I saw a certian Cracked article ( 6 Ridiculous Kid-Friendly Adaptations of R-Rated Material ) the other day and it reminder me of some great old cartoons which I loved but aren't as well known as GI Joe, Transformers, and My Little Pony and Friends.
So here is a few that come to my mind:
James Bond Jr.
Why for the James Bond 50th Anniversary was there no re-releases of James Bond Jr.?!! it would have been a ridiculous and nostalgic tie-in! I mean it makes as much sense and is as connected to the James Bond Mythos as the 1967 Casino Royale movie. Also don't tell me that he's his Nephew! We all know there are tons of James Bond Jrs out there.
Conan the Adventure
The most I remember about this was the addition of wacky wisecracking Phoenix sidekick for Conan. Which was amusing.
Fighting crime in a future time. Oh Yes, COPS - which was semi-cyber punk as a lot of the heros and villains had cyber-ware replacements of various body parts. E.G.: Special Agent Baldwin "Bulletproof" Vess had a cybernetic bulletproof torso after his real one had to be replaced due to injuries. A villain named Buttons McBoomBoom had a cybernetic chest with built in machine gun breasts.
King Arthur and the Knights of Justice
This is my absolute favorite childhood cartoon, it has knights, a rocking theme song, and it was absolutely mental. First off the plot is that King Arthur and his real Knights of the Round Table have been captured by Morgana. Merlin decides to solve this problem by creating a time vortex and bringing in an American High School Football team from the future to secretly replace King Arthur and the Knights and somehow no one is the wiser. Everyone just thinks Arthur and the Knights are experiencing strain from the war against Morgana's forces or that they took too many blows to the head to explain their odd behavior.
One of the best bits from early on is Merlin bringing in some 'Cheerleaders' *wink, wink, nudge, nudge* after a feast to meet them and to 'party on'.
The knights and villains were all themed based - you had guys with war hammers etc. and then you had Slasher. Slasher had a cape. In battle early on you see him just walking around futilely and comically trying to hit people with his cape (which had little daggers tied to the end) by randomly walking about and waving the cape around. This does absolutely nothing against guys in suits of armor. In one episode all the other war warlords had been knocked out, have retreated, or have been unhorsed and he is the only guy left standing in King Arthur's way. So he grabs his cape, urges his horse on, and makes a bad ass charge at King Arthur and predictably his cape does nothing and Arthur just slaps him off his horse. I have never felt so bad for a villain before. In later episodes he's always stealing a sword or an ax from one of the foot soldiers since he seems to have realized just what an absolutely useless weapon his cape with little daggers tied to the ends was.
To explain how they could suddenly could fight and stuff they had magical armor and a long damn sentai-like transformation sequence with the magical armor that they did every episode. So yeah, they were basically Knight Sentai but the Japan connection doesn't just end there - oh no it got far more mental.
In season 2 they introduced a large group of god damn Japanese Samurai roaming around dark age Britain. The Samurai occasionally fought ether for or against Camelot or Morgana's Forces but were mostly neutral and spent time carving out their own territory. What the hell? Of all the things a group of Samurai just randomly show up in Dark Age Britain intent on carving out their own little domain? Why? How?
The main arc of the series was that the Knights had to find a magic key for each knight scattered somewhere throughout the land and when they got them all they could free the Knights and go back home. Unfortunately, the series was cancelled prematurely so we got no ending... from the show at least. A couple years after the show was cancelled Enix (yes, that Enix of Square-Enix), made an SNES game based on the show. The game was buggy and mostly long fetch quests but it at least gave the series an ending.
It also got singled out for it's apparently extreme violence on the UCLA Television Violence Report:
...but one program, King Arthur and the Knights of Justice II, falls into the sinister combat classification. The program was driven by mean-spirited combat violence. One episode began with a two-minute fight scene. The acts of violence are glorified. One scene depicted an arrow fired into a villain's forehead.
Where on Earth is Carmen Sandiego?
This is a lot newer than the others but I have to give a special mention to this show as it actually did a massively good job fleshing out Carmen Sandiego. It presented her as a complicated figure she had a rough childhood as Orphan but joined ACME because she was extremely smart and loved solving cases. In this respect she is a lot like Sherlock Holmes in that she took to becoming a detective to give fodder for her over active mind. Unfortunately, after solving most of the major cases and eliminating a lot of crime the quality of the cases dropped and she became bored. So she decided to become the fox and steal impossible things while leaving puzzles and clues in a great game. She is basically Sherlock Holmes gone 'bad'.
She still has her sense of justice though and on occasion teamed up with ACME to stop some real evil criminals who popped up during one arc of the series. It does amazing things with a computer game about geography.
So any other Great Old Cartoons?
One other one I just remembered
A 1995 show about politics, racism, and mortality featuring cute animals. It died quickly. I think I had a toy from a fast food place of a statue of the Vice President cat emerging from the capitol building. Yeah, it was like that. Also the main character's entire family was brutally murdered in the first episode and died horrible deaths. Gotta love that look of horror and screams as his mother is killed in front of him by being smashed repeatedly by a baseball bat while she was also chocking on poison gas. Yay.
Ah! It was the President cat and the toys were from Burger King.
Best nostalgic cartoon that is severely underrated. Also touched on subjects like historical genocide,slavery, and how the conquistadors were just sort of dicks in general. The show got a bit weird toward the end though:
James bond Jr. inexplicably pops into my head more often than one would guess.
"Conan, the mightiest warrior ever!
His quest: to undo the spell of living stone cast upon his family
by driving the evil serpent men back into another dimension,
and vanquishing their leader, the cruel wizard Wrath-Amon!" is what I say when somebody wants to hear me do announcer voice.
As a result, nobody ever wants to hear me do announcer voice.
Ronin Warriors holds a special place for me. I'd never seen anything like it before it first popped into syndication in 1995. An old friend and I were both huge fans of the show and would constantly shout catchphrases from it, and once tried to race each other to make the kanji representing the warriors' virtues out of pretzel sticks before realizing that Ryo's is the only one you can do that with and making that over and over. He beat me by one after a minute.
This was certainly not my first exposure to high fantasy (that would be the Chronicles of Narnia), but it was to this particular style. While each of the warriors was near-invulnerable when certain physical requirements were met, it was the virtue of bushido that they most embodied that made them strong elsewhere. I felt genuinely sorry for Anubis when he changed sides to join the good guys and immediately and irrevocably lost his powers because he had violated Loyalty, and a samurai's loyalty gives only one chance. I later came to love me some Digimon for the same reason. There was also some newer cartoon about talking horses that does the same thing, but it's really more like a sitcom and the virtue-powered magic comes off as a little tacked-on sometimes.
I went back and watched part of Ronin Warriors in September, and it looks completely awful now. I just couldn't finish it. The framerate was terrible, the effects were messy, and the dub was exactly what Stinkoman 20X6 was making fun of. And I still want to punt that little snot Yulie, but it will forever be a part of Childhood that Was.
The opening theme that I remember (which was just exposition over some music) seems to be missing from the internet, so I will leave you with this:
...SNAKE FANG STRIKE! HAHAHAHAHAHAHA! HAHAHAHAHAHAHA!