How I Spent My Childhood: Cartoons

A list of the cartoons that I loved the most
July 15, 2013
How I Spent My Childhood: Cartoons

It's been a while since I last posted an article, and when thinking about my return, I decided to reflect on one of the things that brought me much joy through the years.....cartoons! This list is not what I think people would consider the best ever, rather, this list is the cartoons that I personally enjoyed the most and my reflections of them.

For a change, I'm going with a countdown.....

#10: Challenge of the Go-Bots

Somehow, between my addiction to all things GI Joe and Masters of the Universe, I missed all the excitement that was Transformers. My friends had the toys and watched the show, but somehow it all escaped me.

What didn't escape me was the Go-Bots. I stumbled across the cartoon early one Saturday morning, and was instantly hooked. I got invested in the characters and enjoyed the show. When at school, my friends would talk about Transformers, and I would interject how I liked the GO-Bots to much disdain from my friends. How could they not be hooked on this? It had to be better than these Transformers they were talking about right? I guess not, seeing as how the Transformers went on to major pop culture status and the Go-Bots were relegated to an "also ran" through the years.

The show must not have been very popular either, as I only remember one season, and if my aging memory is correct, it aired early on Saturday mornings in the 7am or 8am time slot.

#9: Tennessee Tuxedo

Several shows exist in the vein of Tuxedo. Rocky & Bullwinkle and Dudley Doorite come to mind, but this is the one that I got to see on a regular basis.

Now when I saw this show in the late 80's, it aired at 7am, and was not the same as the original show. It was cut together with other short cartoons. It's in this form that I liked the show, because in addition to the Tennessee Tuxedo segments, there was also Commander McBragg, Fractured Fairy Tales, and Aesop & Son. It was this variety that kept my attention. I instantly fell in love with Commander McBragg, but over time I came to be a fan of all the shorts, and the show as a whole.

Today, I show my daughters clips from all of the shorts on YouTube, and they are fans as well.

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#8: Looney Tunes

I love the Looney Tunes characters. From Bugs and Daffy, to my favorites Roadrunner and Wile E. Coyote, all the way down to the little Chicken Hawk.

My favorites memories of this show come from when the TNT Network first started up, and Looney Tunes was on every night at 6pm. I watched every night and enjoyed the variety that it offered. I could always count on it to entertain, and usually saw at least one short that I had never seen before.

The world that was created under the Looney Tunes banner was rich and expansive. On any given episode, you would get a couple Bugs Bunny shorts, a Daffy short, hopefully a Road Runner sketch, and all this was backed up by a variety of supporting characters that could entertain you just as much as the stars did.

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#7: Scooby Doo, Where Are You

So much goodness in this show, it's hard to pinpoint my favorite part.

I loved the mystery theme, and the darker story lines that you normally don't see in cartoons. The characters were well written, and the story lines tight. But what really kept me into this show was the art and animation. For my money, no other show has ever matches the look of this series. The colors and the art style still blow me away to this day.

My daughters have the complete series on DVD, and I love to sit and watch it with them.

#6: Tom & Jerry

This show has been a favorite of mine since I can remember. Even now, I still watch it via DVD and YouTube with my daughters.

The never ending battle between Tom & Jerry has taken on many forms. There have been inside battles, outside battles, battles at sea, battles in space, battles throughout history, and battles at holidays. Along with the two main characters you'd see witches, dogs, other cats, other mice, humans, and a lot of other things join the fight through the years.

My main exposure to the show was every afternoon on TBS in the late 80's and early 90's. After school, it would be on and I would soak it in.

At Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas, TBS would run an hour long special called "Tom & Jerry's Halloween Cartoon Special" or whatever holiday name that was coming up. For whatever reason, I would mark this special on my calendar and not miss it. You knew you were close to a holiday when that special was on.

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#5: He-Man and the Masters of the Universe

He-Man was one of my favorite two toys growing up, so naturally, I was a fan of the cartoon. I actually discovered the cartoon before the toys. I remember first seeing a commercial advertising the debut of the cartoon, and for whatever reason, I was pumped.

Once the show started, it was ritual to watch it every afternoon at 4pm after getting home from school. The show featured great story lines, great art, and fantastic characters. To go along with the show, I had the toys, books, pencils, erasers, coloring books, t-shirts, sheets, and most things you can name with that logo on it.

Today, my daughters try to watch episodes of it, but aren't that interested....not even in She-Ra. This disappoints me as it would give me a good excuse to watch it if they enjoyed it too.

#4: The Smurfs

I love cartoons with rich texture, great colors, and a great world for the characters to explore, and this one hit all of those. There were so many unique characters, that the series was able to tell all kinds of stories without getting stale. I also like cartoons set in that era of and theme of sword and sorcery.

My daughters absolutely love The Smurfs, so once again, I have a good reason to watch another one of my favorite cartoons.

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#3: The Gummi Bears

Like the Smurfs, this show hit all the themes I love from cartoons. Unique characters, set in a great environment, great art, and great story lines. This series may have had better writing than most cartoons on this list in my mind. I have seen every episode multiple times, and never grow tired of watching them with my girls.

If my memory is correct, this showed at 11am on Saturdays on NBC, and I tried to never miss an episode.

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#2: G.I. Joe

My favorite toy of all time, and my favorite cartoon series of all time.

As a kid, G.I. Joe was in my life every day. I watched the show, I played with the toys, I read the comic books, and I wore the clothes. But this cartoon was different from the rest on the list. It featured more grown up themes and stories, but as a kid, I still enjoyed it.

This was another Monday thru Friday syndication show, and I would catch it on my local Fox affiliate every afternoon after school. Later on, when it was part of USA Cartoon Express every morning, I would set the timer on the VCR and record each morning while I was at HIGH school. Even then I still loved the show, and today, I still watch an episode every few days on Netflix. As far as series' go, this is my #1, but there is one other cartoon out there that takes the overall grand prize.

#1: Mickey's Christmas Carol

Now, when I give that title, what I am referring to is the original broadcast TV version of the entire special.

In my neck of the woods, it would usually show on a Sunday night at either 7 or 8 pm, and usually on NBC a few weeks before Christmas. The show would start with the short where Mickey and Pluto pick out their Christmas tree and find Chip & Dale living inside it. Next up was Donald Duck and his nephews having their classic snowball fight. Then we were treated to the sketch where Goofy learns how to ski. Following that was a musical number that featured most of the Disney family of characters skating on a frozen pond. Then came the main event. Their version of A Christmas Carol itself.

Mickey's Christmas Carol was really well done with the art work. Today, I still sit and marvel at the backgrounds in all the scenes.

But this is about more than just the cartoon. For me, it's everything that was a part of it. The commercials shown during the special almost all were Christmas related each year. The McDonalds, Coke, and Folgers Christmas commercials were all present. It was the fact that I would watch it with my whole family, sitting by the fireplace in the living room and eating nuts and popcorn.

This one is a complete package of happiness and nostalgia in my life as a kid, and represents a feeling inside that I'm always searching to replicate. I don't know why, but the memory of watching this each year is one of the most vivid and strongest memories I have that time in my life.

For that reason, Disney met, and exceeded their goal in producing this. It has touched people on a deeper level that just an enjoyable cartoon, it has become an emotional experience.

Well, that's it for this edition of How I Spent My Childhood. Maybe I can be back next week with another new article. If you've liked what you've read here, and want to read more of my articles until I can post a new one, below are links to my previous articles here on Retrojunk.

How I Spent My Childhood #1: Nintnedo

How I Spent My Childhood #2: Random Toys

How I Spent My Childhood #3: Random Things I Miss

How I Spent My Childhood #4: Things I DIDN'T Have As A Kid
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