Upon listening to some nerve-racking, obnoxious show my son watched, I realized how much I miss some of the older cartoons. Let’s explore some cartoons in which not all characters appeared in dire need of valium in order to speak their thoughts. Some of these shows even ran for a whopping 30 minutes, making us kids stick with the show and follow a story line.
So, in no particular order, here is a list of cartoons that make me want to run to the local video store to buy and make this generation of kids watch.
Ducktales, 1987 – 1990
Disney’s web-footed millionaire, Scrooge McDuck takes sole responsibility of his great nephews, Huey, Dewey, and Louie who live with him in his mansion. But McDuck needs help with the care of the estate. Enter the housekeeper, the motherly Mrs. Beakly, and her pink-bow donning granddaughter, Webby Vanderquack. Many adventures befall the family in and out of the mansion. And there to help with transportation is the one and only, lion-hearted and half-witted pilot, Launchpad McQuack. Together, this team of ducks take on various adversaries out to bring down McDuck. I never grew tired of Launchpad’s spectacular crashes and how the boys continued to grow on Scrooge. Ducktales didn’t slow up on the laughs, action, or the redefining of “family.”
The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron, Boy Genius, 2002 – 2006
Based on Nickelodoen’s short films and full length movie, Jimmy Neutron is a ten year old boy with a killer IQ. He spends much time in his underground laboratory, inventing things that usually cause more mishaps and harm than good. His home town of Retroville is usually thrust into misadventures such as a modern ice age and an invasion of evil, self-folding pants. Jimmy’s friends, Carl and Sheen, and his arch rival, girl genius, Cindy Vortex often have to help him turn everything back to normal. And at Jimmy’s side, is his robotic dog, Goddard, who is a genius’ best friend that can transform into tools and vehicles. An array of side characters help carry the story along, including the school nerd, the cool guy, and Jimmy’s ancient teacher, Mrs. Fowl.
I enjoyed many things about this show while watching it with my son. The value of friendship and teamwork is never forgotten in Jimmy Neutron. Sheen’s fanaticism of the comic book hero, Ultralord and Carl’s every growing list of allergies supplied many chuckles and side stories. Hugh and Judy Neutron, the parents of the prodigy, hold the amazing balance to encourage Jimmy’s talents while setting limits on the usage of his inventions. And a valuable lesson is learned each episode. Many issues life throws at us cannot be mathematically calculated or scientifically hypothesized. Therefore, they can’t be fixed by inventions. And Jimmy’s great Dairy Queen chocolate dipped ice cream hair do is fabulous.
Okay, so there is room for some obnoxious antics. Steven Spielberg presented an animated variety show, Animaniacs, staring the Warner Brothers, Yakko and Wakko, along with the Warner Sister, Dot. The three mischievous siblings would escape from the water tower of the Warner Brothers’ studio, in which much chaos ensued. The opening song claimed “you’ll laugh ‘til you collapse,” which is nothing but the truth. Accompanied by several characters who held their own zany story lines, the parodies and jokes (Hello-o-o, Nurse!) kept firing one after another in skits. The aging and grumpy Slappy the Squirrel had a comeback for every situation. Buttons the dog chased around Mindy, a curious, wandering toddler whose neglectful mother often left her in his care. Two white lab mice, Pinky and the Brain, escaped from their cages every night and attempted to take over the world. Pinky and the Brain enjoyed their own Emmy award winning show from 1995 to 2001.
Animaniacs is side splitting, laugh out loud funny. The humor was enjoyed by children and adults alike. My personal favorite episode is Wakko’s Potty Emergency, where the middle Warner Brother is forced to run through public in search of a place that will let him use the potty.
The Powerpuff Girls, 1998 – 2005
Created by animator Craig McCracken, The Powerpuff Girls, are three kindergarteners who blasted onto Cartoon Network with their super powers of strength, speed, and flight. They debuted during the age of what my husband called Cartoon Networks best line-up to include Dexter’s Lab and Johnny Bravo. In attempts to create a “perfect little girl,” Professor Utonium accidentally spilled Chemical X into the mixture, and his superhero daughters, Blossom, Buttercup, and Bubbles were born.
And the city of Townsville apparently needed the girls. The dim-witted mayor often called upon them to fight off the most motley array of villains, including a gangrene Gang and Mojo Jojo, a monkey hell bent on taking over the world. Monsters also ran amuck in Townsville. The battles ended in much destruction to the city, with estimated devastation to be in the millions of dollars. Yet at the beginning of each episode, Townsville appeared to be rebuilt. Blosson, Bubbles, and Buttercup not only had to battle crazed villains and destructive monsters, but also the battles of regular childhood. They attended school and dealt with peer pressure, sibling rivalry, and bedtimes.
The Disney Channel took characters from its film The Jungle Book, put them in the business of air cargo freight. Baloo the bear is the wise cracking pilot, who takes in orphan Kit Cloudkicker as a traveling buddy. The mechanical genius who talks with a lisp, Wildcat, keeps the planes running. Louie the orangutan runs Baloo’s favorite watering hole. And Sheer Khan plays a sleek and cunning business tycoon. Baloo and his friends mainly pit against air pirates led by Don Karnage.
This actiony-adventure cartoon is reminiscent of one of my favorite childhood TV series, Tales of the Gold Monkey. It also has a bit of the Indiana Jones feel.
The Littles, 1983 to 1985.
They use a pencil for a slide. You can’t stop the Littles ’cause the Littles don’t stop. A pre-adolescent boy named Henry discovers a family of tiny, pointy-eared, people with tails. Cousin Dinky flies everyone around in a make-shift plane, while Grandpa keeps him in line. Brother and sister Tom and Lucy put sibling differences aside for adventure and often to help save their family from the big and greedy world. And it was the first time I heard of a boy named Ashley. As a girl, I secretly hoped I would find Littles in my home.