When we were children we had no control over what we liked or disliked. Our hearts were more powerful than our brains which is a stark contrast to that of being an adult. So that is why I should feel shame for liking some of these cartoons, but I don’t. The only thing these shows are guilty of is being cute. Nowadays studios and companies have a clear line to whom shows are aimed at. In the ’80s the line was a little blurry, so it’s hard to say if I was completely off base liking these shows. Also as another defense, we were limited in the ’80s to cartoons in the afternoons and Saturday mornings. So you watched what you could, when you could. Just don’t know what my excuse is nowadays for liking them.
1. Disney’s The Wuzzles (1985)
Disney’s first foray into the booming cartoon/toy juggernaut that was demolishing the wallets of parents everywhere during the ’80s. Airing on CBS the Wuzzles was direct competition to another Disney show, The Gummie Bears. Gummie Bears aired in the same 8:30AM time slot on Saturday mornings, but over on NBC. The Wuzzles were a mixed up crew of animal hybrids that lived on the island of Wuz. Everything on the island was a mixture of two things including buildings, plants, food, and the Wuzzles themselves. The show focused on a little crew of six Wuzzles named Bumblelion (bee & lion), Butterbear (butterfly & bear), Eleroo (elephant & kangaroo), Moosel (moose & seal), Rhinokey (rhinoceros & monkey), and Hoppopotamus (hippopotamus & rabbit). There were also supporting players and villains of different varieties of animal hybrids. The show was cute and featured the same formula most cartoons use of putting the core characters in to morality driven adventures. The show lasted one season and it’s rumored that it ended after the death of the voice actor that voiced Moosel. In it’s short one year run it spawned tons of stuffed animals and figures. Sadly the much better Gummie Bears ran for two seasons and had zero toys.
2. Paw Paws (1985)
Part of the The Funtastic World of Hanna-Barbera, Paw Paws was a cartoon that could be viewed nowadays as being racially unacceptable. The show was a fun and fancy-free series that followed the Smurfs formula of fun fantasy to a tee. The little Native American bears had names like Laughing Paw, Medicine Paw, and Bumble Paw. Brave Paw and Princess Paw Paw were the shows lead characters and most stories either focused on them or had them helping supporting character. The one cool thing I remember about the show was the Totem Pole that would break down into it’s separate animals to help protect the village. There was an eagle, bear, and tortoise that would act as different support for whatever problem fell on the village. Another cool thing I remember is that Brave Paw and Princess Paw Paw had flying horses. Pretty cool but would hate to be under them when nature calls. The show lasted only one season but the reruns can be found on the Boomerang channel. They spawned a short lived toy line that is very rare, so somewhere people still care about the Paw Paws.
3. Shirt Tales (1982)
Like the Care Bears and Strawberry Shortcake, The Shirt Tales were based on a line of greeting cards. Created by Hallmark in 1980, The Shirt Tales went from cute animal that sold cards to cute animals that fought crime in the 1982 cartoon. The cards were known for the t-shirts the animals wore that would have messages written on them, like a fox whose shirt read “Hey Foxy”. On the show though we had Rick the raccoon, Tyg the tiger, Digger the mole, Pammy the Panda, and Bogey the orangutan. During the show’s second season they jumped on the Australia band wagon and Kip the Kangaroo joined the team (voiced by Bart Simpson’s Nancy Cartwright). The Shirt Tales lived in an Oak Tree in the park and when they were needed they would jump into their flying car and fight crime. Their foil in keeping their identities secret was Mr.Dinkel, the Park Ranger. (Side note: How many talking animals are running around that people wouldn’t know that they are the same critters?) The Shirt Tales were decked out in high-tech equipment and they had shirts that emoted for them and of course had messages. The show was fun and as a six year old was pretty neat. At the time Hardees had Shirt Tale stuffed animals for sale, no kids meal required. I’m pretty sure I had the whole set but they have since hit the rubbish bin or were yard sale fodder. The show lasted two seasons and I think also runs on Boomerang. Still one thing bugs the crap outta me about this show, that damn monkey and his Humphrey Bogart impersonation.
4. Get Along Gang (1984)
Well I guess I should start by admitting that for some reason I was totally crazy about this show. I guess it was my fledgling furry feelings, like I talk about here. Anyways, I had stuffed animals of the three dude characters Montgomery Moose, Bingo Beaver, and my favorite, Zipper Cat. Just imagine the looks I got from my Cub Scout troop when I was excited to finally get the ever popular Zipper Cat. Again, this was a line spawned by a greeting card (who knew greeting card companies had so much sway in Hollywood). American Greetings had two other hits with Care Bears and Strawberry Shortcake, but The Get Along Gang only lasted for 13 episodes. The characters had a clubhouse in an abandoned caboose car and would get into small town adventures in Green Meadows, U.S.A.. The stories were always upbeat and stressed the importance of teamwork and friendship. I really dug this show and for the life of me I thought it ran for more than one small season. I guess I should really credit this show for my love of all the anthropomorphic animal crap I dig.
5. The Biskitts (1983)
Hanna-Barbera weaved their magic yet again, but this time with dogs and in a very G-rated fantasy world. Think Smurfs but less blue and more hairy. Again this was a blink and you missed it show that only ran one 13 episode season. These tiny anthropomorphic dogs helped to protect the King’s treasure and his forest from evildoers. They live on a small island (again with the islands) and are the foil to the bad king, King Max. I have always been a sucker for fantasy and for little folk living in the human world, so like Smurfs this show was the bee’s knees. Again, in an act of laziness or marketing the Biskitts are named after traits they may have. Like Downer, the depressed one or Mooch, who is fat and greedy. The heroes of the group are Waggs for boys to identify with and Sweets for little girls to aspire to be (in an ’80s world). The junior swashbuckling aspect spoke to me and the fantasy setting with dragons and swords made me tune in every Saturday for 1983. It was probably fair that this show got they axe though. There were so many shows that followed the same formula at the time and all of the just blended together.