Random Erik

Ramblings on Cartoons, Music, Pop Culture and Whatever

A Golden Age

We are truly living in a Golden Age. An age of miracle and wonders. An age of enlightenment and artistic achievement. And I realized it tonight while drinking wine and eating chocolate (oops, “Chocolat”) cake at the Alamo Drafthouse. Lord how I do love Austin.

The Alamo has been doing Saturday morning cartoons every Monday night, a buck to get in or five dollars more for unlimited breakfast cereal. I skipped the cereal: I’m too concerned about fiber content in my cereal now that I’m old, and not even nostalgia will get me eating Lucky Charms, Cookie Crisp or Trix (silly middle-aged guy, Trix are for…). So with a glass of wine in my hand and a big piece of cake for afters, I sat down for a themed show of “spooky” Saturday morning TV from my childhood.

My heavens but the stuff I watched as a kid was bad. Though the shows listed writers, I couldn’t imagine anyone actually creating a script for some of this. The list of animators for each show was very long, and I can only imagine that it was because the individual animators didn’t last for more than a day each, since a brain-damaged marmoset could have turned out most of the work I was seeing. The humor came down to aping whatever adult shows were currently popular (I picked up on Laugh-In and Get Smart as common themes). And the ghosts were still pretty much crooks with the poorly thought-out idea that drawing attention to yourself as a supernatural freak show will scare people away and allow you to get on with your nefarious deeds.

I was very surprised to see that Goober and the Ghost Chasers, a show I remember as being better than average, was particularly bad. Why does the dog turn invisible? I don’t remember. Why does the good looking guy disappear with the attractive girl while the schlub and the dog have most of the adventures? Hmmmmm. Why are the Partridge Family kids involved? Especially Danny? To get a likeness, the Partridge’s are always shown face on, which was the creepiest part of the whole evening.

I don’t really remember the Drac Pack. Terrible, simply terrible. The vampire had Maxwell Smart’s nasal tone and joke book. Then there was a werewolf whose power is to blow big winds (I didn’t see any pigs lurking about) and a southern-accented Frankenstein’s Monster, who seemed to have no powers whatsoever. All led by Big D, who happens to be Count Dracula trying to improve the image of monsters by leading the kids remotely from his coffin.

The rest is a blur of bad animation, worse writing and even worse voice-acting. We watched this stuff? As I may have mentioned, I watch kid’s programming, a lot. And much of it is still truly terrible. Pokemon is an abomination before the Lord, I know. But the current crop puts what I saw tonight to shame: Stuff like Fairly Oddparents, Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends, Spongebob, Kids Next Door and especially The Grim Adventures of Billy and Mandy. I mean, if parents and Right-wing watchdogs understood some of the references in Billy and Mandy, Cartoon Network would be off the air and it’s staff in the stockade. For a kiddie show, it takes as many risks as the Family Guy, and can be every bit as funny to boot. When a cartoon little girl quotes Aleister Crowley, you know you’re in some strange waters.

So we are in a Golden Age of kids programming. We may remember fondly those Saturday morning cartoons of yore, through that gossamer haze of nostalgia and sugar-induced comas. But frankly, they stunk. As an adult, you can enjoy, even laugh out loud at, some of the current crop. Kids today. They don’t know how good they’ve got it.

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