The early 90's was an exciting time for children’s programming. There was so much offered from any of the stations; Fox, the WB, CBS, ABC, NBC,(the now called) UPN and that isn't even including cable networks like Nickelodeon, the Disney Channel and even the USA Network.
This was a time, now lost today, when kids could wake up early before school, turn on the television and watch a couple episodes of their favorite cartoons before heading to school. It made the rest of the day much better, and then kids had something to look forward to after school, where they could watch even more cartoons until their parents came home from work and told them to "go play outside", when of course all you wanted to do was watch cartoons.
However the weekdays weren't the best days for cartoons. Oh no, Saturday was the holy grail of days for kids. Looking back on it now I can't believe how early I would get up just to watch cartoons. It's insane, getting up at 6:00 am sometimes even early, with a bowl of whatever sugar blasted cereal you wanted (pick your poison), having the room illuminated by the bright flashing colors from the TV screen. No Parents to tell you want to do, because they weren't even close to waking up yet. Saturday mornings were the times when it was all about the kids, with not even a thought of school in their minds.
The one station that possibly had the most variety of good cartoons and other shows was fox with their children's programming block, The Fox Kids Club. Now before I get to the incredible shows, I'd like to tell you something. Fox has dropped the Fox Kids Club name, for reasons I have no idea of, and first adopted the "Fox Box" name, then changing it to its current name "4Kids TV". The Programming, although popular with kids today, can't even compete with the classic shows found in the 90's. It was a time when flashy graphics and exciting animation were mixed with wonder writing that gave the shows feeling and emotion.
The first show I’m going to talk about is the often forgotten EEK! The Cat, Eekstravaganza, EEK! The Cat and The Terrible Thunder Lizards, or whatever it was called when it was aired from 1992 -1997. Created from the crazy mind of Savage Steve Holland (Better off Dead) stared EEK the Purple cat who had no problems with helping people, spurting his catch phrase, "It Never Hurts to Help" and "Kumbaya". And of course, whenever he tried to help someone, Eek would be caught in some of the most painful experiences imaginable.
Other reoccurring characters included Eek's Girlfriend Annabel, her Dog Sharky and Elmo the Elk.
Then there was the Terrible Thunder Lizards, introduced in 1993 which took up the last half of EEK the Cat's half Hour. There Was Daze E. Kutter , Doc Tari and Bo Diddley Squat, or Kutter, Doc and Squat respectively. They were released from prison in hopes that they would get rid of all the humans, including Scooter and Bill who effortlessly foil the Thunderlizard's Plans.
Oh Life with Louie, a Semi-autobiographical cartoon created by comedian Louie Anderson. The shows premise basically dealt with the turmoil’s a kid faces while having to take on too much responsibility than a kid should. He would always get picked on by his friends, and get in trouble with his father. Louie's little brother, Tommy, always looked up to Louie while His Father Andy would always think about war and would get angry at the flick of a switch. The Show lasted from 1994 to 1998, with Louie Anderson winning two Daytime Emmys for Outstanding Performer and Animated Program.
The Tick! Based off an independent comic, the Tick and his Sidekick Arthur blasted in on Saturday mornings. The show, which lasted from 1994 to 1996, followed the Life of the Tick, a wannabe deemed superhero where they fight the most insane types of Villains. The reoccurring supporting cast besides The Tick and Arthur was American Maid and Die Fledermaus the man bat.
I always find it strange looking back; I never realized that this show was on the Fox Network...being owned by the WB and all. Either way, Tiny Toon Adventures was one of the rare updated versions of classic cartoons that were really good. They've tried it with Tom and Jerry and other cartoons, but none have succeeded like this. The show started in 1990 and was basically about toons that resembled their Loony Toon counterparts that went to school at Acme Looniversity. The show stared Buster and Babs Bunny (No Relation), Plucky Duck, Hampton Pig, Dizzy Devil, Elmyra Duff, and who could forget Montana Max. I wish there was a sound feature on this that I could add, because the Theme Song for the Show was so addicting, you couldn't help but sing along.
Fox definitely did a fantastic job when turning popular comic books into cartoons. Spider-man the Animated Series was no exception. Most of you know the back story of Spider-Man so I'll spare you the boredom of having to read it again. The Show lasted from 1994 to 1998. The show tackled such popular stories Like the Green Goblin, The Venom Saga, Spider-Man vs. Doc Ock, The Sinister 6, and even had crossovers with other Marvel characters like the X-Men, the Punisher and Daredevil. The animation was wonderful, combining 2-D and 3-D. What more can I really say about this show, it was just Amazing!
Before Life with Louie there Was Bobby's World. Taken from the Mind of comedian Howie Mandel, the show focused on 4 year old Bobby and his every day adventures. Each Show would begin with a Mix of Live action Starring Howie Mandel and animated Bobby. Other Characters in the show included his dad Howie, his Mother Martha (Don'tcha Know!), Webbly the stuffed spider, his siblings Kelly and Derek, his Dog Rodger, his Aunt Ruth and his best friend Uncle Ted. Captain Squash was also a reoccurring character; he was Bobby's Super Hero idol. The Show received two Daytime Emmy nominations in it's 1990 to 1998 lifespan.
Everyone who lived during this era was obsessed with this show. We had the toys, we had the VHS tapes, and we devoted our lives to this show. Never missing an episode, waiting to see what crazy villain would be in the current week's episode. Yes the show is still airing today, but nothing could match the magic that Saban's Mighty Morphin Power Rangers made. The show followed five typical teenagers, Jason, Trini, Kimberly, Billy and Zach as they fought Rita Repulsa and her Evil Goons. Later in the Series, another Character Joined the Cast...the Evil Green Ranger/Tommy. At First Tommy was Rita's Evil Power Ranger until the 5 Power Rangers caused him to swtich sides. Lord Zed arrived later in the season, de-throning Rita as the Evil Emperor hellbent on Destroying Zordon and His Power Rangers. This show was cheesy beyond cheesy, mixing shots from the Japanese version and the live action of the teenagers Shot here in America. I can't really explain why it was such a craze right now, because looking back on these old episodes; it is just so incredibly ridiculous. But there will always be a special place for this show, however insane the idea was. Mighty Morphin Power Rangers lasted from 1994-1997, when the cast left it spawned several remakes. There were also a few movies made as well.
Before X-Men evolution on the WB, there was X-men the Animated Series. This cartoon stayed true to the X-Men comic that started in the early 90's. Everyone should know the origin of the X-men so again, I'll spare the Details. The Major Players in the Show were Wolverine, Cyclopes, Jean Grey, Storm, Jubilee, Rogue, Gambit, Beast, Professor X, and Magneto. The show took various villains from the X-Men rogue's gallery and threw them at the X-men. Possibly the most favorable storyline in the show would be the Phoenix Saga, that told the story of How Jean Grey Became the Phoenix, then eventually became the Dark Phoenix (please make a movie of this). Not much more to say about this show, the animation was great, the voice acting was great, the majority of the writing was great (some cheesy dialogue moments, but hey it's a kids show). The show lasted from 1992-1997 and was a major Staple for the Fox Kids Club. I remember always getting up and never missing an episode on Saturday morning.
Arguably the Greatest Kids Animated show ever to have been made, Batman the Animated Series still holds up very well by today's standards. Merging incredible writing with Revolutionary Animation, this series created by Bruce Timm based off the comic Created by Bob Kane was incredibly well done. The show stayed true to the comics, creating a gloomy and dark atmosphere for the Dark Knight, perfect for Gotham City. This show had it all; it took famous stories from the comics, and even created its own lore pleasing children and Bat-Fans alike. Every character from the Batman Rogue's gallery has appeared on this show once and each one so very memorable. Looking back on this show (which is now available on DVD), it's amazing to see how well this cartoon holds up. It is a very mature show and I can't believe some of the things that were shown, which would never be able to be shown on children's programming today. This cartoon was one of a kind and is something that we will never see again. The show won the 1993 Emmy for Outstanding Animated Programming, spawned the feature film; Batman: Mask of the Phantasm, and spawned other animated series such as Superman, Batman Beyond and Justice League.
And there ends my time travel back to the early 90's when I was a kid. It was what I think, the very last decade when cartoons were good. There are thousands of cartoons and other networks that I could talk about, but I would be here for weeks reminiscing. Cartoons will never be the same again. Once Pokemon hit, all the other networks tried copycatting that Anime craze that has run our TV’s crazy. I still get up in the morning to watch the cartoons, I don't know why anymore because I always get upset. I can barely sit through an entire show anymore (a few exceptions, not all are bad). Maybe I am just hoping that a re-run of one of these shows would magically pop up on the screen. Hey there is always DVD's....right?!?