Saturday, September 25, 2010

The Cartoon Historian Lesson 22: Saturday Morning Cartoons

Welcome to another Cartoon Historian. I'm your instructor,Stefan and this is my assistant,Mina.

Mina: In this episode we're gonna be talking about the Saturday Morning Cartoons. It's all About Saturday Morning Cartoons on the Cartoon Historian.

[Cartoon Historian Theme Plays]

Mina: If you grew up in the 70's,80's,and 90's than you probably watched cartoons on Saturday Mornings,and thus,know about them. But for those who don't here's a little info: A Saturday morning cartoon is the term for the animated television programming which was scheduled on Saturday mornings on the major American television networks from the Late 1960s to the Late 1990s.

In the United States,Saturday mornings start from 8 am. to 12 pm. Starting in the late 60's,American networks,starting with NBC,created Program Blocks for Saturday Mornings. Though most of the shows aired on these early blocks were reruns of older shows.

Mina: Starting in the late-1970s,Network excecutives started to air shows that doubled as Toy advertisements. This was part of a special deal they made with the Toy and Game companies. Cartoons being used to sell Toys and Games was a very common practice in the 80's.

Mina: Because they had shows that contained limited animation,Filmation and Hanna-Barbera were able to produce a decent quantity of cartoons to fill the four hour time slot,without blowing too much money.

Mina: In addition to these cartoons,some Saturday morning blocks aired old Warner Bros cartoons,as well as the Pink Panther and Popeye. These Cartoons,along with live-action programming,made Saturday Morning TV a great hit.

Mina: But not everyone liked what they say. Some nutjob groups had a problem with wat was being put on Saturday Mornings. Stefan will explain this one.

In the Early 70's,Parents lobby groups voiced concerns about the presentation of violence,anti-social attitudes,and stereotypes in Saturday morning cartoons.

By the mid-1970s, these groups exercised enough influence that the TV networks felt compelled to lay down content rules for the animation houses that were a tad "restrictive"

In a more constructive direction,the networks were encouraged to create educational spots for their Blocks. Far and away the most successful effort was the Schoolhouse Rock series on ABC,which became a television classic.

Just as notable were CBS's news segments for children, In the News and NBC's Ask NBC News and One to Grow On, which featured skits of everyday problems with advice from the stars of NBC primetime programs.

Mina: According to some,the decline of Saturday Morning Cartoons began in the late 1980's,though I disagree completely. In reality,it began declining in the early-2000's. However these people have a variety of reasons on why it was declining in the '80's. Here are their reasons:

Reason 1: The rise of first run syndication animated programs,which had a greater artistic freedom and looser standards (not mandated by a network).

Reason 2: Increasing regulation of children's programming content,including educational requirements and advertising restrictions, which limited the creative options for the shows.

Reason 3: The increasing popularity of home video; this made quality animated productions easily accessible, which encouraged unfavourable comparisons with typical television animation.

Reason 4: The rise of cable TV channels like Nickelodeon and Cartoon Network which provided appealing kids entertainment throughout the week at nearly all hours, making Saturday morning blocks less important to viewers and advertisers. This reason is Bullshit!

Reason 5: Cable channels also have the additional advantage of being beyond FCC content regulations, meaning they do not have to abide by educational or advertising regulations. Now,This one I Believe!

Reason 6: Increased popularity of video game consoles and, by the late 1990s,the internet.

Reason 7: Many of the same networks who often showed Saturday morning cartoons began airing similar programs in the afternoons during the weekdays, usually when most children were out of school already. This practice has been discontinued as of late, but it was common throughout the 1990s.

Mina: Fox Kids Anyone.

Reason 8: An increase in children playing outside.

Reason 9: The success of live action Saturday morning programming for kids and teens (such as NBC's Saved by the Bell) which led to the development of more live action shows and teen programming, squeezing out cartoons. This block was called Teen NBC.

Reason 10:The gradual loss of most of the American companies which were at one time, iconic producers of kids shows. These companies include: Filmation,Ruby-Spears,Sunbow,DiC,and Rankin/Bass.

Mina: I'll admit,some of these reasons have merit,but Saturday Morning Cartoons (and cartoons in general) would continue to thrive until 2002.

Beginning in the late 1990s,Networks started airing Anime and in the early 2000's,Canadian Shows. This was a mistake...a mistake that helped killed Saturday Morning entertainment.

Mina: While animated shows still air on CBS,NBC,and ABC Saturday mornings,it's been reduced. Because of FCC regulations that began in the mid-1990s, broadcast stations were required to program a minimum of three hours of children's educational/informational ("E/I") programming per week. boy,that sucks,don't it.

Yes it does. NBC,the network that produced the first SatAM Block,abandoned its Saturday morning cartoon lineup in 1992,replacing it with a Saturday morning edition of The Today Show and adding an all live-action teen-oriented block called TeenNBC. this Small block featured Saved by the Bell,California Dreams,Hang Time,and other teen comedies. And Even though the educational content was minimal to nonexistent,NBC labeled the live-action shows with an E/I rating.

Mina: In Late 1994,NBC gave up on it's Saturday Morning Line-Up and replaced it with a mediocre Program Block that isn't considered to be a True Saturday Morning Block. Today,NBC's Saturday block is pathetic and insignificant.

CBS followed NBC's example by producing a Saturday edition of The Early Show before airing their Saturday Morning block of live-action semi-educational kids programming.

Mina: The experiment lasted a few months,and CBS brought back their animated CBS Storybreak series. In 1999,CBS's Saturday Morning Block became Pathetic,So Pathetic that it wasn't considered a True Saturday Morning Block anymore. Today,CBS's Saturday Morning Block is totally insignificant....Just Like NBC's.

Mina: But Who the hell cares what happened to NBC and CBS,because we had Fox Kids and Kids WB to fall back on.

Right. In 2004, ABC was the last of the broadcast networks to add a Saturday morning edition of their morning news program,Good Morning America,before airing their Block. In 2006,ABC's Saturday Morning Block officialy became pathetic. And Like CBS and NBC,It too lost it ligitness as a Saturday Morning Block.

Mina: Fox carried little or no E/I programming, leaving the responsibility of scheduling the E/I shows to the affiliates themselves. The WB was far more accommodating. For several years,they've aired the history-themed cartoon Histeria! five days a week,leaving only a half-hour of E/I programs up to the local program block producers.

After The Walt Ditzney Corperation bought Fox Family and Fox Kids in 2002,the Fox Kids block was canned and replaced by 4Kids Entertainment's Fox Box. In 2004,The Fox Box became 4Kids TV. This block ended in 2008.

Mina: Also in 2008,4Kids Entertainment fused with Kids WB creating the CW 4Kids. And Today,this block is known as Toonzai.

Well that was interesting. Now we are gonna give you a small timeline,chronicling the Birth and Death of Saturday Mornings.

Mina: You guys are gonna enjoy this.


1968?: The Saturday Morning TV is born; NBC creates the First Incarnation of its Saturday Morning Block,followed by CBS and ABC.
1976: Saturday Morning TV gains Popularity.
1987: Fox Enters the Saturday Morning "Race"
1990: Saturday Mornings become Sacred.
1991: Fox Kids debuts.
1992: NBC shortens it's block and rids it of Cartoons
1993: CBS shortens it's block.
1994: NBC gives up on it's Saturday Morning Block; NBC Saturday Morning Line-up becomes so pathetic,that it's no longer concidered a True Saturday Morning Block.
1995: The WB's Kids WB debuts.
1996: The USA Network's Action Extreme Team Weekend Block debuts.
1997: ABC's One Saturday Morning debuts.
1998: The USA Network's Action Extreme Team Weekend Block ends.
1999: CBS looses the ligitness of it's Saturday Morning Block; Cartoon Network's Toonami The Rising Sun debuts.
2000: Toonami The Rising Sun ends.
2002: Fox Family debuts it's Weekend Kids Block; One Saturday Morning becomes ABC Kids; Disney buys Fox Kids and Fox Family. Fox Kids ends;Fox Box debuts.
2005: The Fox Box becomes 4Kids TV; ABC shortens it's block...but not much.;Jetix invades ABC Family
2006: ABC Family ends its Weekend Kids Block; ABC Kids loses it's ligitness as a True Saturday Morning Block;Kids WB starts to get pathetic;Saturday Morning TV dies late in the year.
2008: 4Kids merges with the ailing [ratings wise] Kids WB to become CW 4Kids;4Kids TV ends.
2010: CW 4Kids becomes Toonzai.

Mina: Tragic,I know.

Saturday Morning TV may be dead,but It'll never be Forgoten. Let us have a moment of silence for Saturday Morning TV.

*Moment of Silence Begins*

*Moment of Silence Ends*

That's gonna do it for this edition of the Cartoon Historian. Stay Gold,guys.

Mina: Later.

[fade to black. credits roll as the cartoon historian closing theme plays]

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Cartoon Quickie: Rugrats.

Rugrats was the 2nd Nicktoon created. The show is about a group of babies having mini-adventures in each episode.

The children can communicate with each other through baby speak,although viewers can understand them, because it is 'translated'. Often,they mispronounce words or use poor grammar.

The main character of this show is Tommy Pickles,a brave baby with a sense of justice. Joining Tommy is his good friends,Chuckie Finster,Phil Deville,Lil DeVille,and Later Dil Pickles.

Chuckie is Tommy's a semi-cowardly best friend. He's also the oldest in the group. Phil and Lil are the Twins. They are very adventurous and are eager to do new things. In later seasons,Tommy's little brother,Dil and Chuckies step-sister,Kimi are introduced. Dil is your average baby,who loves to spit up a lot....especially on Chuckie. And Kimi is care free.

Tommy has an older Cousin named Angelica,who's a bit of a jerk and bully. Still,deep down she's not as nasty as she acts. Suzie Charmichael is the babies friend and rival of Angelica. They're both the same age.

Other Characters include: Tommy's Parents,Stu and Didi;Tommy's Grandpa Lou;and Spike,Tommy's dog.

The Nicktoon with the most charm,folks. I haven't seen this show in a great while,but I remember it fondly. The art and animation were decent,though not the greatest.

The music fits the show extremely well and the voices fit each character. The writing is also good,as is the overall acting by the VA's.

This series is fun,though some may not like the Baby theme. This show also spawned a sequel series called 'All Grown Up'. It wasn't very good,trust me.

Anyway,that's gonna do it for now. See ya next time on....Cartoon Quickie.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Cartoon Quickie: Invader Zim.

Zim is a buffoonish alien invader from Planet Irk who comes to earth to dominate it in the name of his home planet. he has a stupid,yet hilarious robotic minion/sidekick called Gir. Both disguise themselves as an earthboy and his dog to study the earthlings upclose.

Zim has a Nemesis called Dib.Dib is a hardcore believer of unsolved mysteries and paranormal propaganda. His greatest goal is to get proof that Zim is an Alien..but always fails and often gets mocked by his peers for his beliefs....especially by his younger sister,Gaz. Gaz is someone that you Never wanna screw with...trust me.

Other characters include: The Tallest,Supreme rulers of Planet Irk,who treat Zim as a joke; And Dr. Memebrane,Gaz and Dib's scientist father,who oftentimes questions his Son's beliefs.

This show is funny. Dib and Zib's buffoonish antics and Gir's often hilarious acts of idiocy make this show the funniest Nicktoon Ever! Even funnier than Ren and Stimpy. Despite being a funny show,Invader Zim does have it's Gross moments.

The artwork and animation are mediocre though,as is the music.

Though,the writing and voice acting are both top notch. Invader Zim is one cartoon show that's worth checking out.

Well that's all I have to say about this show. See ya next time on....Cartoon Quickie.

Cartoon Quickie: Doug (Original)

Doug Funnie is a pre-teen who deals with everyday life in Bluffington,U.S.A. Supporting Doug in his life are best friend Skeeter Valentine,his Dog Porkchop,and his friend and crush,Patty Mayonnaise.

His family is also there for support,as well as his wacky nextdoor Neighbor,Mr. Dink. Giving Doug a tough time in and out of school is Roger Klotz,a leather jacket wearing jerk who thinks he's awesome.

Other characters include: Mr. Bone,a Don Knotts-esque man,who is the principal of Doug's school; Bee-Bee Bluff,the richest girl in Bluffington and only daughter of the town's owner;and Chalky Studabaker,a popular athlete.

And of each episode,Doug writes about the events of the episode in his Journal. Sometimes Doug likes to daydream and in a majority of them,he's either Quailman,a Super Hero or Smash Adams,a Secret Agent.

The show itself has tons of charm,as well as good writing. The artwork for this show is of average quality. The music is decent and gets the job done. Speaking of the music,in certain episodes there is a special song that's both catchy and fun to listen to.

The Voices and acting are top notch,especially with Billy "Stimpy" West as the voice of Doug.

All and all,this show is a great watch.And even though I also like Disney's version,I concider this version of Doug to be the True version.

Well that's it fornow,see ya next time on....Cartoon Quickie.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

The Cartoon Historian Lesson 21-H: From Games to Toons Pt.8

Mina: In this final part of this lesson we will be covering Donkey Kong Country and Sonic Underground,the Last Game Based Cartoon.

Donkey Kong Country is a French-Canadian CGI series based on the Nintendo franchise Donkey Kong country. It was created by France 2 and Nelvana. The show is called La Plan├Ęte de Donkey Kong (The Planet of Donkey Kong) in France and French-Canada,but called Donkey Kong Country everywhere else.

Mina: This Cartoon is the first and Only Video Game Based cartoon that Wasn't American.

Donkey Kong Country first aired in France on September 4, 1996. It premiered late in the United States on the Family Channel in August 15, 1998.

The show begins by portraying Donkey Kong,a regular ape in the jungle,who happens to stumble upon a magic coconut called the Crystal Coconut. The Coconut,at Donkey Kong's command, summons a pile of magic bananas.

Mina: After Donkey and his friends eat the bananas,they are granted with increased intelligence and strength,enabling them to defeat enemies such as K. Rool and Kaptain Skurvy,who wish to possess the Crystal Coconut for themselves.

The main protagonist of the show are Donkey Kong,Diddy Kong,Cranky Kong,Candy Kong,Bluster Kong,Funky Kong,and Dixie Kong. While the Bad Guys are: King K. Rool,General Klump,Krush,and The Kritters. Other enemies include Polly Roger,Captain Skurvy,and the Klaptraps.

Mina: Other characters include: Eddie the Mean Old Yeti,Inka Dinka Doo the multi-faced god of Kongo Bongo Island (the setting of the series),and Kong Fu.

Mina: All and all,This show wasn't all that great. Like the Darkstalkers Cartoon,DKC never followed the games,the new characters weren't very likable,and the writing was very mediocre.

Tell me about it. And now for the Final Video Game Cartoon ever created...Sonic Underground. Mina,I'm gonna let you handle most of this.

Mina: Cool thanks. Sonic Underground (Sonic le Rebelle in French) is a series that follows the adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog and his siblings,Sonia and Manic. The series ran for forty episodes,and was canceled before the main story could be resolved.

Mina: Sonic,Sonia,and Manic are the children of Queen Aleena Hedgehog. Queen Aleena was once the kind and fair ruler of Mobius,but Robotnik and his robotic forces seized control of the planet and forced her into hiding.

Mina: She separated and hid Sonic,Manic,and Sonia after the Oracle of Delphius told her of a prophecy. Robotnik began ruling Mobius using unjust laws,roboticizing anyone who stood against him,as well as forcing the nobles into paying large amounts of money as tribute.

Mina: When Sonic,Manic,and Sonia grew up,the Oracle of Delphius revealed the prophecy to them: one day they would reunite with their mother to form the Council of Four,overthrow Robotnik,and become the rightful rulers of Mobius.

Mina: So Sonic,Manic,and Sonia go on a quest,searching throughout Mobius for Queen Aleena. Robotnik is determined to capture the royal family and prevent the prophecy from being fulfilled.

Mina: The three siblings have powerful medallions that not only change into musical instruments,but also into weapons when the triplets are in perfect harmony with each other.

Mina: Sonic's medallion is an electric guitar that can function as a gun. Sonia's medallion is a keyboard that also functions as a gun as well as a smoke machine. Manic's medallion is a drumset that can be used as a gun and an earth controller with cymbals that can deflect laserfire.

Mina: The three non only use their amulets to fight Robotnik,but also to have instruments for their underground rock band, The Sonic Underground.

Mina: Sonic SatAM and Sonic Underground are the two Sonic cartoons that most closely resemble each other. Both share a large number of stuff in common that were never in any of the games or in the 'Adventures Of' series.

Mina: These things include: Sonic's catchphrases,Uncle Chuck,the Roboticizer,Badass Robotnik,Mobotropolis/Robotropolis,Freedom Fighters,and King Acorn (or rather, a statue thereof).

The series takes place on Mobius,similar to the other Sonic Cartoons,but with notable differences. Sonic SatAM included power rings,Knothole Village and the Freedom Fighters.

Another difference is that Sonic is given a slightly different appearance from his SatAM counterpart. When viewed from behind, Sonic's signature mohawk is now two rows,his teeth show more,he has five fingers on each hand,and his eyelids are now visible.

Though the Freedom Fighters were included in Underground,many of the characters in the Freedom Fighter group that were in SatAM are completely left out,including Tails.

Unlike the previous 2 shows,Underground also includes Knuckles and his home,the Floating Island. Another difference with the Freedom Fighter group is that Freedom Fighters do not remain in one refuge but instead travel around Mobius to battle Robotnik's forces on a global scale.

Also,that Robotnik has left most of the Mobian people unroboticised,leaving multiple cities,a poor underclass,and a rich upperclass for the heroes to interact with. Plus,many of the minor characters were not easily recognizable as being based on Earth animals,instead appearing far more alien.

Jaleel "Steve Urkle" White,who voiced Sonic in both earlier cartoons,provided the voices for Sonic and his siblings....even Sonia.

Mina: Of course,this wasn't the first time,the Urkman played a female role.

The main theme was composed by Robbie London and Mike Piccirillo. The musical underscore was composed by Jean-Michel Guirao and Mike Piccirillo. The series featured a song per episode. Each of these songs were composed by Mike Piccirillo.

Like Sonic X,this show has many episodes which teach kids social skills,despite Manic's stealing and Sonia's desires for luxury. They both are seen experiencing consequences for such things. Sonic Underground is also noted as the only Sonic animated series where Tails is absent. Instead,Sonic Underground has Knuckles. The gold rings are also absent.

Mina: And Now for the interesting part.

Before the official the launch of the Dreamcast,Sega began to heavily advertise all of the system's big products. For Sonic,it contacted DiC Entertainment,who made the first 2 Sonic cartoons,to make a new Sonic cartoon.

Mina: So in a way,this show was an advertisement for Sonic Adventure. Even though it lacked Amy Rose and Tails.

Sonic Underground ran for one season in 1999 on UPN's Sunday Morning block.

Mina:While it was believed for a while that 65 episodes were made and only 40 aired,Ben Hurst,a DiC regular who worked on Sonic Underground,stated in a chat at the Sonic Amateur Games Expo in 2008,that only 40 episodes were produced with no plans for a 2nd season.

Mina: Recently rumors have begun to surface that Sega and Disney were gonna complete the series with 25 episodes that would lead to a logical ending of the series. Unfortunatly,this rumor is False.

Well that was an Awesome ride wasn't it?

Mina: It sure was. Awesome And Long.

Yup,8-parts. The Longest Cartoon Historian Lesson ever. Well,thats gonna do it for this lesson. See ya next time on The Cartoon Historian.

Mina: Laters!

[fade to black. credits roll as the cartoon historian closing theme plays]

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

The Cartoon Historian Lesson 21-G: From Games to Toons Pt.7

Ok,We come to the last 90's Capcom cartoon: Darkstalkers.

This cartoon is based off of the Darkstalkers games and was created by the same people who made the Street Fighter cartoon.

The Darkstalkers cartoon first aired in 1995 and featured all the characters from Night Warriors game along with several entirely new characters. The show consists of an evil being known as Pyron recruiting several Darkstalkers to help him try and take over the Earth while a team of good Darkstalkers try and stop him, helped out by a human kid called Harry.

Darkstalkers: The Animated series was a big disappointment for fans,who expected this show to be a Horror Adventure cartoon.

Mina: This cartoon was without question the most Hated-Video Game based cartoon in history. The Characters were bastardized a bit,the story lines were often stupid,the animation and artwork were mediocre. Plus,no one liked Harry Grimore. I can't say I blame'em though,he is a annoying character.

Mina: The ratings for this show were bad,so bad that Capcom had the show's producer pull the plug after 1 season. Although,you can find this show on DVD. Though,I have no clue why you'd want to.

Moving right along. Mortal Kombat: Defenders of the Realm is based off of the Mortal Kombat game series.Produced by Threshold Entertainment and Film Roman,MK:DotR aired on the USA Network's Action Extreme Team block for one season from September to December 1996.

Mina: The characters and their backgrounds were mostly continuous with the movies Mortal Kombat and Mortal Kombat: Annihilation, although elements from Mortal Kombat 3were included.

The episode plots themselves,as good as they were,shared little to no relation with the games storylines. The characters are designed after their Mortal Kombat 3 and Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3 counterparts. The only exception is Kitana,whose design looks like a mix between her MK2 and her UMK3 looks.

Mina: Perhaps the most notable aspect of the show was that it provided the debut of Quan Chi, a key character in the MK series who was the villain of Mortal Kombat 4 and part of the Deadly Alliance.

The show was focused on a group of warriors assembled by Raiden to defend Earthrealm from invaders who entered through portals from various other dimensions. The assembled warriors included Liu Kang,Kurtis Stryker,Sonya Blade,Jax,Kitana,and Sub-Zero,with Nightwolf functioning mostly as tech support but still entering the fray on various occasions.

The warriors have a hidden base,where Nightwolf and Raiden monitored portal openings. The warriors also have dragon-shaped jets,which they use to travel to their destinations. Shao Kahn was something of an arch-villain throughout the series,being responsible for allowing other realms to invade Earthrealm. In the finale,Kitana lead a rebellion from Outworld against Kahn.

The cartoon somewhat serves as a sequel to the first Mortal Kombat film. However,the show takes a Sunday morning cartoon-style approach to the series,including the toning down of the violence,which was pretty much necessary due to the fact that it was a cartoon for 8-12 year olds based on a series known for it's Gore and Fatalities.

Mina: The fight scenes are kinda weak as well. However,to make up for this,the writers and director injected serious storylines into each episode. Mortal Kombat: Defenders of the Realm only lasted for a single season,with no plans for a second.

USA Network aired episodes of Defenders back-to-back with those of the Street Fighter animated series. Twice the amount of episodes were produced for Street Fighter.

Kung Lao,Johnny Cage,Mileena,Baraka,Sindel,Jade,Noob Saibot,Reptile,Goro,and Kintaro were not shown or referenced in the show at all. However,Kung Lao,or more specifically his ancestor The Great Kung Lao, would be the focus in the live action TV series,Mortal Kombat Conquest.

Mina: Now we go from Earthrealm to Earthworm.

Earthworm Jim is based on the Game series of the same name. It ran for 2 seasons from 1995-1996 on the Kids' WB! Saturday Morning block.

The series follows the adventures of an earthworm named Jim, who is turned into a superhero by a robotic super suit. The series was produced by Universal Animation Studios along with Akom Productions,Flextech Television Limited,and Shiny Entertainment.

Mina: Earthworm Jim retains the absurdist humor of the games,as well as introducing its own features. Most episodes involve the series' numerous villains attempting to reclaim the super suit,rule,destroy,or ruin the universe,or otherwise causing mayhem throughout the galaxy.

Other problems facing Jim include returning his neighbor's eggbeater and finding a new power source after his suit is depowered. Also, the show breaks the fourth wall alot.

Mina: Episodes begin with Earthworm Jim and Peter Puppy in some peril that has nothing to do with the main plot or the previous episode's. Not only that but little is explained on how they got into that mess in the first place.

In between parts,there is a short side-story, generally featuring one of the villains and ending with "and now, back to Earthworm Jim." The end of every episode involves Jim or any other character being crushed by a cow, a play on the first game of the series.

Many of the characters from the games were made into main characters for the show. Peter Puppy becomes Jim's sidekick and Princess What's-Her-Name is his love interest.

Many villains from the game,including Evil the Cat,Psy-Crow,Bob the Killer Goldfish,Queen Slug-for-a-Butt,and Professor Monkey-for-a-head also appear throughout the show.

The series also created many of its own new characters, such as the Galactic Heroes League, a group of wannabe superheroes including the Hamsternator and Lower Back-Pain Man.

It also introduced a major new villain named Evil Jim,an evil duplicate of Earthworm Jim,who went on to be the main antagonist for the game Earthworm Jim: Menace 2 the Galaxy.

Mina: This was a fun show. Too bad it doesn't air anymore. Anyway,we have 2 More shows to cover. So stick around for this lessons finale.

The Cartoon Historian Lesson 21-F: From Games to Toons Pt.6

Mina: Ok. We are now gonna talk about 2 of the most obsure cartoons around: Battletoads and Mutant League.

Battletoads was a cartoon show based on the hit video game of the samne name. It was produced by DIC Entertainment and first aired on Fox Kids in 1992. However, only the pilot episode made it to the airwaves. It Was never picked up as a full animated series, despite comic-style ads in GamePro magazine claiming otherwise.

Mina: Y'see the reason why it never became a TV series is because it didn't test well. Only 10-20% of those tested liked the show,while the rest didn't. So,DiC gave up on the series and just aired the first and Only episode.

Mina: A VHS tape with this episode was released on January 15, 1994. This lone episode served more as a prequel to the video game franchise.

Set in Oxnard, California, the show stars three kids (despite the fact that the comic's story revolved around three video game testers). The trio is given the ability to transform into anthropomorphic toads with superhuman strength and the ability to change their arms and legs into weapons,in techniques called "Smash Hits".

Mina: Hsien-Ko,anyone?

Anyway,The Toads job is ro protect Professor T. Bird and Princess Angelica from the Dark Queen, who wants to steal Angelica's magical amulet for her plans of universal conquest.

It is likely that the show was another attempt to capitalize on the popularity of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Incidentally, DiC Entertainment would try this again later on by producing Street Sharks and then later Extreme Dinosaurs.

Mina: Now we go from obsure to very obscure.

Yup. Mutant League was based on the videogames Mutant League Football and Mutant League Hockey. The show aired from July 1994 to February 1995.

The show ran for two seasons, with the second typically incorporating more "Mature" stories and issues,while the first seemed somewhat of a hodgepodge with little regard for continuity. There are forty episodes in all,thirteen in Season 1 and twenty-seven in Season 2.

The story goes like this: During a football game, an earthquake reveals buried toxic waste, and the fumes cause all of the attendees and players to mutate,including young Bones Justice (Bones Jackson in the games).

Soon after,A sports federation based around the superhuman beings emerges (the Mutant League) Eventually,Bones grows up and plays for the Midway Monsters.

Corrupt league commissioner Zalgor Prig constantly schemes to get the popular athlete to play for the team he owns,the Slaycity Slayers.

Bones' search for his father,missing since the day of the quake,and his personal quest to bring order and fair play to the league,are subplots throughout the series.

Several other characters from the games such as Razor Kid, Mo and Spew, K.T. Slayer, Grim McSlam and Coach McWimple regularly appear in the show.

Unlike the games, players didn't die from their unique approach to contact sports. Though they were frequently maimed to the point of losing body parts. Whenever a player was maimed,they would recieve treatments in a machine called the Rejuvenator,which bathed them in toxic chemicals.

The show also has no robot players,and only five teams: the Monsters, the Slayers, the Ooze, the Derangers and the Screaming Evils.

It also has the teams competing in all manner of sports and not just the ones seen in the games. Most commonly football,but also hockey,basketball,soccer,baseball,volleyball,and even monster truck races and sumo wrestling. What? No Boxing?

Mina: As with the videogames,the sports were modified with deathtraps and loose rules on violence to accommodate the near-indestructible nature of the players. Some episodes end with a "grudge match" between two particular players.

A line of action figures was released based on the show, but went virtually unknown.

Mina: This was definatly a greusome cartoon and one that's obviously aimed at an older croud. I bet if this show was better known,it would've been a hit?

I think it woud've been. I can't find this show Anywhere on Youtube. However,I did manage to find the Intro. Anyway,we're now gonna be moving on to a less obsure show. Mina take it.

Mina: Double Dragon is based on the video game franchise of the same name. The television series was produced by DiC Entertainment and ran for 26 episodes in 1993 and 1994.

Mina: The premise of the show had the Lee brothers separated at birth, with Billy being raised by an elderly martial arts master known as the Oldest Dragon. In contrast, his brother Jimmy is raised by the evil Shadow Master to become his second-in-command, the Shadow Boss.

Mina: As a result, the Lee brothers meet each other as adversaries after being reunited as adults. By the end of the second episode, Jimmy is betrayed by the Shadow Master,this leads to Jimmy seeing the error of his ways.

The Lee brothers were given magical swords by the Eldest Dragon. These swords contained special powers and added dragon masks to the brothers' outfit.

During the course of the series,the brothers recruited allies in their war against the Shadow Clan. In the second season the Bros. gained stronger magical weapons when the Shadow Master harnessed the strength of the even more evil Shadow Kahn. The search for their father,John Lee,was a running subplot throughout the series.

The plot of the pilot episode {which seemed rushed,btw} is loosely based on the NES version of the first Double Dragon game. Like in the first NES game, Jimmy is revealed to be the Shadow Boss in this episode, with his henchmen being Abobo and Willy, who were boss characters in the game as well.

By the end of the second episode, Abobo and Willy are sucked into the Shadow Mural, never to be seen again. Billy and Jimmy join forces to fight against the series' true antagonist, the Shadow Master.

All of the characters introduced from the second episode and onward were original creations made for the show. The story and characters of the animated series would be used in the Tradewest-produced Double Dragon V: The Shadow Falls, a Double Dragon fighting game released for home consoles.

Mina: This game was ill recieved by fans,BTW. As for the Shadow Master,I think he looks and acts like a reject from a Power Ranger series. Same goes for his henchmen.

Mina: The Power Ra...err,Lee brothers transform into their superheroic [yet power ranger clone] identities by crossing swords. Billy says "for right!" Jimmy says "for might!" I guess they couldn't use "It's Morphin' Time".

Mina: Anyway,Then in unison they say "We are Double Dragons!" They usually transform out of those forms by crossing swords again and saying in unison "by the power of the dragon!" although several episodes show that taking heavy injury can also deactivate their powers. Just like The Power Rangers.

Mina! Anyway,A major weakness is that they must both be present to activate the powers. Also,sometimes injury sustained by one is also taken by the other and if one has their powers deactivated through injury,so will the other. In addition to sharing injury,the brothers also infrequently show an ability to sense when the other is in danger.

Mina: The Dragon Warriors aka The Dragon Rangers are granted costumes and super powers through a ceremony in which the Lee brothers lay their swords on the person's shoulders and say "To uphold the code of the dragon, for might and for right, to defend the innocent against the shadow," then in unison "you are [name], Dragon Warrior!"

Mina: The Dragon Warrior can then call up their costume and weaponry by placing their right fist to their chest and saying "by the power of the dragon" or "I am [name], Dragon Warrior!" whenever Billy and Jimmy are transformed. Maybe DiC should've called them Dragon Rangers instead of Dragon Warriors,that woud've been a more accurate name for these heroes.

Most of the Shadow Warriors are mutants. The Shadow Master says in "Over the Line" these mutants are somehow created due to "high levels of EMF [electromagnetic field] generated by [Metro City's] ancient underground power grid."

Although Metro City taps into the EMF and uses it to generate power, it is not established if the power source is man-made or a natural phenomenon. According to the same episode, the EMF gives the Black Flame its power,which suggests the latter.

Mina: The series lasted 2 seasons,though a 3rd season was planned and it was gonna have Mecha.

Even though a 3rd season was planned,the whole "Mecha" thing is just a rumor. All we know about this dropped 3rd season is that Billy and Jimmy's father would've appeared/be found,we'd see the Shadow Master without his mask,ans well as the origins of the Shadows and the Dragons. The origins of the Mystic Dragon Swords and the Black Flame would've also been reveald. Unfortunatly do to mediocre ratings,the show was canned after Season 2.

Ok,you've been seeing Power Ranger references all throughout this part this lesson. We'll there's a logical explanation. Double Dragon had a Power Ranger feel to it because the producers at DiC felt that MMPR was the shows main rival. Back then Power Rangers was Huge,and DiC believed that in order to make the show more popular,they had to turn it into a Power Ranger clone.

Mina: Go,Go,Double Dragons!

Anyway,next up is a cartoon that is both liked and despised by the Mega Man fan community. It's Mega Man,the Animated series.

Mega Man,known in Japan as Mega Man: A Rockman series,is a Japanese-American series multi-produced by Capcom Productions, Ruby-Spears Productions,and Ashi Productions. It's based on the hit game series,Mega Man.

Mina: The TV series began on September 11,1994 and ended in the Fall of 1995. It was aired on many syndicated stations at the time. 2 seasons were produced with a third season planned, but the show was canned despite respectably high ratings due to budget constraints and complaints by fans and Keiji Inafune himself.

Dr. Light and Dr. Wily were brilliant scientists in the field of robotics, who worked together in a laboratory trying to advance the science. One day, they finished an extremely advanced prototype,but shortly after being activated,it went crazy.

Dr. Light immediately believed that the prototype's guidance system,which Dr. Wily had personally programmed,was the source of the problem and concluded they would start over again.

Angered, Dr. Wily attempted to steal the plans later that night, but Dr. Light catches him. Wily is able to steal the plans after knocking Dr. Light down, and goes off to what is apparently an abandoned area,and modifies the old robot prototype into Protoman. Even though we never see him take the prototype.

Months Later,Dr. Light builds Rock and Roll,advanced robots with personalities, along with Ice Man,Guts Man,and Cut Man. Dr. Wily and Protoman steal the robots and reprogram the latter three robots as henchmen. Dr. Wily attempts to reprogram Rock and Roll at his lab later,but Rock decides to trick Dr. Wily.

After doing so,he and Roll escape. Dr. Light decides to reprogram and reoutfit Rock into Mega Man,who from then on keeps the world safe. Throughout the series, Mega Man thwarts Wily's various schemes.

Mega Man starred in a Saturday-morning style cartoon that premiered in 1994. Ruby-Spears,one of the producers of the show,redesigned the characters from the Mega Man games.

Mina: At the time the show was undergoing its early development,anime had not yet achieved a "mainstream" acceptance,plus the producers felt that Mega Man looked too young to be excepted as a Saturday Morning action hero.

The final look of the characters were among many different interpretations proposed and was the most well-received by test audiences. It's worth noting that characters who appeared for the first time in season two were more faithful to their Game counterparts.

The series was targeted towards the late preteen boy audience,though Roll's expanded and much more active role in the series was used to draw in more girl viewers as well. Producer Joe Ruby joked "Also,it showed we're not male chauvinistic pigs as our wives think".

X,along with Vile,Spark Mandrill,and "Cigma" (Sigma) made a guest appearance late in the second season. He was planned to make more appearances in season 3,with the potential for his own spinoff cartoon.

Despite consistent high ratings and being a series Joe Ruby and Ken Spears really enjoyed working on,the show was cancelled after 2 seasons. A single post-season-2 episode was created to complete Ruby-Spears' contractual obligations.

However,Season 3 plans had been put into motion at the time of the cancellation. The decision to end the cartoon was handed down from Capcom,due to complaints by the Fans and their star employee,Keiji Inafune (the creator of the rockman series).

Mina: We'll be talking about the 3rd season later. But for now,we're gonna chat about the character designs.

Prior to the show's premiere a short animated promo was released which contained an artstyle that resembled the official Capcom character art. When the show was being produced,the designs of characters were changed to better appeal to American audiences.

Most characters gained more masculine and realistic looks,as well as different appearances in powers. Mega Man was given an edgier and more realistic look compared to his original anime design.

Mina: Also, Mega Man's personality changed from boyish into a teen with an attitude. Roll,instead of wearing a dress,wears a red and yellow jumpsuit. Roll comes equipped with a vacuum blaster device on her left arm,unlike the games where she is just a civilian robot.

The design also changed as Mega Man and Protoman became taller and more muscular. Often,Protoman and Mega Man would use their fists or wrestle instead of using their in game abilities. Which was a nice touch.

Mega Man and Roll were changed from children to teenagers and Eddie was changed from red to green.Because the Producers never played the games fully,Protoman became a villain who served Dr. Wily. In the games he was a loner hero.

Mina: In the games, Mega Man gains a Robot Master's ability after destroying the Robot Master,but in the series,Mega Man just has to touch the Robot Master. I actually like this method and it makes it look like Mega Man has a Super Power.

The music cues for this show were re-used for Ocean Group's Dragon Ball Z Dub. It was the dub that was produced by the Ocean Group themselves,without the aid of Funimation Entertainment. This vesion of DBZ aired only in Canada,Austrailia,the United Kingdom,and Ireland.

The Ocean Group may have placed the BGM tracks for Mega Man into their archive and retrieved them when they began dubbing the show. Some of the Music was also used for the Monster Rancher dub,another Anime that Ocean Group dubbed.

Mina: And speaking of the Music,Did you know that the Mega Man Cartoon theme was styled after the Mighty Morphin' Power Ranger theme song. Don't ask me why,it just is.

At one time, Mega Man was placed as the number one weekly syndicated kids show in the Nielsen ratings.

Mina: And now, Let's talk about the unproduced 3rd Season.

As stated earlier,the show was gonna get a 3rd season,but due to money issues,as well as complaints from fans,the season was never made. Here's what I know. Mega X making another guest appearence and even his own episode. Protoman would've switched sides,first as Breakman.

Don't ask me why,but judging by an unproduced Protoman figure this seemsd to be the case.(the figure came with a sheild and breakman mask). Flashman,Skullman,Bubbleman,and The Mega Man 6 Robot Masters would have made an appearence. And Finally,Bass would've been brought in as Protoman's replacement. There was a Bass figure in the unproduced toyline,so this is true.

Mina: Facinating.

Indeed. Let's move on to Street Fighter now,shall we.

Mina: Street Fighter was produced by InVision Entertainment based on the Street Fighter video game franchise,though it was more of a continuation of the 1994 Live-Action Street Fighter Movie. The series aired as part of the USA Network's Action Extreme Team block. It lasted two seasons which aired from 1995 to 1997.

Mina: A 3rd season was planned,but due to budget reasons and the fact that the USA Networtk threw out their childrens Block,this season was never made. We'll talk about this later.

Fans of the franchise often and wrongly criticized the cartoon for the overall bad quality in terms of writing,art,voice acting,as well as being too inaccurate to the games cannon.

Mina: We call these people,Stupid Fantards. That's their rightful name.

Amen Mina! Anyway,let's conclude this part by talking about the unproduced The 3rd season.

Season 3 was unproduced due to lack of money and the fact that the USA network made plans to (and eventually) ditched their kids block in 1998. I don't know much about this unproduced season,but here's what I found out.

In Season 3,Ryu and Ken would go their seperate ways and Ryu would travel the world participasting in Street Fighter Tournaments. Chun-Li would've quit her job as a reporter and joined interpol,but still work with Guile from time to time. Blanka would re-gain his human form for another episode. And finally,Dan Hibiki would've made an appearence.

Other than these facts,nothing else is known about Season 3 of the Street Fighter Cartoon.

Mina: Alrighty,we're almost done. Just 5 more Game based Cartoons to go.

Yup. Next up,The widely hated Darkstalkers Cartoon.

Monday, September 6, 2010

The Cartoon Historian Lesson 21-E: From Games to Toons Pt.5

Mina: Ok,it's time to cover the 3rd and Final Mario Cartoon. And After this,we'll be covering Sonic.

Super Mario World was a short-lived series loosely based on the Super NES game of the same name. It only aired thirteen episodes due to Captain N: The Game Master's cancellation on NBC.

The series centered on Mario,Luigi,and Princess Toadstool,now living in Dinosaur Land (sometimes also called Dinosaur World) with Yoshi, who was depicted on the show as a curious childlike dinosaur with a large appetite and several phobias. King Koopa (otherwise known as Bowser) and the Koopalings were also around, having followed the Mario Bros. and the Princess to Dinosaur Land.

Unlike in the game, Dinosaur Land was depicted as being populated with cavepeople, including a pre-adolescent caveboy named Oogtar. Some episodes revolved around Mario trying to introduce a modern invention to the cavepeople in an attempt to make their lives easier,only for the Koopas to twist it into an evil scheme.

Mina: It's unclear whether the characters had traveled back in time or if Dinosaur Land was simply a "lost valley"-esque island that the characters had come to.

Mina: The show was originally aired on Saturday mornings on NBC in the 1991-92 season,the last year the network had cartoons on their Saturday Morning block. It was featured in a half-hour time slot with a shortened version of Captain N: The Game Master.

Mina: This new show was called Captain N & The New Super Mario World. Episodes of Super Mario World were later shown as part of the syndication package Captain N and the Video Game Masters.

Afterwards,the series was split from Captain N and shown in time-compressed reruns on Mario All-Stars. The show is now used in a variety of Youtube videos along with the hotel mario CDI game.

Unlike the previous two Mario cartoons, the show was not widely distributed on home video,in fact its only release was the inclusion of the show's Christmas episode on the 1996 VHS release Super Mario Bros. Super Christmas Adventures. This series is the most short-lived of the three American Mario animated series.

The show takes place in Dinosaur World where Yoshi lives with a preadolescent caveman named Oogtar. In addition, Yoshi's Island is populated with cavemen instead of Yoshis. In Fact,Yoshi is the Only Yoshi in the show.

Mina: You heard right folks,American Yoshi is one of a kind..in more ways than one.

Several names were changed from the game. Forest of Illusion was called Enchanted Forest Vanilla Dome was referred to as the Lava Pits,and The Valley of Bowser is both smaller and unnamed. The enemies featured in the game were rarely called by their in-game names on the show,and Bowser was still called King Koopa.

Mina: The King Koopa/Bowser thing was okay,because it was consistant with the other Mario cartoons.

And speaking of Mario Cartoon consistancy.Koopa had his all-green appearance,The Mario bros. had red and green overalls,and the Princess had red hair. However,it is unknown what happened to Toad. Did he stay behind to look after the Mushroom Kingdom? We don't know,since it was Never mentioned. In fact,Toad himself wasn't mentioned at all in this show.

Anyway,Another notable fact was that Luigi found Yoshi. When he hatched,Yoshi was small and was not born with his saddle, as revealed when Luigi told him the story of how Yoshi was born.

Mina: Also,Unlike the previous 2 Mario Cartoons,this show lacked Cover songs. This was a very smart move on DiC's part. Well,that's all she wrote for the Mario cartoons. It's now time to cover Sonic.

The Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog (aka AoStH) first aired in September of 1993, and only for one season. It follows the escapades of Sonic the Hedgehog and Miles "Tails" Prower as they attempt to stop the evil Doctor Ivo Robotnik and his array of vicious robots from taking over the planet Mobius.

Mina: When Sonic isn't battling Robotnik,he's either helping those in need,racing around the world,or indulging in as many Chili Dogs as he can get his hands on.

Mina: This series is very much a slapstick type comedy,especially with the incredibly melodramatic explosions and quirky story lines. Sonic is always portrayed as being skilled and clever,whereas Scratch and Grounder are clumsy and often serve as Robotnik's foil.

Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog was created by DIC Entertainment,which produced a total of 65 episodes,and was syndicated by Bohbot Entertainment (now BKN International). Before it's creation,DiC showed a Promo of AoSTH to ABC. However,ABC told DiC that the show was too cartoony to be apart of their Saturday Morning block.

However,ABC liked the idea of a Sonic cartoon,so they had DiC create a more serious series to compete with other Saturday Morning shows. However,DiC was fond of their original concept,so they decided to make 2 Sonic cartoons. One was this one and the other was Sonic SatAM,the one that aired on ABC.

The plots often loosely followed the storyline of the Sonic video games series, although when the cartoon began, the Sonic games were still quite new, and lacking much plot or character development, which was filled in by the show's writers.

Later DiC ceased production on this comical version to spend more time on a more dark Sonic Cartoon,Sonic the Hedgehog aka Sonic SatAM,a series launched on ABC's Saturday morning line-up.

After the original airing, DiC created one more episode in the winter of 1996 called "Sonic Christmas Blast". This special features a non-speaking cameo by Princess Sally Acorn. It also has Sonic and Tails visiting Robotropolis, which has a human population and a lighter atmosphere.

Mina: Pierre De Celles, an animator who worked on Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog, described the show as "fun and humorous." The central protagonists are Sonic the Hedgehog and Miles "Tails" Prower, while the main antagonists include Robotnik and his two 'hench-bots' Scratch and Grounder,with a third robot,Coconuts,appearing on occasion.

There are many occasional minor characters,most of which are not from the games. These characters include: Robotnik's dominating mother and Wes Weasley, a salesman and con-man. The planet,Mobius,is more of a zany,colorful cartoon world in this show,than it was in SatAM. And Speaking of SatAM... Take it Mina.

Mina: Right. Sonic the Hedgehog: The Animated Series aka Sonic SatAM was produced by DIC Entertainment with the partnership of Sega of America and was loosely based on the Sonic video game series. The series aired two seasons on ABC from September 18, 1993 until December 3, 1994.

Mina: The series sharply contrasts with Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog, a syndicated series that premiered in the same month. While Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog was lighthearted and comical,Sonic the Hedgehog featured a more complex plot and a darker atmosphere that constitutes a departure from the tone of the most Sonic games.

Mina: The Archie Comic continues to use elements and characters from this series, and there are similarities between this show the Archie comic series, however, there are many notable differences in tone and character portrayal.

The show takes place on a planet called Mobius sometime in the 33rd century. An infamous mad scientist named Prof. Julian Robotnik invaded and conquered a huge city named Mobotropolis with the help of his assistant Snively and his army of SWATbots.

Robotnik was to be appointed Minister of Science by the King of Mobius, Maximillian Acorn. However,Robotnik betrayed the King and made the palace his own personal headquarters. From there, he captured the rest of the citizens,including Sonic's uncle,Sir Charles and his crowning invention,the Roboticizer.

Turning the device against Charles,Robotnik changed him into a robot slave. After doing the same to the other captives, Robotnik turned his army loose on the world, Robotizing any who crossed his path.

Those who managed to escape fled to Knothole village and formed a group called the Freedom Fighters.

The Freedom Fighters include Sonic the Hedgehog,Rotor,Antoine Depardieu,Bunnie Robbit,Tails,and Sally Acorn. Sally carries a sentient mini-computer named NICOLE.

Mina: The Knothole Freedom Fighters constantly foil Robotnik's schemes, although fail to make much difference, since Robotnik literally rules the planet with an iron fist.

And now to talk about the Unproduced Season 3.

In an interview,screen-writer Ben Hurst reveals the third season had already been plotted out before the show's cancellation. Upon the request of an eager fanbase, Hurst revealed the unknown villain would be the wizard Ixis Naugus. He also revaled that Robotnik wasn't killed at the end of Doomsday,instead he became trapped in the void as Naugus' prisoner.

Snively would briefly rise to power and assume his uncle's title as oppressive overlord, but quickly fails thanks to Sonic and the Freedom Fighters. Out of desperation,Snively frees Naugus from the void,and in the process also frees Robotnik and King Acorn.

Naugus immediately becomes main villain and uses King Acorn as bait to try and capture Sally. Snively,reduced to nothing,defects to the side of the Freedom Fighters.

Mina: More developments would happen between the relationship of Sonic and his friend Tails, who discovers an "incredible power" and saves the Freedom Fighters from a great disaster.

It's also been mentioned that Sally would have a romance with someone other than Sonic. The origins of Robotnik and Snively would've also been revealed. Ben Hurst has said no scripts were written for Season 3. He also said that after he failed to convince the ABC network to renew the series,he gave up on Season 3 entirely.

Other revelations from Hurst were that the eyes at the end of the series belonged to Ixis Naugus.He also stated that Amy Rose and Knuckles would've been introduced towards the end of Season 3,and become main characters in Season 4,if the show had made it that far.

There were also rumors about making a follow up straight to DVD feature, but it later turned out to be false.

Mina: Interesting stuff,huh? Now lets check out what this show could've looked like.

In 1993,an article in Sonic the Comic announced both Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog and Sonic SatAM. Within the four pages of plot synopsis and concept art,were a group of strange screen shots.

These screen shots have circulated through the Internet contributing to the theory of an aborted Sonic series before production. These pics have been dubbed "Pre-SatAM" by Sonic fans.

The supporting characters in the "Pre-SatAM" are based on the small animals in the games. And even though they're different in design,they all bear the same names as their Game counterparts.

Mina: Most notable in the image is the lack of Tails.it's possible that the concept was drawn up before Tails' arrival in the series.

Next up,we'll be talking about 2 very obsure cartoons: Battletoads and Mutant League.

The Cartoon Historian Lesson 21-D: From Games to Toons Pt.4

Next on the agenda,Video Power's The Power Team. Now,most of you probably don't remember this show or even heard of it for that matter. Well,I'm about to educate you.

The Power Team aired along with the video game reviewing show Video Power. Steven Martiniere was the director and Jack Olesker was the developer and story editor. The cartoon series was produced by Bohbot Productions. The show reran on USA Network as Acclaim Masters.

Mina: The cartoon show featured characters from Acclaim video games. They included Max Force from NARC, Kuros from The Wizards and Warriors series, Kwirk from the game of the same name, Tyrone from Arch Rivals and BigFoot from the game of the same name.

Mina: The cartoon show also featured a cartoon version of the host of Video Power, Johnny Arcade, as they fought against villains from the Acclaim lineup, mainly Mr. Big from NARC. Malkil from Wizards and Warriors and Kwirk's enemies from his own game would occasionally appear as well.

Mina: For the most part,the show seems to be a clone of Captain N: The Game Master. However,the writers and director took the opposite tactic by having the game characters come to the real world. A common device on the show was the characters trying to recover the “game paks” from Mr. Big which would send them home.

Mr. Big would actually use the Game Paks to try to blast the characters back home during their battles. While this is what the heroes wanted, had Mr. Big sent them home,He'd be free to cause havok in the real World without any opposition.

Mina: Mr.Big has Joe Rockhead and Spike working for him,2 other NARC boss characters. He also has as a counter to Big Foot,a living red monster truck named Burnt Rubber. What Kind of name is that? Couldn't they find a cooler name for this guy? I mean who the hell names their Moster Truck 'Burnt Rubber'. Seriously!

Anyway,During battles, Johnny would use a special communication device that looked like an NES Advantage controller to direct the Power Team members from his room.

Mina: Wha..!? An Arcade-style Controller as a communication device? Couldn't they give him something that actually Qualifies as a communicator,like a Walkie-Talkie or something?

No argument their Mina. Anyway,To make the show more "Kid Friendly" A few of the characters underwent heavy redesigns from their game incarnations.

Mina: Max Force looked like a SWAT officer and had a utility belt instead of machine guns. Kuros bore more of a resemblance to a barbarian than a knight in armor.

Though,The barbarian design was likely based on the Wizards and Warriors cover art. Which featured Kuros as a Fabio look-a-like dressed as Konan the barbarian. In the games themseles,Kuros was a knight.

Mina: Tyrone was given a small afro,probably so he wouldn't resemble Micheal Jordan too much. His Arch Rivals counterpart looked abit like an 8-bit version of the famous B-Ball player.

Mina: Tyrone's catchphrase would be 'awwww man!!!'. Disney would later adopt this catchphrase for Jake Long. Y'know since 'aww man!!' is also Jake Long's catchphrase.

Mina: Anyway,Kwirk's catch phrase would be 'Alright! Alright! Alright!' and probably acted the most like his videogame counterpart. Big Foot would talk with a Southern trucker accent and use trucker terms like '10-4 good buddy!' And now for the villains. Take it,Cartoon Historian.


Thank you,my assistant. As stated before,Mr. Big had 2 Henchmen. Joe Rockhead isvery powerful,but very dumb. He also Loved Chili Burgers. Henchmen #2,Spike would be the more capable thug. And since the show is aimed at 8-12 year-olds,he doesn't deal drugs like in the game. Mr. Big was also more human and used all kinds cigar related items. Yes,you heard correctly...Smoking in a Kids Show.

Mina: They would Never Ever be able to get away with that these days. *laughs*

Anyway,Mr.Big didn't turn into a giant skeleton monster like in NARC. While Mr. Big was the primary villain,on occasion other villains,who were the adversaries of the other characters would appear. Kwirk's enemy Rowdy Roddy Radish. Mr. Big is missing his mustache from the arcade version of his origin; however, he neither had it in Acclaim Entertainment's NES port of it.

Before the beginning of each episode Johnny Arcade is briefly shown playing each character's game on his NES before they come flying out of the screen. Even Kwirk, which was a Game Boy game. While Johnny was always leading the team, he was never actually seen hanging out with the characters.

Mina: Why? Who knows? Maybe they didn't want to make this show seem like a carbon copy of Captain N?

Johnny would always be in his room calling the shots. Even though Max Force does take a bit of a leader role. In one episode,Mr. Big tampered with Johnny's controls making him unable to give orders.

Mina: Outside of Mr. Big,the primary villain was Malkil,the warlock who was the main enemy of Kuros. He appeared to be far more sinister than Mr. Big and often worked alone. Although in one episode,he did team up with Mr. Big to battle the Power Team.

Mina: Malkil had also figured that the team would be lost without Johnny Arcade, so at one time he transported them to the gothic land of Sindarin, Kuros' native land. The team learned to work without Johnny's leadership and survive in the medieval realm.

Mina: While Kuros was glad to be home, he explained that he must return to the real world as the goal of the Power Team was to keep villains like Malkil and Mr. Big from ever invading and to allow each team member to return to their worlds in peace, thus explaining the rationale of the series.

Well now you know about one of the most obsure cartoon shows ever. Though,this show isn't nearly as obsure as Mutant League,a Show I'll be talking about soon. Next up,the Sequel to the Super Mario Bros. Super Show.

Mina: The Adventures of Super Mario Bros. 3 was based on the video game Super Mario Bros. 3. It aired on NBC as a part of Captain N: The Game Master,from September 8 1990 through December 1 1990.

The cartoon continues the adventures of Mario, Luigi, Princess Toadstool,and Toad as they battle King Koopa. This time however,King Koopa has his Koopalings,whose names differed from their original names in the video game. On the show, the Koopalings were called:

Cheatsy Koopa (Larry)- a diminutive Koopa, yet a pure schemer to his core.
Big Mouth Koopa (Morton)- had a tendency to constantly yammer on and on about any and all situations.
Kootie Pie Koopa (Wendy)- the only female, and a spoiled brat.
Hop Koopa (Iggy)- the youngest of the twins, loved getting into trouble.
Bully Koopa (Roy)- sported a constant pair of sunglasses, and was basically the bully of the group hence his name.
Hip Koopa (Lemmy)- the second twin, basically prone to mischief like Hop.
Kooky Von Koopa (Ludwig von Koopa)- Apparently the eldest of the kids, and had somewhat of a mad scientist persona, and reveled in creating inventions to bring disdain to the Mushroom Kingdom.

No official explanation was ever given to the name change. While its reason is disputed among fans,most agree that the likely explanation is that DiC did not have access to their real names during production of the show,as they were using the Japanese version of Super Mario Bros. 3 as reference.

In the Japanese version of Mario 3,the Koopa Kids weren't named (usually being called simply as "Koopa Kid" or "Little Koopa"). It wasn't until the game was brought over to the US for translation,that the kids got names. This was shortly before The Adventures of Super Mario Bros. 3 went on air.

Mina: Oddly enough,though,names from the American version of the game were inserted (such as referring to King Koopa as "Bowser"),which may have been a last minute attempt to make the cartoon feel more like the US version of the game. DiC likely retained the show names to avoid confusion among viewers and to avoid the large amount of expenses of to re-animate the whole show to accommodate this.

Like the previous Mario cartoon series,the animation was done by Sei Young Animation Co. Ltd, however this show was co-produced by Reteitalia S.P.A., hence the slight differences in character design.

Mina: When the series first aired,it was part of the one-hour series "Captain N and the Adventures of Super Mario Bros 3" on NBC's Saturday morning cartoon block. It aired as Mario 3 episode/Captain N episode/Mario 3 episode. Later, the two shows were split into 2 individual shows after NBC ended it's Saturday morning block.

Mina: Since the show was based on Super Mario Bros. 3, the enemies and power-ups were also seen in the show. In addition to being more faithful to the Mario gameplay,the series was given an established sense of continuity,something that the previous series lacked.

The show was also known for having many of its episodes set in "the real world". These episodes took place in locations such as London,Paris,Venice,New York City,Cape Canaveral,Los Angeles and even Washington, D.C.

Mina: One memorable episode entitled "7 Continents for 7 Koopas" was about the seven Koopa Kids invading each of the seven continents.

It should also be noted that Mario and Luigi had New York accents instead of Italian ones. This was prior to Charles Martinet auditioning to be the voice of Mario and creating an italian accent for the character

When NBC canceled their Saturday Morning lineup in 1992,the show was split from Captain N and aired on Family Channel as part of Captain N & the Video Game Masters (aka VGM). Super Mario World,Captain N,and time-cut versions of The Legend of Zelda were also part of this mini-block. When it aired on VGM,the episodes ran slower than the NBC versions to fill up more time.

Mina: Like the previous Mario cartoon,This show featured Cover songs. In the Non-NBC re-airings of the show,these songs were replaced with Mega Move,a song heard a lot on Captain N: The Game Master. The DVD box set also contain's Mega Move in place of the Cover songs.

Mina: Well,that was long.

Up Next,this show's sequel,Super Mario World.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

The Cartoon Historian Lesson 21-C: From Games to Toons Pt.3

Hey Piasanos,its The Cartoon Historian Super Show! LOL,well enough silliness for now.On with the Lesson. We are now gonna cover the Super Mario Bros. Super Show.

The Super Mario Bros. Super Show! is based on the first 2 Super Mario Bros. games by Nintendo. It was originally broadcast via first-run syndication to mostly Fox television networks from September 4,1989 to December 1,1989.

Club Mario[made because of the fcc's educational value in cartoons ruling] aired re-edited verions the episodes until September 6,1991.

The Family Channel (know known as ABC Family) also aired the series. They did it from September 23,1991 to August 26,1994 as reruns. The show was produced by DiC Animation and was distributed by Viacom Enterprises.

Mina: This is when Viacom was good.

The first and last parts of each episode were sitcom segments that showed Mario (played by the late "Captain" Lou Albano) and Luigi (played by Danny Wells) living in Brooklyn, where they would often be visited by celebrity guest stars. It's interesting to note that the live-action segments were performed and filmed before a live studio audience.

Some of the celebrity guest stars were popular television stars, such as Nedra Volz, Norman Fell, Donna Douglas, Eve Plumb, Vanna White, Jim Lange, Danica McKellar, Nicole Eggert, Clare Carey and Brian Bonsall or professional athletes such as Lyle Alzado, Magic Johnson, Roddy Piper, Sgt. Slaughter, and even Ernie Hudson appeared as a Slimebuster, a parody of his Ghostbusters persona, using his own name rather than Winston Zeddemore.

On one occasion, they even received a visit from Inspector Gadget. In an interview for the first DVD release of the show, Lou Albano talked about filming these live action skits, which mainly involved he and Wells getting a central plot and mainly improvising the dialogue as they went along. Lou really liked playing as Mario and has expressed it many times.

Occasionally, Lou Albano and Danny Wells would portray themselves, forcing their regular characters to leave the scene in order for themselves to appear. One notable example is when pop star Cyndi Lauper states she's looking for Lou Albano because he's missing, due to the note she got from him (although there is an important part missing from the note).

Mario exclaims how much he wants to meet Lou, and later Lou appears as himself supposedly while Mario's out shopping for pizza. As a result, Luigi gets to meet Lou, but Mario does not.

Lou Albano and Danny Wells also regularly played female versions of themselves, Marianne and Luigeena (the Mario Brothers' cousins),and also two hillbilly cousins, named Mario Joe and Luigi Bob.

After a brief introduction of the sitcom segment of the show and a commercial break,the 13 minute cartoon would air. These cartoons were based on the NES games Super Mario Bros. and Super Mario Bros. 2. The cartoons even had several sound effects and musical cues from the two games.

The characters featured would be Mario,Luigi,Toad and Princess Toadstool defending the Mushroom Kingdom from the reptilian villain King Koopa,often in a movie or pop-culture parody.

Getting into the spirit of these parodies, Bowser Koopa often used alter egos fitting the current theme. Wart, the main antagonist of the second game, was never in any of the episodes, yet most of his minions appeared in the show, most notably Mouser and Tri-Clyde.

The cartoon series occurs after the events of the first game when Princess Toadstool was rescued. The theme song for the cartoon segments revealed that the Mario Brothers were accidentally warped into the Mushroom Kingdom while working on a bathtub drain in Brooklyn.

After traveling via the warp drain, the Mario Brothers defeated Bowser Koopa's Koopa Troopas, saved Princess Toadstool and stopped Bowser Koopa's plan to conquer the Mushroom Kingdom. At the beginning of every cartoon segment Mario recites an entry into his "Plumber's Log," a parody of the "Captain's Log" from Star Trek.

A very loose spin-off of the show was broadcast in the Southern California TV market in late 1989/early 1990 called King Koopa's Kool Kartoons.

Mina: Lame x Infinity.

The Super Mario Bros. Super Show! cartoon segment aired from Monday through Thursday. On Fridays,however,we'd get The Legend of Zelda. The series was loosely based on The Legend of Zelda and Zelda II: The Adventure of Link. We'll get into this series later.

Scenes from each Zelda episode were shown during the shows sitcom segments. The Zelda cartoons consisted of thirteen episodes, which ended when the Super Mario Bros. Super Show! ended its initial broadcast run.

Mina: The characters of Link and Zelda, along with their respective voice actors (Jonathan Potts and Cynthia Preston), were later featured as crossovers on episodes of Captain N: The Game Master, another animated series based on NES video games, and also produced by DiC Animation around the same period, airing on NBC as part of its Saturday morning cartoon schedule.


Mina: During reruns that played during the summer of 1990, Club Mario replaced the Mario Brothers' sitcom segments. Why? Simple,at the time,The FCC added a new ruling stating thet most cartoons must have some form of educational value. So instead of facing the FCC's wrath,DiC replaced the uneducational Super Mario sitcom segments with the semi-educational Club Mario.

Mina: Each Club Mario segment gave us some educational value,mostly about environmental awareness. Anyway,these segments also featured "extreme" Mario-obsessed teenagers (Chris Coombs, Michael Rawlins, and Victoria Delany) goofing around, and in at least one episode, running around the DiC studios and harassing Andy Heyward. Mr. Coombs and Miss Delany played siblings Tommy and Tammy Treehugger, respectively.

Mina: Michael Rawlins plays Cool MC and his evil twin brother Eric, who time and again attempts to take over the show, usually uttering the phrase "dis'a MAH show!". An additional added segment was a one-to-two-minute viewing of Space Scout Theater/Spaced Out Theater, hosted by Princess Centauri, a green alien woman. Space Scout/Space Out Theater was made up of source footage from a science fiction childrens show called,Photon.

Mina: All and all these segments were a bad idea.

In 1994, The Family Channel aired the show in a package named Super Mario All-Stars, consisting of time compressed versions of the SMBSS cartoon segments & the Super Mario World cartoons.

It ran for 39 episodes in double episode format. Strangely enough, although clips from Adventures of Super Mario Bros. 3 were used in promos for the show, it was never aired. All-Stars was later played on USA Network from January-June 1997, where it was replaced by Sonic the Hedgehog reruns.

The cartoon segments contained a song of the day. These songs were edited versions of famous 80's songs. When the program was either re-aired or re-released on VHS or DVD,the songs weren't included.

Mina: Well that was informative. Next up,The Legend of Zelda Cartoon.

The Legend of Zelda was based loosely on the first and second The Legend of Zelda games for the Nintendo Entertainment System. It aired from September 8 to December 1,1989. The show was produced by DIC Entertainment and distributed by Viacom Enterprises.

Each episode of Zelda followed the adventures of the hero Link and Princess Zelda as they defended the kingdom of Hyrule from an evil wizard named Ganon. Most episodes consisted of Ganon (or his minions) either attempting to capture the Triforce of Wisdom,kidnap Zelda,or use another method to conquer Hyrule. Sometimes,Link and Zelda are assisted and accompanied by a fairy-princess called Spryte.

Mina: A common running joke of the series was Link's repeated failure to convince Zelda that he deserved a kiss for his heroic deeds. Whenever it seemed they were going to kiss,something bad would happen.

Zelda also had more of a protagonist role in the show than in the games. In most of the games,Zelda was a Damsel in Destress. While Link saves Zelda in a few episodes, she mostly battles along side Link,often using a bow and arrow.

Mina: Link usually met Zelda's obstinate rejection with his sarcastic catchphrase, "Well! Excuuuuuse me, Princess!". The series was to be continued for a 2nd season,but was canceled due to low ratings.

While direct referencing of the game is loose, the series featured some recognizable monsters,items and locations from the game. The seemingly impossible numbers of items that Link and Zelda are able to carry is not directly explained in the series but instead in the episodes the items they carry are magically shrunk when the items are placed in pouches or pockets.

The TV series is based heavily on The Legend of Zelda, but a few references are made to Zelda II: The Adventure of Link (for example, Ganon is often seen riding a Lowder, an insect-like beetle seen in Zelda II, but not The Legend of Zelda).

The series used sound effects and renditions of background tunes from the games, as well as some enemy monsters including Moblins, Octoroks, Gohma, Aquamentus, Gleeok, Keese and Ropes. Rupees appear, but are called Rubies.

Rather than arrows,the bows in the cartoon shoot beam-like projectiles, as does Link's sword (this happens in a few Zelda games when Link's hearts are full). Link's beams can destroy most monsters, but not people, as shown in the episode Sing for the Unicorn.

Mina: Now its time to tell you the reason why link acts like he does. Apparently,in the games Link lacks his own personality and that his personality was supposed to be that of the players. Well in the US,a majority of NES players were teenage boys. So Link was given the personality of an American Teenage Boy.

Alright. The next Cartoon to cover Would be Captain N. However,I've already covered that show. So I'm just gonna post a link to it: Part 1 and Part 2

Mina: Captain N will be re-aired on Nicktoons later next year. So If you missed it the first time around,you'll get another chance next year.

That's awesome news. Anyway,we ain't done yet. In fact,the fun has just begun.

The Cartoon Historian Lesson 21-B: From Games to Toons Pt.2

Mina: We are now gonna cover the Cartoon that capitalized on Pac-Man Fever. It's Pac-Man:the Animated Series.

Pac-Man,aka Pac-Man: The Animated Series,was produced by Hanna-Barbera based on the video game,Pac-Man by Namco,which premiered on ABC and ran from 1982 to 1984. During the first airing of the show, the large number of advertisers sponsoring it caused commercial breaks to double their normal length.

Later episodes featured normal commercial break times. The arcade game Pac-Land was based entirely on the cartoon, and Pac-Man 2: The New Adventures drew significant influence from it as well.

Also, the Tengen release of the original Pac-Man arcade game for the Nintendo Entertainment System features box art based on the cartoon. This series along with The Smurfs and other Hanna-Barbera adaptations of properties were completely different from the studio's trademark signature cartoons.

The show's initial success inspired ABC's rival CBS to create Saturday Supercade, which featured other video game characters from the Golden age of video arcade games. This marked a first in H-B's twenty-five year history that the studio produced an animated series based on a video game.

The show follows the adventures of the title character, Pac-Man, his wife Pepper (who is supposed to be Ms. Pac-Man), their child Pac-Baby, their dog Chomp-Chomp and their cat Sour Puss. The family lives in Pac-Land, a place in which the geography and architecture seem to revolve around spheres and sphere-like shapes.

Most episodes of the show center around the ongoing battle between the Pac family and their only known enemies,the Ghost Monsters: Blinky,Pinky,Inky,Clyde,and Sue (a fifth, female ghost).

They work for Mezmaron,(a mysterious figure who resembles Darth Vader and acts similarly to Gargamel),whose sole mission is to locate and control the "Power Pellets", which serve as the primary food and power source for the city.It's also the deus ex machina in virtually every episode.

For whatever reason, nearly everything in Pac-Land takes the shape of a sphere (or is round, at the very least). Everything from natural backgrounds to houses to cars to animals and even the people assume the form of a ball.

Another recurring theme is the common use of "Pac-" as a prefix for verbs and famous or common existing nouns. For example: Pac-Hollywood,a town famous for its film studios.

This is reminiscent of The Smurfs,an animated show which replaced or altered several existing words with "Smurf". In fact,the series was referred to as "Pac-Smurfs" around the Hanna-Barbera studio. Pac-man himself is often referred to the nickname "Packy" by Pepper.

In a typical episode, the ghost-monsters are eaten in the beginning, and their eyes fly back to Mezmaron's lava-lair closet to get new ghost suits and plot something evil. Power Pellets seem to be the focal point of nearly every episode, as Mezmaron and the Ghost-Monsters are intent upon finding them.

In actuality Power Pellets are plentiful and easy to find around Pac-Land. Mezmaron and the Ghost-Monsters' ultimate goal is to control all the power pellets by taking over the Power Pellet Forest where power pellets are grown on trees.

Although their primary purpose appears to be enabling the Pac-people to "chomp" Ghost-Monsters,Power Pellets also seem to be part of their diet (in addition to the city's source of power). Pac-Baby is fed power pellet milk for example.

It's interesting to note that when Pac-Man eats a power pellet,instead of turning blue (like in the games),the "Ghost-Monsters" (known simply as "Monsters" in the game) turn "purple with panic" after which they make an obvious note of their situation.

Mina: My Turn. Other changes from the video games include: Super Pac-Man being a separate character who lives in a parallel dimension,Clyde being the 'head' ghost-monster,instead of Blinky,The names of the orange and red ghosts (Blinky and Clyde) are swapped,and Ms. Pac-Man being called "Pepper".

Mina: Also When the ghosts catch up to Pac-Man in the early episodes, they trap him and "chomp his bones", leaving him a disheveled version of himself. It was a very shocking visual for the predominantly young audience, and in future episodes, Pac-Man just appeared beat up or in a weakened state rather than internally gobbled.

Mina: Sue (the only female ghost-monster) is now just a separate character and the fifth ghost monster. In Ms. Pac-Man, Sue replaced Clyde in an attempt to give Ms. Pac-Man a rival of her own. When she was around, Pepper was usually the one who chomped the Sue. Even though in the cartoon Sue is purple, in the arcade game she is orange, the same color Clyde is in the Pac-Man game. However in Pac-Mania, Sue appeared in her original purple color as a fifth ghost, joining the original four, and three additional ghosts.

Mina: The ghosts all wear hats or,in Sue's case,earrings. This was done so that the animators/painters could tell the ghosts apart. Pinky and Inky had abilities the other ghost monsters did not. Pinky was able to alter his shape. For instance he changed into an inflatable rubber raft to travel on a body of water. Inky was able to produce many supplies and items from his clothing. Inky is even able to retrieve items larger than himself.

Mina: An example of this is when he took a very long ladder out of his clothing to climb a wall to escape from Pac-Man. This ability is similar to Hammerspace. Each of the ghosts have a distinct personality. Aside from Clyde and Sue's mentioned personalities, Inky is the stupid one, Blinky is the cowardly one and Pinky is the tough one.

Mina: The ghost monsters have a child cousin named "Dinky". Dinky and Pac-Baby would get along, not like the adults. Dinky appeared in two episodes.

In the second season, besides Super-Pac, Pac-Man's teenage cousin, P.J.,appears semi-regularly on the show. The two characters never appeared together in any of the episodes.

Mina: This show had both a X-Mas Special and a Halloween One.

Cartoony and Corny as this show was,It contributed to Pac-Man Fever. Anyway,our next show is Another Namco Video Game,Pole Position.

Mina: Pole Position was produced by DIC Entertainment. The show sought to capitalize on the popularity of the video game. However, there is very little in common between the game and the show. Pole Position ran for 13 episodes on CBS in 1984 as part of their Saturday morning line-up.

The show featured three young sibling crime fighters, two of whom were stunt drivers and part of a secret government operation under the guise of the "Pole Position Stunt Show" that was run by their uncle.

The youths inherited the role after their parents died in an unfortunate car accident. The team is equipped with two high-tech talking vehicles(similar to Night Rider's KIT) named "Roadie" and "Wheels."

Mina: 2 Stereotypical Car names.

The vehicles featured numerous hidden gadgets like water skis and hover jets. The vehicles' computers themselves are portable and can be removed from the dashboards and carried around using handles (thus they are often referred to as "the modules"). They have often appeared as computer-drawn faces displayed on video screens.

Mina: Y'know,in a way,This Cartoon is kind of a rip-off of both Speed Racer and Night Rider.

Dragon's Lair was a short-lived series by Ruby-Spears Productions based on the 1983 video game of the same name. Thirteen half-hour episodes were produced from 1984-1985,airing on ABC's Saturday Morning Block.

The Saturday Morning block ceased the shows run when it was cancelled in 1985. Between the late '80s and the early '90s, the show's first and only rerun was on the USA Cartoon Express.

The series chronicles the adventures of Dirk the Daring, who is best knight in King Ethelred's kingdom. Dirk performs all sorts of great deeds while protecting the kingdom and his love, Princess Daphne.

The show was great and boasted an unusual feature: to keep the show in the spirit of the game, before each commercial break the storyteller would ask what the viewer would do to solve the problem facing Dirk the Daring.

After the commercial break, the outcomes of the various choices were shown before Dirk acts on the correct idea (with the occasional exception) to save the day.

Mina: Not much info from Pole Position or Dragon's Lair,huh? Let's just hope and pray that the next batch of shows are a bit more informative.

For the most part they will be. Next up. The Super Mario Bros. Super Show.

The Cartoon Historian Lesson 21-A: From Games to Toons Pt.1

Welcome to another Cartoon Historian. I'm your instructor,Stefan and this is my assistant,Mina. Because you voted for it,This episode is gonna be all about Video Game-based Cartoons

Mina: In this special multi-part episode we're gonna be talking about the many different cartoons that were based on Video Games. It's From Games to Toons on The Cartoon Historian.

[Cartoon Historian Theme Plays]

Thanks again for joining us,everyone. Today we'll be covering the various Video Games that got their own Cartoon adaptions.

Mina: And since we're gonna be covering these in Chronological order,we're gonna start with Saturday Supercade.

Saturday Supercade was a series produced for Saturday mornings by Ruby-Spears Productions.

Mina: Yup,you read right. It seems that Mega Man wasn't the Only Game-based Cartoon that Ruby-Spears created.

Can I continue?

Mina: Hey,I was just pionting out a fact.

Anyway,The series ran for two seasons on CBS beginning in 1983. Each episode was composed of several shorter segments featuring video game characters from the Golden age of video arcade games.

Saturday Supercade is presumably under the ownership of Warner Bros. Entertainment (through Turner Entertainment Co., who acquired the Ruby-Spears library in 1991).

However, in the 1980s, MCA TV,a company owned by Universal,held the international distribution rights to the Donkey Kong and Donkey Kong Junior segments. This was part of the settlement with Nintendo over the King Kong plagiarism issue. It's unknown if those rights have reverted to WB/Turner or are now owned by MCA's successor, NBC Universal.

A Minisode version of the Q*bert episode "Thanksgiving for the Memories" has appeared on the Minisode Network, suggesting that the Q*bert segments might be owned by Sony Pictures Television.

Presumably due to this divided ownership and/or licensing issues with the various companies that licensed their games for the show, Saturday Supercade has never been officially released on VHS, DVD,or Blu-Ray.

Mina: The shows featured characters include: Frogger (from Frogger),Donkey Kong (from Donkey Kong),Donkey Kong Jr. (from Donkey Kong Jr. aka Donkey Kong 2),Q*bert(from Q*Bert),and Pitfall Harry (from Pitfall).

Mina: Each character got their own segments. While the other three segments always aired weekly,Pitfall and Q-Bert rotated.

Mina: During the second season, Q-Bert (now weekly) and Donkey Kong remained while the Frogger, Donkey Kong Jr. and Pitfall Harry segments were replaced by Space Ace and Kangaroo,a non-video game show.

On an interesting note,Pac-Man was not a part of Saturday Supercade. Hanna-Barbera already had a separate cartoon devoted to Pac-Man entitled Pac-Man: The Animated Series on CBS's rival network,ABC.

Now,lets look at the various segments that were part of this show. Let's start with Frogger.

Frogger is an ace reporter of the swamp who works at the Swamp Gazette. He and his friends Shellshock Turtle and Fanny Frog go out in search of crazy stories (sometimes about human behavior) to publish in the swamp's newspapers. Frogger also has to deal with his gruff J.Jonah Jameson-esque boss Tex Toadwalker. As in the game, he often gets flattened or has an encounter with an alligator.

Mina: Lame!

Well what do you expect,you can't make a cool Cartoon out of Frogger's Story. especially since the game Had no story to begin with.

Mina: Good point.

Moving on to Donkey Kong. Donkey Kong has escaped from the circus and is on the run. Mario and Pauline chase the ape,in hopes of bringing him back to the Circus. As with the original game,Donkey Kong will often grab Pauline and Mario has to save her.

It must be noted that Pauline's portrayal as Mario's niece is an original Ruby-Spears concept (don't ask me why they did this).In the games,however,Pauline is Mario's girlfriend.

Mina: The Story is also different from the games. In the games Donkey Kong was Mario's Pet Gorrilla that felt neglected by his owner. So DK busts out of his cage and captures Pauline. It's also worth noting that Mario was voiced my the Legendary,Peter Cullen. Yup,Optimus Prime Voiced Mario..Cool huh? Anyway,Q*Bert is next.

In a 1950s inspired world set in the town of Q*Berg,a teenage fur-covered creature named Q*Bert,his girlfriend Q*Tee,and his friends Q*Ball,Q*Val,and Q*Mongus must deal with the resident bullies Coily, Ugg, Wrong Way (all three voiced by Frank Welker,btw),and Viper.

This segment features both "block-hopping" scenes, "swearing" bubbles and occasional flying disc,all from the original game. New to the cartoon was Q*Bert's use of "slippy-doos", a black ball projectile which he loaded and fired through his nose, producing an oil slick wherever the balls splattered. Slick and Sam are also featured.

Mina: Again,the story is lame because the Q*Bert game Had no story to begin with. Same goes for the rest of the segments. Next up,Donkey Kong Jr.

Donkey Kong Jr. (voiced by Frank Welker,another legendary VA) is sad to find that his father is running from the circus and Mario,and that he may never see him again.

Jr. befriends a greaser nicknamed "Bones" who has a motorcycle and offers to help Junior by finding his dad together. Donkey Kong Jr's usual saying is "Monkey muscle!",which he tells to himself and Bones to inspire self-confidence. Bones often serves as the voice of reason when Donkey Kong Jr. bites off more than he can chew.

Mina: In Pitfall! Pitfall Harry,his niece Rhonda,and their cowardly pet Quick Claw the Mountain Lion explore jungles for hidden treasures,having many different adventures along the way.

Mina: And Finally we have Space Ace. Space Ace/Dexter and his sister Kimberly work for Space Marshall Vaugh to keep the peace in the universe. They fight the evil alien commander Borf and keep him from invading Earth.

Mina: Again, as with Donkey Kong, Ruby Spears took artistic license with the relationship with Kimberly and Dexter. In the Don Bluth film and in the game,Kimberly is Ace's girlfriend.

Mina: Also, in the video game, Dexter had certain chances to revert to Ace, his full-grown self, whereas in the cartoon the Ace/Dexter phases seemed to happen on their own and at often inconvenient times for the hero.

Ruby-Spears planned a 3rd season for the Saturday Supercade. However,the CBS executives decided to can the series,so that they could make room for their newer Saturday Morning shows. Because of this,the 3rd season of Saturday Supercade never made it past the planning stages.

Had the Saturday Supercade continued,we would've seen 3 new cartoon segments: Space Invaders,Mario Bros.and Centipede [i think it was supposed to be centepede..it could've been Joust,though? or maybe it was adventure?].

Anyway,that's it for Saturday Supercade. Next up,the Cartoon that capitalized on Pac-Man fever. It's Pac-Man:the Animated Series.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

The Cartoon Historian Presents: In Defense of the Mega Man Cartoon.

This Is A Cartoon Historian Special Presentation!

Mina: Hey everyone,Mina here. To get us ready for the Big 'Games to Toons' Cartoon Historian episode,Stefan is gonna be giving his defense of the Mega Man Cartoon. In the same manner that he did with the Street Fighter Cartoon. Think of this as a Pre-Game show. Anyway,here's Stefan.

Thank you Mina. What you are about to read is a Defense of the Ruby-Spears Mega Man Cartoon.

In the 90's a Mega Man Cartoon series was created to complement the popularity of the hit Video Game series. However,a lot of fans,including Keiji Inafune himself,were disappointed about what they got.

The Show,despite what others say,isn't that bad. The Show has it's flaws yes,but what Game,Comic,or TV show doesn't?

First I'm gonna talk about the Series Flaws,just to get them out of the way. As well as the other reasons why Mega Man Fans tend to dislike this show. On with the flaws.

The first major flaw is,of course,that Mega Man and Protoman have muscles. The next major flaw is the one that annoyed Everyone,including Keiji Inafune. Protoman was a Bad Guy. I'll talk more about that later.

Another major flaw was the format of the show. Instead of being a cool action show,RS-Mega Man was a typical Saturday Morning one. Complete with corny dialogue,Stupid Animal Antics,inconsistancies,and over the top[and sometimes lame]plot devices.

The Next major flaw would be the artwork quality of Season 2. 5 of the episodes had fairly simplistic artwork. Especially the Curse of the Lionmen episode.

Anyway,the Final major flaw was the fact that Mega Man was called "Mega" all of the time. His name is Rock,not Mega. I was also annoyed by this.

Another reason why the MM fans hate this series is because when they watch it they compare it to the games. This is a problem that provents them from enjoying the series.

Now that all of the Major negatives have been covered...It's time for the Defense.

The first thing to defend is the Artwork.Season 1 had some good awrwork. I like it. However,in some episodes of Season 2,the artwork was simplistic. Plus,muscles and pretty Roll aside,all the characters looked similar to their Game Counterparts. So you can easily tell who they are,Unlike teir Captain N counterparts.

Next Up,I'm gonna defend is the Music. It's well writen and It went with the scenes well. Speaking of the Scenes,while the Storylines were medeocre at best,the Action was pretty damn good. You gotta admit,they were fun to watch.

Another thing I'm gonna defend is the Characters personalities. Considering that their Game Counterparts had little to no personalities to begin with,I'd say the personalities of the characters turned out decent. Except for Protoman's of course.

Also remember this Cartoon was being created in 1992. During this time period,The American versions of the games potrayed Mega Man and Co as Personalitiless. While,in The Japanese games the characters had very little personalities. These said personalities wouldn't begin to develop until Rockman 7.

Also Protoman,for the most part,in the NES games didn't do much. He was either Mega Man's opponent or a Rescuer,nothing else. There's also a chance that the Director and Writers never made it to the final stage of Protoman's fortress in Mega Man 5. This might also explain why RS-Darkman is designed after the 2nd Dark Sentinel and not the The 4th Dark Sentinel aka the Real Darkman.

I don't think they've played completely through Mega Man 3 or 4 either. That has to be the case,because if they Did,Protoman would be a Good Guy instead of a Bad Guy. Protoman is a villain because the writers saw him as one in the games.

They couldn't use Bass,because he wasn't created yet and during the creation of Season 2,which was in 1994,he was in the Planning stages.

The next thing I'm gonna stick up for is the Art Style. Like I stated in my 'Street Fighter Cartoon' defense,Anime wasn't that popular in the U.S. at the time. However,Anime would eventually gain a fan base in 1997,years After the series cancelation.

Not only that,but 8-12 year-olds,the main target demographic,were used to an American look and feel to their cartoons. BTW,did you know that most of the Art and Animation were done overseas in Japan. So believe it or not,the show is part Anime.

And So what if the Cartoon's not Canon. Hell,neither are the Anime OVA or The Mangas. Now if fans would just look past the mentioned flaws,they might come to respect,perhaps even like,this Cartoon series.

You also have to remember that compared to the Cartoons of today,the Mega Man cartoon is kinda cool. And thus concludes the Defense of the Mega Man Cartoon. I hope you all enjoyed this.

Unfortunately,like the Street Fighter fans,some Mega Man fans are just a bunch of purist pricks,closed minded people who hate the show mostly because it's not Japanese and Unlike the games. It's also a shame that Keiji Inafune didn't like this show either. In fact,Keiji Inafune was mostly responsible for the shows cancelation. I'll talk more about that when I'm covering the Mega Man cartoon show.

Luckily,I'm not the Only one who sticks up for this show. Here's my friend and fellow RS-Mega Man defender,General-Radix.

*scene swiches to General-Radix*

General-Radix: Thanks,Cartoon Historian. The following only concerns those "it's not canon!" fantards. The really obvious question is, "Why can't you guys just accept that, as a third-party production, it's not going to perfectly sync up to the canon set in place by CAPCOM?"

General-Radix: The way I see it, they can't accept this because they HAVE to find a way to wedge it into canon; seeing that they can't they declare it crap and bash it relentlessly. Why does it have to fit into canon? Does the fate of Mars hang in the balance? Is this bashing borne from some pathological need to organize?

General-Radix: The most common complaint is, of course, "They changed too many things". This does hold ground--but not much. The basic premise of the Megaman series, at least up to 1994, is "A jailbait blue robot blows up eight robots built by Dr. Wily". Nothing about the general location of these battles (A forest? Hell, that could be Wisconsin). Besides, you can't blame the artists for taking liberties with the designs--you bring me a person with official Rockman (not Mega) artwork back in the early 90s, and I'll show you a perfectly honest and selfless politcian.

General-Radix: The simple fact is, the NES Megaman games prior to 5 didn't have a great deal of story. What was in the manual didn't tell you jack about what actually happens in-game (even MM4 failed to mention Cossack in its intro, if I remember correctly). Shigeto Ikehara's mangizations of the series stray from that premise simply by adding dialogue, to say nothing of Karate-003.

General-Radix: So if Ikehara's manga is generally well-liked despite deviances from the games, why all the cries of "IT AIN'T CANON" directed towards the cartoon? To be honest...I don't know. Hitoshi Ariga's Megamix series is VERY well-received by the entire community, and its stories can only barely fit into game canon. (Granted, his artwork and storytelling are both excellent) Why don't I ever see any "IT'S NOT CANON" complaints flung HIS way? Is it because RS-MM is easier to pick on?

General-Radix: It could be because the adaptation decay is SO strong in RS-MM (though when you think about it, given the US boxarts and minimal plots, there's not THAT much decay--it even addressed the issue of how Megaman could get weapons from a robot he JUST BLEW UP) that purists look at it and say, "That sucketh." But really--isn't comparing differences between products part of the fun of being a fan of something with as much "extras" as Megaman?

General-Radix: RS-MM, at least to me, has some many differences while still retaining the "feel" of Megaman, that it becomes its own canon. That, and it's a fun cartoon, MM or no. So what if Megaman has a ridiculously well-sculpted torso (or at least armour giving him that appearance), Protoman is evil, sarcastic, and vaguely flamboyant, and Roll can *gasp* FIGHT? It's enjoyable, and really shouldn't be treated as "game canon".

General-Radix: Something occurred to me last night. SegaSonic's spinoffs AoStH, SatAM, Archie, and SU all get to be their own canons. Why doesn't RS-MM get that same status, despite being different enough from the source material to be so?

General-Radix: I have found another irrefutable argument to support Ruby-Spears Megaman. It involves another series, Double Dragon. Both Megaman and Double Dragon got cartoons, both frought with adaptation decay. So far, so good.

General-Radix: Let's look at the games being made for each series when the cartoons were still up and running. Megaman saw MM5, MM6, and MMX; Double Dragon saw Battletoads and Double Dragon and Double Dragon V: The Shadow Falls. Notice something funny about Double Dragon V: The Shadow Falls?

General-Radix: It's based on the cartoon. It's part of the main series, and it's based on the cartoon that is far from perfectly in line with the games. How many entries in the main series did RS-MM get? ZERO.

General-Radix: Take that, haters; RS-Megaman may not have fit the game canon like a glove, but at least it didn't muck up said game canon. (That said, I'm sure the DD cartoon is still enjoyable, ironically or no, and DDV wasn't made by the original company--but it's part of the main DD series, despite clearly being in a canon of its own)

General-Radix: RS-MM also has a page on TV Tropes, which I have contributed to. They mention a ways down that RS-MM was to look like the games, and get a good laugh out of their not sticking with it because of the later anime boom. I'd just like to point something out:

General-Radix: If they ignored the test audiences and went with the game style, the show would probably have been ignored and swiftly canned. I think all the fanbrats who whine about RS-MM not being anime should take that into consideration. I get the impression that they don't realize that anime used to be a niche market in the US.

General-Radix: On another note, I have yet to see a Sue written for RS-Mega. Guess the fangirls prefer jailbait. The worst one has to be shoehorning Bass into the storyline (with optional Treble). I normally wouldn't care--after all, continuity immigrations can be fun--but every goddamned time, not only is he exactly like his game counterpart, but he's little more than a plot device used to facilitate Protoman leaving Wily.

General-Radix: This is especially sad for several reasons: rarely is anything interesting done with Mr. Not A Fish (or maybe that's just because the fics I've seen doing this didn't have any further chapters/entries); he's usually just a worse version of Protoman, meaning of "worse" varying; and it's the "fans"/authors trying to force RS-MM to be a different-looking Capcom MM. The nice thing about MM is that it doesn't suffer from what I call "DBZ Adaptation Syndrome", wherein every third-party production of a given series simply reiterates said series' story. Even I could tolerate only so many dry retellings of the various Sagas.

General-Radix: I do have an RS-Bass; however, he's a non-combatant hacker whose voice rarely rises above "monotone". And it was almost solely to combat the above cliche. Also,Protoman defecting from Wily when done in a way that just stinks of "Stupid Ruby-Spears is stupid and didn't beat MM5 even though Darkman is present and named in the show! LOL". I think the italics says it all, really. (Again, I've used this, but at least built up to it. Plus, Proto had other problems besides Wily)

General-Radix: A sub-cliche would be Wily abusing Proto--which actually makes sense, since the only other way to keep the guy in check (all I've ever seen are tasers and one electro-baton) would be to wear a Ride Armour at all times and ready the pimp arm any time Proto started to speak. Proto would tire of this and "accidentally" screw up a vital component during its maintenance. (Again, one I used--which isn't speaking well of me--but I'd like to think that's it's MASSIVELY toned down from what other authors do)

General-Radix: Protoman swooping in to save Mega's arse. Again, it's the "fans" forcing the show to be like the games. (Granted, the two fics I read that did this were able to justify it, but I'm sure there are many others that don't bother) They tend to forget that Proto would rather fight alongside his bro rather than constantly bail him out game-style. (Jumping in to even the odds, I can let slide)

General-Radix: Realistically, Proto and Roll would run Mega ragged, what with their constantly rushing into danger and all. XD Bashing Roll because of her weapons. Yeah, using kitchen and cleaning stuff is kinda "eh", but seriously--you gotta admire a person, male or female, who can run into a battle with an egg beater or vacuum and come out alive.

General-Radix: Claiming that the production team never finished MM5. (Thanks a lot, Mandi) People who claim that either go entirely off of Mandi's opinion of the series (which I can't help but see as pettily negative), or are still butthurt over Proto being a "bad guy" (wake up call! He was a bad guy until the last few minutes of MM3!) Both parties tend to conveniently forget one detail. One detail whose name we wouldn't know for a while because his name was never given in-game. You know, DARKMAN. It's the gray one, but still--if Ruby-Spears knew about Darkman, they would know that Protoman was framed in MM5. Besides, the route they took gave Proto much more screen time than he has in practically every other media.

General-Radix: Calling Mega and other characters on the show something along the lines of "mutant bodybuilders". I know that he looks a lot bigger in comparison to Capcom-Rock, but Megaman really isn't that ripped (unless you're going by the promotional art/toys). These complainers need to look at actual bodybuilders/Rob Liefeld artwork--Mega is downright soft compared to them.


General-Radix: Complaining about the tiniest little things, like one solar panel on Mega's helmet being a diamond instead of a square (I HAVE SERIOUSLY HEARD THIS ON MORE THAN ONE OCCASION). We have a trope for this, and it's called "They Changed It Now It Sucks". Don't expect this vile breed of complainers to have any legitimate complaints, either--just lots of superficial whining.

General-Radix: Incidentally, there was one fellow I talked to that disliked the show for legitimate reasons (not that I agreed with him, but they were valid points nonetheless). But then, he also shifted the blame of its cancellation from Bandai and CoA to the show itself, despite its high ratings.

General-Radix: In conclusion,Bashing RS-MM with the fury of a thousand suns for "not being like the games", but giving the "Upon a Star" OVA a free pass, despite it being different. This is a big fat double standard--the OVA, along with Megamix and the other mangas, are all different from the games, but no one care because they're Japanese. (Not going into quality matters here, people. This is strictly regional) They don't even freaking NOTE the differences in those cases!

General-Radix: This,however,is a whole 'nother rant, so I'll just paraphrase another RPM forumite and myself, respectively: "Hitoshi Ariga has truly captured the spirit of Rockman." "Because Megamix is Japanese." If you know of any others, I'd like to hear of them, so we can all laugh at its potential stupidity.

General-Radix: Back to you Cartoon Historian.

*scene swiches back to Stefan and Mina*

Thank you,Genaral.

Mina: Damn that was long.

But,it was to the point. That's gonna do it for now. See ya next time on The Cartoon Historian.

Mina: Later,guys.