When I first wrote out my list of Cartoons I Should Feel Ashamed I Loved, I thought I cleansed my soul fully. The more I thought of it, I have a lot more to atone for before my Saturday morning soul is at peace. Thinking about the cartoons of my childhood can be a vast cereal box of nice sugary marshmallows mixed with bland oats that are easily forgotten. The more I dig, the more the prize at the bottom is out of my grasp. But the prize is worth it, so I continue to reach my hand in and hunt for it. In this case the prize is memories and at my age they are welcomed and cherished.
1. Monchhichis (1983)
Monchhichis were first conceived in 1974 in Japan as a toy line. The toy line later spawned a cartoon called the Monchhichi Twins. The toys gained in popularity for the year the show ran and in that popularity Mattel picked up the North American retail rights. To help their sales Mattel contracted Hanna-Barbera to make a cartoon, continuing a cycle that ended in 1985 when Mattel dropped the line due to poor sales. A scenario like that can really peel away the magic of how toys and cartoons used to go hand in hand. But it also explains yet another 13 episodes and done series by Hanna-Barbera. Monchhichis also fell into the same formula that 99% of all Hanna-Barbera cartoons fell into with characters named after traits and stereotypes that scream ’80s. All that being said, my seven year old self really dug this show. The formula that Hanna-Barbera and others used at the time wasn’t as glaring then as they are now. It was the sugar sweet morality plays of these shows that helped craft me into the nice dude I am today. If you really want a plot synopsis of this show, take a look at other entries on my last list. Sadly, in the end they all were the same show just with different players. But this time around, the monkey-like creatures called Monchhichis live in the forest land of Monchia at the very top of tall trees well above the clouds. The tribe’s leader, Wizzar, is a wizard (get it) who can cast spells and make potions to help defeat their enemy, Horrg and the evil Grumplins of Grumplor (as well as move the plot along).
2. ALF (1987)
in 1986, Alf-mania was sweeping the nation. Leading up to the first episode of the series ALF’s appearance was shrouded in secrecy which only added to the fervor. I remember being on pins and needles on the night of the premiere because in the days before the internet there were no leaks or spoilers, or if there were a 10 year old didn’t know where to find them. Anyways, quickly after his unveiling ALF was a bona fide smash hit. But I for one quickly grew fatigued of the show. The wise cracking, cat eating hero of the show was okay but I totally loathed the Tanner family. They straight up ruined the show and were all very unlikable actors, to me anyway. But I remember one episode that kinda added some backstory to ALF. In it ALF is able to communicate back to Melmac and we finally got to at least hear (can’t remember for sure if there were flashbacks) other Melmacians. We heard (I think) ALF’s (Gordon’s) girlfriend Rhonda and his best friend Skip. A year later NBC added the cartoon adventures of Gordon Shumway to it’s Saturday morning line-up. Finally I could enjoy ALF Tanner Family free and enjoy the very entertaining alien setting of Melmac. We also got to meet Skip and Rhonda and Gordon’s friends and family. The show was fun and had some very imaginative stories that would be more common place in ’90s cartoons like Tiny Toons. The only reason I have this on the list is because it was a blatant cash in on the whole ALF phenomenon.After a while, the show switched to ALF Tales and focused on telling “fractured”styled fairy tales .By that time I tuned out so I can’t comment on if that was good or not. I’m guessing not.
3. Turbo Teen (1984)
This cartoon can fall into two different lists. The first being cartoons “I’m ashamed I loved” and Second, “WTF were they thinking” cartoons. Ok, let me say I was 8 and cars are cool. So it makes perfect sense to love a show where a dude can turn into a car, right? That’s how I kinda envision the meeting went in the writers room that day.
First Writer: “Boys love cars, so lets make a show where a boy turns into a car”
Second Writer: “Great idea. Can he be bitten by a radioactive car like say, Spider-Man?”
First Writer: “That’s ridicules! No he’ll wreck his car into a top secret lab and be hit with a molecular changing ray.”
Second Writer: “Excellent idea! You’re gonna get that raise for sure now.”
As crazy as that scenario sounds the show was even more bat shit crazy. After teenager Brett Matthews is struck with the molecular changing ray and turns into Turbo Teen, he has certain rules he needs to follow to activate his power. When Brett is in heat he turns into a car, when he is in cold he reverts back into a human boy. I can remember times when Brett needed to make a quick change so he hopped into a hot shower. You can just imagine the hijinks that ensued with a car in the bathroom. Seems just plain idiotic to us adults but as a kid it was one of the most funniest things ever. But the gist of the show was a balance of Brett hiding his new found powers from his family and him and his crew solving crimes and stuff. There most have been a ton of crime in the ’80s I don’t remember, but if there was I’m glad we have dozens of teenagers to save the day.
4. Mister T (1983)
Oh, how I pity the fool (me) for putting this on the list. It was a very, very hard decision to add this to the list. Mr.T was and always will be awesome. For me, the love of all things T started with the A-Team, so it was only natural to love this show. I even received two of the awesome 18 inch Mr. T action figures that Christmas. Sadly I have neither today. Mr. T was the toughest ass kicker around, but the dude has a heart of solid gold on screen and off. He was a great role model for kids in the ’80s (until you saw him as Clubber Lang). Mister T, the cartoon really showcased his super human tough guy side while ham fisting you to how awesome a nice guy he was too. The premise of the show saw Mr. T as a gymnastics coach who traveled the world with his teenage students. And being a Saturday morning cartoon, Mr. T and his students fought crime everywhere they went. In a world where Mr. T as a gymnastics coach to a bunch of crime fighting teens isn’t the cause of shame, it must be something bigger, right?. What brings the shame is two supporting players to the Mr. T mythos, Spike O’Neil and Bulldozer. First is Bulldozer, or Dozer for short. Dozer is Mr. T’s faithful bulldog (looks more like a boxer but ok) and all round villain foil (i.e….Scooby without the capability of speech). Having a dog sidekick is all well and good but did they really have to give him a Mohawk? Spike is one of the girl’s little brother who idolizes Mr. T to the point of being borderline racist. But on top of that, when ever he’d get his ass handed to him in someway he would revert back into the whiney little bitch he really was. Pair Spike with the other shame bringing character Bulldozer and you have a show you can’t talk about without looking like a total tool.
Bonus points for the theme song though!!
5. Beverly Hills Teens (1987)
One thing that really punctuated the ’80s was excess. America was thriving under Reaganomics and it was only time before it “trickled down” to the cartoons. Airing 3 years before the FOX show Beverly Hills, 90210 (I smell rip off), Beverly Hills Teens was DIC’s answer to all the violent cartoons on TV at the time. Beverly Hills Teens was very sugary sweet and oozed with moral lessons with the sedulity of a 10 pound hammer. In this very fictions world of Beverly Hills Teens all cliques and social circles were friends with each other. The only traits that separated people were good and bad. The show seemed like the ’80s answer to Archie replacing malt shops and sock hops with hair salons and new wave clubs. Sometimes it was nice to take a break from the rough and tumble exploits of GI JOE and Transformers and watch the morality play of teenagers with tons of money. And, I just need to ask…is it bad to dig hot chicks in cartoons…just asking for a friend.
So there ya go. Five more cartoons I watched in my childhood that represent poor judgment in coolness and masculinity. But lets be honest these cartoons are still cooler than 90% of what’s on TV now for kids.