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Jul 13, 2011

LIST MANIA - FAVORITE SATURDAY MORNING CARTOONS

Well my friend at RUPERT PUPKIN SPEAKS has done it again, another nostalgic idea for a list, in this case - favorite Saturday Morning Cartoons.

Ok so it's not cinema related, but TV, so the film snob in me is taking holiday to post this list. Then again, the 10 year old me couldn't exactly get out to the movie theater without some sort of parental assistance, so most of my time was spent in front of the television obsessing over shows like THE DUKES OF HAZZARD, KNIGHT RIDER, WONDER WOMAN, MASH, re-runs of THE TWILIGHT ZONE and my two all-time favorites - STAR TREK and THE A-TEAM (I believe I favored THE A-TEAM slightly over STAR TREK).

As Rupert mentions on his blog, Saturday morning cartoons were marketing tools getting me to ask my parents for the associated toys (seriously they even had a cartoon with a Rubik's cube), video games and also tie-ins for live action shows. I was a big fan of cartoons based on live-action shows that were already on the air (as you will see below) and all featured the same voice talent from their live-action counterpart in pretty silly situations. Like for instance the Duke boys raced Boss Hogg and Roscoe in the General Lee around the world for Uncle Jesse's farm. Laverne and Shirley joined the army, and their commanding officer was...well...a talking pig. The Happy Days gang ended up traveling through time with a cutie from outer-space. The list goes on.

Then you had your SCOOBY-DOO clones, teenagers solving mysteries with help from some sort of animal or creature (i.e. JABBERJAW, CASPER AND THE SPACE ANGELS or CAPTAIN CAVEMAN AND THE TEEN ANGELS).

And let's not forget the team ups. SCOOBY'S ALL-STAR LAFF-A-LYMPICS had all the Hanna Barbera characters competing in events. THE FLINTSTONES were popular, as was THE SHMOO so team them up and you have BEDROCK COPS.

Speaking of THE FLINTSTONES, there are so many variations - THE FLINTSTONES COMEDY HOUR, BEDROCK COPS, PEBBLES AND BAMM-BAMM, THE FLINTSTONE KIDS, etc. that it's hard to keep track of them all. THE SUPER-FRIENDS also had variations, as did other shows.

Like most TV shows, these cartoons evolved. Characters had families and babies (PAC-MAN and PLASTIC MAN for instance), some shows like the HARLEM GLOBETROTTERS had the characters become super-heroes (this also happened to THE THREE STOOGES, etc.)

During the week you could not get me up in time for school, but on Saturday, I was up like clockwork at 6am and in front of the TV. Later in the 90s and 00s, I still got up and watched Kids WB shows - although maybe not quite so early.

Big omission here is the LOONEY TUNES hour, but let's face it, that's just a given that it was a big hit with me on Saturday morning not to mention that it was a show featuring theatrical shorts so I am sticking strictly to made-directly-for-TV titles.

Now of course my animation watching revolves around Disney XD and Cartoon Network's Adult Swim, but I am a big fan of the Cartoon Network spin-off Boomerang which features classic cartoons.

Some of the titles I watched were re-runs from before my time (three of them) but since they were on and I watched them, they count.

As the motto for Boomerang goes "It's all coming back to you now", well it did at that as assembling this list was an absolute blast from the past.

So in no particular order, join me in a revisit to my well spent Saturday mornings in front of the TV.



BATTLE OF THE PLANETS

This show kicked some serious butt. G-Force in their bird like costumes, and the Phoenix, their plane that when it was time to go into battle mode lit up in flames. Also the intro was just awesome.




CHALLENGE OF THE SUPER-FRIENDS

How can you go wrong here? Take the core superheroes - Wonder Woman, Batman, Superman, Green Lantern, Aquaman, etc. - team them up and have them do battle with their villain counterparts - Cheetah, Brainiac, Lex Luthor, Toyman, Sinestro, etc. - who are also teamed up and hang out in a Darth Vader like HQ.

Getting rid of the Wonder Twins + Gleek from the earlier SUPER-FRIENDS cartoons, and stories that were a lot more geek-out inducing, this show had it all.

The opening alone gives me goosebumps. Finding it on YouTube to post here, I've played it like four times since then.





STAR TREK: THE ANIMATED SERIES

Cast from the original series (minus Chekov) here in full effect continuing the voyages of the Starship Enterprise.

Captain Kirk/Shatner animated. Need I say more?




SATURDAY SUPERCADE

Hey so you can play video games, and watch them in their individual shows. SATURDAY SUPERCADE was a cavalcade of Video game characters such as DONKEY KONG, Q*BERT, PITFALL, FROGGER, DONKEY KONG, JR., etc. in their own segments. No quarters required.




SUPER GLOBETROTTERS

The Harlem Globetrotters had their own cartoon show, then later became super-heroes. Most episodes ended with a high stakes basketball game.




PAC-MAN

Another video game adaptation, here we have Pac-Man important enough to have his own show with Ms. Pac-Man and later Baby Pac as well.




ALVIN AND THE CHIPMUNKS

Forget the annoying series of recent movies (with a 3rd on the way this Christmas - in 3D at that) and let's go back to the Chipmunks when Alvin got them into loads of trouble and in between they sang high pitched versions of popular songs.

The intro is very catchy.





TRANSFORMERS

More than meets the eye. I mean come on....if you were male and growing up in the 1980s it was this or G.I. JOE or both. And the toys were just too darn cool.

Michael Bay did us all a solid by using Peter Cullen, the original voice of Optimus Prime in his series of movies. That addition made me a little more receptive to the movies, more than I should be.




THE REAL GHOSTBUSTERS

So there was this show called THE GHOSTBUSTERS which featured two dudes and an ape, so this show, based on the movie, had to add REAL to the title. Slimer became a friend/mascot to the Ghostbusters, and the show did a great job of emulating the characters from the movies (and happily, Winston Zeddemore had a lot more input in this than he did in those).

This show was more mid-80s, and I may have been getting to that point where I should have been slowing down on cartoons but heck no. IT'S GHOSTBUSTERS FOR CRYING OUT LOUD!!!





GILLIGAN'S PLANET

Man those castaways just can't get a break. They build a spaceship, and end up stranded on a planet.

Voiced by the GILLIGAN'S ISLAND cast (all except Tina Louise who was desperate to distance herself from the show, so Dawn Wells did double duty as Mary-Ann and Ginger).






GODZILLA

He stomped on Tokyo, battled monsters from outer space and other regions, but yes even Godzilla can be domesticated. Group of scientists on a boat get in adventures, they need help, they call Godzilla who comes up and lends them a hand like a good dog.

Great intro, starts off serious...builds up...and then...well...Godzooki. It is a kid's show after all, but still, what a buzz kill.





THE INCREDIBLE HULK

HULK SMASH!!! Later this show was joined up with SPIDER-MAN AND HIS AMAZING FRIENDS as a Marvel hour. I dug that version of Spidey. Didn't add to this list because another SPIDER-MAN makes the cut (see below). Rupert has it on his.





THE PLASTIC MAN COMEDY ADVENTURE SHOW

Plastic Man, now member of the Justice League, was another character who ended up with a few different shows - and yes, he gets married and Baby Plas enters the picture. I remember this show being very funny.

Oh and just so you know, it has comedy AND adventure. The title spells it out for you.




THE MORK & MINDY / LAVERNE & SHIRLEY / FONZ SHOW

Hey so remember when I mentioned Laverne and Shirley going into the army and being commanded by a pig? Well here is is. Yeah these were all separate shows at one point (except MORK I think), but the powers that be just combined the three shows into one. Notice from HAPPY DAYS only the Fonz gets billing. Well...we all know Ron Howard gets the last laugh in the form of an Oscar...so take that Henry Winkler.

Oh yeah...all original live-action counterpart voices including Penny Marshall and Robin Williams.




FONZ AND THE HAPPY DAYS GANG

The first of the Marshall shows to get animated, this one has the full Happy Days crew stuck on a time machine with a clumsy "space cutie" trying to get back to 1950s Milwaukee so they can get a malt at Arnold's.

The Fonz gets a dog that is just as cool as he is.





CAPTAIN CAVEMAN AND THE TEEN ANGELS

I seriously loved this show. When Captain Cavemen gave his trademark yell...yeah loved it. And no I didn't just do it myself....well...ok I did.





SCOOBY'S ALL-STAR LAFF-A-LYMPICS

I am a sucker for team-ups and cross overs (hey when Jessica Fletcher went on MAGNUM P.I. I was all over that). So here we have a show that featured almost all of the Hanna Barbera cartoon characters competing in events. The bad guys had their own team, and the other 2 teams had better sportsmanlike conduct.





THE DUKES

As I mentioned in the intro, the Duke boys (Coy & Vance in season 1 as it was made during the infamous Duke Boy strike, and Bo & Luke in season 2) are in the General Lee racing Boss Hogg and Roscoe P. Coltrane around the world for the deed to Uncle Jesse's farm. Seems like a lot of effort over such a small prize, but hey I didn't care. Hope they had their passports updated.




SPIDER-MAN (1960s edition)

I'm going to do something here I almost never do - admit that I'm a Canadian (albeit one that wishes he were American but that is another story for another blog).

My beginning cartoon memories are really from the mid-late 1970s and the 1980s, but this 1960s show got so much air play in Canada, that I think I saw every episode at least 40 times - probably more.

You see Canada has these (political soapbox here) annoying "cultural" laws that dictate TV stations must show Canadian content to protect its "cultural identity". This was a Canada/USA co-production, so it counted as such and therefore was on all the time.

I may not be the biggest fan of CanCon, but hey I was young, I didn't know. The theme song was cool, I dug the show. SPIDER-MAN AND HIS AMAZING FRIENDS was a lot cooler.





ROCKET ROBIN HOOD

Not sure how much airplay this got south of the border, but another one of those 1960s Canadian efforts that got a lot of airplay in Canada.

Ok I dug it. Some episodes were annoying and the animation was bad, but hey who cares.





FAT ALBERT AND THE COSBY KIDS

Hey, hey, hey! Loved this show. And one of the coolest shows that had a message by the end, but so cool that you really didn't notice you were being taught something. Well, at least I didn't.




THE BEDROCK COPS

One of the many FLINTSTONES shows, this one featuring Fred & Barney as cops, teamed up with the ever-popular Shmoo. Don't ask me why I liked this...I just did. Ok so I'm a sucker for team-ups.

I also kind of dug the FLINTSTONES show that had them living next to Frank Frankenstone and his MUNSTERS-like family. Yeah Frankenstone and Fred, not the most ideal neighbors.




THE MIGHTY HERCULES

This show had so many annoying elements - yeah another one of those Canadian shows - but I don't know, I just got hooked.

Every episode was the same. The villain separated Hercules from his ring, almost defeats him, then he gets it, puts it on and kicks their butt.

There was this centaur...Newton I believe...most annoying animated character...EVER ("That's me, that's me!"). So why is this on the list?? Chalk it up to the Canadian "cultural" brainwashing.