Are you a 30 something who couldn’t give a stuff about 13 hours of CBeebies a day and the endless cycle of Sponge Bob and Ben 10? If so join me on a journey back to my childhood in the late 70’s/early 80’s.
TV has to be educational now days, especially kids stuff on any BBC channel. This inevitably makes it “boral” (a combination of boring and moral, ho hum!). Still, it never used to be this way and the first cartoons I remember were the not for kids but watched by kids Looney Tunes. We recently bought a big DVD box set of these and they’re as great as I remember them. But I guess the first for kids cartoons I watched were probably the endless Hanna-Barbara repeats. Hanna and Barbara actually started off working for MGM on Tom and Jerry, another great set of violent cartoons that make our 2 year old laugh hysterically.
Everybody remembers Scooby-Doo, the Flintstones and probably the Jetsons but there were literally dozens of others like:
and of course that favourite, Hong Kong Phooey!
The one thing you notice about looking back at old Hanna Barbara cartoons is how rudimentary the animation is compared to theatrical stuff at the time.
No list would be complete without the absolutely insane Jamie and the Magic Torch though, and if you’re of a certain age you will love this:
There were plenty of other cartoons I loved but I want to take a diversion into puppetry for a moment and not into Gerry Andersons world of Supermarination either. I did love Captain Scarlet, Thunderbirds, Stingray and even Fireball XL5 but in the early 80’s there was only one puppet show that every little lad had to watch and that was Starfleet!
Starfleet had everything; spaceships, lasers, giant robots, small robots, and erm, a space motorcycle sidecar?! The theme tune for what was the English language version of a Japanese programme Bomber X was even sung by Brian May!
How could you go wrong with three smaller vehicles that linked together to make the Dai X robot?
Awesome stuff, which leads me on to another Japanese import and another cartoon, Science Team Ninja Gatchaman. You’ve probably never heard of it because it was heavily reworked (for plot, violence and other stuff) for the Western market but I’m sure you’ve heard of Battle of the Planets!
Reading about the genesis of the American version is fascinating, and well worth spending a couple of minutes on.
There are three European cartoons that I have to include at the end of this list. What list would be complete without the bonkers Dogtanian and the Three Muskahounds?
A proper take on Dumas, it teased at the end with a promise of a return for a second equally long series. This came years later and was crap. I was crushed.
Still, following Estaban and his chums around in search of the Mysterious Cities of Gold was much more fun, if no better animated.
And finally, the French/Japanese co-production, Ulysses 31, which like most of the other programmes here had an absolute kick arse theme tune.
So there you have it, a list of reasons why kids have a really crap time of it nowadays compared to the stuff we used to watch. True, kids TV was only on for a couple of hours a day and we had to put up with stuff like Grange Hill, Why Don’t You? and Blue Peter but there was some great stuff in there. Don’t even get me started on the Banana Split Show….