Nickelodeon cartoon blends dimensions

Friday, May 7, 2004

Two-D or not 2-D, that is the question. Can traditional two-dimensional animation survive? Or will it merely fade away like vaudeville, radio and the credibility of network news, phased out by the surging popularity of three-dimensional computer generated imagery (CGI) 'toons?

Ever since "Toy Story," children and parents have flocked to CGI films, ignoring traditional cartoon fare like "Iron Giant" and relegating the once-powerful Disney animated musicals to second-rate status. The last Disney musical to make a splash was "Lilo and Stitch," but its audience was chum compared with that of "Finding Nemo."

Tonight, the wags at Nickelodeon declare a truce of sorts in the animation wars with a crossover episode of the cartoon "The Fairly OddParents" and the CGI hit "The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron" called the "The Jimmy/Timmy Power Hour" (7 p.m., Nickelodeon).

"Power Hour" deserves much credit for playing with cartoon formats and joking about the intersection of science and magic. But like many one-hour cartoon features, it is probably way too long for young attention spans and way too loud for grown-up endurance.

Tonight's other highlights

Late night

Kelsey Grammer, Orchestra Baobab and the latest "Survivor" evictee appear on "Late Show with David Letterman" (10:35 p.m., CBS) ... Jay Leno welcomes Anna Nicole Smith on "The Tonight Show" (10:35 p.m., NBC) ... Jenny McCarthy and Dr. Drew Pinsky appear on "Jimmy Kimmel Live" (11:05 p.m., ABC).

Lauren Graham chats on "Late Night with Conan O'Brien" (11:35 p.m., NBC) ... Carl Reiner, Saffron Burrows and Elefant appear on "The Late, Late Show with Craig Kilborn" (11:37 p.m., CBS).