Posts Tagged ‘childhood

15
Jun
18

My First TV Crush, Caroline Ellis

*****

 

I am not sure what brought this back into my mind, recently, but I found myself tripping back to my young roots and the first TV shows I watched.  [Ya might take a guess at my age from this.]  I was about 4 years old when a show called The Bugaloos was on TV.  I am pretty sure I was four because there was a girl in my kindergarten class who had a hairdo much like the one “Joy,” the pink butterfly-girl, had.  I also knew a girl down the street who looked A LOT like Joy/Caroline (around the time Caroline supposedly had a child of her own, which would have floored me and broke my little heart back then).  And, if I didn’t already have a crush on the girl’s big sister–and if the little sister wasn’t so young–I might have given that little Sally Field-wannabe a second look.  Same bright smile.  Same sweet voice minus the British accent.  It was a look and a time; I tell ya.

If you knew me, it would not come as much of a surprise to hear I grew up watching A LOT of TV.  So many shows came and went, including The Bugaloos.  And, so many shows were “syndicated” (a word I did not know the meaning of for a long time).  They originated more than a decade before I would see them.  But, they were my first TV experiences.  Seeing Martha Raye as the “villain” of The Bugaloos…I now remember why I was so fixated with Lady Elaine from Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood; she had a similar protruding nose and complexion.  For so long, I couldn’t figure out why that nose stuck in my mind; it was Martha Raye’s character from The Bugaloos, Benita Bizarre.

And, when I first heard that theme song for The Bugaloos…and saw this breathtaking blonde girl fluttering around in a butterfly costume…I was on Cloud 9.  I was floating on air.  She was like an angel to little me.  I only saw maybe 4 episodes of the 17 that were supposedly made.  But, I just have to pull a clip up on YouTube (bless that video service) to zip back to those days of me in my fuzzy pajama suit and gorilla slippers……

[I remember watching The Great Spacecoaster (a few years later), and looked that one up, too.  I remember the little video screen long before we ever had a tablet with a slot you could fill with an SD card full of videos.   Just the sound that folding viewer would make when it started…and that old footage of “A Witch’s Day Out!”  But, I could not remember the brown-haired girl’s face as well as I remembered Joy from The Bugaloos.]

Can you imagine?  A boy just 4 years old having a hormonal reaction from this butterfly girl who wasn’t flashing anything but a brilliant smile, twinkling eyes, glossy hair and loooooong legs (before I even thought women’s legs were worth ogling).  [I’ve always been more of a face, hair and chest guy.]  And then I went to kindergarten and fell for a girl who was like a young Caroline Ellis, fighting over her with another boy.

So, why do I go on about this now?  Normally, I write a piece like this when it’s the woman’s birthday.  Well, as I said, it just came back to me.  And, here I am looking it–her–up online, finding out she’s only 67?  Gosh.  And, her astrology–aside from being a Metal Tiger year (sigh)–is great…and she’s 5 ft 9 in…  I would have been half her size as a kid, looking up at her like a giant angel.  I think I might have even dreamt of her as an angel in blue like the blue fairy from Disney’s Pinocchio.  And, now she’s practically my size.  Oh the places my imagination goes.  🙂

[I just watched the episode titled “Firefly, Light My Fire.  And, the moment the Bugaloos gathered around the fallen Sparky, my heart nearly exploded from my chest.  I remember dreaming of that moment as a kid, imagining I was Sparky, meeting the Bugaloos in their forest, being nursed back to life by Joy.  And, in the episode “Courage, Come Home,” seeing Joy sing that opening “fly away” song brings a tear to my eye.]

If you’re out there, long-legged Libra butterfly, Caroline, bundle of Joy, and you happen to read this, know that I listened to that interview you did when?   And, I agree with many of the comments people left below.  Your smile, your voice–even though you felt you were talking slowly (it didn’t sound that much slower than you talked in the interview)–that hair and that costume.  You were and still are a precious piece of my youth.  And, I think there’s still a spark of that magical girl still in you.

It wasn’t real magic.  I knew, even then, you weren’t really flying.   [Though I had no idea green screening was a thing back then; ‘laying on boxes?]  But, you were…are magical to me.  [And, it would not surprise me if I wrote a piece like this on this blog some years ago.  That darn deja vu keeps flashing in my head.]

I know you said you’re very private.  [I am quite private, myself, except when my heart yearns to speak like this.]  But, you also told the guy who did the interview that he should have sent a fan letter (even though he said he couldn’t get an address).  If I could, I’d write you a fan letter.  And, if you’d write me back, I’d keep in touch and travel back in time to being that little boy infatuated to the tips of my toes with that pink butterfly from across the pond……

 

BuNdLe of JoY

****

[My email box is open. <3]

[And, from there, it’s just a hop, buzz and trampoline jump to my “snail mail” box.]

 

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17
Aug
17

New, New, New, New…Reruns?

****

Have you ever seen the movie Back to the Future?  And, do you recall the part when Marty, in the past, claims a certain black-and-white TV show is a rerun before the kid in the room asks, “What’s a rerun?”  I find myself revisiting that scene as I realize the perception differences of kids and adults, especially in this modern age of DVRs and internet access to just about everything.

When I was a kid, the family had one TV, maybe two later on when I was nearing my teens.  I didn’t think about reruns.  But, they were there.  I was immersed in SYNDICATION, watching shows that had originally aired about a decade ago but were playing again and again in my day.  I didn’t think much about the strangeness of fashions, makeup or hairstyles.  If the show was black-and-white, it was too old for me.  If the jokes didn’t make sense, I really wasn’t thinking about them.  I was merely watching grown-ups be silly or cartoons in general.  If my family laughed, I considered laughing.  Only one sis ever laughed every time someone else laughed first.  Even at an early age, I would not be the pawn of the laugh track or “live studio audience.”

People would say, “TV rots your brain.”  And, us “rebels” would watch all we could and think nothing of it.  Despite all the TV I watched, it didn’t seem to impact my attention span.  I always thought I was a good student, a good listener.  I became a well-behaved, patient adult.

Nowadays, families have TVs in multiple rooms and some kind of device receiving a signal that can either transmit “broadcast” TV shows or “internet TV”/”web TV.”  They can skip commercials and zip from one show to the next with the flick of a finger.  And, if commercial breaks aren’t littered with mindless ads for cars and services like “wireless” television, at-home education, retirement options and ways to cut corners for the financially challenged (like the only people who should be watching TV are stay-at-home parents, retired folks, unemployed bums and future thieves?)…there’s this constant drive for what’s NEW.  Yet, the promise of NEW is fleeting and makes one feel like a desert wanderer waiting for some chopper to deliver water.

My nephews, possibly as a result, have the attention spans of fleas. They struggle to get through a whole show that may only be 20 minutes long.  They want to know what’s next.  What’s new.  And, though the magic box promises new essentially daily, flashing timers and such to announce the oncoming glimmers of delight, the actual NEW is kinda like expecting a response from a letter to Kris Kringle.

They are dazzled by the commercials I, now as an adult, would rather skip.  Truth be told, most commercials aren’t as nearly entertaining as they were when I was little.  But, maybe it’s just a matter of perspective?  These lame ads I see are new to them, not me.  Well, some are new to me but annoying to watch over and over.  Heck, I don’t remember getting tired of seeing certain commercials as a kid.  I didn’t look forward to commercials, either, but they were rarely if ever bothersome.

And, while I grew up not minding or even noticing reruns, these kids may or may not notice reruns.  But, once they DO realize they’ve seen something before, their reactions are mixed.  Sometimes, they want to see the same show, again (provided it’s something they have watched in the last few days or weeks, as they like to replay even the shortest of video clips).  Or, I hear them sounding like adults when they say, “This one, again?  Why isn’t it a new one?”

As a big kid myself, I think of a not-so-old episode of Teen Titans Go! in which Robin warns the other team members about “the spicy life,” the pursuit of increased spiciness.  People get tantalized into chasing NEW to keep the economy flowing and, consequentially, stimulating impulse shopping (which often empties people’s pockets to the point of concern/neglect).  It’s not healthy to anything but the economy, and even that is questionable.

The promise of NEW.

Why can’t we be comfortable with what we already have and enjoy?  As the old saying goes, “If it ain’t broke, why fix it?”  And, if it needs fixing, let’s work that out.

It doesn’t take a genius to see people are struggling to keep coming up with new ideas in some areas.  Maybe they’re burnt out.  Instead of replacing them, maybe we just need to relax and get comfortable with…dare I say it…routine.  And, let new ideas be a blessing from above, not something we force from the cow for fleeting profits.

 

30
Mar
17

I Miss You, Chocolate House

*****

MissYou-ChocolateHouse-pianomansurprise_ap-1J

*****
What iIiIiIs Easter fun without you?! What iIiIiIs?! I don’t know anymoOoOre!

 

And, what…what will tomorrow bring? In a world…where you don’t exist?
What…what will I eat on holidays? Well, I know…I know what is missed.
Love bring you back where you belooong. Where my spirit flies…on whipped-cream-mountain highs. Love bring you back where you belooong. Where the chocolate flows. Where the clear favorite goes. [My mouth…is where I was going with that one.]

 

We used to have something special, you and I.
You were the sugar daddy to my childhood dreams.
You were countless flavors of whipped cream magic wrapped up in a thin layer of heavenly sweet milk or dark chocolate.
You were Easter morning surprises in a colorful basket lined with plastic grass.
You were the company that kindly answered the first formal letter I ever composed with an awesome care package.
You were the legalized pot of gold shop my family visited annually to keep everyone happy at an otherwise gloomy time of year.
You were the McDonald’s of desserts without a line of mascots; fast food that brought great pleasure and always put a smile on my face. [Well, maybe not those maple cream eggs…or the fruit and nut ones. Those were kinda gross.]
You were bigger than minty “shamrock” milkshakes.
You were bigger than Cadbury…to me.

And now, you’re gone?

I mean, you’ve been gone a few years now. But, I still get withdrawal pains. And, every time I see a picture of you or hear your name…? Every time I see one of your lesser competitors? I ache. I weep just a little. I have to stop myself before I break down and cry. Because you were just that big to me.

So, I’m sending out this love letter, hoping it serves me…us well. Please, come back to my area. Or, if you could…if you would…please send me another glorious care package with the glossy cards featuring all the products you produce and the cases of whipped cream eggs I like, particularly the mint, chocolate and vanilla ones.

Thank you.

If I never see you, again, I’ll at least have the memory…albeit a painful one when I have to think about how it all went away.

Come back.

[Fingers touching the screen.]

*Sigh*

28
Feb
17

My Response to “Achiever Mom” (Carolyn Hax)

*****
You can find my response to this and other letters on the designated page. But, while you’re here, have a read.  [You may find a loose end or two as my response kept evolving over a few days.  I finally just decided to post what I had.]

Achiever Mom is concerned about her son who is twelve years old, not exceptional in sports or academics and void of any interest with which she feels able to relate. She mentions her husband as a socially anxious under-achiever and highlights a moment in which her son supposedly chose to forfeit a spelling bee due to a lack of interest in winning/trying. Claiming she grew up grasping at every opportunity she could, this incident made her angry at him for not being more ambitious to achieve greater status.

Carolyn Hax does a decent job of asking Mom to accept her son as he is and let him find his own way. But, Hax seems to be making the assumption the son bailed on the challenge, knowing it would irk his mom, making the son appear more devious than he may be (which could have a negative impact on what the mother does next).

While overall content with the article/response, I felt there were a few details missing, details that might need light shed upon them to better understand and direct the situation at a crucial stage. This case also touches on a personal one, which motivates me to speak out. Thus, the following response is more about my experience and how it may be related to the situation at hand than added advice.

————–

Achiever Mom, you be careful with that boy. I don’t want to scare you, but soon, he will be entering high school, that tumultuous stormy sea between Scylla and Charybdis that tests youth’s metal. He will face temptation, heavier work loads and peer pressure like he has never known. He will be torn between convention and rebellion, between practical and unorthodox. And, if you so much as twist his wrist in an effort to tell him “how it’s done” or fail to teach him how to accept defeat, you could scar him and the connection you have for life.

If you don’t mind reading a novella, I’m content to sit down and discuss this with you for the moment. Getting all of the thoughts out and answers we might benefit from is a tad hard to achieve in half of a newspaper page. Why don’t you make yourself comfortable, take a deep cleansing breath, maybe fix yourself a calming drink and have a go at this.

[FYI, I speak from experience; I was a boy much like your son. I had a father who (without any “inheritance”) boasted military experience (in “peace time”) and a mother who was the self-proclaimed ruler of discipline and organization (as well as the queen of denial). But, I didn’t bail on the spelling bee. I simply fell short and discouraged myself from trying, again, because I had been built up to think I was smarter than I performed and acknowledged for a skill I must not have valued much (until I was older and learned to care more about the full use of words than just spelling them). I made one mistake and didn’t have the nurturing I felt necessary to continue or didn’t see the logic in trying, again. I had no “failure coping skills,” no interest in being less than the best and, to be quite honest, little to no interest in glory from spelling.

There were many other instances in which I had gut instincts to go one way and my parents insisted I go their way. And, in short, because they only accepted doing things my way after it was too late (after I paid the price of going against my gut feeling) or after lengthy protest and stressing out, a rift gradually grew. In just a few years, it grew to the point I lost sight of the childhood love I had for my parents. And, to this day, that love is razor thin; it’s an obligation and an oath, not a comfort or treasure.

I had a hard time talking with my parents about nearly every concern on my mind. And, there were plenty in my early teens. Certain tasks or challenges were deemed too dangerous or unfit for me before I could even attempt them. Where I wanted to try was not always approved. The more often I quit, the less my parents approved of me; and the more I disliked myself. Yet, I could not see any merit in continuing what discouraged and/or hurt me, as well as what seemed “too hard.” I was told I was a good student, but that didn’t seem the case when it came to learning from/with my parents. Confusion does not make a good foundation. And, when later asked by others why I couldn’t do something, I felt too embarrassed to say no one never taught me or that I was afraid to learn. Nor could I easily take what others taught me and apply it at home without my parents objecting strongly.]

Your last little paragraph kind of says it all. You are a tightly wound violin string ready to snap at the kid for a “mocking bow” and potentially never succeeding at anything. You may say it was so, but I don’t know and doubt he was mocking. Nor would I be so harsh to assume he will never succeed at anything; that’s just devastating talk. Get that junk out of your head, doing a weekly sweep if necessary.

[That reminds me of a time when my mother thought I was “faking” weakness/illness/injury. I was actually physically, mentally and emotionally hurt; and she thought I was faking. I don’t remember her saying so when I was in the moment. But, hearing her thoughts, decades later, hurt almost as much as they would have had I heard them as that kid. It explains why I felt so abandoned and helpless at the time, left to fend for myself like a baby bird that fell from the nest. Yet, I didn’t do so well fending for myself. Had I been a bird, I probably would have died or been eaten.]

Whether or not you shake your head at my earlier assessment, let me ask you a valid question (or two). How successful are you, really? [That might have shed some light on the situation.] Are you the “breadwinner?” Are you at the peak of your career path? Or, are you “content” with much less than you yourself could have had yet wishing–as many do–for your children to “have a better life” while losing sight of what you experienced?

Understand that some things never change; but others do. Tools that were available when you were his age are not the same now. Opportunities you had then are not necessarily available now. Others you did not have are. Circumstances are slightly different.

———
This next portion is going to sound much like what Carolyn said with a few different words. You might find a few new perspectives. But, you can skip past it, if you prefer.

Instead of focusing on the word “succeed,” right now, put the phrase “stimulate the happiness of others” up over your work space and do everything in your power to guide your son toward what makes him happy (not what makes you happy). In time, I would guess (I mean, what do I know?) this will turn into success once he feels good about what he can do before assuming he can or must be successful.

Teach him a lesson my parents had a hard time–if not failed at–grasping: how to experience failure and deal with it. Don’t teach him to fear failure and fear trying things you feel he isn’t fit or right to do (like laundry, cooking and other household chores), just because he doesn’t do them your way or makes a mess. [Maybe there’s a reason he doesn’t follow directions well; and it doesn’t have to be a “disability” or “attitude problem.”]

The scariest part of the coming years could be letting him do what he chooses and being ready to cushion any blows that come from those decisions, not letting him take over your house and lifestyle but allowing him to mold himself rather than have you pick the shape he takes. If there is competition, let him decide to enter or avoid it. Encourage him to discuss what is happening in his life without framing the moment with past experiences and assumptions/predictions. Then, if you see an opportunity for him to take a chance with good odds, kindly nudge him.

Say something like, “Hey, you’d be good at that. Why don’t you give that a try?” And, leave it at that. Or, provide the tools/supplies without any pressure to use them. [If you must, try a little negotiation. Say you’ll do ____ for him if he does ____ for you (for himself). And, don’t cave if he resists. But, don’t deprive him of necessities, either. Don’t take away his ability to connect with friends, regardless what he has done (and not from what he MIGHT do).] If he turns away from the challenge, don’t fight his decision. [However, if his life takes any scarier turns, if he withdraws so much from interaction, chores and challenges that his life seems in jeopardy, other action will become necessary.]

———

The first line of your letter that jumped out at me was where you mentioned your son being nervous and not wanting to be there. [Actually, the first was his saving grace, his sense of humor. I seem to have survived this long with that little life preserver, myself.] While nerves and refusal may be signs of weakness one could halt by pushing the weakling into the fray of battle, it might also have been an area of achievement he had little interest in pursuing. And, pressure to do something we do not instinctively favor could be unnecessary pressure, like peer pressure. Just because our peers tell us we’re uncool for not doing what they do; that doesn’t mean we can’t choose to do things differently.

Some adults might recall being kids pushed to take up musical instruments but, later, giving up these lessons to take up medical or financial jobs. They might look back and question their parents’ pressure to take interest. [Or, if they are so fortunate, the former kids might integrate those lessons into adult life and be some amazingly, envy-worthy, diverse people.]

[I personally was adept at math because I had a brain apparently gifted at absorbing equations. But, would I pursue math contests? No way. Too boring. I’m a creative spirit. There is no creativity in math, other than creating problems and, later, solutions. I don’t mind problem-solving. But, I guess I have little to no interest into imagining problems in terms of numbers and variables. My mind is more geared toward seeing social, arrangement/composition or regulation problems around me and figuring out solutions.]

One other thing about your letter that sticks in my mind: You briefly mention the husband being socially anxious and an under-achiever who struggles to get jobs. Yet, you love this guy; you married this guy, right? [That may be a tiny weight off my shoulders, an ounce of hope.] But, how much do you love him? And, could it be your marriage is merely another challenging opportunity you took upon yourself? Did you enter this family structure like a school contest, hoping to work your way up the ranks from district to state, mold the members like clay sculptures until they won the blue ribbon at the county fair? In other words, do you love your husband (and your son) for who he is, for being part of your life? Or, do you see them as works in progress you just haven’t been able to fully improve to the best of your ability, yet?

What would you say or have done had your husband not “inherited” any money? Would that have any impact on you marrying him? Was the money or family status a push toward the thought of a stable future/home?

I wonder, how does your husband feel about you (and the kid/s)? Do you have more than one child? That too could be a big factor in this pressure-to-achieve situation. For instance, how does this son get along with his siblings? How “successful” or “driven” are they? Might this son feel pressured to be like them when he is not?

[I knew a few “only childs” and saw how their parents treated them like pet projects, like singular rockets filled with hopes of greater success than any family of six or more could achieve.]

How would the husband feel being labeled an underachiever? Does he accept this like a healthy bowl of bran cereal to stabilize his diet? Is he comfortable not doing as much as some, accepting that some people are tortoises while others are hares? Or, do the words cut a little deep, leave him a little less eager to try?

———
Here comes some more advising verbiage. Again, breeze past it if you’d rather read more unique material.

At twelve, your son is at a crucial time of development, sure. [Heck, every year between birth and whatever number you want to use for labeling adulthood is crucial.] And, you could fortify this by giving him a swift kick into some regimen like boarding school or a “balanced diet,” and trust this will keep his back straight, his shoulders back and his elbows off the table. But, what is more important is a trusted family member fortifying him with experiences, both good and bad.

He needs to be free to try things, learn how to do them both your way and his own way and experience failure to learn from his mistakes. You’ve probably heard similar advice elsewhere. It just might not have stuck with you or found purpose. Well, I’d say the purpose has been found. It’s your son. And, he needs his mother to still catch him when he falls but to let him fall, as well, and learn what comes with failure, including the steps to recovery.

A parent who is driven by only success and grabbing every opportunity might not be relaxed enough to say, “It’s okay if I don’t have any interest in ___. Maybe I’ll give it a try; and, if I don’t like it, that’s fine. I’ll do better at something else.” You might get upset if you take on a crossword puzzle and leave half of it blank. You might cut interests out of your life because you did not excel at them. Or, you might think you have to be good at everything.

———

Which brings me back to the father in the picture. What’s his input with the son? How does he nurture the boy? Is his method annoying to you? If you answer the last question with some form of “yes,” that says plenty. Maybe a lack of desire to compete and excel could be directly or subtly linked to an unhappy union in which two committed lovers–role models for the boy–are anything but encouraging images at the finish line. The boy might not want to complete the race because the prize at the end of the road is not worth his time/energy. [Or, maybe, it’s not you he’s looking at but other families falling apart.]

———
One last push to sound competent and professional. These moments just pour out of me like a leaky boat. It’s the chatty therapist in me.

Get to know your son and his interests. [If at seventeen he still likes the cartoons he watched at five or keeps a stuffed animal on his bed, don’t harp on that being a bad thing.] Let him decide when it’s time to keep or part with something. Don’t assume his decisions or ways are bad ones. Teach your son how to pick himself up and try, again. Don’t insist he must continue or be smarter or more successful than he feels fit/able. Or, live with the possible failure of staying connected with your son; accept that he will likely cut ties with you or resent you if you push too hard or fail to fill in other gaps.

You can’t guarantee success no matter what method you try. You, too, must be able to cope with “failure” and still find happiness, contentment. Otherwise, this life is a miserable one.

———

Phew! And, breathe. [This is just the tip of the emotional iceberg for me.] If you manage to find my lengthy thought process here and wish to continue, feel free to contact me.

15
Jan
16

Childhood Regression, a 2001: A Space Odyssey Thing

*****

childhoodcartoon-regression-youtubeboom_ap6J

*****
A thought came to me last week like a star flash billions of light years away finally reaching Earth. I needed to see the final few episodes of Captain Simian and the Space Monkeys.

It was nineteen ninety something when I had my first VCR recording nearly every episode of that short-lived yet lovable cartoon. It’s a bit corny yet can be quite philosophical/insightful and makes plenty of science fiction/comedy references (usually with the assistance of holographic baboons, or “holo-boons”).

So, that’s what I did. I traveled back in time via an internet wormhole to relive a slice of life that wasn’t great. My life was in limbo. And, anything comical was like life-support. I never partook in “recreational drugs.” So, a cartoon about human predecessors given human intelligence by alien beings who need help saving the universe from destruction at the “hands” of a thinking black hole…was just what Dr. Bones ordered. [I also could have used a few more bananas in my diet.]

After that experience, I craved more. [As Captain Simian would say, “Check. Childhood regression. It’s a space odyssey thing.”]

I flipped through a Rolodex of countless TV shows I have watched in my lifetime thus far and stopped at Jim Lee’s WildC.A.T.s (also from nineteen ninety something). If you’ve stopped by my About Me page, you might notice the framed image of a man with yellow hair wearing a red mask, standing next to a woman with white hair and face paint. Those were my two favorite characters from that poorly written and drawn cartoon. I looooved Zealot and imagined I was her Grifter. [It was a rare romance in cartoon history.] Had the majority of animation and dialogue not been so poor, the show might have lasted longer. [The same can be said of Ultraforce.] Little did I know there were changes made from the comic books (which I never read) which might have upset some fans.

I had just dipped my toes in the end of that series when other recommended shows streaming down the screen started tickling my addiction nerve, the same nerve that hums when I get hooked into certain video games. “Remember that one?” I asked myself. “Oh, it’s been eons since I watched that. And, what about that one? I still remember…her!” [Even as I write this, I am hearing the theme song from Ultraforce playing in my head, and I am bopping to it like a complete dork. I used to replay that show’s opening until the VHS tape started to wear.]

I began surrounding myself in virtual windows, traveling to other worlds like bookworms devour stacks of books. Each cartoon transported me back to a different place in my lifetime. These–quantum leaps (ha!)–seeped into my brain, reopening parts that had already been weathered and scarred. And, I am not sure if this is a good thing or not.

Am I healing by traveling back to what was? Or, am I becoming more lost in mental space, detaching from everything that comes with adult life in “the real world?”

I can imagine myself reverting to an infant or fleshy blob with just enough brain to process or be stimulated by the visual “entertainment” I lived upon all those lonely years. Goodbye, paperwork. Goodbye, household chores. Goodbye, laundry and picking out new clothes every day. Goodbye, fears and accidents. I will be just fine in my animated bubble…as long as you keep the fun streaming.

So, while others mourn the passing of a British musician and sing his old tune about “Major Tom,” I say, “This is Major Writingbolt to Ground Control. I’m slipping through the daaark. I’m sitting in a room, fighting back the gloom. I’m thinking without air and am not sure that I care. Yes, this is Major Writingbolt to Ground Control. I’m slipping through the daaark…in a most unusual waaay. And, I don’t know what is todaaay. But, if this is joy, I think I will be okaaaaay.

And, here’s the really important question, the end-all-be-all question of questions that must be asked lest minds explode……

Anyone got a banana?”
===============

For those who did not find the above too lengthy to read, a little trip down cartoon memory lane (the good and bad of past cartoons viewed with a now adult perspective).

One key thing I recall about many of these was the push to sell toys. Quality animation and sensible stories rich in detail didn’t matter. If you got one or both, you were lucky. The primary goal seemed to be selling toys and targeting genders. Thus, if a particular show didn’t have a respectable toy line, it was strangely disappointing (at least, to me). But, in the thick/rough of merchandising nightmares, there were a few gems.

1. Captain Simian and the Space Monkeys (circa 1996-1997, 26 episodes, Hallmark Entertainment/Monkeyshine Productions, Inc./Bohbot Entertainment): A NASA chimp gets lost in space only to be rescued by an advanced alien race in desperate need of help saving the universe from a power-hungry entity that resembles a black hole. The chimp is given “higher intelligence,” a primate crew, a space ship that breaks off into smaller ships and all the technology he needs to win the fight…eventually.

The good: Great voice cast, great characters (both main and cameo), great animation, great opening sequence/instrumental theme music, decent comedy, decent action, a touch of romance, plenty of ponderous moments that make you think about everything from human nature to spiritual purpose, plenty of references to/parodies of other movies/shows, nice use of fudged famous quotes during the end credits of each episode, it’s like Star Trek meets Red Dwarf, safe for most ages (though toddlers may be disturbed by some images and miss some of the “clean” yet adult jokes)…

The bad: It only lasted 26 episodes (I failed to record about 3 of them on VHS), I have yet to find this series on DVD, a Shao Lin action figure was not included in the regular stock sold in stores (and I would be elated for someone to find/send me one to complete my set)…

Personal notes: I initially heard of this show at a toy convention where I found one dealer selling a few of the action figures. When I saw the show on TV and found some of the toys at a local toy store, I was compelled to invest and got most at a decent price. I love most of the characters; some of the (uncertain) villains are a tad creepy. As with many cartoons, I fall in love with the female characters; and Shao Lin is no exception. [I wish Captain Simian would show her more respect in the series, but he is emulating Kirk from Star Trek.]

*****

2. Jim Lee’s WildC.A.T.s (based upon the Image comic book series, circa 1994-1995, about 12 episodes aired): A team of unusual heroes fight alongside a ridiculously wealthy businessman for a good alien race’s cause to stop an evil alien race from possessing the people of Earth while gathering limitless power hidden within the planet.

The good: The budding relationship between Grifter and Zealot, Voodoo, Void, Pike, Grifter’s gadgets, good opening sequence/theme music, the plot of the short-lived series reminds me of GI Joe stopping COBRA from building its destructive laser cannon in the early episodes…

The bad: Plot holes, animation goofs/poorly drawn characters (at least one that changes as the series progresses), okay-to-poor explanation of good aliens versus bad aliens, some robotic and plain lousy-if-not-foul-smelling dialogue, a ridiculously wealthy little person who can buy or make whatever he wants yet still needs this odd-lot handful of rebels to defeat a weak army of aliens and robots, not recommended for kids under 10 or deeply religious families…

Personal notes: As I already stated elsewhere, I fell in love with Zealot. [Voodoo and Void have their charms, as well. But, Zealot’s appeal is similar to Wonder Woman without the questionable lasso as a weapon and patriotic costume.] And, I felt Grifter was about as close as you would get to a hero I could portray/emulate without millions of dollars, dead parents and a “swinging bachelor pad.” The coolest toy I have from the series is the 13″? Grifter. [Though the equally large Maul is cool to pair with the smaller figures as he was the only character who could grow to giant size. I wish they had made a 13″ Zealot and Voodoo.]

*****

3. Ultraforce (based upon the Malibu comic book series, circa 1995, 13 episodes, DIC/Bohbot Entertainment): An unusual yet strangely familiar handful of heroes, including a boy who goes through a hormonal transformation to become as strong as Superman, band together to take on a semi-unique lot of villains terrorizing Earth (but particularly one city).

The good: Great opening sequence/theme music, decent heroes (a few unique ones), better villains (Lord Pumpkin is quite awesome), it’s like X-Men and the Avengers thrown into a blender…

The bad: Poorly drawn characters (steroid-enhanced male characters, especially)/Animation goofs, corny/bad dialogue for some characters, questionable team dynamic (why do these heroes need to be a team?)…

Personal notes: I was not too impressed with the toy line. And, this was one show that–at the time–was putting out these stupid “variant”/”chase” figures which contributed to dealer hording and collector sickness. I did notice the striking resemblance between certain Ultraforce and Marvel Comics characters. But, I also noticed Ultraforce trying to give them unique “side effects”/origin stories (which gets a B for effort).

*****

4. Tigersharks (from a weekend feature called “The Comic Strip,” circa 1987?…I thought it came out around 1990-92, Rankin/Bass): In a distant future, a group of research scientists? (who are not all exactly human) rush to a world completely covered by water to stop a band of pirates from destroying a peaceful civilization of aquatic creatures and fish people. Their leader gives them the ability to turn into sea-creature-hybrids so they can fight underwater for long periods of time (though Dolph needs air frequently).

The good: Great characters (Captain Bizzarly, Octavia, Angel, Dragonstein, etc.), great animation, it’s like Silverhawks had a baby with the lost city of Atlantis…

The bad: Poor/Lousy and quite corny dialogue from–I presume–hurried/pressured writers trying to make another Thundercats series, corny opening sequence/theme song, puzzling/corny premise and reactions from certain characters (it’s the sort of cartoon you want to watch with the sound off, just appreciating the visuals…though you would miss Bizzarly’s iconic voice), the action figure line was very limited yet cool (and similar to the look of Thundercats figures), I have yet to find this series on quality DVD…

Personal notes: Admitting to another childhood crush, I adored Octavia slightly more than I liked Angel. I was not a big fan of octopi before I saw this series. For me, this was like an underwater Star Wars (before Waterworld became a movie and after it became a sequel to Atari’s Swordquest: Earthworld) with fewer characters. Following the series on TV was not the easiest as episodes were broken up with the other cartoons featured in the Comic Strip Sunday? mornings when my family would usually be going to church. I may have only seen five complete episodes as a kid. This and Silverhawks were shows I liked to record with an audio cassette recorder and then play back (like books on tape) while taking hot baths. There was something strangely appealing about taking a hot bath and listening to stories of the heroes and villains clashing in icy scenes.

*****

5. Thundercats (circa 1985-1989, 130+ episodes): A group of cat people escape the destruction of their home planet and migrate to Third Earth where they meet an assortment of colorful characters and face a horde of monstrous villains–including a rather scary mummified wizard–while adapting to life with a leader who is not what they expected after losing their previous mentor/leader (who revisits them in spirit like Obi-Wan Kenobi in Star Wars).

The good: Great characters, great animation, great opening sequence/theme music, great music (particularly the music used with Panthro/the Thundertank), one of the greatest vehicles ever designed for a cartoon (the Thundertank), whimsical stories/adventures with hints of mythology/legendary tales (like King Arthur and the lady of the lake), morals for the kids, it merited an animated film spin-off (in which new characters were introduced), many (not all) of the action figures/toys are finely sculpted/crafted…

The bad: Some corny/robotic dialogue (which gets teased about by some, including the cast members), I think there may have been a few animation goofs/voice placement mistakes (actors reading lines for the wrong character and/or mouths moving without voice), Lion-O and Snarf can be a bit whiny (like Luke from Star Wars), Mumm-Ra’s wailing/laughter can get a bit loud/annoying…

Personal notes: This remains one of my all-time favorite cartoons, if not the top of my list here. I was a bit obsessed/infatuated with Cheetara and the female space cop (who I always confuse with Silverhawks). I particularly remember episodes featuring the Driller and a creature who needed gold to stay warm (which he begged Cheetara to bring him until his dark side was revealed). I felt Lion-O and Tigra were semi-gay/whiny. Panthro was my favorite male Thundercat. I particularly enjoyed the “trials” mini-series in which each Thundercat tests Lion-O so he can earn his leadership role. This was a rare show for which I had a sticker book and poster on my bedroom door.

*****

6. Silverhawks (circa 1986, 65 episodes, Rankin/Bass, Lorimar-Telepictures, Pacific Animation Corporation/Japan): The even-more-futuristic-looking follow-up to Thundercats (no relation other than animation quality/company) in which a group of specially selected human (and one alien) space explorers/astronauts are given cybernetic bodies for safe travel to a distant space station where they act as galactic police officers, fighting alien criminals lead by a rather scary red villain who drives a giant squid. The cybernetic bodies also let the heroes fly like birds and fight in space without the need for oxygen tanks.

The good: Great animation, great characters (even the scary one), great opening sequence/theme music, cool settings, cool villain vehicles with a sort of retro gangster (Dick Tracy) vibe, cool visor/mask effect used by the heroes, decent science lessons for kids at the end of many if not all episodes, cool individual pet bird addition/concept for each of the heroes and some villains (not the worst reason for a second round of action figures)…

The bad: The weird use/projection of lasers from the heroes’ bodies, (again) some corny/robotic dialogue (the leader of the heroes is particularly odd in behavior/vocal quality), not the most intelligent plots at all times (villains not achieving much before being dispatched rather quickly), the big bad boss Mon-Star may be a lil scary for some kids (including young me)…

Personal notes: [I already stated some with my Tigersharks notes.] Unlike other cartoons, this one didn’t exactly have the strong female types I usually like. I did like Steelheart. And, Melodia was an okay villainess. But, that’s not saying much. Hardware, Molecular, Mumbo Jumbo and Pokerface were my favorite characters. [I disliked Quicksilver much the same way I grew to dislike Lion-O and Tigra from Thundercats and Leo in the original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle cartoons (after the origin story).] I enjoyed the episodes that featured the casino and Pokerface’s eyes flipping. I hated Bluegrass’ mohawk (which was a lame 1980s craze) but loved how he fought with music and a guitar that could turn into a robotic bird. The Mirage ship–I suspect–was inspired by the Phoenix from G-Force/Gatchaman and mimicked by Captain Simian’s Primate Avenger.

*****

7. He-Man and the Masters of the Universe (circa 1983-1985, Mattel/Filmation): A female astronaut from Earth crashes on a distant alien world where humans also exist. She gives birth to a boy (who we see only as a ridiculously muscular man squeezed into a tight outfit) who is summoned to a mysterious magical castle by a sorceress to become He-Man, the strongest man in this planet’s universe, and to battle an assortment of equally muscular and bizarre villains lead by Skeletor, a wizard whose face was turned into a glowing skull by his quest for power.

The good: A great overall fantasy experience, some great characters and plots, a decent story with greater depth not fully tapped in the initial series (especially Teela’s story), a memorable toy line, it merited a few reincarnations, morals for kids after every episode…

The bad: A substantial amount of “reused content” (animation sequences that repeat though backgrounds may change, the product of rushed animators on a budget), this was one of a number of cartoons pushed with the intent of selling mass quantities of toys during the 1980s toy boom, and the action figures were often poor copies of each other with minor paint changes and different heads, a questionable cartoon for “body image” (namely He-Man himself who is buff and pasty as Adam and then buff, half-naked and ridiculously tan in hero form)…

Personal notes: I participated in an action figure design contest which was REALLY rare at the time. But, sadly, I could not come up with any stellar original designs (which is kinda ironic when you think about how the show reused bodies for different characters) and only won a Sorceress magnet for my effort. I was particularly scared by the two-part “pyramid of doom” episode in which He-Man went underground and was captured by some wizardess (as far as I recall). The most memorable episodes for me were the one in which Orko lost his magic amulet in the back of a tar pit dinosaur while trying to impress a snobbish relative of Prince Adam…the one in which Orko met the female “Orko” and that odd bat creature that drained his people’s magic…the one in which He-Man was trapped in a maze and had to ride a giant arrow to escape…and the one in which the Sorceress was lifting a ball of light between her legs with her mind. [That last one was the first episode I remember seeing.]

It was the cousin series, She-Ra that had me and my sister running home from school one rainy day to catch an episode. [Yes, another crush; I was madly in love with Adora/She-Ra as well as a number of other female characters (including Castaspella, Catra and Frosta). This was one of the first cartoons that made me wonder–even at a young age–why cartoon females were drawn so attractive. There were no “Plain Janes” and very few silly girls like She-Ra’s Madame Razz and a few of the forest people.]

*****

8. Filmation’s Ghostbusters (the animated series, circa 1986): A rather silly cartoon about the sons of the previous generation of ghostbusters (from a live-action TV series) and a rather animated gorilla (who worked with their fathers) keeping the family business of “busting” (or zapping to a parallel world) futuristic ghosts alive. [Not to be confused with “The Real Ghostbusters” which was a parallel 1980s cartoon based upon the Ghostbusters movies featuring four men in overalls zapping ghosts in New York City with proton-beam guns.]

The good: Some great characters, great opening sequence, decent animation, decent/catchy theme song/music (including some good moody music for certain scenes/scenarios), morals for the kids, some good plots, an okay toy line, certain DVD sets included episodes of the original live-action series (and the original cast/dads appear in the cartoon)…

The bad: (As there was with the original He-Man) Some “reused content” (sequences/scenes repeated to fill/kill time), some ridiculous gadgets, a questionable/puzzling HQ (which reminds me of Pee-Wee Herman’s playhouse), some of the acting/voice parts become rather annoying (Eddie is the most annoying)…

Personal notes: I found Prime Evil to be rather scary as a kid. But, his cousin?–who looks like a scary blue knight and has a mask that lifts to reveal some sort of light–was the scariest of them all in one episode. I personally adore Mysteria, Jessica and Futura (who is lovable in a very 1980s way). Tracy, Brat-a-rat, Belfry, Haunter, Airhead (though he uses one line a bit much) and the Ghostbuggy are quite amusing.

*****

9. G-Force (aka Battle of the Planets aka Gatchaman aka Eagle Riders, circa 1978-1985, 85 episodes, Sandy Frank Entertainment): [Pardon my foggy memory; I have not watched an episode of any incarnation in over a decade. This may yet go on my online flashback list.] A team of space explorers? in bird costumes fight aliens disturbing galactic peace with futuristic (and slightly odd/goofy) weapons and vehicles (like Batman).

[I will possibly add the good and bad when/if I view some of the “original” (as I remember it) series.]

Personal notes: This was THE first science fiction cartoon I ever saw as a kid. And, truthfully, all I remember from my first taste was a robotic centipede and a spaceship that broke into pieces and turned into a fire bird. [I can clearly remember the fire bird flying across the screen during the end credits.] I also remember the fat guy and little kid among the heroes who resemble Hunk and Pidge from the original Voltron (“Lion Force”) cast) and the lovely Dove/Princess (my first animated crush). When Voltron came out, I thought someone had copied G-Force but left out the cool spaceship. Many years later, when I learned the series was also called Gatchaman and saw the American reboot “Eagle Riders,” I didn’t feel the same excitement/enthusiasm I had as a kid. Even the phoenix/fire bird ship looked different.
*****

10. Pole Position (circa 1984, 13 episodes, DIC/LBS): An adult man (Dan) and woman (Tess) stunt car team follow in their parents’ footsteps, “fighting crime” with futuristic cars that could turn into other vehicle modes and feature talking computers (Wheels and Rhody) in the dashboards (like KITT from Knight Rider). This was loosely inspired by (not based upon) an arcade game. [If you’ve ever seen Nascar Racers, this is similar with less emphasis on racing and a touch of criminals trying to steal technology seen in Iron Man (Marvel Comics) plots.]

The good: Great opening sequence/theme music, likable characters, very cool cars with witty voices…

The bad: From what I can remember, the show relied heavily on its theme song/opening and cool cars, there’s a lot of shrugging and lucky breaks in hazardous situations that almost make the show a circus or magic show without the warning (not to try this at home) we often see today…

Personal notes: At the time, I recall watching a show called Hunter and thinking the brunette detective (who also liked to sing) resembled the lead female (Tess) from this cartoon. And, I had a slight crush on both women. 🙂 This luckily has come out on DVD; I have yet to get a set, though. I DO have a few old VHS tapes I acquired from a closing video store and eBay.

I just recently watched the first episode (called “The Code”). It was surprisingly heavy in detail for a kids’ show, including a few plot twists and deception not seen in other cartoons of the time. I keep thinking Daisy, the little girl in the show, is the older pair’s daughter. But, apparently, they are all siblings.

[Some years back, a series called Skysurfer Strike Force featured strangely dressed heroes with cars that could turn into rocket sleds. Sliced Ice (what an odd name) reminded me of the woman from Pole Position (and had a hot costume). I visited a eerily vacant and hidden toy store once and found a few Sliced Ice toys there (none of the other Skyforce characters) which seemed odd at the time when female character toys/figures were regularly snatched up by dealers.]

*****

11. Galaxy Rangers (1986, syndicated/rerun until 1989, Gaylord Entertainment/Tokyo Movie Sinsha animation, 65 episodes): A futuristic and rather mature anime-ish cartoon about quartet of specially selected human cowboys/rangers sent out with special powers/weapons to bring down a criminal organization headed by a mysterious Queen who leads the Crown Empire.

[I have yet to look at any old episodes. So, the following assessment is from memory.]

The good: Good animation (if you like anime), cool robotic horses and alien villains, Goose–the “glowing energy man” and speedy gunslinger–is one awesome character, Niko–the telekinetic–is similarly likable, this show was like Bravestarr or the Fantastic Four crossed with the Wild, Wild West…

The bad: [I’ll get back to you on this. But, I didn’t care for the guy with the laser/power arm nor the computer expert guy who was the “token minority” character. Also, a few action figures were made; but, apparently, they were not released in the USA? Only Australia? For some reason, I remember seeing them on store pegs. But, I never had one.]

Personal notes: [Again, my memory is rather foggy.] This has been released in a few DVD formats/collections. While I don’t remember much, I do recall finding Niko attractive. But, Goose was–hands-down–the best character on the show. If he wasn’t purposely pushed to be the star, he was the star to me. He stood out and was quite bad-ass like Grifter in WildC.A.T.S. and Wolverine in the X-Men cartoons. I managed to find an old video warehouse (about a decade ago) that had factory-sealed tapes and acquired one that came with crayons.

IF someone could/would reboot this series, I think Knights of Cydonia by Muse would be a PERFECT music piece to accompany the show/movie. I can just about match the animated footage to the song, visualizing the Rangers riding their robotic horses during a certain portion.

*****

12. G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero (circa 1983-1986, Hasbro/Sunbow/Marvel): The American cartoon (though it may have been animated/drawn by Japanese artists) about a rather large team of soldiers from various divisions (navy, air force, etc.) with exceptional skills and costumes who fought COBRA, “a ruthless terrorist organization” bent on ruling the world.

The good: The original mini-series involving the assembly of the M.A.S.S device (or death laser cannon) is especially good, some great characters (namely Snake Eyes, Scarlet, Lady Jaye and the Baroness…though Cobra Commander, Storm Shadow, Destro, Zartan, Tomax/Xamot and the Dreadnoks are also quite memorable), great opening sequence/theme music, decent action, cool vehicles, it’s safe for kids because no one ever gets killed or seriously hurt (though Snake Eyes loses the ability to speak and never shows his face and some characters do carry other battle scars), this went on to take various incarnations, including the Sigma Six series (which featured such lovable characters as Jinx and Tunnel Rat)…

The bad: Some corny dialogue, not the greatest animation (though not the worst, either), some plots may strike viewers as weird/disturbing (but not for anything graphic/adult)…

Personal notes: Even if he was strangely handicapped, Snake Eyes remains one of my favorites and probably the one costume I’d don at a GI Joe costume party. [I kinda favored Barbeque, too. I don’t think I could pull off Quickkick, but he was decent and mildly amusing.] I grew tired of Duke, Gung Ho, Flint and Shipwreck rather quick. All of them went mad–I think–at some point during the series which was unsettling to watch. Need I mention my crushes on some of the female characters? [Nah. 🙂 ]

*****

13. Jem and the Holograms (circa 1985, originally featured as part of a cluster of cartoons that included a Big Foot monster truck cartoon and Robotix): An emotionally heavy and fairly mature “cartoon for girls” in which Jerrica Benton takes over her deceased father’s music company and forms a band with some friends and a pair of earrings connected to a hologram-generating super computer…while keeping rivals Eric Raymond and the Misfits at bay, juggling sometimes complex romantic relationships and benefiting sick/orphan kids.

The good: Great characters (even if some are horribly painted in 1980s colors and fashion fads), strong/good music sung by an artist that had her own band/album (Belltower), a respectable toy line which included cassette tapes featuring songs from the show closely related to each 13″ character doll, the whole Jem/Jerrica hologram-costume-change concept was awesome (at the time) and still holds some merit/appeal (competing with Wonder Woman, Sailor Moon, Cutey Honey, etc.), secondary characters were more involved than in other shows (and had their own special episodes to deal with family issues), serious topics like the loss of a family member, war times and relationship disagreements were featured in thought-provoking ways, this is definitely a show for inspiring fashion design/designers…

The bad: Some of the episodes/plots just make you laugh when you’re supposed to be shocked/crying, a few characters can be rather annoying at times, the animation isn’t the best, this show might make you cringe at the thought of painted-on eyebrows and horrible eye shadow color choices, and a horribly different movie was just made [I have yet to actually view more than a few trailer seconds of it; so I can’t fully judge. But, I know a number of changes were made.]…

Personal notes: Of all the characters, I thought Pizazz was the most hideous but probably the best of the “villains.” She’s the female equivalent of Starscream from Transformers. Actually, Stormer is the best of the Misfits/villains because she rarely does anything cruel and actually shows a softer side a few times during the series. [Although, I liked Clash, too.] Yes, this is a “chick cartoon,” and I am a guy who liked it immensely. Needless to say, I had a HUGE crush on Jerrica (and Kimber…and Video…and Synergy). As a kid, I liked almost every female character. Again, I was not a fan of Pizazz. Nor did I care for Roxy, Raya and Jetta. I remember–even as a kid–thinking this show was unusually heavy emotionally and different from other cartoons. It was a huge source of inspiration, rivaling Thundercats. Being a boy, the show was not something I discussed casually around other boys. But, there were a few in my class who secretly admitted to liking the show.

*****

14. Dungeons and Dragons (circa 1983-1985, Marvel Productions/Toei Animation, 27+ episodes): A group of kids visit a theme park and ride a roller coaster that magically transports them to the world of Dungeons and Dragons (a fantasy role-playing game that inspired a whole slew of similar projects and a cult following) where they are given special roles and powerful weapons to battle villains and find a way back home with the dungeon master’s mysterious assistance.

The good: This was a decent splash of 1980s stereotypes with a wholesome outlook and a fantasy backdrop, decent (though dated) animation, good characters (each with their own strengths and weaknesses, the latter typically emphasized over the former), some intense battles/plots with quests for magic items and rescues of creatures in peril, Tiamat (the five-headed dragon) and Venger are exceptionally cool characters, the series was released on DVD in a nice (and–last I checked–very affordable) box set with a colorful and detailed book)…

The bad: [I honestly can’t remember much that was bad other than the occasional whiny or slightly scary episode. The baby unicorn is probably the worst character as it is frequently in peril and whining/wailing.]

Personal notes: I often confused this cartoon with a creepy live-action movie (which I vaguely remember featuring some evil rock that gets stuck in a microwave oven before destroying a family home in the end). Don’t ask me why. But, the villain in the movie reminds me of Venger. I was drawn to the Tiamat character as it also appears in “The Real Ghostbusters” with the mythical counterpart that brings the dragon down. [I remember the guy having orange-ish skin and four? eyes and being able to disguise himself as a private investigator.] This show may have sparked my interest in redheads, including Scarlet from G.I. Joe, Kimber from Jem and the Holograms and the evil army woman from the movie Willow (who later joins the heroes to stop the dark witch). [Just as She-Ra and, later, Jerrica/Jem sparked my interest in blondes.] I was a bit scared of the cult talk surrounding the game books but a big fan of pretending to be the characters from the cartoon. I recall an old game which–I think–was called Dark Tower and looking through some of the game books for monster/character ideas for my own projects/art. I remember reading about Kobolds and drawing pictures of “yellow mold” and “black pudding” with warriors using long metal poles to slip by without harm. Before Mighty Max (which was a lame toy line but a great cartoon that wrapped itself into a perfect loop, returning to the first episode from the last), this show touched on the concept of struggling to return home from a fantasy land and thus became a valuable source of inspiration. Hank’s (the archer) light bow was the coolest weapon at the time; better than any lightsaber or laser pistol, in my opinion.

*****

15. The Thing Cartoon (circa 1979, part of the Fred and Barney Show): A teenage red-haired boy named Benji possesses a pair of magic rings which–when combined–attract the magic rocks that turn him into the Thing (from the Fantastic Four) and reverse the process when the Thing joins his two fists. Benji uses this power to stop bullies and other thieves from causing trouble.  Kelly, the little blonde sister of his classmate? Betty is the only one who knows his secret.

The good: It features the Thing…well, some incarnation of the character, the animation is decent (for the time), most of the characters are likable (dated stereotypes)…

The bad: This is a really corny, silly hero cartoon which exploits a Marvel Comics character, in the first episode the Thing uproots a tree and small building among moving other things just to let a motorbike run out of gas instead of catching the bike himself, in another one magic ring is crushed by a steamroller and then returned to use by rolling the steamroller backwards…

Personal notes: This was one of the first superhero cartoons I ever saw and has been a very faint memory until now. It contributed to my interest in the Thing (over the other members of the Fantastic Four) though it makes little to no sense. It also probably inspired many of the transformation concepts I have envisioned since that time or started a chain reaction that carried over to Spider-Man’s symbiotic suit and Witchblade.




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