For today’s installment of Retro Ramblings, I’m you with a few of my favorite Saturday morning cartoons from the ’80s. I put a couple of stipulations on myself for this one. First, only Saturday morning cartoons. No before or after-school syndicated cartoons, so that knocked stuff out like He-Man and G.I. Joe. Second, all the cartoons on this list had to debut in the ’80s, so no Scooby-Doo either. I’ll tackle all of those missing cartoons at some point in the future, but for now, let’s get into these Saturday morning cartoons of the ’80s!
To me, The Smurfs were not only one of my favorite cartoons, but I think the case could be made that it was one of the best cartoons to come out of the decade. I loved the medieval setting along with all of the forest stuff in it as well. For some reason, I was always a fan of seeing stuff get built, and The Smurfs had a lot of that. I remember when Handy had to get everyone together to build a dam. I’m sure I pulled out some LEGOs and tried to recreate that at some point during that Saturday afternoon.
Disney’s Adventures of the Gummi Bears
A lot about why I loved the Smurfs also applies to why I loved The Gummi Bears. Medieval theme? Check. Lots of forest action? Check. Getting to see them build stuff? Check off that one as well. Beyond the Smurfs though, the Gummi Bears had such rich colors in its animation, and the lore behind it I found more engaging than that of The Smurfs. It hit on all cylinders for me and was a cartoon that I dared not miss on Saturday mornings.
Hulk Hogan’s Rock ‘n’ Wrestling
Being into pro wrestling like I was, there was no way I wasn’t going to watch this one. I can remember knowing about it well in advance of its debut, probably from constant hyping on WWF Superstars if I had to guess. But even though most of the plots had little to nothing to do with actual wrestling, it was still a really fun cartoon. As much as I enjoyed the animated part, I believe I enjoyed the live-action comedy scenes just as much.
I didn’t know any boy at school around my age who didn’t watch The A-Team. And I also didn’t know any boy around my age at school whose favorite character on that show wasn’t B.A. Barracus played by Mr. T. We were all totally enamored with the guy. Hell, I still am. I even wrote a feature for The Retro Network about 12 Things You May Not Know About Mr. T. So the cartoon was just a natural extension for me. I don’t know how or why they landed on the concept of having Mr. T coaching a teen gymnastics team, but whatever, it worked. The stories were simple, but the action was fun. And much like Hulk Hogan’s Rock ‘n’ Wrestling, I loved the live-action segments with Mr. T himself.
Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends
My older brother had been into comic books since the late ’70s, and I would see his books and want to read them, but I was just at an age where they couldn’t hold my attention long enough for me to actually read them. So having this cartoon to watch at that time filled my need for comic book characters in a much easier-to-digest format. I loved it then for what it was, but now as an adult, I appreciate it even more when I go back and watch it because the show featured so many cool characters over its run. If you haven’t watched it in a while, I suggest you give it another look on Disney+.
That’s it for this edition of Retro Ramblings. But don’t worry, there’s plenty of more posts here for you to go explore.
Man, I was SO into the Smurfs as a kid. Fell off as I got older, then learned about the original comics, which were pretty cool, and now I kinda want to watch the old cartoons again. Full circle!