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Innocence, Intelligence Live in 'Foster’s Home’

Cartoon Network has ratcheted up the quality of the animated-series genre over the past few years, and its new show, Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends, is destined to be another all-star on its roster.

Foster’s joins Samurai Jack, Dexter’s Laboratory, The Powerpuff Girls and many others in a library of originals that don’t challenge the old Hanna-Barbera Cartoons in volume, but surpass much of the legendary animation shop’s output in quality.

Much of the action takes place in an orphanage for abandoned and unwanted imaginary friends. Run by Madame Foster; her childhood imaginary friend, the very proper bunny Mr. Herriman; and Foster’s 22-year-old granddaughter Frankie, the house is home to an assortment of wacky characters, including the very tall and very polite Wilt; the airplane/plant/bird thing Coco; the fearsome-looking but fearful monster Eduardo; and the troublemaking Blooregard Q. Kazoo, or Bloo for short.

Bloo is the best friend of shy, eight-year-old Mac, a frequent visitor to Foster’s Home. Together, the two usually find themselves in plenty of trouble.

Foster’s was created by Craig McCracken, of The Powerpuff Girls. Though the two shows have many similarities, Foster’s is a little sillier than its predecessor, and its innuendo is toned down a bit.

That’s not to say that Foster’s does not push the edge occasionally. In one episode, an embarrassing video of Mr. Herriman becomes an Internet sensation, prompting the house occupants to purchase and wear “I Love Funny Bunny” T-shirts. When Frankie and Bloo begin to fear reprisal from Mr. Herriman, they send up an alarm throughout the house to remove the offending shirts. Their choice of words: “Take off your clothes.” Upon hearing that, Madame Foster rips off the shirt and jumps up and down in a celebratory mood, giggling like a schoolgirl.

But for the most part, Foster’s is innocent and silly enough for the kids, but has the depth and intelligence to hold adult interest.

The new show also is not locked in to a rigid formula like Powerpuff Girls. That superhero series follows the same girl-meets-villain-girl-beats-villain plotline in nearly every episode. In Foster’s, McCracken is free to build story lines around actions as mundane as dinner or a trip to the mall, without a giant monster attack.

Foster’s premiered as a 90-minute movie last Friday. The series debuts in its regular Cartoon time slot Friday, Aug. 20, at 7 p.m.