STUDIO: Warner Home Video
MSRP: $26.98
RATED: Not Rated
RUNNING TIME: 265 minutes

* Featurette

The Pitch

My generation got the short-end of the animated television stick.

The Humans

Chuck Norris, Peter Cullen, Henry Gibson, Joe Flaherty, Jonathan Winters and Mr. T

The Nutshell

The 1980s was quite the decade. Our Arts and Entertainment started at high peaks, but then ebbed so low after we came to celebrate the commercialization of America’s true retardation. This was the era when we gave up the ghost and stated that all children’s programming was just a front to sell toys and cereal. If you could get the animated dog and animated park ranger to discuss morality or a special lesson, then Congress would look the other way. The FCC didn’t care, as they were waiting for Reagan to eventually break down all media ownership laws. It was the Wild West and our little juvenile minds were the voyeuristic outlaws that survived on the last frontier of Saturday Morning programming.

This is the only remaining still of Mr. T and the Action Force’s Lemon Party Special.

The Lowdown

Saturday Morning Cartoons enters into a new decade with the first volume of 1980s programming.  Most of the material is a healthy mix of former NBC and ABC shows, but a few syndicated delights slip their way into the mix. Action and Fantasy finally get their due, but the lack of new ideas was becoming present. Thundarr the Barbarian was the only show on the disc that even remotely employed new concepts and exciting animation. The short-run of that series from 1980-1982 almost seems to indicate where this decade was heading. Looking at the shows presented on the disc, you come to notice a pattern. It’s the kiddie versions of adult figures or the attempt to repackage classic animation for a new generation. In the end, none of it works.


Thundarr the Barbarian

Mr. T

Dragon’s Lair

The Flintstone Kids

Galtar and the Golden Lance

The Biskitts

The Completely Mental Misadventures of Ed Grimley

The Monchichis

Chuck Norris: Karate Kommandos

Tex Avery’s the Kwicky Koala Show

Goldie Gold & Action Jack

and more!

What sucks about this release for me is that it allows me to realize how screwed over my young television viewing must’ve been. I’d like to imagine that I have vivid memories of watching Super Friends and Pryor’s Place, but I don’t. Hours of this material only confirmed to me that the rise of cocaine abuse fucking destroyed a generation of young animation talent. How else can you explain the rise of Filmation as an animation powerhouse? Twenty to thirty years later, this material gets the harsh light that it deserves. Children’s Television is usually terrible, but have you seen Monchichis? It’s like a toy commercial that never ends. There’s no point for these things to exist, other than as a constant joke to the lack of boundaries between advertisement and entertainment.

The worst show on the release has to be Chuck Norris: Karate Kommandos. The series ran for a scant six episodes before it got cancelled by the same people who greenlit Alf Tales. You know how fucking bad you have to suck to get shit-canned in this era? Hell, this was the era when Richard Pryor got a kids’ show after burning himself in a free-basing related fire. Adult Swim was reshowing all six episodes of Chuck Norris last year and it was fun to watch as nostalgia turned sour for a generation. Nobody should give a shit about Norris rules, after seeing live-action and animated segments where Norris leads the Asian Special Ed Kids through action adventures. There’s also the fact that Norris has no personality as an animated character or living person.

When you look at the other shows on the set, I don’t have as much venom. Flintstone Kids and Kwicky Koala were the last gasps of former animation kings, as they tried to woo the Pepsi Generation and their ilk. While I wish that these greats didn’t slum it in the ghetto of garbage television, they still made good money. There are a ton of shit animated shows from this era that didn’t make the release, but that’s because Warner Brothers didn’t own them. When Volume 2 rolls around, I hope that Warner Brothers can find some better shows. There had to be something worth watching in the 1980s animated field. I’m going to pop some caffeine pills like Jessie Spano and go digging.

Somebody”s gonna get a moustache ride.

The Package

collection only sports a featurette about the creation of Thundarr the Barbarian. Ruby/Spears are the only people that get a chance to talk about the series, but it’s nice to see that they still support the Gerber/Toth offering. Outside of that, you’re just left with the shows spread across two discs. The A/V Quality is better than most rebroadcasts of the material, yet the Dolby 2.0 and Mono tracks sound flatter than I remembered them being. While I like these releases from Warner Brothers, they’ve got to step it up with extra content. How about some vintage commercials? A Play All function that bridges the shows together with vintage ads to recreate that Saturday Morning experience? I’m pitching ideas here, people.

6.5 out of 10