"Hello, I'm the Nostalgia Critic. I remember it, so you don't have to."
Okay, you got me. I'm not really the Nostalgia Critic. Anyway, on to business...
To a lot of us nostalgics, we have a lot of things that could represent childhood memories. It could be comics, video games, toys, movies, whatever, but I think the biggest childhood memory to most people would be cartoons. Everybody has at least one favorite cartoon that they grew up watching as a kid. There were a lot of great ones, and there were a lot of poor ones, but there were also some that we forgot all about. That's what I'm going to talk about right here. I'm going to discuss my picks for the Top 11 Underrated Cartoons. Why 11? Well, normally, I like to do an even multiple of five, but for this list, I think it's necessary to go just one step beyond. Now, remember, these are UNDERRATED cartoons, not POPULAR ones, so don't expect to see shows like these on the list:
Alright, now let's dig deep into the cartoon vault and unearth these lost treasures, as I give you my picks for the Top 11 Underrated Cartoons.
The Cattanooga Cats
This was a Saturday Morning variety show that was around in the late 60's and early 70's. Yeah, during the good old Psychadelic Era, where the music rocked and was mostly strongly Beatles-influenced. Each episode featured three short segments.
One was "Motor Mouse and Auto Cat", which was basically an Indy 500 version of "Tom & Jerry".
Another was "Around the World in 79 Days", which was a parody on the famous book, "Around the World in 80 Days".
But the best one is "It's the Wolf!" A wolf who makes attempts to eat a little lamb, and when the lamb finally discovers him, he yells out, "It's the wol-uf! It's the wol-uf!" That's just classic Hanna-Barbara.
Then, of course, there are musical numbers performed by the Cattanooga Cats themselves. Sure, they may be poorly-drawn, but that's what made 60's cartoons so fun to look at.
The Pirates of Dark Water
If you love action shows and like to check out some underrated material, then this is a show for you!
In this show, an alien world is being devoured by this carnivorous substance known as dark water. We've got the hero, by the name of Ren, who has this crew of misfit pirates, and is on a quest to find these sacred treasures to stop the dark water.
"Pirates of Dark Water" is dark, adventurous, and it even has a little comic relief for the sake of any comedy lovers. Although, having a main hero named Ren is kind of obscure; I mean, where have I heard that name before? (Hmm...)
Okay, so if you were a child of the mid 80's, I'm sure you've heard of the Care Bears and the Gummi Bears, but have you heard of the Paw Paw Bears?
Yeah, it seems kind of ironic that all in the same year, we got three shows all about bears with magical powers who were brave warriors, but "Paw Paws" was the series with the shortest life and was the most quickly forgotten. Unlike the other two, which were kid-friendly and had lots of bright colors, this one was a tad darker and more bland. It kind of reminds me of the Ewoks cartoon.
If I remember correctly, one of the bears had a little plane that made fart noises. The villain of this show strangely reminds me of the Brain from "Pinky and the Brain". Sure, it may not have been the best cartoon ever, but it is definately an underrated show, and being a show that had two very competitive rivals, it deserves this spot on the list.
The Amazing Chan and the Chan Clan
In case you're wondering, yes, this "Chan" is modeled after a famous person with the last name, "Chan". No, I'm not talking about Jackie Chan. If I was, I'd be referring to "Jackie Chan Adventures". This Chan is based on Charlie Chan, a Chinese actor from the 1930's.
This is a series about Chan and his ten children (known as the "Chan Clan") who go around the world to solve mysteries. The kids are supposed to be helping their father, or at least trying to, but to be honest, I never saw what was so "amazing" about the Amazing Chan, because he never really did anything in the series; his kids did most of the work. I gotta admit, watching the kids was pretty funny.
The oldest had this van that transformed into other vehicles, the second oldest liked to dress up in silly clothing (kinda like Ed Wood), and the youngest, who was six years old, always tried to compete with the second oldest, and of course, we can't forget Choo-Choo.
The theme song is also pretty awesome; it sounds similiar to the "Hong Kong Phooey" theme. It seemed like throughout the 70's, Hanna-Barbara was making all these shows about foreign characters who solved crimes. I guess the James Bond trend was becoming very popular.
You all know them! The British band that revolutionized music as we know it today. But they had more than just music. They made movies, and, believe it or not, they even had a Saturday morning cartoon. The Beatles had everything. The only thing they didn't have was a video game.
Even though the characters in the cartoon were not voiced by the real Beatles, it was still quirky with classic animation, lots of laughs, and of course, rocking music. Each episode was titled after a Beatles song, and that song was used in the episode.
While the episodes were only five and a half minutes long, it was still an overall fun show for Beatles fans and even little kids who knew nothing about the Beatles. These lost treasures ran on ABC every Saturday morning from 1965 to 1969. I guess "School House Rock" took over after that.
Too bad no other bands managed to get their own cartoon. Well, maybe there were some others, but not as great as this one. Yeah, seriously, I'd like to see the Jonas Brothers try to make their own cartoon!
Throughout the 90's, Warner Brothers had some very successful cartoon series'. Shows like "Tiny Toon Adventures", "Animaniacs" and "Freakazoid" were satisfying for the comedy fans, while shows like "Batman" and "Superman" satisfied the action fans. This was an example of the company's comedic side.
This was a show that made fun of moments in history. I remember being a kid, and history was one of my least favorite subjects in school, but this show helps kids change the way they look at history. It also had a very memorable cast, featuring characters like Father Time, Big Fat Baby, the World's Oldest Woman, Miss Information, and my favorite character, Loud Kiddington.
If you loved "Animaniacs" and "Feakazoid", then you'll love "Histeria"; even though Steven Spielberg had no involvement with this show, it still gives you that same feeling you get from those other shows. You'll definately love "Histeria" if you hate history. Did you know that this show always had a completely different intro for every episode?
I can't believe this! Mega Man is one of the greatest video game franchises ever! Why is it that his cartoon series was so...insignificant? I mean, seriously, this show had no following after it's meer 27 episode run. If you were to ask anyone about the Mega Man cartoon series, the responses you get will go anywhere from, "Oh yeah, that show sucked!" to "Whoa! Mega Man! I haven't seen that show in years!"
This cartoon had an awesome intro that got you all pumped up and ready for it, but the show itself is nothing special (kinda like "Thundercats" and "Ninja Turtles"). I do gotta admit, it was a really corny show, but hey, it was the 90's, and not quite everything that came out in the 90's was genius. One thing really annoying about this show were the characters who acted like complete idiots: Rush, Cut Man, Guts Man, and even the Blue Bomber himself. Not to mention someone always makes a corny pun every 30 seconds. What was even more annoying is that not all the Robot Masters appeared in this show! Where were Bubble Man and Napalm Man? They were awesome! And what about Skull Man? Was he too scary for the cartoon?
I think the show would have been a little more successful if they kept it running for a few more episodes and put some better concept into it. Believe me, if they made a Mega Man cartoon today, it would have been nothing like this. It just doesn't make any sense. If Sonic the Hedgehog could have a succesful cartoon, then how come Mega Man can't?
I know exactly what you're thinking right now: "Who?" I'm probably one of the very few people in the entire world who has seen this show. It originally aired in 1965, and it ran in repeats on Cartoon Network in 1996 and 1997. This is a show with animation that's kind of similar to the Jay Ward cartoons, and it even has some jokes and aspects that are similar to "Rocky and Bullwinke" and "Duddely Do-Right".
Anyway, this show is about this patriotic hero named Roger Ramjet and his four kids known as the American Eagle Squadron. Roger's four kids are named Yank, Doodle, Dan and Dee. The show was mainly about Roger and his men either going out to fight crime or just facing some everyday life issues.
I always enjoyed the show's clever puns, and I also liked how sometimes, spoken dialogue would appear on the screen at random times.
Then, there's Roger's secret weapon: the Proton Energy Pill, which gives him the strength of 20 atom bombs in a period of 20 seconds (doesn't sound like a long time, but it's just enough to beat up all the bad guys). During those fight scenes, the sound effects usually were printed up on the screen, much like in the old "Batman" series, but interestingly, this was one year before that show.
Overall, Roger Ramjet is a fun show, and it's good family entertainment. If you can find it on DVD, it's worth at least a rental.
One of the zaniest video games I've ever played, and the cartoon series is just as zany. A worm in a super suit with a rocket and a plasma gun? How much more crazy can you get? Well, while most superheros fight to save the world, Jim's purpose is to save the Universe! He fights creatures from other planets, no doubt.
The only problem with this series is it's very underrated. Why? Well, as I seem to remember, it aired on the WB in 1995, and then when 1996 came, they announced all the Saturday morning cartoons would have new episodes, but "Earthworm Jim" remained in reruns, and then, shortly afterwards, for some reason, it got pulled off the air and was never shown again! It really sucks that it had such a short life, because despite it's absurdity, the jokes in this show were just so genius. It doesn't matter if they were running gags or just in-your-face random, this show is just comedic gold.
Like "Mega Man", "Earthworm Jim" had only a handful of episodes. I guess that may be it: if you're going to make a cartoon based on a video game, chances are it won't last very long, unless it's something like "Pokemon". Who knows? Maybe Earthworm Jim will make a comeback someday. No, wait! He already is! There's a movie coming out! I'm totally psyched to see it too!
Correct me if I'm wrong, but I think Wuzzles were a popular toy line back in the 80's. They were so popular that they got their own cartoon series. So why did it only last 13 episodes?
I think it may have been due to not only a lack of popularity, but due to the death of one of the voice actors. If that's why, then that's just stupid! Why didn't they just find someone to replace him/her? Well, after doing some research, I found out that the actor who died (Bill Scott) actually voiced numerous characters on the show. It really sucked that this had to happen, because "The Wuzzles" was a really fun show.
The main characters all had some great personalities...heck, even the narrator had a personality! And of course, there's always the awesome theme song!
This is another 80's classic I'd like to see make a comeback. A lot of people are interested in the past, and I am one of those people. I mean, since the new millenium began, we've seen a lot of fads from the 80's make big comebacks: Care Bears, Ninja Turtles, Transformers, My Little Pony, and now, Thundercats and G.I. Joe are on the way. I wouldn't mind seeing the Wuzzles make a comeback of some sort, especially for having (possibly) the shortest-running cartoon in history.
And the #1 Underrated Cartoon is...
This is really the Disney animated series that is a real heart-stealer. I consider it to be one of Disney's absolute best, after all, it is based on my all-time favorite Disney movie.
So what's the problem? The problem is the lack of popularity! There are a lot of people who don't even know this show existed, but I've found plenty of hardcore fans of the show through the Internet. Here on Retrojunk, however, I've encountered a lot of haters of this series. Most of these haters claim that the series was an insult to the movie. Not necessarily. If you've read the original book the movie was based on, you'll notice some aspects that were pulled from it onto the series, and that's playing of Tim Burton.
This is definately a show that deserved more appreciation than it did, and should have had a longer run, but at least this one had a fair number of episodes (65). "101 Dalmatians" has a lot of lovable characters, memorable quotes, and great entertainment. It did have it's share of bad episodes, but I do not in any way hate this show. Sure, it may not be "Transformers", "G.I. Joe" or "Batman: The Animated Series", but it's not terrible.
So, these are my words to the Disney Company. Please, please, PLEASE...come to your senses, and release all the rest of the Disney Afternoon shows on DVD, including this one! I would give anything to see Lucky, Rolly, Cadpig and Spot having one of their funtastic adventures on the farm. I know, Disney only cares about what makes them a lot of money, but I'm sure they'd make a heck of a lot of money if they gave shows like this an official DVD release. Believe me, nostalgics would pay big bucks for it!
That concludes my Top 11 Underrated Cartoons list. These cartoons that I listed are shows that I remember seeing, and I felt they were overlooked treasures that could have deserved a better fanbase. Overall, I hope you enjoyed this list as well as some of the selections I made. If you didn't like it, then...don't take it to personally. Remember, these are my opinions, afterall. Well, I guess that wraps things up here. This is Dalmatianlover signing off. I look forward to your comments.