To me the 1980s were a golden age for Saturday Morning Cartoons, especially the mid 70s to the early 80s. As America rode a wave of childhood consumerism the good folks in Saturday Morning Hollywood or “Wee’ Hollywood” were cranking out show after show. Every September I would scrape together my quarters and buy the TV guide that would outline what new cartoons would be premiering and I would spend the approaching week figuring out which shows I would try out.
Sadly as the 1980s wore on the premise for the cartoons became certainly questionable, one might even say dubious. We went from watching entertaining animated violence punctuated by ads for sugary cereal to less entertaining animated violence featuring the newest product and toys punctuated by commercials for sugary cereal. I of course could hardly tell the difference at the time. Oh to be a young pop culture sponge again.
That being said, I decided to take a look back at some of these shows over the last week. OK these shows are pretty weak when you watch them again and the experience wasn’t exactly the same. I eat less cereal then I used to and I sit more then six inches from the TV screen now, but even though these shows have the flimsiest plots that are as predictable as milk, I still love them to death. So let me share with you what I call my top 5 most dubious cartoons with you. If I missed your favorite please feel free to share it in the comments below.
Like most dubious cartoons Madballs started out as a line of toys. Their faddish nature made them the perfect candidate for Cartoondom and they quickly made the jump. Sadly they never made it to the Saturday Morning Lineup, but the videos were very popular in my neck of the woods.
Even if you didn’t own a Madball, you still might remember this commercial:
4. Captain N: The Gamemaster
This show is a shimmering advertisement for all things Nintendo. In the show this kid named Kevin and his dog are summoned to Videoland to join the N Team. His ultimate goal is to defeat the Mother Brain from Metroid and save all of Videoland. If you played NES at all in the 80s this show’s characters were already familiar to you. On the side of good were such familiar good guys as Simon Belmont and Mega Man. On the Mother Brain’s side were baddies like King Hippo and Dr. Wily. A show like this could easily be brought back. What are you waiting for Nintendo?
3. The Adventures of Teddy Ruxpin
Teddy and his buddy Grubby leave home to find adventure. They quickly find these crystals that will allow bad monsters of the realm to rule the world and are charged with keeping them safe. Teddy and Grubby are sort of like an animated Frodo and Sam only fuzzier. The show was pretty good and I think helped to keep Teddy Ruxpin in people’s hearts well after the Toy-Teddy wore out its oft-malfunctioning welcome.
2. Lazer Tag Academy
Tom and Beth are a brother and sister who are visited from the future by a descendant named Jamie. Together they use the power of Lazer Tag equipment to fight the forces of evil. As a huge fan of Lazer Tag toys I was, and am still, completely blind to how bad this show is. As I watched this show with others who scoffed at some of the plot holes I could only thing of the trusty plastic weapon that I have stored away under my bed and how later that night I would use the power of Star Lyte to put these ignoramuses in their place.
1. Rubik, the Amazing Cube
Surely the only show ever made about a puzzle cube. Rubik, the Amazing Cube was the story of a magic cube who escaped from an evil Magician and fell in with three siblings. The four of them traveled around and tried to keep Rubik out of the hands of the Magician. Of course Rubik was magic, but could only use his powers when his colored squares were aligned. So scramble Rubik and he is useless. Lucky for all of us the Rubik’s Cube trend had swept the nation and everyone knew how to solve these things, especially the show’s 3 siblings.
Scrambling him was kind of like taking Frosty the Snowman’s hat away. Wait a second this shows plot sounds exactly the same as the plot for Frosty. Well played producers of Rubik…well played. As a cool bonus fact, Rubik was voiced by Ron Palillo who you might know as Arnold Horshack on the ABC sitcom Welcome Back, Kotter.
So many shows out there that I think could easily make this list – M.A.S.K, Pac-Man, Donkey-Kong and Photon jump to mind. As I said above if you have an 80’s show you would like to share, post it below.