I admit it, I was heavy Cartoon Network fan as a kid. But what kid isn't one? Esspecialy in 80' and 90' when industry gave us some of best cartoons that lived under the sun and inside our TV screens. There was a lot of cartoon networks like: Nickelodeon or Disney, but my all-time favorite and 90's ultimate legend is: Cartoon Network. They had really great cartoons and I remember that after 00:00 you could watch wrestling or really old black and white movies (on the same channel). Their cartoon schedule was pretty good as early in morning was the cartoons for really young kids and as time progressed (by noon) they would show cartoons that has more depth. Organization was nice too, there were no glitches or flukes in channel itself and management seemed OK because they are live and kicking to this day (even their cartoons sucks nowadays but that's not their fault - but of those who paint/write scripts for cartoons).
As with last iterations of my "Top 5" articles (but that's not the case with "Top 5 NES games") we will start from bottom to up, to my "the best" retro cartoon that I loved the most as a kid. Most of them are from (if not all) "Cartoon Network Original Series" - and for me this was best Cartoon Network era, as now - in my opinion - Cartoon Network sucks. New animated series of old, hand-painted cartoons are so bad that I turn off TV whenever they pop up.
With that in mind, let's start with my Top 5 Cartoon Network cartoons:
Johnny Bravo was a cartoon that was "only to spent my time between better cartoons". But over the time as I did watch it continuously - I liked it more and more. First episodes were the best in my opinion and in latter stage they went to be just plain bad, without any imagination and humor. It became too much "childish" (uh, maybe this is contradictorily as cartoons are supposed to be childish) as opposed to previous episodes. Also I want to point out that Johnny Bravo, in his first iterations was cartoon that made you learn some lecture by doing real day events inside the cartoon.
The character itself was young man who has nice body but very little intelligence and stalks pretty women. He also has mother who feeds him well and is all that mother should be - caring person, and caring for her only child (in this case, Johnny). There were other characters as well, like little Lil' Susie from next door and etc. I remember that in later stages of the run, Johnny Bravo had some very weird episodes with aliens and etc. Personally, I don't like this approach, but they run out of ideas it seems.Jeff Bennett did excellent job with voice acting for Johnny Bravo and series itself lasted for 67 episodes or better say - 4 seasons.
I also remember Carl, another of Johnny Bravo's "friends", local geek and genius who did his role of getting Johnny Bravo into trouble more easier. You can see that scriptwriters do this often - they add more characters that try to "save" main character lifespan because he is less and less interesting to public. There was regular coffee shop where Johnny Bravo often goes to get advice for various life problems from bartender Pop. Pop was often sneaky fellow, but was also caring person in the end of the story and wanted the best for Johnny. Cartoon itself was also sometimes anticlimatic with anticlimatic endings, like the one with green guy from Ireland who made Johnny mad. When it comes to jokes, Johnny Bravo was full of those "macho" ones, and getting Johnny Bravo beaten up by various girls he flirt with (Tom & Jerry style anyone?). Show ran from Original run - July 14, 1997 to August 27, 2004 but it's now sometimes rerunning on Cartoon Network.
Courage the Cowardly Dog
Really, I liked this cartoon a lot. It had great stories and great atmosphere. This cartoon didn't know what monotony is. Every story was different, exciting and really good written. This comedy horror revolves around dog named Courage and his owners Muriel Bagge, a kindly old Scottish woman, and Eustace Bagge, a grumpy old farmer. Most of episodes something strange and weird attacks either Muriel or Eustace or both of them - and then is up to "cowardly" dog Courage to save them. Often Courage's computer helps him with advices and then Courage is really "courage dog" and saves his masters.
I really liked stories in this cartoon. We seen everything from crazy scientists, various monsters, abominations and crazy animals. Stories were also told very good via nice situations involving Courage and one of his masters (as often only one master (Murile or Eustace) were kidnapped and not both in same time). Animation itself was pretty decent and voice acting was really picked the right way because actors portray characters in cartoon great. Another thing is the gimmick. As you can see, gimmick with dog who is in fact a "chicken" and always scared - suddenly proves his name is not unworthy, but only when real situation calls. This is pretty interesting and unique concept and I take off my hat to the makers of this cartoon because of that.
In almost every episode there was a reference to a horror movie and monsters/villains like: "The Demon in the Mattress", "The Precious, Wonderful", "Adorable", "Loveable Duckling", "Heads of Beef" and etc. One of my favorite episodes was with "Loveable Duckling" that had really psychological impact on me. Courage often did go trough process of investigating, thinking about the issue and then setting an intelligent trap that would often succeed in first try - but sometimes monsters did return even when Courage thinks he finished them off. This made some tense situations and made atmosphere so much better.
On August 26, 2007 and again on October 7, 2007, a Courage marathon occurred in the US that consisted of 14 half hour segments running from 12PM-7PM and show is now reruning on Cartoon Network. Courage, that cute but decisive dog will always bring great memories to me.
Cow and Chicken
Debuted on July 15, 1997, Cow and Chicken were part of "Golden age" of Cartoon Network cartoons. For approx. 22 minutes every day in morning I would get my dose of good laugh featuring Cow and Chicken, their parents ( you could only see their legs - and were called simply - "Mom" and "Dad".) and various friends of the human/animal family like: Flem and Earl (simply put, two little rednecks) and even an "enemy" or "evil character" - "Red guy" who was in fact devil himself.
There was a gimmick with Cow character, to be precise - with her alter ego as Supercow, a superhero cow with the ability to fly. Supercow's powers lie in a green blanket. Supercow's costume is purple with a logo on the chest which slightly resembles that of Superman, but with a C instead of a S.Flem, voiced by Howard Morris, is Chicken's best friend who has thick red lips. He and his father both wear glasses and is pretty... stupid. Yes, both of supporting characters are another comedic relief that is trying to make us laugh a bit more. But in my honest opinion, that's unnecessary as stories inside cartoon are enough to make simpleminded kids laugh their ass off. Anything from daily life situations to some really wierd stories worked just fine for Cow and Chicken (Chicken making wooden submarine??). Dad, voiced by Dee Bradley Baker (who made an excellent job by the way) is really manly dad.He often boasts his manliness, stating that even the most mundane of tasks (such as driving in the snow in "Goin' My Way") "bring out the man in (him)".Mom, voiced by Candi Milo, is not such "strong" character in my opinon, but she is solid and somewhat contradictory.She loves her kids very much, despite the fact that once, when she thought that Cow's pet snake could talk like both Cow and Chicken, she said, "Then what the heck do we need kids for?".
Also, there are minor characters like: Crabs the Warthog, Piles the Beaver, Manure the Bear and etc. As you can see other minor characters are also either animals or something weird or strange. In fact, if you look better at it - whole show is strange and has some unique niche that will for sure be liked from watchers that like that kind of uniqueness (weird one). There was, unlike in most of cartoons - use of some foul language (little swears and etc.) in Cow and Chicken, and besides of Red referring to everyone else as "ladies," "girls," "gals," or "men." there were some contradictory scenes and talk between the characters.The series often made use of cartoon violence; Cow and Chicken were frequently placed in dangerous situations and the Red Guy was frequently pummeled and beaten But just because of that, Cow and Chicken was great show to watch, it had no boundaries and was well executed in both scripting and animation segments.
The Powerpuff Girls
The city of Retrosville. It's beautiful and sunny day and flowers are growing. We see an editor writing an article in his peaceful and quiet home. BUT Mojo Jojo is attacking the city with his super-Ã¼ber and is trying to steal retro VHS tapes and golden NES/SNES cartridges. But there is no problem as we can call the - Powerpuff Girls. Blossom, Bubbles, and Buttercup are the Powerpuff Girls, three little girls who gained superpowers when they were accidentally created with Chemical X. Created by animator Craig McCracken, this cartoon was always second in my list due the clear 1st favorite, but if there isn't "my all time favorite" taking the 1st place - Powerpuff Girls would take it ez mode. If you heard for this cartoon for the first time you could think it's cartoon for girls or something like that, but rest assure - Powerpuff Girls are badass. Animation was great, voice acting near perfect and stories... well, they were solid. Nothing special, like most of cartoons - they faded from great to solid as show gone by and ideas pool went dry.
As depicted in the opening sequence of each episode, the Powerpuff Girls were created by Professor Utonium in an attempt to create the "perfect little girl" using a mixture of sugar, spice, and everything nice. As you can see right here, uniqueness of this story is all because of great Craig McCracken, a student of California Institute of the Arts. This author and writer of original scripts for Powerpuff Girls made this cartoon unique in ways no other can imagine. If you look into it in other perspective, you can say that there are heroes and villains, but no Powerpuff Girls had more than that. This cartoon had beautiful animation, great scripts with interesting story and overall great sense of humor when it needed. If you look for example: Blossom - she is wise and courageous while Buttercup is "strong silent type" who is always angry and ready to fight - but deep down she is also kind and righteous. Bubbles on other hand is totally different as she is shy and easily scared, but once again - when she gets angry she is really badass. You see how Craig McCracken did great effect with those characters? He didn't do anything spectacular but he did all that's needed in order to cartoon to be popular as hell in mid 90's.
From stories I remember that they were very interesting, spanning from monsters destroying the bank, Mojo Jojo stealing the jewels or aliens attacking the earth - even with cliche stories - Powerpuff Girls did great! Also, gimmick with major and his assistant (we could only see her legs and torso but not the head - props to Cow and Chicken?).
I also liked how villians acted, they were not mean to the bone - after some time, many of them would regret their crimes and by this I think creator of cartoon wanted to learn the kids watching it that crime doesn't pay and that the one who regrets - get's forgiven by half. Given the uniqueness, style, storyline, animation and overall run - Powerpuff Girls are my number 2. They would be number 1. if there was no...
This jewel of cartoon is masterpiece of Genndy Tartakovsky who made 2 Stupid Dogs cartoon and help produce The Powerpuff Girls. This mixture of animated series, science fiction, adventure and comedy was and is today favorite cartoon of all time. Just because of this variety of genres made Dexter's Laboratory (commonly abbreviated as Dexter's Lab) great Cartoon. What I liked the most about this cartoon was the stories. Every single one of them was different and did learn us something new and delivered new experience.It is about a boy genius named Dexter, who has an enormous secret laboratory, filled with an endless collection of his inventions, which is entered primarily through a bookshelf in his bedroom. Most notable stories about Dexter fighting Darkman, feuds with Dad, Mom and his sister Dee Dee was great addition to overall pretty good animation and excellent voice acting. Original voice of Christine Cavanaugh for Dexter is one of better voice acting that I witnessed in my life and only after 2001 we heard Candi Milo taking role of voice of Dexter. In my opinion, original series and original actors were too good to be truth and when we entered new millennium and we got new Dexter's Laboratory with new cast and animation - things went down for me. Nothing was as before and cartoon wasn't even funny anymore. Heck, it doesn't need to be funny but stories were also bland and useless. Nothing to learn from, like the scriptwriters "done the job just to be done". But let's get back to the good old days. I loved how relathionship in Dexter's family work. Good ol' Dad and caring mother with cliche function of sister that annoys her little brother. Dee Dee was indeed interesting characther as he deviated from time to time from here role. Sometimes she was pretty smart, sometimes plain dumb and sometimes she did care for Dexter and sometimes she was just evil to him. Her main occupation was to play in Dexter's Laboratory and to destroy much as possible what would be main premises in the main plot. Plots were interesting and weren't monotonous. Scriptwriters had variety of ideas that were implemented with ease in such flexibile show that had many characters that could get into any role.Each thirty minute episode of Dexter's Laboratory consists of two to three cartoon shorts, with the exception of the finale to the original series, "Last But Not Beast", which was one twenty-five minute cartoon. This too added to cartoon's unmotonous format.The show's humor derives in part from Dexter's essentially one-sided and intense rivalry with his sister and from exaggerated stereotyping of his high intelligence and social awkwardness. Even if I didn't like this kind of humor before, with this cartoon - I learned to love it and understand it in right way. Dexter's American family, who is, aside from Dexter, an exagerrated stereotypical American family, also provide much of the humor.
It's interesting that Dexter's Laboratory was inspired by one of Genndy Tartakovsky's drawings of a ballerina. After drawing her tall and thin shape, he decided to pair her with a short and blocky opposite, Dexter. In 1991, he made his first "Dexter" short. One of uniqueness was relationship between Dad and Mom where Mom was stronger character while Dad had his strong character closed inside of his "goofy" personality (do you remember episode where his "strong" personality went out - (episode in bar where he armwrestles some redneck because he insulted his wife (Mom)). Great addition to the show were Dee Dee's gimmick and sidecartoon like Dial M for Monkey, The Justice Friends and TV Puppet Pals. The Dial M for Monkey shorts feature Dexter's lab monkey, Monkey (voiced by Frank Welker), who (unknown to Dexter) has superpowers and fights evil with his secret agent and superhero partners. The Justice Friends was about Major Glory, The Infraggable Krunk, and Valhallen characters.Most of the adventures of the Justice Friends deal with the three trying to balance out their superhero adventures while just trying to keep their composure living in the house.V Puppet Pals is a fictional TV show existing within the Dexter universe. It is watched by Dee Dee and seen in the Justice Friend's apartment. I really hated Puppet Pals :) .
Recently I got hold of Dexter's Laboratory: The Hip Hop Experiment -Compilation album by Various artists. I don't like Hip Hop music, far from it - but I just needed to have this piece of Dexter's history. I was not satisfied but well, that's mostly because I don't favor Hip Hop but production itself was not so great either. But I'm big video game fan! Four games were released to tie in with the series, Dexter's Laboratory: Robot Rampage for the Nintendo Game Boy Color (a licensed version of Elevator Action), Dexter's Laboratory: Chess Challenge for the Nintendo Game Boy Advance, Dexter's Laboratory: Deesaster Strikes! for the Nintendo Game Boy Advance, and Dexter's Laboratory: Mandark's Laboratory? for the Sony PlayStation all developed and produced by the now defunct publisher BAM! Entertainment. Dexter, Mandark, Dee Dee, and Dexter's computer are in the MMORPG FusionFall. Dexter was all around us, but it seems we can see him less and less on Cartoon Network. Even if we see him, then they show new animated series that are not good and doesn't live up to his predecessor. Despite the fact that "Last But Not Beast" was intended as a series finale, due to the show's popularity, Dexter's Laboratory re-entered production in 2001. That's the main problem, that episode was great finale and after that the show should get over with. Of course I wanted more, but if they decided to end the cartoon - this was the best way and there was no need to resurrect it in this new form. I always find it funny how despite being American, and both his parents speaking English with an American accent, Dexter speaks with an Eastern European accent.
Dexter is the class know-it-all, and prides himself on seldom being proved wrong. This is contradicted by his experiments, many of which are frivolous creations used to achieve ends presented in the show, such as a machine built to render him invisible so as to sneak a look at his birthday presents. This kind of character made my childhood much more interesting as we can all identify ourself, our friends and family with the ones from Dexter's Laboratory. Dexter has made cameo appearances in The Powerpuff Girls, I Am Weasel, Time Squad, and The Grim Adventures of Billy and Mandy. He has also been seen as a balloon in Codename: Kids Next Door. A thinly disguised version of Dexter appears in the Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends episode Eddie Monster. He is also in Cartoon Network's MMO FusionFall, appearing as a teenager and much taller. I always hated Mr. Luzinsky that is Dexter's default teacher, though he is often interchanged with other teachers depending on the story. He was somewhat of character that, in my honest opinion was not developed too well but his voice acting part was pretty cool and solid. A number of mostly unnamed robots assist Dexter in the laboratory. The most consistently appearing is the Robotron, also known as the Robo-Dexo 2000, and in that aspect I think they were also great addition to the cartoon as you could always take a break from "intelligent" humor and just plain laugh at stupid things the often did. The show breaks the time-honored TV rule of returning the characters and situation to the status quo
at the end of each episode; most episodes end in an unexpected and unresolved state with no easy solution offered for returning things to normal; e.g. the entire lab self-destructs and is completely gone and etc. This was ussual for this kind of cartoon and it didn't bother me much because for me, Dexter's Labaratory was enjoyment for each day and not a story that needed to have continue or it's own "universe".
Dexter's Laboratory ended its initial run in 1998. The series finale was "Last But Not Beast", which differed from the format of the other episodes in that it was not comprised of different segments but featured one plot in a twenty-five minute episode. Original run was on April 28, 1996 till November 20, 2003 (Pilot aired on February 26, 1995). To this day, I will always keep this cartoon as one that made my day nice day everyday and did made (besides of laughing and enjoying) learn something new and useful. Cheers to the Dexter, boy genius.
Again, many people will ask themselves - where is Tom & Jerry, Two Stupid Dogs, I am Weasel, Scooby-Doo Where are you? and other classics? Well, I loved those cartoons aswell but they just couldn't get to the list. This list is just my opinion and as that - I think I did good list of Cartoon Network cartoons. Maybe there are other cartoons that had more fans then these, but to my heart and nostalgia sense - these are the best and my all time favorites.
At the end, I want to mention one cartoon that didn't make it my favorite top 5, but I loved it music in the cartoon itself - SWAT Kats: The Radical Squadron. I didn't like it too much but music was awesome, animation was cool and story was no too much bad (maybe bit to classic).
And also, I wanna point up the cartoon that I absolutely hated. I mean, I would turn off TV when this show was on, even when I was "cartoon-crazed" kid. Name of the show was Space Ghost Coast to Coasts and i recall I couldn't understand what is it about, how it can be "a cartoon" and what are main characters. To be honest, I'm not too much optimistic about future of Cartoon Network - cartoons are not as good as they were before, and in my opinion choice of that cartoons is not good either. I will not even put picture of that cartoon because I really don't like it and can't stand it. Good thing future generations don't need to put up with this cartoon ( I won't use foul language here as I find it inappropriate to write it in an article) as it seems it doesn't re-run on Cartoon Network.
So, there you have it retrofans! I hope you enjoyed reading the article as much I enjoyed writing it and getting back to my childhood. I also hope that I, trough this article did get you, the reader back to your childhood and did bring up some nice memories inside you.
Till next time when we will cover Top 5 90's TV show and my Top 5 SNES games,