Friday, October 11, 2013

80s Cartoon Remakes: The Good, The Bad and the Must Have

The cartoons of the 80s fully embraced the brash consumerism of the decade and lead to a perfect storm of toys unleashed upon the Toys R Us shelves. I not only watched the shows every Saturday, but I also hounded my parents into buying me all of the accompanying toys. Castle Greyskull? Had it. My Little Pony? Oh yeah, could fill boxes with those. I was denied Voltron and Transformers, though. All I got were Gobots. Freaking Gobots. That still stings.

Thanks to Netflix, showing the beloved cartoons of my youth to the next generation has never been easier. Of course, it also means that the children find the reboots as well. Today I'm taking 10 of my favorite 80s cartoons and breaking out the Good, the OK, the Bad, and the Must Haves of the remakes.

The Good

My Little Pony: My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic kicks the original's ass, picks it up again, then punts it against the wall for good measure. We are at the point that I hope the kids don't find the original. Just glory in the adventures of Twilight Sparkle, Pinkie Pie and everypony in this wonderful, zany, yet not too goody-goody world.

And that's it for the good, my friends.

The OK

The remakes of the following shows fall more into the OK category, or at least one of the remakes does.

Voltron: Raise your hand if Voltron was your first anime experience. Although American kids got a more edited version of the Japanese show, it was enough to whet this kid's appetite for more. I believe I mentioned wanting the Voltron toys and never getting them. Luckily, the kids next door had them. I didn't care which lion I had to be, I just wanted to be on the team.

Of course, awesomeness of this sort cannot be contained to one series. Unfortunately and fortunately.

The 90s saw Voltron: The Third Dimension. It was late 90s 3D CGI. Let that sink in for a minute. Storywise it isn't horrible, but it is not high on my watchlist and the kids bypassed it too.

In 2011, we got Voltron Force, which has the original team, a bit older, as well as their apprentices. I love it for the simple fact that one storyline was devoted to how long it took Voltron to come together. Because, what, the bad guys are just supposed to sit there while you run through your entire 30 second process as the robot comes together? Every time? Raised a question I always had.

He-Man/She-Ra: Yes, technically two different shows, but for our purposes, they can be grouped together. I adored both shows as a child. I had Castle Greyskull, the Crystal Castle, and almost all of the action figures. I actually was stoked when the kiddos found He-Man and She-Ra and watched every episode. I admit this likely clouds my judgment of the reboots.

I remember seeing the Dolph Lundgren film. It was campy and Lundgren-y, and I had enough fun with it, but I was still in the 80s and not too far removed from the nostalgia of the first series. The New Adventures of He-Man came out just a few years later, but I was already over it. I recently watched the latest reboot, this one with a teenage Adam turning into the superheroric He-Man (no purple tights for this go round). I admit that it doesn't completely suck, but I was still meh. Give me the over-earnest campy original any day.

There haven't been any She-Ra remakes but I'm still skeptical. I truly have doubts that anything new would match the crass commercialism and early girl-power feel. Except for maybe this.

The Bad

Inspector Gadget: The bumbling detective outfitted with crazy gadgets, the intrepid and brilliant niece who saves the day every time, a fabulous dog, a gravelly voiced villain without a face, and umpteen sight gags, this was one that my folks liked to watch with me. Of course, it helped that Gadget was voiced by Maxwell Smart (Don Adams). Penny was my idol, although it did piss me off that she never got credit for saving everything.

The 90s saw Adams return with Gadget Boy and Heather. Just rewatch the original, really. I didn't watch the movies and don't think I missed anything.

Transformers: As much as I did love the cartoon and remember clamoring to see the animated movie, Transformers will always be more about the toys for me. And not just because I was denied the awesomeness that was the robots in disguise. The Transformers toys made in the 80s are just plain superior to the ones cranked out now. My mother in law recently cleared out her garage. She had kept all of the old Transformers and Star Wars toys and gave them to us. My son brought one of his new-old Transformers to show a friend. His friend could not get over how awesome his Optimus Prime was because the toy actually transformed into something. That's right. They sell Transformers toys that don't change into anything at all now. I'm sure some of them do, but the kids have been burned by too many that don't. That's low, Hasbro.

As to the movies, well, I admit to seeing the first film and enjoying the effects well enough. It touched on some childhood nostalgia and while I was good with just one viewing, I won't curse its name. The second movie? I lasted maybe 10 minutes then I was done with all Transformers movies.

Garfield and Friends: Kill. It. With. Fire. I am ashamed to say I did actually watch this as a kid. Sometimes kids are stupid.

Don't watch the original and let us all pray to the Elder Gods that there is no more, no more movies, no more TV shows, done.

The Must Haves

Here are the shows that don't have reboots yet, but I'd watch them. In the right hands of course.

Rainbow Brite: I loved this show and the toys. Looking back on it, it was all a little too goody-goody, oh gosh geewillikers let's all be friends, but I think in the right hands (Lauren Faust) it could be something fun.

Duck Tales: Admit it, the theme song is in your head right now. I liked this show. I wouldn't mind seeing what, say, the folks behind Phineas & Ferb would do with Scrooge and his nephews. Maybe a Chip 'n' Dale Rescue Rangers crossover?

Jem: It's time. I think this is doable. It doesn't even have to be animated. Give it the CW treatment. Make it "truly, truly, truly outrageous."
Danger Mouse: The James Bond of rodents. Need I really say more? Okay, "he's the greatest, he's fantastic, wherever there is danger he'll be there..."

Seriously, though, I want Danger Mouse. Even if it's just on Netflix. Please. Pretty please.

How about you? What remakes do you crave and which ones do you wish erased from memory?

Note: Yes, I know I missed a bunch (GI Joe, Thundercats, Care Bears, Gummy Bears). I picked my 10. You tell me yours.

Note 2: Yes, yes I was a Toys R Us kid.

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