconic characters to fill a yearbook (Cartman! Mr. Garrison! Mr. Hankey the Christmas Poo!), or as many classic episodes just waiting to be referenced whenever a relevant current event crops up. When I think of bad C.E.O. apologies, oil spills, or Cthulhu, I think of South Park. World of Warcraft? South Park. Poverty telethons, Stephen Sondheim, Mormons, Scientologists, lost underwear, cats in heat, NASCAR, pan-flute bands, chili, the word “succubus,” redheads, Jennifer Lopez, red-hooded jackets, child-mortality rates, woodland creatures . . .
Even if we were always the butt of every South Park gag, we were also always in on the joke. At its best, this series has defined, and maybe even predicted, the culture—and its also really fucking funny. From the looks of it, the rest of television is still catching up. — K. Austin Collins
Yohana DestaYohana Desta is a Hollywood writer for VanityFair.com.