Obscure Toons-Widget (1990s)
Exposes the obscure
The 1990s was chock full of campy, environmentally friendly cartoons. However, you've most likely never heard of "Widget The World Watcher". A primary contribution to your confusion is that this television cartoon only ran for a few seasons (1990-1992), and it received little syndication. Actually locating any episodes of the show on popular websites such as Youtube is practically impossible. The only episode that was (poorly, mind you) preserved was "The Intergalactic Grudge Match", and according to the online encyclopedia only known as "Wikipedia" it was the final episode. But, wait, you probably don't even have a clue as to the cartoon's general summary. Let me fill in the gap with a detailed synopsis of the very first episode...
Widget, a lower ranked "World Watcher", is an inhabitant of the "Purple Planet" deep in the Horsehead Nebula. The Purple Planet is a lush, environmentally healthy planet with futuristic landscapes. While scrubbing his spacecraft (which could be described as a red orb), he discovers an old watch. As he finds out, it is actually home to a "Mega-Brain" unit. Accompanied by a little jingle once activated, the "Mega-Brain" (A levitating creature, with no limbs and has a brain encased in a glass coating) finds himself in a state of excitement. Nobody had activated his holographic self for years, and he does mention that he doesn't want to discuss it. After quickly befriending our purple protagonist, Widget accidentally punches a button on the ship. He is launched out of The Purple Planet, and hurled through The HorseHead Nebula into the Milkyway with his new found friend. He crashes onto Planet Earth, and his spacecraft is observed by a duo of school children (who are known as Brian and Kevin). After tracing the spacecraft, they find themselves inside a small cavern. We can see Widget (now morphed into a giant, doofus-looking dragon) desperately trying to move his craft out of a rut in the ground. Spellbound by the creature,the boys rush to find their older sister (Kristine) who works at a vet clinic. At first, she is skeptical about the boys' observations (Their fascination with space creatures had apparently caused them to spin a few fictitious tales at some point). Of course, the boys prove their point by taking Kristine out to the cavern in which they spotted Widget. Now in his usual, four foot tall form, Widget communicates with the humans and finds himself making another set of friends. Their talk is quickly ended, when The Elders (Who appeared to be of Widget's species)- Widget's World Watching Instructors, appear in holographic form to explain to Widget his goals on Earth. He is to save the whales of a nearby ocean, who are being trapped by sailors with large fishing nets (Here we go with the whole environment concept). After this, Widget demonstrates his ability to morph into various creatures (although they are a bit silly- but we must remember Widget is only a beginning Watcher, and his abilities do develop throughout the episodes). Shocked, the kids quickly offer their assistance with Widget's mission. Out on a raft, Widget morphs into a white whale and assaults a group of sea-goers who have trapped the whales in their nets. Once these creatures are freed, the episode wraps up with an upset Widget knowing he must return to the Purple Planet and leave his human friends. Luckily, the duo of Elders are impressed by his efforts, and he is allowed to stay on Earth for a longer period of time should he wish to. A celebration follows, with Mega-Brain singing a number.
Although not as successful as other cartoons of the generation (such as "Captain Planet"- the series Widget The World Watcher was meant to rival)- it did see its share of sell-out techniques. A critically-scathed Nintendo Entertainment System game, simply titled "Widget", was released in 1992 and Atlus. It aped the "Mega-Man" and "Metroid" video games, and gave a unique spin on them. In this case, it was Widget's ability to transform into six unique creatures. A Super Nintendo Entertainment System game followed, with a larger emphasis on platforming rather than shooting. The morphing system was also altered- you would locate small tokens throughout the levels (labeled with a letter)- and Widget would transform once the token was collected. If another token of the same kind was collected, Widget would evolve into a more powerful creature. In addition to these pieces of Widget merchandise, a line of trading cards manufactured by National SAFEKIDS was released in 1992. There are also two VHS tapes known to exist- "Widget Of The Jungle" and "Widget's Great Whale Adventure". The VHS Tapes and NES games are considerably rare, with the NES game ranking a 6 (out of 10, with 10 being super rare) in rarity on a website known as "NintendoAGE".
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dpiqzH499fo (A display of the SAFEKIDS Widget The World Watcher trading cards. These are from my personal collection)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W6Y6tgVGbYk (The only preserved episode on the Internet. The very first episode was uploaded, and then removed the next day)
http://sites.google.com/site/widgetotaku/ (The blog of another Widget fan- it often has information concerning Widget)
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