Relive this forgotten Rankin Bass Thanksgiving special from 1968.
Relive this forgotten Rankin Bass Thanksgiving special from 1968.
Yessir, them Good Ol’ Boys from CBS’ insanely popular The Dukes of Hazzard came to Saturday morning in 1983. Actually, original Good Ol’ Boys Bo (John Schneider) and Luke (Tom Wopat) were too busy fussin’ and a-feudin’ with the powers that be to voice their animated characters. So as on the primetime show, they were replaced by Good Ol’ Cousins Vance (Christopher Mayer) and Coy (Byron Cherry). Catherine Bach (Daisy), Denver Pyle (Uncle Jesse), Sorrell Booke (Boss Hogg), and James Best (Sheriff Rosco P. Coltrane) all provided the voices for their cartoon counterparts. Coltrane’s hound dog Flash was finally given a bark of his own by Frank Welker, who also did the honors for new addition Smokey the raccoon. Fences were mended later that year, and Bo and Luke rejoined the family both in live action and cartoon form.
The race and chase formula of the primetime series was expanded into a round-the-world race, with the Duke Boys trying to win enough money to pay off Boss Hogg’s mortgage on the Duke home. Naturally, Boss Hogg was perpetually scheming to sabotage the race, but the General Lee always managed to outrun Hogg’s Texas longhorn Cadillac.
“Whooo-ooooey, we’re gonna have some fun!”
Long before The Spice Girls, Jem and the Holograms had Girl Power and then some. Underwritten by Hasbro, who wanted an MTV-influenced doll line to rival Mattel’s Barbie, Jem came on the scene as part of the Super Sunday block in 1985. The segment proved so popular it was spun off into its own half-hour syndicated series the following year.
Pink-haired Jem was the alter ego of Jerrica Benton, head of Starlight Music and the charitable Starlight Foundation. Jerrica’s father, Emmet, created a hologram-projecting computer called Synergy to provide 3D accompaniment to Starlight’s music videos. After Emmet’s death, Synergy contacted Jerrica through a set of specially-designed earrings Emmet had given her. With Synergy’s holographic capabilities, Jerrica transformed herself into rock star Jem. Sister Kimber and a pair of orphans from the Starlight Foundation’s orphanage were holograpically disguised as Jem’s group, the Holograms (an additional member joined later on). Rival all-grrrl band The Misfits constantly sparred with the group.
Jem/Jerrica was a true 80’s woman. She had it all: two careers, a smart and sexy boyfriend named Rio, and the zeal of a social activist. All proceeds from Jem’s music business went to the Starlight Foundation, and episodes dealt with such topical issues as drug abuse, poverty, and illiteracy. The show also mixed in MTV-style videos from both bands (and later addition The Stingers), perfect right down to the group/title/label tags in the lower left corner.
The franchise became a mini-industry, including a line of dolls and accessories, compilation records and tapes, even a contest inviting wannabes to sing the Jem theme song over a special “1-800” number. She may not have had the staying power of Madonna, but for a few years, Jem was the most “Truly Outrageous” rock star in Toontown.
Also Check out What You Didn’t Know About Your Favorite 80’s Cartoons
It’s time to dig in deep, and talk about one of my favorite cartoons of all time….G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero. As a kid, I fell in love with not only the cartoon, but the action figure line as well. G.I. Joe was always my go-to toy at playtime, and my preferred choice of after school cartoons.
Recently, Jason over at Rediscover the 80’s has been doing some really fun posts centered around the cartoon. I approached him about doing a cross-over event where we present our 10 favorite episodes of the cartoon, with each of us reminiscing on 5 episodes. So once you’re done here, be sure to head on over to his place and check out the other half of this list. As a bonus, we’ve also decided to throw in our favorite G.I. Joe mini-series as well! Let’s get to it.
This episode was from earlier in the series, and one of the first batch to be released on home video cassette. I remember very fondly the Christmas of ’86 that I received a copy of the episode Satellite Down, and my cousin Tim received a copy of The Funhouse. We each watched our own copies numerous times over a couple of days, and then switched off. The episode itself may not be a strong one, but the nostalgia I feel for it keeps it high on my list.
Anyway, Cobra kidnaps a bunch of scientists and holds them hostage someplace sinister to lure the Joe team there. Once they arrive, they discover the temple where the scientists are being held is one giant “funhouse” that Cobra Commander has put together just to screw with the Joes. Once inside, the Joe team discovers this, and splits up into three teams in order to hunt down Cobra Commander.
Dusty and Airtight take off in one direction, and soon find themselves in a room full of falling balloons. Dusty decides to pop one, and it releases a gas that make his hallucinate. He sees Airtight as an enemy, so Airtight has to work some voodoo magic on him and knock him out with a karate chop. He then sets off on his own to find Cobra Commander, but gets undone when he runs into a room full of giant Jack in the Boxes and gets taken out by a newspaper swat from one of them.
Meanwhile, Alpine and Bazooka’s path leads them to a roller coaster, and that leads them through a shooting gallery of cobra robots. Bazooka takes a hit and goes unconscious as Alpine vows revenge. Unfortunately, he finds himself running on an oversized bowling lane, and gets taken out by a falling bowling pin.
The final duo, Flint and Lady Jaye, end up running into robotic tin soldiers who all look like Cobra Commander. They take out most of the robots, only for one to sneak up on Lady Jaye and take her out of the fight. Flint goes on to find Cobra Commander’s control room, but he sets a bomb that is going to destroy the whole island before he, along with Zartan and The Baroness escape to another hideout. Flint and some of the Joe cavalry rescue their teammates and escape the island in Sky Strikers just in time.
Wild Bill had been watching for anything to leave the island, so the Joes are able to track them pretty easily to their new location. The Joes launched an all out assault on the Cobra base, yet Cobra Commander and his cronies escaped once again, but the Joes were able to rescue the captured scientists to end the episode on a successful note.
I always liked the episodes that featured action on the water with the various Joe and Cobra weapons their navies employed, so this episode didn’t disappoint. At the start, the Joes are in Philadelphia at the ship yard for a ceremony to retire the USS Montana battleship, but Admiral Latimer doesn’t want to give his ship up.
Cobra attacks the Joes at the ceremony, and Latimer joins Cobra and uses the weapons on the Montana to destroy the moth balled fleet in Philly before heading for Richmond VA to attack the 7th Fleet stationed there. Destro brings aboard the Pulse Modulator that can de-power anything within a 2 mile radius, making it virtually impossible to take out the Montana.
The Atlantic Fleet is dispatched to intercept the Montana and send her to the bottom of the ocean, but they have no idea about the Pulse Modulator on board. Meanwhile, Gen. Hawk commandeers The USS Constitution, the oldest ship still in service in the Navy, that happens to be a wooden ship, and thus impervious to the effects of the Pulse Modulator.
The Joes use multiple Tomahawk helicopters to air lift the Constitution out to see, and hide it behind an island waiting on The Montana. As the Atlantic Fleet approaches and engages the Montana, the Joes use the Constitution to get close and board the ship. Hawk utilizes a deck gun to take out the Pulse Modulator, and the Atlantic Fleet then decimates the Montana and sinks her.
As the Joe team heads to the British Isles to install a new anti-Cobra radar system, Cobra attacks from the air, attempting to destroy the radar system before it can be put in place. Storm Shadow is piloting a Rattler and gets shot down into a small lake. While at the bottom, he discovers an ancient sword that turns out to be the legendary Excalibur.
Storm Shadow makes his way to the small town where the Joes are attempting to set up the radar as a massive storm moves in. He uses the sword to engage some Joes and cuts their weapons in half with it. He ends up taking Footloose as a hostage. Meanwhile, a stranger alerts the Joe team that the legend of the lady in the lake says that if Excalibur is removed from the lake, storms will come and flood the aisles.
Storm Shadow takes Footloose to the Cobra hideout, and upon seeing the sword, Destro knows it is Excalibur and covets it for himself. Cobra forces lead an assault on the town, and Destro uses the opportunity to try to assassinate Storm Shadow and steal the sword, but his rocket misses. Wild Bill and a pack of Dragon Fly helicopters show up to turn the tide of battle in the Joes favor. Major Bludd orders a retreat, but not before blowing up the dam above the town, flooding it and destroying the anti-Cobra radar system.
Spirit and Quick Kick infiltrate the Cobra headquarters, but Storm Shadow takes out Quick Kick and injures his leg. Spirit uses his Native American abilities and sets his leg, and they enter through a hidden entrance and find themselves in a battle with a pack of Crimson Guards. They need help, so Quick Kick uses a spotlight and a curtain to send a signal to the rest of the Joe team that leads them to their location.
Spirit, Footloose, and Quick Kick race to escape, but are cut off by Storm Shadow. He and Quick Kick duel with their martial arts, as Spirit’s eagle Freedom swoops in and snares the sword, carrying back out and dropping it in the lake, bringing an end to the storms as the Cobra forces escape to fight another day.
We start off at the Bureau of Engraving in Washington D.C., as G.I. Joe had intercepted a message from Cobra about a pending attack, so the Joes have it staked out. All seems quiet in and out of the building, but Cobra had snuck into the building disguised as tourists on a tour. They attacked in all directions as a distraction while Major Bludd made his way to an office to steal something from a safe, which turned out to be a video cassette. It turns out that this cassette held all the schematics and blue prints to Fort Knox!
The Joe team loaded up and headed there ready for battle, only to find a base commander who didn’t think he needed their assistance. Zartan comes up through a vent in the floor of the vault and takes Stack. He then impersonates him and orders all of the guard troops out of the vault. The Joe team thinks this seems weird so they head inside to investigate.
They find Cobra troops stealing the gold using an old tunnel beneath the Fort to transfer the gold to a Cobra bullet train which is ready to take off the moment all the gold is loaded. Meanwhile, Cobra forces lead a huge attack on the Joes defending the building, and wipe out almost all of the Joe team’s vehicles. The gold is loaded, and the train sets off, and the Joes have no way to give chase.
They borrow some horses from a nearby farm, and somehow chase down a bullet train on them. They engage Cobra in the train cars, and on top of the train. Up ahead, several Joe vehicles have been parked on the track to try to stop the train, but it just plows right on through them. Finally, the train’s engine blows, which causes it to derail. The Joes are victorious once again, but Zartan and his Dreadnoks steal a Dragonfly and escape.
I like this episode because everything Fort Knox has always intrigued me. Then the element of the horse chase along with the boarding of the train and the fighting that takes place all over the train reminds me of classic western movies. I know some folks think this is a hokier episode, but I liked if the first time I saw it, and I still like it now.
This episode is probably on a lot of people’s lists of favorite episodes. So we start off with Barbeque showing off the old firehouse he has just renovated and hosting several Joe team members for an indoor cookout. The phone rings, and on the other end is a simple message…The Viper is coming, 575. The Joes think it’s a message from Cobra, trying to get them to guess where his next attack will be.
They deduce that the 575 must be the longitude and latitude, but that seems them to the middle of nowhere in the arctic. Thinking there is nothing there, Alpine sees a rock that he would like to add to his collection, but when he tries to lift it, it turns out to open a section of ice to reveal a hidden Cobra rest and recreation base for its troops! Battles are fought outside and inside the place until finally the Joes come out victorious.
The Joes returned home, and the Viper called again. This time saying “The Viper is coming on Friday…west corner.” This time, the Joes realize he must be referring to West Point, and since there is a graduation ceremony on Friday, that must be the target of the next attack. Turns out they are right as Major Bludd is there to lead an attack on all of the Generals in the stands. The Joes fend them off with the help off the recent West Point grads.
Another call comes in from the Viper saying, “The Viper is coming tomorrow…top floor first.” The Joes head to the tallest skyscraper in the world, Extensive Enterprises, thinking there is no top floor higher than this one. Again they guess right, as this building is home to the Crimson Guard Twins, and Destro is in the building on this day too. Yet another battles ensues that the Joes win. They return and await more info from the Viper.
The Viper doesn’t disappoint and another call comes in. “The Viper is coming. Be there noon today…be ready.” The Joe team gets this message and bring in a lot of equipment to fend off whatever attack may be coming. Right at 12, they spot a figure coming over the horizon, and everyone is ready to start a battle. As the figure gets closer, they can see it is an old man with a German accent carrying a squeegee. He is the Viper, and he is here to “vipe the vindows”. He clears up all the earlier confusion by stating, “$5.75 and hour, start on the west corner, top floor first.” The Joes realize what has happened and have a hearty laugh to end the episode.
This is another of the early mini-series, and features a lot of the same old concepts of the first two, like fighting in exotic locales with cool names. But in this one, Cobra is attempting to stop the world’s power supply by setting up what they are calling, the Pyramid of Darkness. Nothing within it’s reach will be able to use power.
As the Joes launch a shuttle into space, Cobra attacks, but only as a diversion so they can move up along side the shuttle and place something in it. The Dreadnoks stow away on board. The space station that the shuttle is heading too is going to act as the top of the pyramid. To go along with that, Cobra has to set up cubes at other locales including a lava field called The Devil’s Playground, The City of the Dead, the top of a mountain in the arctic, and the Sea of Lost Souls.
Once the cubes are all in place and activated, they cast a pyramid and stop everything that needs power to run. The Joes eventually get their act together and fight Cobra in numerous locations at the same time as Tomax and Xamot make a power play and disrupt Cobra Commanders plans. The Joes retake control of the space station and bring an end to the Pyramid of Darkness.
This mini-series isn’t much different from the first two, but I prefer it due to the cast of characters. Quick Kick was always one of my favorites, and this is his introduction to the series. Tomax and Xamot played a big role, and so did the Dreadnoks, so a lot of my favorite characters got screen time and put this mini-series at the top of my list.
So there you have it, 5 of my favorite episodes of G.I. Joe A Real American hero. Now, head on over to Rediscover the 80’s and see his list of Favorite G.I. Joe episodes, and be sure to leave us some thoughts in the comments below as to what YOUR favorite episodes were.
Racing into the marketplace at nearly the same time as Hasbro’s Transformers, Tonka launched its own “Mighty Robots, Mighty Vehicles,” the GoBots. The transforming robots—robot to plane, car, helicopter, motorcycle, etc., and back—had been a major craze on the Japanese toy scene for years, and the U.S. versions were just as successful. The toys caught on like wildfire, and both Tonka and Hasbro fed the flames with syndicated cartoon versions of their mechanical warlords.
Challenge of the GoBots began on the planet Gobotron, where a group of robots called Guardians were created as planetary protectors. But good robots can go bad, and under the command of motorcycle/robot Cy-Kill, the Guardians raged against the machine, becoming a band of insurrectionists known as the Renegades. And so, it was up to jet/robot Leader-1 and his team of loyal Guardians to keep Gobotron from destruction.
Fighting on the side of good were Scooter, Smallfoot, Turbo, Rest-Q and others. Cy-Kill’s evil henchmen included Crasher, Cop-Tur, Loco, Fitor and Pincher. In the pilot episode, the war moved to earth, where the good Guardians were befriended by heroic human Matt Hunter and youngsters Nick and A.J.
The battle continued for 65 episodes and led to an animated feature, GoBots: Battle of the Rock Lords, but Leader-1 and the gang never managed to hit the same level of popularity as their Hasbro rivals.
A catchphrase as instantly recognizable as the man behind it. Big, tough, Mohawk-sporting (the haircut was technically a Mandinkan, to the purists), and decked out in over $300,000 worth of gold chains and earrings, Mr. T entered the ring as the unstoppable Clubber Lang in Rocky III, then shot to instant stardom as mechanic/tough guy B.A. Barracus on NBC’s wildly popular The A-Team.
Eager to expand Mr. T‘s already huge fan following among youngsters, the network commissioned Ruby-Spears to create a Saturday morning series around their golden boy, with the former Laurence Tureaud (he changed his name so everyone would have to call him “Mister”) himself to star. After a guest-starring launch on the premiere of Ruby-Spears’ Alvin and the Chipmunks, Mr. T got his own, self-titled program, an animated half-hour framed by live-action inserts.
In the show, T ran a gymnasium, where a rainbow coalition of young gymnasts came to practice: Kim, Woody, Jeff, Sky, Vinnie, Courtney, Garcia, Robin, and Robin’s little brother Jeff, a wannabe tough who copied his idol to a “T.” Together with Miss Bisby and T’s bulldog, Spike (same haircut, same attitude), the group spent their off hours finding trouble and fixing it.
Mr. T provided the voice of his own character and appeared in the opening and closing segments, which provided the moral of the day’s adventures: don’t ride with strangers, never be afraid to walk away from a fight, etc.
The show lasted three seasons and thirty episodes, ending shortly before the final prime time season of The A-Team.
If you thought you knew everything about you favorite 80’s cartoons, think again! From the many great, and some not so great, cartoons that aired in the 80’s there is an abundance of things about them you never knew. Check out these little known facts about 25 of your favorite cartoons from the 80’s! Let us know which ones surprised you the most.
G.I. Joe A Real American Hero
Fact: G.I. Joe premiered in 1983 with a 5-episode story called “The MASS Device“. The fact that is was shown in 5 parts made it the first animated mini-series in television history.
Fact: BraveStarr has the distinction of being the last cartoon series produced by our beloved Filmation studios. Filmation was also responsible for bringing us The Archie Show, Fat Albert & The Cosby Kids, and it’s most famous creation, He-Man and the Masters of the Universe.
Read about the rise and fall of Filmation Studios in the excellent book, Lou Scheimer: Creating the Filmation Generation
Also, you can read more about Bravestarr over at The Robot’s Pajamas
Fact: The Wuzzles only ran for 13 episodes, making it the shortest running animated Disney series of all time.
The Shirt Tales
Fact: The Shirt Tales series was created from a line of Hallmark greeting cards. When the cards lost popularity, so did the cartoon series.
When the many suns of the planet of Prysmos came into alignment, the results were catastrophic. The planet was thrust back into the Dark Ages, where magic equaled power. Because of the cataclysm, the planet was split into two warring factions, the evil Darkling Lords and the Knights of the Magical Light (who also went by “Spectral Knights” and “Visionaries”). Merklyn, a master of magic, assembled the group, in hopes of bringing peace to the planet that had been torn asunder by the catastrophic event.
The Knights and Darklings had on their armor a holographic chestplate, created by Merklyn. Through the wizard’s power and after proving themselves through a series of tasks, the warriors were able to transform into the animal represented on their chest plates. The specific animals were assigned based on the bearer’s own traits, a cheetah for speed, a lion for bravery, etc. Several of the warriors (both good and evil) also carried holographic staves, which could discharge the powers of speed, decay, and more through the reading of a rhymed incantation. The only catch was that each staff needed a recharge after every use, and Merklyn didn’t give away his magic to just anyone.
Not all technology had been destroyed in the planet-alignment catastrophe, and many warriors chose to master machinery instead of (or in addition to) magic. A fleet of tactical and assault vehicles were used in Prysmos’ battle between good and evil, and many of these had magic capabilities as well.
Visionaries: Knights of the Magical Light was co-produced by Marvel, and much like that company’s Transformers, the series laced its action with humor, much of it self-effacing. For instance, one recurring gag had the all-knowing oracle putting everyone to sleep with his long-winded speeches.
Also like many 80’s cartoons, Visionaries came with its own action figure line, complete with vehicles and holographic chest plates and staves. Despite the cool holographic gimmick, neither toy nor cartoon stuck around for very long. The animated Visionaries aired only 13 episodes, but that was more than enough to make an impression on the young fantasy buffs who watched.