by Nik Bartunek
I remember a lot about my childhood. Most of those memories will never escape me, and for the most part, I’m really happy about this. I can clearly remember many amazing times romping around the neighborhood with buddies. Remembering sneaking into the plant nursery located behind my block, and much like Metal Gear Solid, sneaking past the workers. I can remember hearing the rain on my roof in the winter, or the hot sun heating the pavement in the summer. All of them positive.
One thing that we all collectively remember as children, are the shows that we watched.
I see a parallel between the shows you chose to watch as a child, and the music you choose to listen to now. In some ways, we can tell a lot about someone from the music they listen to, and I think it can also be a way for us to gain a certain identity. The same with children’s show. Pretty much everyone liked Power Rangers, but there was always that weird kid in the class who liked Beetleborgs more. Don’t ask me why.
The other day I spent a while thinking about the shows I used to watch as a kid, and then realized something immediately: how poorly written and produced they were.
I mean, that goes without saying right? But if you really take some time to think about it, some of the things we thought were so super cool as kids, were just plain wack! And the thing that also sprung to mind, is that fact that these shows projected an amazingly warped reality onto my mind. Watching Ronin Warriors just made me think that with enough Martial Arts training, I could jump 30 feet into the air, and punch holes in concrete. I’m ashamed to say, that as a child, I actually tried this.
So for you, I’ve arranged a list of the shows that made my childhood, and my startling retrospect into their structure and layout:
Pokemon – Proof that writers are lazy, and kids love that!
Everyone knows Pokemon. I had the cards. Watched the shows. Saw all the movies. I think everyone did for the most part. Most kids I knew had an extensive card collection, and our bass player Ryan was a tactical genius when it came to actually playing the card game. Pokemon was god, and all children were frequent worshipers at the Pokemon temple. Thinking about it now, the fanaticism that followed this show was actually pretty scary. Fourth and Fifth grade were the big times in my life when Pokemon reigned supreme. I attended Slater Elementary in Mountain View, and there were hall/yard monitors of sorts, called Slater Gators (our school mascot). Our job was to roam and patrol the dangerous and gritty sidewalks and by-ways of the school yard. So essentially, we just wore an over sized green jacket and bossed the younger kids around. At one time Pokemon cards were outlawed at school. When you make anything illegal, it creates a certain, how should I say it? Criminal element in the population. We spent many a school recess shutting down Black Market Pokemon Smuggling Rings. Two times in particular, I can recall catching groups of third graders in a circle, trading contraband to each other and then yelling “Five – Oh!” and running away as our Pokemon Dragnet squeezed tighter.
Taking a close look at the show really brought back some memories. I’m truly floored at how ripped off I really was. In a nutshell, the show was a vehicle to sell the cards, and the figurines, which you clearly needed to have in order to “Catch em all!”. The only thing I caught onto at that age, was the fact that EVERY episode of the show was exactly the same. Literally. Here is a run down of every episode: The main character Ash finds a new Pokemon that he must subjugate and capture in a small ball, so he calls on his friendly electrical rodent Pikachu. A battle ensues, and through a violent and heartless battle where downtrodden animals are forced to fight each other for the amusement of a human, Ash and Co. learn about overcoming personal and emotional challenges. Then Team Rocket shows up! This villainous trio is comprised of what appears to be Ani Defranco, a foppish latent homosexual, and a talking cat. In their attempt to kidnap the all-powerful Pikachu, they are then hit a powerful jolt of electricity and shot thousands of feet into the air while crooning their lament, and catchphrase “We’re Blasting off Agggaaaaiiinnn”. And no matter how much Team Rocket tries, and fails, they still are unable to learn from the 3,568 other times they were electrocuted and beaten that they will never win, and should find work elsewhere (Google or Sun Microsystems preferably).
What this show taught me as a child: That cock-fights shouldn’t be outlawed in the United States. Oh, and also, that capturing animals against their will is totally ok, and that regardless of their attempt to escape, they actually enjoy captivity, and with enough time, can gain the ability to shoot lasers from their eyes.
Mighty Max – WTF?!?!
I still don’t know what this show is about , but it sure freaked me the hell out as a kid.
He-man and The Masters of the Universe – When man reigned supreme!
When you’re a kid, you don’t catch on to stuff like you do now. As you grow older the world either pollutes, or enlightens you with information that causes you to see things in a new light. When I was a kid, He-man was the most awesome, manly, powerful dude around, and for a boy of 10, there is nothing more awesome than a muscular guy running about with a sword in hand, slaying monsters. Looking at this video now, I’m sort of disturbed. At the end, he describes that only three other individuals know his “Secret”. When he “transforms”, the only thing I see changing are his clothes. And to me, those clothes look mighty gay. Hey man, if he wants to gallivant around the universe and swing his sword, more power to him.
G.I. Joe – Hoorah!
More in the vein and time with He-man, I’d have to say this show really explains a boy’s young life. Blowing stuff up. Punching out the bad guys. Shooting machine guns. I can’t really say that this show is weird for any reason, but I’m sure with an extended watch, you’d probably want to join the marines.
Power Rangers – Go go Power Rangers!
Power Rangers. The name itself evokes so many images in my head. Specifically a giant floating bald head.
Another tried and true recipe: Take a weird Japanese kids show, adapt it for American audiences, and you have a success on your hands! I’m pretty sure we all know the story when it comes to Power Rangers, but I’ll just go over it one more time. The story entails a group of teens who are called upon to don mystical cosmic powers, and are granted the rights to be The Power Rangers, a group of intergalactic martial artists who defend the world from the evil Rita. On their side, they have a giant floating bald head, who goes by the name of Zordon, and his plucky C-3P0′esque robot Alpha 5, tends to his needs.
There wasn’t much depth or change in the story line. Rita makes some cooky monster, based off something like Cookie Dough, who then comes to earth, bringing chaos and destruction where ever he goes. The Rangers come and fight him. The Rangers are not strong enough. The monster then “super-sizes” himself, becoming hundreds of feet tall. Then the Rangers morph their powers together, and using their robotic battle droids, Zords, form a giant robot. Then, in a tribute to every Godzilla movie ever, they begin a guy-in-rubber-monster-suit-fights-guy-in-rubber-robot-suit battle in a miniature city set.
The other thing that I remember about this show, and I don’t mean to become a conspiracy theorist, is the color scheme to the Rangers. Each ranger has a color: red, blue, yellow, black, pink etc. I do want to note that the Yellow Ranger was played by a young Asian girl, and the Black Ranger was played by a Young Black man, who did break dancing, and had a Zord that was an elephant. A little racist if you ask me.
Oh, and something else that isn’t a conspiracy theory, is that the Red Ranger went on to do Gay Porn. Yes. Really.
Beetleborgs – If Jay Leno Was Blue
With the success of Power Rangers, you had a lot of shows that basically copied the idea more or less. I was a huge Power Rangers fan, and I loved the series, which probably explained why I even watched this show. In fact, I can’t remember why I even really watched the show. Thumbs up for being able to add in a blue skinned genie Jay Leno-Elvis creature. Whoever has the writers ability to think that up, put it into the show, and make it fly, gets my two thumbs up. The basic premise is vague now, but I think its about three kids who discover alien bug technology in a haunted house, occupied by a Vampire, a Frankenstein, a Mummy, and the aforementioned genie character. Just reading that now made me realize why it was only around a short time.
Gargoyles – SCARY!!!
Now we delve into awesome territory. Having a kids show that can entertain children and teens/adults is a rare occurrence. Gargoyles did just that. I’m really still a fan of this show. I know that’s pretty dorky, but I must stand strong in my nerd-dom. Recently I got the chance to watch the episodes online again. Some faithful Gargoyles fan decided to put them up on Youtube.
The show follows Goliath, and his crew of Gargoyle friends. Cursed by an evil wizard, they are stuck in their Stone Form for thousands of years, until awakening in New York, after the castle they protected in Medieval times is converted into the top of a skyscraper (its a stretch, I know). The owner is millionaire David Xanatos, who coincidentally is sort of the bad guy. Over all though, the feel and tone of the show was much darker, and I think it gave the show some energy to feed off of.
I think the beauty about this show is simply this: Its reserved, in the sense that its for kids, but its also not reserved in how dark some of the content is. Not to mention the art and design is pretty good for something that comes out on a Saturday morning. I’d recommend this to anyone, and if anyone was a fan, get re-connected.
Batman: The Animated Series – Holy Frijole’s Batman!
Two words. Freaking Fantastic.
This show falls into a pantheon with Gargoyles. Great art. Great production. For a kids show, this was again, rather dark, which I think is exactly what Batman should be. Sort of like how Christopher Nolan got that Batman shouldn’t be played by George Clooney, I think the creators of this show got that Batman shouldn’t be confined to Adam West. I really can’t say much more about this show, except that its great. It won a series of awards for the animation and writing, which I think is a good testament to its quality. Again, some faithful fan put episodes up on Youtube. Check it!
The Tick – Spppoooonnn!
I have no idea why this show is as good as it is. I have no idea who thought this show up. I have no idea why its so funny. It just is. Any show about off kilter super heroes is always a favorite. I think this show was beyond me when I was a kid, but I enjoyed watching it. It wasn’t till I was much older that I started to get the humor. Definitely a classic. And besides, who can turn down a hero, who’s battle cry is “spoooonnnn”.
Strangely enough they also came out with a live action series, that to be honest, wasn’t that bad. I leave you with a clip of that as well.
Animaniacs/ Pinky and The Brain – Yacko, Wacko and Dot
Can I get a round of applause here? Lets give it up for this show! *crowd cheers*
I really think this show is timeless. *one voice from the crowd boos*
(gunshot is heard)
Thank you! Anyways, on with my rant. I loved this show. My mom loved this show. My dad loved this show. College kids loved this show. Teens loved this show. Japanese businessmen loved this show. The show was just plumb funny. I’d have to say that Pinky and The Brain drew the older audiences in, but the overall experience was great. I think the only way to do this justice is to leave you with some clips:
That wraps up my history novel! I hope you all enjoyed this walk down memory lane. Remember, kids shows are just wierd!
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