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Clever premise, stupid premise

Into cartoons? Oh yes. And thanks to an art department gig that put a TV at my desk, I got a huge dose of daytime television, right through the Eighties and Nineties.

My goodness, how most of it sucked.

I loved the premise for Thundercats, though. This planet of martial-artist-cat-people blows up, and everyone evacuates by space ship. Except, only one ship makes it out, and it’s the ship with the royalty on it — including the boy-cat who’s destined to be king.

Finally, the ship lands on a planet (Earth, as it happens), and it turns out their suspended animation thingie was gefukt. They’ve been asleep, but they’re decades older. Including the king, who is now unimaginably huge, powerful and in charge…and still has the mind of a seven-year-old.

So the others have to grow him up, without pissing him off too much. Must have been fantastically appealing to seven-year-olds who weren’t impossibly powerful.

On the other hand, there was Captain Planet. Brainchild of Ted Turner, with voice talent from every famous person who ever lived and surely one of the dumbest cartoons EVARRR.

See, there are these five children with power rings: an African boy in tune with the earth, a Malaysian girl with a deep understanding of the ocean, a South American Indian shaman boy with the ability to communicate with animals telepathically, a Russian girl computer genius, and an American boy whose special ability is hitting on the girls and being an irritating retard.

I’m loving this already.

Together, they can summon this warty superhero guy of indeterminate powers, to fight pollution. His one vulnerability? Pollution.

Oh, but the best bit is the cartoon’s complete and utter fail as propaganda. The villains aren’t greedy capitalist bastards whose money-grubbing activities cause environmental damage — an eco-villain with some kind of real-world meaning. No, the bad guys pollute for the sake of polluting. It’s their whole deal, no reason given. Hey, let’s pour shit in the ocean, ha ha ha!

It never ceases to astonish, how large pools of money and talent can come together and make infinite suck.


Comment from Gromulin
Time: July 13, 2010, 11:04 pm

I’m a ‘toon geek too. Been watching Avatar: The Last Airbender with my son the last few months…gotta say it’s a damned good show. Flawed heroes, virtuous villians, compelling mythology, good stories and my P.C. detector has yet to go off, even though the Fire Nation is blatently the coal-burning bad guy with big evil war machines that wants to take over the world. I’ve actually caught myself shushing the kids so I can hear the dialog sometimes.

I hear the movie in theaters sucks donkey-balls, so the kids will have to wait for DVD.

Comment from Scubafreak
Time: July 13, 2010, 11:19 pm

Gawd, i never have been able to stand Captain Planet. I rank it about 1/2 a step below Whale Wars on shows I would rather wipe my backside with than watch.

I alway liked Thundercats, But I think that the hovertanks in robotech and it’s macross predicessor would have shot the living shit out of the thundertank. Not to mention the transforming Cyclone motorcycle/battlearmour bikes. Besides, Robotech actually had a real story line.

haven’t seen the Avatar cartoon series, but I think that M. Night Shamilan has done a credible job with the material as a live action show. It wasn’t nearly as ba as the critics want people to think. After all, we are talking about people who expect every show to be on a par with Sophie’s Choice in their book (that one actually DID suck donkey balls……..

Comment from Gromulin
Time: July 13, 2010, 11:22 pm

Scuba, if you like ‘mercanized Anime, Airbender would be a great DVD series to get from Netflix. It’s really the best (kids) cartoon show I’ve seen in years.

Comment from Scubafreak
Time: July 14, 2010, 12:21 am

Oh, if anyone had Steinbrenner in the Dead pool, he assumed room temp today….

Comment from Enas Yorl
Time: July 14, 2010, 2:10 am

Pink Panther ruled Saturday morning ‘toons for me. As for the worst – Stoaty nails is with C.P. However, a special place in hell is reserved for the person(s) responsible for Scrappy Doo.

A special mention goes to a character on Earthworm Jim who had a habit of reciting part of the the Bene Gesserit Litany Against Fear when situations got tense.

Comment from Dave in Texas
Time: July 14, 2010, 2:26 am

I think Steinbrenner was on the list.

Not that list. The dick list.

Come back for the 10:30 show.

Comment from Can’t hark my cry
Time: July 14, 2010, 2:26 am

It never ceases to astonish, how large pools of money and talent can come together and make infinite suck.

When you use the message as the infrastructure for your story–rather than allowing the message to emerge from the story you tell–you generally produce bad art. Doesn’t matter if the message is a sensible one or a stupid one.

I wasn’t allowed to watch TV as a child, so I never got into the cartoon habit–but (not to try to revert to a previous topic or anything) Who Framed Roger Rabbit? is in my top 25 favorite movies of all time. . .

Comment from EZnSF
Time: July 14, 2010, 3:19 am

“..infinite suck.”

The original Land of the Lost. Although I don’t think it qualifies as a cartoon. That and HR Puffin Stuff.

A nation of preteens glued to the floor on a Saturday morning until 11:00 AM, their brains slowly dripping from their ears into a bowl of soggy frosted flakes. It might explain a lot of our current socio-economic problems.

mmmm. Come to think of it. I still do much the same. Don’t be screwin with my cable channels! Oh well.

Comment from Mrs. Peel
Time: July 14, 2010, 3:28 am

CP’s theme song is a major earworm. And I have to leave this site before it gets stuck in my head.

Comment from Gromulin
Time: July 14, 2010, 4:28 am

Saturday morning officially concluded when Soul Train came on. That was the cue to go outside, or start building a model.

Comment from Pavel
Time: July 14, 2010, 5:08 am

Up next: Captain Diversity.

I’ve had way too much whiskey to figure out the characters in that one. It would be so self-referential it would basically implode. They would all stand around congratulating each other on their diversity and being sad about everyone elses’ lack of diversity.

And you thought Captain Planet sucked.

I want royalties.

Comment from JuliaM
Time: July 14, 2010, 6:50 am

“Up next: Captain Diversity. “

It’s (almost) been done!

“Captain Euro (real name Adam Andros) is the son of “a famous European Ambassador”, a professor of palaeontology and a polyglot. After a motor accident one of his knees was replaced with a metal alloy joint, but he is otherwise “in peak physical condition”.

He runs the Twelve Stars Organisation, a group which seeks to “defend the security of Europe and uphold the values of the Union”.”

Comment from Sarah
Time: July 14, 2010, 7:29 am

Ninja Turtles was a favorite among all five of us when we were kids. (Yep – I have four sibs – not talkin’ about alternate personalities here…not this time, anyway.) The 80s version wasn’t bad at all, even as repeats that I’m watching now on DVD.

Comment from surly ermine
Time: July 14, 2010, 12:44 pm

Not exactly a cartoon but I loved the BBC stop-motion animated Paddington. Not just sucking up to you Brits. It aired round these parts on Nickelodeon back when they had shows for children instead of the how-to-be-a-smartass training videos they show now. I bought the whole dang series on DVD from Amazon UK. The kids love me for it (wink). Marmalade sandwich anyone?

Comment from steve
Time: July 14, 2010, 12:56 pm

In the end….I believe that you have to give strong consideration to the non-cartoon genre, as these produced both the best and the worst.

Captain Scarlet….a British offering where stupid puppets (you could see the strings and everything) are flying early model Starwars type X-Wing fighters or something, continuously winning the battle against the evil bad guys, largely because the Captain Scarlet character was “indestructible” (not unlike the Bruce Willis character in Unbreakable) I mean…It is not too hard to see who ultimately wins the war if you can blow the good guy and his X-Wing fighter to tiny tiny pieces and he simply shows up in the next scene, with a brandy new fighter and no worse for wear!

Lancelot Link, Secret Chimp!….
You may have to follow scr_north’s special chemical preparation regimen (see previous thread) to get your full entertainment value out of this particular offering….But it is the clear winner, believe you me!

Comment from Enas Yorl
Time: July 14, 2010, 2:17 pm

Ha! Lancelot Link was The Bomb! But was that a show all on its own, or part of the Banana Splits?

Comment from Formerly known as Skeptic
Time: July 14, 2010, 2:36 pm

One Banana, two bananas, three bananas, four… Oh, now you’re really taking me back.

Comment from Some Vegetable
Time: July 14, 2010, 3:50 pm

Captain Planet is no doubt the brain(sic)child of Jane Fonda as that show had all the earmarks (sorosmarks?) of a propaganda program intiated at a cocktail party by a liberal who knows what’s good for people. All the children need is reeducation!

So she turns to Ted, who benevolently drunk (Ted Turner not dead Ted!) turns to a minion and says, “Make it so”. Jane shows up for the kickoff meeting and likes the characters and the theme song. It thereafter continues to provide gainful employment for animators and voice actors for many years since neither Ted nor Jane ever get up before 11 am on a Saturday morning.

I really miss Rocky and Bullwinkle… and Professor Peabody and his boy Sherman .

Comment from steve
Time: July 14, 2010, 4:06 pm

Speaking of Rocky and Bullwinkle…

From the twisted mind of Jay Ward was a short lived, very clever Fractured Flickers television show….

Anyone who ever saw it would know what I am talking about….to the rest of you….I am sad you missed it. It was one of the best.

Comment from Roman Wolf
Time: July 14, 2010, 4:44 pm

Huzzah! I caused a Weasel post! Thundercats Hooo!

Anyways, Rocky and Bullwinkle were awesome. I mean, they had legitimate baddies in it, soviet spies. Peabody and Sherman rocked too.

Oh, one of the best cartoon/video game villains during my childhood was Carmen Sandiego. I mean, what young boy wouldn’t love a female super villain who had such a nice body and wore a red trench coat and fedora…

I use to also watch the game show version of Carmen Sandiego. It was(at least for me) fun and educational!

I think I saw maybe three Banana Split episodes in my whole life…but those three are all that is required to scar a child for life.

Comment from Roman Wolf
Time: July 14, 2010, 4:55 pm

surly ermine,

I remember watching Paddington on Nickelodeon when I was younger. Use to love it. Great show. And yeah, the cartoon networks have really gone downhill.

On an off-topic note, surly, I really love your artwork. It really is top notch. Heck, between you and Weasel, it makes me want to take my pencil back up and draw again.

Comment from Uncle Badger
Time: July 14, 2010, 7:36 pm

Couldn’t agree more, steve, about Captain Scarlet – or, indeed, any of that Jerry Anderson puppet stuff.

I think it must be ‘an age thing’ though as, clearly, Team Amerca was a sort of homage to it.

Comment from Scubafreak
Time: July 14, 2010, 8:26 pm

Yes, but did Captain Scarlet feature hardcore puppet sex? 😉

Comment from mommer
Time: July 14, 2010, 8:50 pm

Robot Chicken does a “where are they now” of Thunder Cats. Seriously funny. It’s on you tube. Check out their Star wars too.

Comment from Scubafreak
Time: July 14, 2010, 9:25 pm

Actually, if you want a whole new universe of SUCK, try THE GOBOTS….

Comment from Allen
Time: July 14, 2010, 9:30 pm

A few years ago an interesting cartoon came out: Samurai Jack. It was a strange show, and sure as hell not for kids. I couldn’t decide if I liked it, or it sucked.

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: July 14, 2010, 9:57 pm

Sarah, the ninja turtles were thought up by a couple of stoner comic book guys one night.

“Dude, what animal would make the worst ninja ever?”
“Dude, a turtle!”

Samurai Jack was cool to look at, Allen, but ultimately that wasn’t enough to make it interesting through whole episodes. The Powerpuff Girls, on the other hand, was both arty and fun.

Comment from Pupster
Time: July 14, 2010, 10:30 pm


Comment from S. Weasel
Time: July 14, 2010, 10:56 pm

That was paired with Cow and Chicken wasn’t it, Pups? Loved ’em both.

Comment from Enas Yorl
Time: July 14, 2010, 11:08 pm

I can’t believe no one’s mentioned Ren & Stimpy yet. Those were fun.

Comment from BigBlueBug
Time: July 14, 2010, 11:48 pm

Soul rending:


Yay Banana Splits! Danger Island. Chongo!

Johny Quest was awesome.

The Pink Panther.

Josey and the pussycats (Precursor of the Spice Tarts mebbee).

Deputy Dog.

Wally Gator.

Ah, good times.

Comment from BigBlueBug
Time: July 14, 2010, 11:50 pm

Gumby and Pokey

Road Runner

Comment from Gromulin
Time: July 15, 2010, 12:36 am

Lancelot link was the bestest. I have a copy of a Lancelot Link: Secret Chimp comic book that I found in the flotsam a few years back. My Mom saved the strangest stuff for me.

If I had to name my two main role models from childhood, it would have to be Bugs Bunny and Jethro Bodine. Such was the power of TV in the early 70’s. And I could’a done worse!

Comment from EZnSF
Time: July 15, 2010, 1:32 am

Ren and Stimpy was great. Right up there with Looney Tunes. Netflix just added them to their streaming. As well as Beavis and Butthead, another classic.

Comment from Bill (still the .00358% of your traffic that’s from Iraq) T
Time: July 16, 2010, 12:42 pm

“Wonderama” with Sandy Becker!

Don’t look at me like that — we *did* have television in the ’50s, yanno. My dad did a guest stint on “Tom Corbett: Space Cadet” with me as the visual aid — providing a graphic demonstration that an eight-year-old kid wearing a pilot’s life vest turns into a tangerine with legs when the sucker is inflated.

If he’d done that *these* days, the asshats at DYFS would have had everybody involved locked up for child endangerment.

Comment from Sockless Joe
Time: July 17, 2010, 5:21 am

I break it down into toys vs no-toys.

Toys: He-Man, Thundercats, Voltron, Transformers, GI Joe.

No Toys: Tom & Jerry, the Warner Bros stuff (Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Road Runner, etc.), Chilly Willy, Woody Woodpecker, Pink Panther, Flintstones, Super Friends.

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