Wednesday, May 26, 2010
I consider myself a child of the 80's. Sure I was born right on the cusp of the 1970's, but it's the popular culture of the 80's that I remember the most. So when Warner Bros. sent me a copy of Saturday Morning Cartoons: 1980's, watching it was a sure thing. I loved cartoons as a kid. Heck, I love cartoons as an adult. Thinking back to my childhood immediately recalls images from "Scooby Doo," "Superfriends," "The Flintstones" and many, many more. As I got older I was drawn to the more realistic-- though you wouldn't call it that by today's standards-- animation of shows like "Robotech." But it wasn't until I got my copy of the "Saturday Morning Cartoons" collection that I realized how much my love of fantasy had been influenced by the cartoons I had spent hours watching when I was younger. Because this is a Warner Bros. collection you're not going to have every cartoon you might remember from the 80's. What? No "Thundercats?" How can that be? But it's fun to pop in the discs and gradually recall cartoons you forgot you ever watched. The first disc includes the cheesy wonderfulness of "Mr. T." ("My first name is Mister. My middle name is that little period. And my last name is T?") Was is just last night I noticed Mr. T's voice in "Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs?"And here I am watching his cartoon from the 80's. But wait, Mr. T isn't the only 80's tough guy who had a cartoon based on him-- that's right, Chuck Norris makes an appearance too! And it doesn't take long to realize that the days of political correctness had not yet arrived as Chuck goes on his adventures with a sumo wrestler (wearing his tiny costume no less), a samurai warrior and a ninja in all their stereotypical glory. Awesome. Also included are the 80's version of a female Richie Rich in "Goldie Gold and Action Jack,"-- with the distinctive ridiculousness of indoor helicopter flying and villains dressed up as Aztec warriors-- and a few episodes of "The Flintstone Kids." But it's the second disc that really caught my eye. Three words. "Thundarr the Barbarian." Oh man. I loved this cartoon. And I gotta mention that it was kind of surreal watching Thundarr today because I had just read a post over at Razored Zen on "Sword and Planet" fantasy that describes Thundarr to the letter (at least as much as I can recall). I should mention that the first disc has a documentary on "Thundarr the Barbarian" that is pretty interesting, but the real draw for me was watching the cartoon itself. It was also an eye-opener to watch all of the cartoons on this particular disc because so many of them have a sword-and-sorcery theme to them, and it's impossible to deny the impact they must have had on my young mind (which is also a somewhat disturbing realization when I think about the cartoons aimed at my kids today). I couldn't have told you the name of "Galtar and the Golden Lance" on a dare, but as soon as the first episode started playing I immediately recognized the characters; though my memory was a bit sketchy when it came to "Dragon's Lair." Another thing I noticed about this collection is that turning your favorite characters into kids was a big thing at that time. This particular collection mainly features "The Flinstone Kids" and "Captain Caveman and Son," and seeing these immediately brings to mind "Muppet Babies" and "A Pup Named Scooby Doo" (though these are not included in the collection). Throw in "The Kwicky Koala Show," "The Monchhichis," "The Biskitts," and "The Completely Mental Misadventures of Ed Grimely," and you have a seriously eclectic group of cartoons. I had a lot of fun watching these old cartoons. They're not nearly as slick as what you'll see today, in fact I'd say they're hokey, but there's something great about getting all nostalgic with your favorite childhood memories. If I had the perfect collection, I'd have a set that includes "Voltron," "He Man," and "Superfriends"-- just to name a few. But this set is a good beginning, and did I mention it has "Thundarr the Barbarian?"