Underappreciated and ignored/forgotten

I'm sure there are many cartoons that can fall under this list but these are some I have actually watched over the years. Some can be considered underappreciated, meaning they've got great stories, great animation, or a combination of both and still did not reach commercial success. These are the cartoons that usually end up as cult favorites.

Then there are those that I consider ignored/forgotten. This is usually referring to the studio/company that owns the rights and has yet to do anything with the particular cartoon.

Some may be listed as both underappreciated and ignored/forgotten because they achieved a following but not one that the studio/company deemed profitable and so they cancelled a series before it could have an official end.

A few of these got VHS releases, but many still have never gotten well-deserved DVD releases. If it weren't for sites like youtube, I wouldn't have been able to go back and watch some of these recently to remind myself why I loved them so much. I have also broken them down by the original channel to broadcast each show. Let's start with:

Fox

Exo Squad (1993-1994, two seasons)-



One of the best shows to come out of the nineties, Exo-Squad was a great sci-fi epic presented in episodic fashion while maintaining an overall story arc. It featured a war in the future between humans and their creations the Neo-Sapiens.



It was a classic story of playing God and reaping what you sow as the Neo-Sapiens, bred as laborers, rose up and rebelled against the humans. Both sides used war machines called E-frames,



which led to some of the coolest toys being made



The series is often referred to as the American anime as it was meant to compete with the early anime shows coming out of Japan at the time. The series featured space battles where people actually died! But despite all the good things it had going for it, the series was cancelled after the second season. It did get several VHS releases:



However it isn't currently being shown on T.V. and has no DVD release.

Verdict: ignored/forgotten

The Tick (1994-1996, three seasons) –



First of all, I will consent that this is currently on DVD:



But it took forever to do so. It only existed on a few VHS releases before. I couldn't find information if it's one of the ones that was spiked by a petition of some sort, but I wouldn't be surprised if that's what it took. This was a perfect adaptation of Ben Edlund's The Tick comics:



The animators did such a great job of matching his art style that it's as if the characters leaped off the page and onto the small screen. Ben Edlund's humor is such that adults can appreciate its tongue in cheek nature while kids are drawn in by the visual design of the show.



Another frustrating fact about the DVD's is that each release (Season 1 and 2) has an episode missing. It's hard to find a straight answer as to why but it sucked having to wait so long and then we're short changed a couple of episodes with little or no explanation. According to my research, it doesn't seem to be currently showing on any network. If Comedy Central hasn't taken a turn at rerunning these, my personal opinion is that they should. I think it'd be a great fit for their network.

Verdict: Underappreciated

X-men: animated series (1992-1997, five seasons) –



Ok, here's one that really baffles me. X-men the animated series x-ploded (bad joke, couldn't resist) onto Fox in the early nineties. In the comic world, Jim Lee had just helped re-launch the X-men with a brand new #1 the year before:



So Marvel capitalized on it with this animated series featuring the X-men as Jim Lee had designed them. For five seasons it was one of Fox Kid's biggest shows, spawning deals with Pizza Hut:



Toys



Video games



Until it finally ended in 1997. It had some VHS releases.



Fast Forward to 2000 and X-men the movie comes out:



We get a few DVD's put out, which many think is just a test to see if they'll sell.



And then…nothing.

Two more X-men movies come and go:



And we get a couple of special DVD's but still no release of an entire season. Why this is the case is still a mystery to me.

Verdict: ignored/forgotten

Cartoon Network

Courage the Cowardly Dog (1999-2002, four seasons) –



Some of the cartoons I'll list on here will seem like a child who has a lot of siblings and their parents seem to ignore them because of it. Courage is one of those shows. Courage shined bright when he first came out on Cartoon Network. The premise was ripe for good stories; a cowardly dog must protect his owners from the horrors that lurk in the middle of nowhere. He quickly became one of the network's regulars and was a hit.



But then he just seemed to get lost in the crowd. He is still currently being shown, but there is still no DVD release for the show.

Verdict: ignored/forgotten

He-Man and the Masters of the Universe (2002 TV series, two seasons)-



This one is finally getting a DVD release but the real tragedy about this show is that it was cancelled before it's time. They had great plans for it that were never realized.



First off, this series reboots the original He-man cartoon and does a good job of it. The goofy side of the original cartoon was discarded in place of a more action-oriented show. They even took the time to develop well planned story arcs. Season One was a lot of set up but solidified ideas that were never really covered in the old show.




The Second Season started a new arc involving the Snake Men. This added to the mythos because it gave an origin story to Snake Mountain.



Then the show was cancelled right before things were really going to get good. Apparently, in the third season, Hordak would make a siege on Eternia which took Skeletor out of the role of main villain for a season. This would lead to a forth season where She-Ra would have been introduced and Skeletor would be forced to join with He-man to drive Hordak from Eternia. Sadly, we'll never get to see these tales.

Verdict: Underappreciated

Nickelodeon

The Original Nicktoons

Before I get to the Nicktoons I want to focus on there's two that have to be mentioned first. Nickelodeon seems to be reluctant to put out entire seasons of their shows (only Avatar: The Last Airbender and Spongebob come to mind right now). But let's look at the original Nicktoons.



Rugrats seemed to be the prize of bunch for Nickelodeon when they first came out. They got several DVD releases and a couple of movies out but nothing collecting entire seasons.



Then we have Ren and Stimpy. I believe it got a second life on Spike T.V. long enough to get DVD releases of the seasons. Otherwise, I don't think Nickelodeon would have ever released them.

Now to Nickelodeon's neglected kids as I like to call them.

Doug (1991-1999, seven seasons)-



When the original Nicktoons came out, I didn't care for Doug. The funny thing is, I caught an episode once where I learned he liked comic books and that's what sparked my interest in the show. From then on, I was hooked and watched until they defected to Disney. So, my desire is that the Nickelodeon episodes be put on DVD. I could care less about the Disney ones.



It was a nice little show. It had a cool cast of characters and had Doug go through some situations many kids deal with growing up. All of this while still staying funny and entertaining, mind you. And yet no DVD release and as far as I can tell it's not currently being shown on T.V. anywhere.

Verdict: ignored/forgotten

Now we get to a second generation of Nicktoons. Starting with:

Rocko's Modern Life (1993-1996, four seasons) –



A wallaby and his dog move from the outback to the big city where they have many adventures with an eccentric cast of characters. How can you go wrong with that premise? Rocko's Modern Life was a goofy fun-filled ride with every episode. And as with Ren and Stimpy, there were plenty of innuendos for fans to catch (Chokey Chicken anyone?).



According to TVShowsOnDVD.com, it's on the top forty most requested unreleased shows.

Verdict: ignored/forgotten

Aaahh!!! Real Monsters (1994-1998, four seasons) –



What Hogwarts did for wizards and witches in Harry Potter, this show did for monsters who needed training before being sent out into the world to scare. It followed the adventures of three monsters in training: Ickis, Krumm, and Oblina.



The animation was great and the designs of the characters and the environment gave just the right amount of dirt and grit that the show needed. It's similar to Pixar's Monster Inc. which came out 3 years after this series ended.



Coincidence? Hmmmm.

Anyway. This show had a goofy side but because of the nature of the concept it could get a little dark too. Kind of like Invader Zim.

Verdict: Underappreciated and ignored/forgotten

Speaking of Invader Zim.

Invader Zim (2001-2002, 2006, two seasons)-



Notice the big gab in years between seasons? Well, that should show you the crap this show had to deal with. Nickelodeon had a great show on their hands and in their time honored tradition; they decided to let it go. Zim is an outcast of the Irken Empire, a race whose sole purpose is to conquer other worlds. Zim is tricked by his superiors into thinking Earth is the planet he needs to conquer. In reality, they're just trying to get rid of Zim. They send Zim with his robotic (and purposely malfunctioned) robot Gir to Earth.




They encounter a boy named Dib whose love of the paranormal leads him to be the only one to know Zim's true plan of conquering Earth.



Even writing all that makes me feel even worse that Nickelodeon got rid of the show. It's such a great premise and the existing two seasons are great! The creator, Jhonen Vasquez, has such a dark sense of humor that he excellently captures in the designs, mood, and feel of the show.



Some of the things we missed out on? Dib would have chased Zim across the galaxy in season three until finally cumulating into a movie meant to end the series called Invader Dib where he takes on the Irken Empire. Man, that would have been awesome!

Now, I'm going to reach back further into Nickelodeon's past, before Nicktoons ever came to be.

Mysterious Cities of Gold (1982-1983, 39 episodes) –



I didn't list a season because this story was designed to be told as one long narrative. In my opinion, this show had the feel of the current Avatar: The Last Airbender.



It is a grand story that was obviously too long for a standard movie, so it was told with a series of episodes. MCOG is the story of a young Spanish kid named Esteban. It takes place in the year 1532 when the Spaniards were venturing out across the sea to discover the New World (someday to be the good old USA). Esteban gets caught up in a quest to find the cities of gold.



Along the way he meets Zia, an Ican, and Tao, an descendant of Hiva.



They unlock many secrets along the way.



Until they finally reach the city and discover its strange and unexpected origins.

UPDATE: As I researched this show, I learned that in 2008 there will be a DVD release in the UK with a North American release to follow. Oh happy day! For those of you who never saw it, I highly recommend it.



Verdict: Underappreciated and ignored/forgotten (but not for much longer)

Spartakus and the Sun Beneath the Sea (1985-1987, two seasons) –



This show used to be shown before or after Mysterious Cities of Gold. This show took place on a futuristic Earth where a race called Arcadians lived in the center of the Earth after a great disaster hit the surface. They have an artificial sun called Thera which suddenly begins to die.



They send a messenger to the surface named Arkana to find help.



She encounters a wanderer named Spartakus, a warrior who will help her find what she needs to save the Thera.



Similar to Mysterious Cities of Gold in that there's a group of people on a quest and that is the overall arc of the series. The only DVD's that exist of this series are in French and rumor is that the English version no longer exists. All I can do is hope that isn't true because although this wasn't as good as Mysterious Cities of Gold, it was still a great adventure with equally great characters and concepts.

Verdict: Underappreciated and ignored/forgotten

Bananaman (1983-1986, four series) –



Ok, so this is a little guilty pleasure of mine. Bananaman aired in between episodes of Dangermouse on Nickelodeon. They were only 5 minute segments and admittedly were just ok. I've recently gone back and watched some on youtube.


A DVD release of these would definitely just be a nostalgia thing for me. I guess it's so silly it's good. A boy named Eric eats a banana and becomes Bananaman who then goes out and fights bad guys. Simple.

Verdict: Underappreciated and ignored/forgotten


CBS

Muppet Babies (1984-1990, 107 episodes)–



The Muppets were big in the eighties, there's no denying that. So this show was a no-brainer. It was loosely based on a sequence in the Muppet film The Muppets Take Manhattan, where Miss Piggy imagined what it would be like if she and Kermit the Frog grew up together.



Thus, Muppet Babies was born. What made this show great? It ran on imagination. The characters were confined to their nursery but through the power of their imagination, they were able to have many adventures.



There are currently no DVD's with these episodes (except some bonus DVDs that came with Muppet Babies plush toys, big whoop!). Some say it's because of some of the live action footage that the show used, which included shots from Star Wars.

Somebody get George Lucas on the phone and talk with him.



I'm sure he'd work something out.

Verdict: Underappreciated and ignored/forgotten

MTV

The Maxx (1995, 11 episodes) –



The Maxx was based on Sam Kieth' s excellent comic book series from Image comics.




The show was part of the MTV program called MTV's Oddities. It followed the adventures of the Maxx, a huge super strong guy in a purple costume. The Maxx would slip in and out of a dream state that took him from the city to what he called the Outback. He befriends a social worker named Julie Winters, who thinks Max - as she calls him, is just a homeless guy who needs her help.



The series unfolds with Mr. Gone, a serial rapist who seems to know about The Maxx and his dream world. It all leads to a shocking revelation that is still in my opinion one of the coolest reveals in a comic story.



There is no DVD release for this excellent series that captures the essence of the original comic.

Verdict: Underappreciated and ignored/forgotten


The Head (1994-1996, two seasons) –
(I apologize for the one crappy picture and lack of other pics for this show but it was impossible to find anything else in the searches I did.)



Another show featured on MTV's Oddities, The Head was a fun little show. The animation wasn't top rate but I felt it added to the feel of the show.

The Head followed Jim, a guy who is attending a support group for human anomalies. Jim's problem is that one night he was knocked unconscious by a flash from space and he awoke with a giant head. We find out later, that there is an alien living in Jim's head. Jim names his Roy.

Together, they must stop an invasion of alien parasites who want to take over Earth. Like I said, it's not a show that was top rate but it was a fun ride and I'd like to be able to watch a legal version of it on DVD.

To make up for lack of pictures, how about a link to youtube so you can see it yourself:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O0G39dZjIek

Verdict: Underappreciated and ignored/forgotten


Aeon Flux (1991-1995, 16 episodes) –



This series has a DVD and even had a Hollywood movie, a bad one, but one anyway. But I think the movie hurt the series in some ways. I think it left a bad taste in some people mouths and they forgot what a great series it was. Aeon Flux was a soldier in a war between her home faction, The Monicans, and the opposing side which were the Bregnians. It was a twisted tale of intrigue and espionage on a strange world.



Aeon Flux is almost like two different series as creator Peter Chung pointed out in the DVD commentary. The focus of the original shorts was nothing but pure action.



Then the series was supposed to be less action and more story-oriented.



With less action and extremely deep story-telling, I think most people couldn't wrap their heads around Aeon Flux. I know when it first aired, my friends and I would meet up at school to discuss an episode and the first thing out of ours mouths was-what the hell just happened?



Every episode of the series left us like that but it was great because it kicked up some great discussions. Rumor has it that Peter Chung wants to make more. I sure hope so because I think this is a great series.

Verdict: Underappreciated

Clone High (2002-2003, 13 episodes)-



A secret government agency digs up some famous historical figures. They clone them and allow them to grow up and eventually go to high school together. They deal with teenage problems while their principal Cinnamon J. Scudworth, secretly plans to use the clones for his own evil purposes. Another great premise.



The series mainly follows Abe Lincoln with his pal Ghandi. They are joined by Joan of Arc, Cleopatra, and JFK. And there are numerous other famous historical figures all woven into tongue-in-cheek stories about the stereotypes for teenagers as well as teen movies and television.



Another great show that was cancelled before it's time, it has no U.S. DVD release, but a Canadian version did release containing all the episodes. And to add insult to injury, the series ends on a cliffhanger. One that will probably never get resolved.

Verdict: Underappreciated and ignored/forgotten

So there's my list. I know it was long, but thanks for reading it.
Let me know if there's any shows you like that you wish would be released on DVD.