Saturday, February 6, 2016

Top 5 Saturday Morning Cartoons - Saturday Morning Weirdness

One of the things that I miss the most about my childhood is getting up early on a Saturday morning, pouring about six bowls of cereal and watching my cartoons.  It was the best time of the week for me and while my parents slept, the house and the TV were all mine.  I would watch anything and everything and while there were plenty of stinkers (I'm looking at you, Rubik, the Amazing Cube), there were more than enough great shows to keep me enthralled.  My only rule for the list is that I had to have watched them when they originally aired.  There are a bunch of reasons why these shows are in my Top 5, but in the end, these were the shows that made me happy as a kid and still hold a place in my heart.  So, here are my picks for Top 5 Saturday Morning Cartoons.

5. Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids

I know that it's not a popular thing to say nowadays (and for very serious reasons), but as a kid, I loved Bill Cosby. His comedy was filled with funny stories with a fleshed out group of kids that just made me laugh and laugh. Part of the appeal were the crazy names like Weird Harold, Dumb Donald and Mushmouth, but I loved them all. So, when I turned on the TV and Fat Albert and the Junkyard Gang (I don't call them the Cosby Kids) were all there, I couldn't help but be hooked. I even went against my policy of never watching anything that teaches a lesson (who needs that!) because I was too busy laughing at Russell telling Rudy that he was "Like school in the summertime". Seriously, I should owe Bill Cosby money for how many times I used that line! Plus, every lesson was followed by a song and boy, did I love those songs. That leads to one of the biggest mysteries of my youth...where the hell did Rudy get that electric guitar? While the rest of the Junkyard Gang were banging and strumming on what were part garbage dump, part steam punk wonders, Rudy was jamming away on a real guitar. Plus, the thing was personalized with a sunburst "R". Way to rub it in Rudy! Of course I thought the worse, but I didn't care too much because I preferred the homemade ones so much more. Hey, who of us didn't try to make a radiator accordion/tuba/whatever the hell it was??? I'll move on now, but not before giving you the best damn theme song of all-time...

4. Scooby-Doo, Where are You?

As a little kid, Scooby-Doo combined my love (and frustration ) of Encyclopedia Brown books and my crazy fears of anything and everything into a nice little cartoon package that made me happy. While people complain about the sameness of every episode and laugh at the "It was old man (insert old man name here) all along" endings, that's why I loved it.  It didn't make me feel stupid (like that damn Encyclopedia Brown) or scare me (like everything) and for that, I'll always be grateful.  Of course, I also loved the characters.  Shaggy and Scooby are one of the greatest duos in the history of the World and while everyone was shipping Fred and Daphne, I kind of was a Velma man, myself. Throw the Mystery Machine into the mix and I would sit with my bowl of cereal every Saturday and watch and watch and watch.  For Scooby-Doo, I will leave you with the Mathew Sweet version of the theme song...

3. Super Friends

Like a lot of kids my age, the Super Friends (and it's many iterations) were my gateway into comics and DC Comics in particular and I'm still not sure that was a good thing! I'm joking, of course, because I still love the show and it's innocent goofiness. While it helped ruin Aquaman for my generation, it also gave us the Legion of Doom and the Wonder Twins. I know that you're thinking that Zan and Jayna were lame, but that didn't stop me and my friends from giving each other the precursor of the fist bump and yell, "Wonder Twins Power, Activate". Of course, we'd usually yell really inappropriate things like, "Shape ice dildo" and laugh our asses off, but hey, we were kids. I was not a big fan of Gleek, but that's a story for another day. What I was a fan of were the secondary characters and villains that I was introduced to...Firestorm, Hawkman, Toyman, Apache Chief, El Dorado, Wondazarro, Gorilla Grodd...the list goes on and on. It's corny, cheesy and a little bit racist, but i can't help it, I love it. I leave you with the awesome Legion of Doom roll call from the first episode of Challenge of the Superfriends...

PS: I hated Wendy and Marvin!

2. Dungeons and Dragons

My guess is this will be the pick on this list that most people will have an issue with. I know that it's not a great cartoon, but I didn't care then and I don't care now. While it came out at the end of my big Saturday Morning Cartoon days (I was about to turn 14), it was about my biggest obsession at the time, Dungeons and Dragons, and I really couldn't get enough. The premise about six friends who were transported to "The Realm of Dungeons & Dragons" while riding a roller coaster was enough for me and while I was a little weirded out by Dungeon Master, I loved the adventures as the kids battled helped people, battled the evil wizard, Vengar, and tried to find their way home. The big tragedy was that the series was canceled before the heroes had the chance to do so. While this is the one cartoon that my kids hated on this list, I had a great time watching the first episode again and may have a review or two in the near future. For this entry, I'm going to leave you with a video of the radio drama based on an unaired script that finally gives the fans of the show some closure...

1.Thundarr the Barbarian

From 1980 to 1982, Thundarr was my show. It combined so many elements that were big for me at the time, Science Fiction, Fantasy, Star Wars...that I couldn't get enough. Set in the future of 3994 AD, the post-apocalyptic setting was dark and gritty and felt more real to me than any of the other cartoons on this list. However, two things sealed the deal for me...the Sunsword and Ookla the Mok. It was obvious that these were ripoffs of the lightsaber and Chewbacca, but I did not care one damn bit. It made me laugh later on when I heard of the behind the scenes battles about adding Ookla because without him, I don't know if I would have been as big a fan. By the way, all you He-Man fans can suck it, Thundarr is so much better! Reggie is also a huge Thundarr fan and there will definitely be a review or six of Thundarr in this column in the near future, I promise. For now, I leave you with the awesome Thundarr intro and closing credits. You may notice a huge comic legend listed as a character designer...

Honorable mention: The Flintstones, The Jetsons, Bugs Bunny/Roadrunner, Speed Buggy
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  1. Demon Dogs! To the Thundarr the Barbarian DVD collection, we ride!

  2. I forgot all about Thundarr!! Wasn't that the one with lots of pet dinosaur creatures?? One of them was all white I think. Voltron was my top cartoon as a kid followed closely by Transformers and Gobots.

    1. Manship your thinking of Herculoids.
      As for my fav Saturday Cartoons it had to be:
      Street Sharks
      Spider-Man animated series
      X-men animated series
      Batman animated series

      With honorable mentions to:
      Coyote & Roadrunner

    2. ahh, the Herculoids! A list like this is so dependent on your age...I loved X-men animated series and Batman animated series, but never watched them on Saturday and actually saw them years and years after they aired.

  3. Herculoids nice call Anthony! I loved that show. Loved me some Thundercats too snarf snarf.

  4. I also loved the Dungeons & Dragons cartoon and spent an inordinate amount of my childhood trying to mimic Uni the unicorn's bleating

  5. D & D cartoon was a lot of fun. I remember really digging the Muppet Babies and Alvin and the Chipmunks as well.

    I remember the themes to Soul Train and WWF Superstars signalling the end of that week's cartoon fun.

    Good times, thanks for the post Jim.

    1. Soul Train was the end of the cartoons...but not the fun!


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