Custom Saturday Morning Block: 3rd Time's Charm!

The lineup for my third custom block.
October 12, 2015
I'm now about a full year into my custom Saturday Morning cartoon blocks, and of the shows left, only four remain of my first two blocks. (My process is, when I finish off at least 75% of my lineup in a block, the remaining few get moved to Sunday mornings.) These include Bionic Six, Spiral Zone (after a brief absence), Double Dragon, and Zoids: New Century Zero. (Knights of the Zodiac was also there, but the playlist I used got taken down. Go figure.) Therefore, I decided to run my Mk III block (on which I'm three episodes in to each show) by all of you users, to get your thoughts on my show selection for this installment. So without further ado, here's the lineup--your opinions would be greatly appreciated. Series info courtesy of Wikipedia:

1. Dino-Riders (October-December 1988)

"The series focuses on the battle between the good Valorians and evil Rulons on prehistoric Earth. The Valorians were a super human race, while the Rulons were a mixture of humanoid creatures — both of which came from the future, however ended up transported back in time to the age of Dinosaurs. Once on Earth, the Valorians befriended dinosaurs while the Rulons brain-washed them."
The series also promoted the then-new toyline from Tyco, and aired as part of the Marvel Action Hour block. I first learned of this series via a 2002 issue of the greatly-missed Toyfare Magazine, and later on learned that the show was created in part by my #1 favorite comic book writer, Gerry Conway. Coupled with the amount of well-known voice talent in the cast (a group I'll unofficially call the 'Sunbow Stars' due to their shared credit in cartoons such as Transformers, G.I. Joe, Jem, Spider-Man and his Amazing Friends, etc.), and I decided to give this show a shot. Besides--who DOESN'T like dinosaurs? (Oh right, trees and small mammals.)

2. Ring Raiders (1989)
(Broken YouTube Link Removed)

This is probably the first show I've seen based on a Matchbox toy series.
"Set in the year 1998, the world is on the brink of a cataclysmic war. An organization dedicated to taking over the world, through the brutal use of air power, is about to realize its goal. It is known as the "Skull Squadron", founded by a band of renegades whose planes are capable of time travel. These pilots fall in love with the power they hold and see that they can use their planes to take control of the world. There are always pilots who, twisted by war's cruelties, are willing to join the Skull Squadron, causing it to grow bigger and more dangerous. In the 1990s, Skull Squadron is finally powerful enough to scramble for the master mission in its bid for world domination.
By now, almost too late, the great nations of the world are aware of Skull Squadron's plot. They band together to produce an aircraft that gives them a fighting chance against the onslaught—the Justice-class air carrier, which can travel through time. The carrier is outfitted with a small crew, then sent back in time. The Justice crew beams the best planes and pilots right out of history's greatest air battles to train them to fight against the Skull Squadron.
A handful of pilots are selected as "Ring Commanders" to train and supervise the hundreds who remain. Ring Commanders are identified by their special signal ring, through which they can summon (or be summoned by) a fellow Ring Raider in times of need.
"Ring of Fire", "Scorch's Revenge", "All the Right Stuff", "The Best Man for the Job is a Woman" and "A Pilot's Faith" were all pilot episodes, but the series was never taken up as a full season show.
The animation art design was done by Peter Chung, based on the Those Characters From Cleveland art and toy designs of Mark Spangler and Jim Groman.
The show used the catchphrase "The command is in my hand" when characters wished to transform their planes, using their rings to make them more powerful. Their improved forms could only be held for a short time, or the pilot risked burning out their nervous system."
I first stumbled upon the show when I was scouring Wikipedia pages on older cartoon blocks, to find material for my own. I was intrigued enough by the premise--sort of "Top Gun" meets the Marvel Comics series "Exiles". Another contributing factor in this choice? Possibly me living in Seattle, home of major airplane manufacturer Boeing and the Museum of Flight, which my family and I visited on multiple occasions. I believe this is the third show I've watched that was not only produced by DIC, but also featured in its cast many 'Sunbow Stars' (the other two being Inspector Gadget and The Real Ghostbusters). It's very likely that this show will finish first out of my block, due to it being only five episodes long.
3. Cadillacs and Dinosaurs (1993-94)

"Cadillacs and Dinosaurs is an American animated television series which aired on CBS Kids in the United States from 1993 to 1994, lasting for one season of 13 episodes. Based on the comic book of the same name (formerly titled Xenozoic Tales) by Mark Schultz, the show was created by screenwriter Steven E. de Souza, who acquired the TV rights after producing the video game Cadillacs and Dinosaurs, which was also based on Schultz's comic. The show dealt with many strong ecologicial and political issues that were central to the plot development. One major focus was the question of how the dinosaurs managed to re-emerge after they were thought to be extinct.
The series followed the exploits of Jack Tenrec and his crew of ecological freedom fighters known as the "Mechanics". His often-reluctant companion is the foreign ambassador Hannah Dundee. She hires Jack as a liaison while she attempts to create clear communication between her land and the modern civilization. Together they confront the serious issues facing the futuristic environment that humanity has come to inhabit.
Jack also has Hermes, a juvenile "cutter" that Jack hand-reared after the latter's mother death. Gentle with Jack and Hannah, he can still be rather fierce when angered. The show also includes a race of intelligent lizards called "Griths".
Jack and his crew square off against opposition including the Council of Governors and Hammer Terhune's gang."
This was another case where I first learned of the concept after seeing the action figures in an old Tomarts Action Figure Encyclopedia, and later on coming upon it in my scouring the Wiki. After doing a little more research into it, I added it to my block. The 90's were a very unique period in that many independent comics got a shot at the small screen (attributed to Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles' success in the late 80's), let alone one from, of all publishers, Kitchen Sink Press. I also never knew it had an accredited UCLA professor among its cult following, especially for a show partially amounting to, as one Youtube commenter stated, 'Mad Max meets Jurassic Park'. Three episodes in, and I actually think it does a better, more subtler job at getting its eco-message accross than many of its contemporaries of the time, including Captain Planet. The voice cast also intrigued me, as it consisted of Canadian voice actors I had heard in another beloved show I watched during this time (and later on in reruns): X-Men. Then again, those actors have a common thread in the form of the Canadian animation studio Nelvana...Some of those same actors would also appear in another comic book adaptation in this block, which happens to be...

4. Ultraforce (1995)

"The Ultraforce is a fictional superhero group that appears in comic books published by Malibu, and later Marvel, as well as an animated series produced by DIC. Their purpose was to protect the public and keep other Ultras from getting out of line. The membership consisted of various "ultras" (superheroes) in Malibu's Ultraverse, including the super-strong Prime; Topaz, warrior queen of Gwendor; Prototype, Ultra-Tech's armored spokesperson; the undead Ghoul, the last surviving member of the Exiles; Hardcase, one of the first public Ultras; and the mysterious Contrary, who organized the team and provided their technology.
There was a short-lived Ultraforce animated television series that ran for 13 episodes. It was based on the first version of the Ultraforce comic book, and was produced by DiC Entertainment and Bohbot Entertainment. There was also an Ultraforce action figure line produced by Galoob."
I originally first found out about Ultraforce, and Malibu Comics, when I read an article about the most commonly-discussed part of Malibu's history: its buyout by Marvel Comics in the mid-90's, supposedly for its revolutionary in-house coloring process. I first watched the cartoon on YouTube during my high school years mainly for the curiosity factor, and these days, I have to admit, the critics were justified in their poor reviews of the show. You know how I mentioned the 90's were a unique time where multiple indie comics had a shot at the small screen? Well, some of the more action-oriented ones tried to do so by aping off the popularity of X-Men. Ultraforce did it (it's rigt there in the intro sequence), as did their rival from Image's Wildstorm imprint Wild CATS. (Both shows did share the same crop of voice talent--also found in other DIC and Nelvana-produced fare from the 90's and early 2000's, such as TinTin, the first dub of Sailor Moon, Rupert Bear, and the English dub of Beyblade.) Still, I felt that there ought to be at least one 'Plan 9' on my block, and at least this show is more of a 'Plan 9' than it is a 'Manos, The Hands of Fate'. The same goes for the final show in this block...

5. Street Fighter: The Animated Series (1995-97)

"Street Fighter is an animated television series produced by InVision Entertainment, based on the Street Fighter video game franchise by Capcom. The series aired as part of the USA Network's Cartoon Express and Action Extreme Team lineups. It lasted two 13-episode seasons which aired from 1995 to 1997, for a total of 26 episodes. The series is based on the Street Fighter II games, but also borrows plot elements from the live-action Street Fighter film which makes it a sequel to it in some ways.
Colonel William F. Guile is the leader of the "Street Fighters", an international undercover peacekeeping force composed of martial artists from around the world. They often face off against General Bison, the dictator of Shadaloo, a criminal empire.
All 17 fighters from Super Street Fighter II Turbo appeared in some form during the first season. Later episodes of the series would incorporate characters from the Street Fighter Alpha series and the original Final Fight as well. Also in certain episodes, there are characters that strike resemblances to characters from Saturday Night Slam Masters, Magic Sword, and Cyberbots: Full Metal Madness. The opening theme music for the series is an arranged version of the title theme from Street Fighter II: The World Warrior."
Ah yes, the show that sported the (in)famous M. Bison internet meme. I'd known about the video games for a while, but found out about the cartoon series the same way I did with Knights of the Zodiac--it was another preview on one of ADV's "Super Duper Sumos" VHS tapes. I became more intrigued by the show after seeing the Jean-Claude Van Damme movie, and managed to finally watch two separate episodes on two different occasions. (One of them was one part of the subtle 'crossover' between it and the other Action Extreme Team shows, consisting of Mortal Kombat: Defenders of the Realm (which you may remember from my Mk II block), Savage Dragon (another show based on an Image comic), and Wing Commander Academy.) I have to admit, I half-agree with the many who decry it as one of the biggest Street Fighter mistakes, but then again, the 90's, like it was with indie comics, was not as good with cartoon shows based on video games (with some exceptions). Yet still, I figure there should be at least one or two cheese-fest cartoons on a block, and there are tons of cheesy movies or shows we all know and love.

And there you have it--Custom Saturday Morning Block Mk III. Your thoughts on my show selection are most welcome, give me your best critiques.
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