A couple of months ago I posted “Cartoons My Kids Love, That I Now Love”, so to “flip the script” as the cool kids say nowadays (they still say that, right?), I’m writing about the cartoons I used to love as a kid that my kids now love. Hopefully as they get older I can share more of the cartoons I grew up with and I can add to this list with things like G.I. Joe, Robotech, and He-Man, but as of now they could care less.At their ages, cuter is better. Add a dash of action and adventure and you have a recipe for great family time drenched in nostalgia.
1. Disney’s Adventures of the Gummi Bears
What is not to love about the Gummi Bears? In Disney’s first attempt at original Saturday morning cartoons, Gummi Bears first aired on NBC in 1985. The show ran for 65 episodes (which had 94 segments), first on NBC until 1988, than on ABC until 1990. Since then Gummi Bears lived it’s life out in syndication.
I was an instant fan of this show because of its fantasy elements and its lovable cast of Gummi Bears. For those of you that don’t know, Gummi Bears are an ancient race of humanoid bears that once lived along side humans and shared their great technology. Do to jealousy the humans turned on the Gummies (?) and drove them from the land, leaving only a small population behind to keep watch over their home, Gummi Glenn. Years have past and Gummi Glenn is only left with a few remaining Gummies that due to the passage of time have no idea how to fix the technology they have been left with. They do their best at maintaining their home and keeping hidden from the humans. What makes the Gummies even more special is their potion for Gummi Berry Juice, a concoction that grants them super leaping/bouncing powers and heighten strength.
In the series pilot they meet Calvin, a human boy who has always believed in the Gummies when others have regarded them as myth after so many decades. After befriending them, he and the Gummies protect the land from Duke Igthorn and his Troll army. There are also other threats that arise against the Kingdom of Dunwyn, but the Gummies with their human allies always save the day. So I think it goes without saying why my 4 year old daughter loves this show so much.
2. Disney’s DuckTales
We all are aware of the story of Scrooge McDuck and his 3 adventurous grand-nephews, but to a 4 year old and a 2 year old it’s all brand new and awesome. DuckTales began running in syndication in the Fall of 1987. Running for four seasons and a total of 100 episodes, DuckTales has stood the test of time and is still as enjoyable today as it was 30 years ago.
Whether the stories were original or based on one of the wonderful stories from Carl Barks’ comic series, DuckTales was (and is) one of the most high-adventure kid friendly cartoons of all time. Saying that it’s kid friendly isn’t saying that it’s dumbed down or without adult merit, it’s saying that everything about this show is classic. From the humor to the swashbuckling action and adventure, DuckTales is the definition of a timeless classic.
The adventures of Scrooge, his three grand-nephews, their ever present pilot Launchpad, and a revolving cast of Duckburg’s finest have encompassed everything from the works of Shakespeare to outer space and everything in between. If you can think of a hair raising adventure, there’s a chance DuckTales has covered it.
This summer Disney will be continuing the adventures in a new show debuting on Disney X.D.. Here’s to hoping it lives up to the original.
3. The Magic School Bus
Now to be honest this isn’t my pick, it’s my wife’s. She grew up loving The Magic School Bus. When it aired in 1994 I was graduating high school. so please forgive me that I never watched it before. My wife on the other hand grew up watching it because she was in the Fourth grade in 1994. Damn that sounds creepy when I say it out loud…she was in her twenties when we met, I swear!
All joking aside, as my kids have enjoyed watching this on Netflix recently, I have enjoyed it too. It’s a real hoot to hear my 4 year old daughter whip out “By my calculations” which is a line one of the smart and precocious grade schoolers uses on the show daily. Starting off as a popular book series in 1986 by Joanna Cole and Bruce Degen for Scholastic Books. In 1994 the cartoon series began airing on PBS and was the networks first fully animated show. The show ran for only 53 episodes before its end in 1997.
Every episode featured a field trip that would take the students of Miss. Frizzles class through adventures in human anatomy, battling the common cold, or traveling through the far reaches of space. The Magic School Bus balanced humor and adventure all while having a strong educational core. The only downside? The bratty kids kinda grate the nerves.
Like DuckTales, The Magic School bus is scheduled to get a “reboot” on Netflix soon with the role of Miss. Frizzle going to Kate McKinnon. Lily Tomlin was the original voice of Miss. Frizzle and it’s going to be hard to top her performance.
4. The Smurfs
The tale of The Smurfs is so ingrained into pop culture nowadays that it feels a bit redundant to explain the premise. The Smurfs have been going strong since their introduction in the Belgian comic strip Johan and Peewit by Peyo in 1958. Gaining in popularity since their first appearance, Peyo created a whole second studio to handle the Smurfs while he himself still worked on the Johan and Peewit comic strip. By 1981 The Smurfs had their own cartoon series that ran until 1989. This wasn’t the first time The Smurfs appeared in animated form. In 1965 they starred in 5 black and white shorts and also in the 1976 movie The Smurfs and the Magic Flute.
Recently The Smurfs have been featured in live action / CG animated films that have proven to be popular for todays children. I’m proud to say my kids were fans way before seeing these films. What is there for a kid not to like about The Smurfs? It’s the perfect primer into the world of sword and sorcery. The Smurfs live a world with dragons, giants, wizards, witches, mer-people, and all manner creatures, fey, and forest folk. All of the adventures are wrapped up in a sweet (but not too sweet) box that sometime offer a moral lesson to learn.
When I was a kid I couldn’t wait for the opening cords of the theme song to start. It’s still a great intro that sets you up for an adventure that is three apples high. I still have a bunch of the little figures from when I was kid. I remember getting them before the premiere of the show in 1981 and I was instantly enthralled by them and created my own adventures for them. I was excited to see the show did a much better job than me in bringing these little blue folks to life.
As time goes by I can hopefully add to this list. There are a few more shows that have grabbed their interest recently (which I’ll write about)and I’m proud that I haven’t forced anything on them. They have found these shows themselves by either looking through the DVD shelves at home or by seeing pictures on streaming services. It is such a joy to return to your own nostalgic childhood with your kids. It adds a whole new layer of magic when you can remember all of the good times you had because your kids are experiencing it too.