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Vintage 80s Cartoon Intros
April 29, 2007 6:39 AM   Subscribe

Selected Cartoon Introductions from the 1980s [YouTube]
posted by BeerFilter (69 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite

 
My first single-link YouTube post!
posted by BeerFilter at 6:40 AM on April 29, 2007


I want to buy some action figures. Damn.
posted by chunking express at 6:49 AM on April 29, 2007


What, no thundercats?
posted by chunking express at 6:56 AM on April 29, 2007


I'm surprised at how good a couple of these are. You can see that the animators actually took some delight in creating those Heathcliff and Inspector Gadget intros. Captain N the Game Master, on the other hand? Not so much.

How did Lou Scheimer sleep at night? Really.
posted by HeroZero at 7:51 AM on April 29, 2007


How did Lou Scheimer sleep at night? Really.

With a circular credit rotating around his head, no doubt.
posted by evilcolonel at 7:52 AM on April 29, 2007 [1 favorite]


Behold the ultimate warp zone.
(Glad that Dungeons & Dragons was included, but deeply saddened that the classic intro of Tarzan was overlooked)
posted by Flashman at 8:05 AM on April 29, 2007


Wow...animation in the 80's really was as sucktastic as I remembered.
posted by Thorzdad at 8:35 AM on April 29, 2007


He-Man sounds like a Mormon accountant.
posted by jimmythefish at 8:40 AM on April 29, 2007


Lords of Light! Demon dogs!

Thundarr the Barbarian
out-Kirby's all!

So sayeth the wizardous Wikipedia...

Comic book writer-artist
Jack Kirby worked on the production design for [Thundarr The Barbarian]. While many people believe that Kirby was the primary designer of the show (mainly due to his similarly themed Kamandi: The Last Boy On Earth), the main characters were in fact designed by fellow comic book writer-artist Alex Toth, who also designed the popular character Space Ghost for Saturday morning television. Toth, however, was unavailable to continue working on the show, so most of the wizards and other villains and secondary characters that appear on the show were designed by Kirby. He was brought onto the show at the recommendation of comic writer Steve Gerber and comics and animation veteran Mark Evanier, who realized that the same imagination that produced Kamandi could contribute significantly to the series. Indeed, the evil wizard Gemini, the only repeating villain on the show, resembles Darkseid, an infamous Kirby villain.

Of course, let us not forget the New Animated Adventures of Flash Gordon as well as Space Stars featuring new adventures of the Herculoids.
posted by humannaire at 9:00 AM on April 29, 2007


Wow. I'd forgotten what a blandly suburban voice He-man had.
posted by rhymer at 9:24 AM on April 29, 2007


More (with some repeats from the one in the FPP): 80s part 1, 80s part 2, 80s part 3, 80s part 4, 80s part 5, 80s part 6. Then there's 90s part 1 and part 2, and 2000s.

(All of those were put together by the same guy, who is apparently in the UK, so you get Action Force instead of G.I. Joe, Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles, and so on.)
posted by mendel at 9:35 AM on April 29, 2007


You know what I could never understand? Why didn't He-Man always keep his super-power identity "on"? Or She-Ra for that matter? Why didn't they just stay permanently in super-hero form? Same for Inspector Gadget's GadgetMobile. Why wasn't it just permanently in cool RX-7 form? He wasn't even protecting a secret identity.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 9:45 AM on April 29, 2007


You can see that the animators actually took some delight in creating those Heathcliff and Inspector Gadget intros.
Well, the second one, anyways. Heathcliff and Marmaduke looked like an abomination. Also, I had no idea the opening to He-Man and She-Ra were exactly the same. What the hell, Lou Scheimer?

This video and the 90s version brought back memories. Tale Spin was so awesome!
posted by chrominance at 9:48 AM on April 29, 2007


Woops, missed 90s part 3.
posted by mendel at 9:49 AM on April 29, 2007


Same for Inspector Gadget's GadgetMobile. Why wasn't it just permanently in cool RX-7 form?

I might be wrong, but didn't the car turn into the best Citroen car available at that time, bearing in mind it was a French cartoon? An SM or CX (hastily consulting Wikipedia)? Don't get me wrong, those are really cool cars in hindsight, and I'd kill for good condition examples now. But I don't think it was so cool back then.
posted by humblepigeon at 9:52 AM on April 29, 2007


Also, Heathcliff's rival Riff Raff's girlfriend Cleo was hot as hell. And the themesong was damned catchy. That is all for now.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 9:54 AM on April 29, 2007


Inspector Gadget holds up pretty well compared to the others. That damn catchy tune is going to be stuck in my head all day now . . .
posted by treepour at 9:55 AM on April 29, 2007


Damnit C_D, I was going to call out all the Furries on the assumed Cleo crush. Way to steal my thunder.
posted by sourwookie at 10:02 AM on April 29, 2007


I've recently been watching some classic He-Man episodes. The animation is, of course, terrible, as most of the stuff produced by Filmation was. It was so limited as to make Hanna-Barbera stuff look like a masterpiece. Characters reuse frames constantly, everyone has a number of set poses, actions, run cycles, etc (many of which echoed from the old Tarzan show) and they were reused so many times. If you watch the show now take note that action moments so rarely occur on-camera.

The cartoon (ad She-Ra, and Fat Albert come to think of it, also produced by Filmation) was composed of a bunch of disjointed little pieces that are connected in such a way as to -suggest- action while rarely ever showing it. In a way there is a kind of genius to doing that, but it is not the genius of making a cool animated show.

The writing, on the other hand, is interesting. I was surprised, when watching my friend's "best of" collection of old He-Man shows, that a few of them really do have some nice writing behind them. They are all hampered by the need to keep anything resembling real violence off the screen, which is an amazingly harsh restriction on a show that looks like it was inspired by Robert Howard. And they are all so amazingly bland for a bunch of guys who run around in furry underoos. (Check it out even the king!) And I could go on much longer listing the show's many faults. Like how Skeletor progressed from being a truly fearsome villain to almost comic relief by the end, how the theme song consists of some people saying "He-Man" over and over in different ways--and She-Ra's was particularly laughable, and... oh, ahem.

But a few episodes do show the mind of a skillful writer trying to peak through. Cartoons have been sitcom-formulaic for so long that anything that doesn't fit the template, that offers some genuine continuity, that demonstrates real imagination, that seems truly strange and wonderful, it shines through. I'm thinking most particularly of the show where it's revealed that ol' five-frame, early-teen wet-dream Teela is actually the daughter of the Sorceress (the only character with some mystery about her), found as an infant in a bird's nest high in the mountains -- that's genuinely mythic right there. And the show where it's revealed that hateful Snarf-alike Orko is actually a powerful magician in his home-world. And the show where He-Man loses the sword for a while and can't change back, and wrestles with the implications of this. (That's my response to Civil-Disobedient, by the way: He-Man's original form has a family and a place in the world, and he doesn't wish to give that up.) Of course there were plenty of awful ones too, like the one where Skeletor tries to destroy the circus....

The other shows, well, there are some particularly awful ones in the mix -- and if they look bad in the intros, keep in mind they were usually the best-animated moments of the program. But He-Man at least, even viewed today, does have its moments. Unfortunately Cartoon Network's well-produced revival of the show didn't seem to last that long....

"I love beans, doodley-do, I love beans, how 'bout you! Beans are an excellent source of protein! I... Love... Beans! Doo-dly do!"
posted by JHarris at 10:20 AM on April 29, 2007 [1 favorite]


I would have assumed that Ghostbusters the cartoon would have been based on Ghostbusters the movie, but apparently not. Would love to know how the ape fits in.
posted by itchylick at 10:23 AM on April 29, 2007


There were two ghostbusters cartoons; there was one patterned after the film that went under the name The Real Ghostbusters. The one with the ape was Filmation, who took advantage of a right to use the name because of some prior art. Wikipedia link.
posted by George_Spiggott at 10:27 AM on April 29, 2007


The Ghost Busters cartoon predates the movie by some time itchylick, they tried reviving it when the movie did well. Whe DIC did their own cartoon based on the movies, they renamed it "The Real Ghostbusters" in response.

More beans: Wikipedia's got a pretty good, if extremely geeky, article on the He-Man show.
posted by JHarris at 10:29 AM on April 29, 2007




I would have assumed that Ghostbusters the cartoon would have been based on Ghostbusters the movie, but apparently not. Would love to know how the ape fits in.


No, the cartoon from the movie was The Real Ghostbusters (which comes after the Ghostbusters intro in the FPP's video!). There was a movie in the 70s called Ghostbusters, and Filmation had rights to that and used the title in the 80s to get what they could out of the 80s Ghostbusters movie's popularity. A bit more detail here.
posted by mendel at 10:30 AM on April 29, 2007


itchylick: I also had that same question after watching this, and I now remember being confused as a kid that there were two shows called Ghostbusters, and were quite different (I figured that the one with the ape was some sort of imposter, but it's actually the reverse).

According to Wikipedia, the sequence went like this:

1. The Ghost Busters (1975-6, live-action TV show)
2. Ghostbusters (1984 movie starring Bill Murray and Dan Ackroyd)
3. The Real Ghostbusters (1986-91 animated TV show based on the movie, so titled because Filmation owned the rights to the the name; later renamed Slimer! And the Real Ghostbusters)
4. Filmation's Ghostbusters (aka The Original Ghostbusters: 1986-88 animated TV show produced to cash in on the popularity of the 1984 movie)

I think that's how it goes. Wikipedia's disambiguation page says that the original TV show (no. 1 on the list above) was based on a 1970s movie, but I can't find a page for it there or at IMDB.

On preview: ah, mendel beat me to it... although I'm still not sure this 1970's movie existed. I'd guess that a Wikipedia editor wrote "movie" instead of "TV show" on the disambiguation page.
posted by good in a vacuum at 10:43 AM on April 29, 2007


Man, I'm embarrassed at how many hours I spent as a kid watching such awful tripe.

It seemed good when I was eight, that's all I can say in my defense.
posted by sotonohito at 10:44 AM on April 29, 2007


Oh, and how great is it that I can sing along to most of these theme songs a good 15 to 20 years after last hearing them. Perfect Sunday morning accompaniment to my pancakes. Thanks!
posted by good in a vacuum at 10:47 AM on April 29, 2007


Wow, I had no idea that I remembered all the lyrics to the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles intro until I watched this. That's... kinda scary.
posted by AV at 10:48 AM on April 29, 2007


The 70's live action Ghost Busters that the cartoon is based on is... well just watch the opening.
posted by revgeorge at 10:51 AM on April 29, 2007


Crappy animation notwithstanding He-Man (along with Jm J. Bullock) was one of the first gay icons in mass media, and was responsible for knocking down all kinds of barriers.
posted by psmealey at 10:52 AM on April 29, 2007


Star Blazers.
posted by kmartino at 11:12 AM on April 29, 2007 [1 favorite]


He-Man gay?
Possibly.
But J.J. Bullock?
No way, dude!
posted by Dizzy at 11:37 AM on April 29, 2007


This is my domain, and I protect those who come here...
posted by Flashman at 11:53 AM on April 29, 2007


Dude, I LOVED Star Blazers.
posted by jimmythefish at 12:46 PM on April 29, 2007


M.A.S.K.
posted by smoothvirus at 12:50 PM on April 29, 2007


This here is all I have to say about He-Man.
posted by Wolfdog at 12:51 PM on April 29, 2007


Galaxy Rangers (a personal fave of mine)
posted by smoothvirus at 12:57 PM on April 29, 2007


Robotech (another personal fave)
posted by smoothvirus at 12:58 PM on April 29, 2007


Thanks for that link, Wolfdog. That just triggered a hallucinogenic episode of some kind. Freaky deaky.
posted by psmealey at 1:01 PM on April 29, 2007


I could never understand people liking He-Man. Is there any part of that show that isn't stupid beyond the telling of it it? The guy's name is He-Man, fer cryin' out loud. He hangs out with Beast-Man (Ice Cream Man presumably lives somewhere in the frozen wastes, possibly with Milk-Man). He has a magic sword that he happened to be swinging around on day when he accidentally says "By the power of Greyskull", because, you know, that's what you do with magic swords. It's just stupid. Stupid stupid stupid. Why do people like it so much?
posted by Sparx at 1:16 PM on April 29, 2007


Geez Sparx, I just spilled two gallons of words on that very subject.
posted by JHarris at 1:29 PM on April 29, 2007


Wow, I had no idea that I remembered all the lyrics to the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles intro until I watched this. That's... kinda scary.

Had the same thought about the "Heathcliff" intro. On the other hand, those shows had great voice actors and some crazy scripts. I still love Rob Paulsen.

Pointlessly: Excuuuse me, Princess.
posted by zennie at 1:29 PM on April 29, 2007


Good find BeerFilter. I was just thinking how much things have changed in less than two short years.

My only & only Mefi post: The 80's Toon Archive from July 2005 was on the same topic. Back then the videos were hosted on my friend's server and the load from just Mefi was enough to bring it down.

There were no "video-sharing" sites with unlimited bandwidth back then. Today there are over 200 and increasing.

Really brings a smile to my face to realize that we are on our way to build a complete video archive of our past, present, and future.
posted by chime at 1:33 PM on April 29, 2007


Watching the He-Man intro now, as I approach my 30s, I view it quite differently to how I viewed it as a kid. Now I view it and I think "Gee, Prince Adam seems to kind of be abusing these secret powers just to give us a demonstration of his He-Man thing" and I scoff when he says "And I became He-Man, the most powerful man in the Universe!" It's like "Gee He-Man... most powerful man in the whole fucking universe? Got some pretty big tickets on yourself there, don't ya?"
posted by Effigy2000 at 1:41 PM on April 29, 2007


I'm shocked at how formulaic most of this stuff is: Good guys don costume, get power, fight bumbling evil dudes in a faraway {land, planet, time}. It says something about either the 80s zeitgeist, or the producer's lack of imagination. A lot were clearly just vehicles for advertising toys. (I say this as the once proud owner of "hurricane", the 57 chevy that turned into a tank from M.A.S.K.)
posted by Popular Ethics at 1:46 PM on April 29, 2007


Oh, and Metafilter definitely needs a power-rock intro song. C'mon mefi-musicers.
posted by Popular Ethics at 1:48 PM on April 29, 2007


Also, Heathcliff's rival Riff Raff's girlfriend Cleo was hot as hell.

My 9-year-old self couldn't agree more. How I managed to not grow up into a furry fan is a complete mystery to me.

Man, I'm embarrassed at how many hours I spent as a kid watching such awful tripe.

Yeah, so am I. But it was what was on TV, and what else is a kid to do? Read a book? Go outside? Eat some vegetables? Pff!
posted by Soulfather at 2:13 PM on April 29, 2007


Go outside?
It's full of vegetables out there!
posted by Dizzy at 2:57 PM on April 29, 2007


How could Lou Schleimer proudly put his signature on all those awful programs? They're the sorts of things where I would have expected people to fight to have their names replaced by pseudonyms.
posted by grouse at 3:05 PM on April 29, 2007


Oh, and Metafilter definitely needs a power-rock intro song. C'mon mefi-musicers.

Yeah, like this overdub-ular version of the Transformers theme song (from the 1986 movie)
posted by good in a vacuum at 3:11 PM on April 29, 2007


He-Man is to Thundarr as Go-Bots are to Transformers.
posted by damn dirty ape at 3:24 PM on April 29, 2007


The '80s had to have been the single worst decade for cartoons since they were invented.

It's hard not to feel nostalgia, even for things that suck, but it is possible. Then again, if I'd been ten years younger, I might have grown up with these, and the siren call would be harder to resist.

I blame shitty 1980's cartoons for the decline of popular culture into the cesspool of ironic posing, omnipornography and kitsch-worship today.

I'm only half-joking. When even as a kid you know that they're feeding you pure shit, your best defense mechanism is to grow irony-armor.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 5:08 PM on April 29, 2007 [1 favorite]


I don't know about the 80s being the "worse era for cartoons" - have any of you watched kids cartoons these days? Epilepsy-inducing, faux-anime, nonsensical - almost completely lacking in actual animation, just sort of freeze-frames with some character with glowing light flashing out of his fist or around his head. I can't give you any names, because they all sort of form a continuous blur.

I think my faves from the 80s have got to be some of the more humerous affairs; Duckman and Bananaman.
posted by Jimbob at 5:38 PM on April 29, 2007


Not Duckman...I mean Count Duckula.

Although Duckman was cool, too, but clearly of a different era and intended audience.
posted by Jimbob at 5:40 PM on April 29, 2007


Gilligan's Planet? WTF, 80's?
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 7:15 PM on April 29, 2007


I like how the TMNT intro tries vainly to give them all "personalities" when they look exactly the goddamn same.

You know, they made She-Ra exactly the same as He-Man...except...she drew her sword and had "fabulous secrets revealed" while he had "fabulous secret powers revealed." Gyp!

Fabulous secrets of hair care, maybe, or of how to leap and ride a horse in a miniskirt without flashing her lady parts. But still, total gyp.

And where is the alterna-girlverse version? Strawberry Shortcake, My Little Pony, Rainbow Brite, and the whole regrettable crew? Except for Jem, which was slightly less lame. Slightly.

It used to make me so exasperated that boys got dumb robots (with occasional pink, mysteriously be-breasted* girlbots) while girls got fashion dolls with relationship problems (with occasional completely unnecessary male escorts)

*why do robots need mammary glands?
posted by emjaybee at 7:27 PM on April 29, 2007


Epilepsy-inducing, faux-anime, nonsensical - almost completely lacking in actual animation

Like that one with the french fry box and drinkie-cup and some sort of meatball blob. Ye godz.
posted by five fresh fish at 7:39 PM on April 29, 2007


The 80s had one redeeming feature, cartoonwise: "Alf" and "Alf Tales". Not the prime time sitcom, which was at best tolerable, but the amazing saturday morning cartoon, which slipped under everyone's critical radar. YouTube has only the intro to Alf Tales, as far as I can tell. It doesn't begin to tell you what it was really like.
posted by George_Spiggott at 7:41 PM on April 29, 2007


A couple of pseudo-Freudian thoughts.

The psychosexual/homoerotic implications of He-Man's swords-and-nudity routine has been frequently noted. But what of the gemstone at the hilt of leggy ol' She-Ra's sword? And why does He-Man get to shout about "power" whereas virginal She-Ra has to talk about "honor?"

And why do the good guys live in a castle that looks just like the bad guy's face, emerging from Skeletor's jaw-bridge mouth like badly written dialogue?

Did the people who created these shows ponder these important matters?
posted by HeroZero at 7:56 PM on April 29, 2007


Maybe, some of these shows had an on-staff psychologist. I remember the ending credits of thundercats listing a psychologist and thinking WTF? The cynical part of me assumes that these people were paid to make sure the series would translate into toy sales, but the pragmatic part of me thinks this had something to do with making sure the stories were age appropriate thus cutting off any overly-concerned parents groups at the pass. Mummra was still pretty damn scary regardless.
posted by damn dirty ape at 9:12 PM on April 29, 2007


Then, as I do in pretty much every conversation, I brought up He-Man.

“Yeah,” Mark said, “I liked that show for a while. Until I realized that He-Man was the bad guy.”


Also, on a completely unrelated note, Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles? What, was the awesome power of terrapin ninjitsu too, uh, awesomely powerful for the British child mind to comprehend?
posted by arto at 9:14 PM on April 29, 2007


Upon TMNT's first arrival in the United Kingdom, the Republic of Ireland and Germany, the name was changed to "Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles" (or TMHT, for short), since local censorship policies deemed the word ninja to have excessively violent connotations for a children's program.
posted by Jimbob at 9:26 PM on April 29, 2007


Pretty bad. I was never into the "action" toons, preferring the old standby Bugs Bunny Road Runner Show. But the 80s even managed to screw that up.
posted by evilcolonel at 10:20 PM on April 29, 2007


I am so Jonesin for a band to cover these songs especially the rescue rangers theme
posted by Rubbstone at 11:45 PM on April 29, 2007


He-Man? Gay? Not in the fanfic I've read, which includes his crush on She-Ra for comic effect.

As for writing, The Real Ghostbusters had some writing talent behind it: JMS wrote quite a bit, & John Shirley did one episode.
posted by Pronoiac at 11:54 PM on April 29, 2007


HeroZero wrote "The psychosexual/homoerotic implications of He-Man's swords-and-nudity routine has been frequently noted. But what of the gemstone at the hilt of leggy ol' She-Ra's sword? And why does He-Man get to shout about "power" whereas virginal She-Ra has to talk about "honor?"...Did the people who created these shows ponder these important matters?"

Dunno about pondering them from a psych standpoint, but yeah, they did think about them. There was, and I think still is, a law that allows "educational" shows to get tax breaks, which is why so many shows either have a really honking obvious "moral", or, like GI Joe, had a segment at the end where they'd toss in a "moral". When Sailor Moon was first imported to the US they added a segment called "Sailor Says" to cash in on that.

Similarly, there was, and I think this has been eleminated someone tell me if I'm wrong, a rather insane maze of legal requirements for children's programming. That is what resulted in She-Ra talking about honor instead of power and so forth, as well as the interesting fact that He-Man and other *male* characters got to do combat quips, but She-Ra didn't.

It's also why all of the adventure type cartoons always had such pathetic cardboard characterization and one character who was "the leader". It was required, by law, that all characters have clearly defined jobs and one be the clear leader. This tended to result in the scriptwriters assigning a single personality trait to each character (note the TMNT opening song tells you exactly who does what, kind of extreme, but there ya' go).

I think the laws requiring character jobs and forbidding female injury or combat quips died out towards the end of the '80s. Now the bad characterization in cartoons is purely the result of writer incompetence and/or lazyness. But at least female characters can kick ass (and get their asses kicked), while spouting combat quips.
posted by sotonohito at 3:51 AM on April 30, 2007


There was (and is) a requirement that broadcasters to show several hours of eduational/informational programming a week. I believe that some of the ridiculous "moral" epilogues were ostensibly to fulfill that requirement rather than to get a tax break.

It was required, by law, that all characters have clearly defined jobs and one be the clear leader.

Right. Let's see this "law."
posted by grouse at 4:25 AM on April 30, 2007


grouse I thought they got tax breaks if they provided X hours of programming, not that they were required to do so. My mistake.

As for law, I meant "FCC regulation", not an actual law passed by Congress. I figured that for a broadcaster that'd close enough to law for our purposes.

I've been digging, but I can't find the reference for the "clearly defined jobs and leader" bit, sorry. I read it pre-net and remembered it, but not where I read it. I'll admit that I could be in error, but I don't think I am. If I do find my source I'll post it here.
posted by sotonohito at 11:11 AM on April 30, 2007


Go Bots sucked ass.
posted by BaxterG4 at 7:16 PM on April 30, 2007


It was great to see all the old cartoons I watched after school!
posted by bytheowner at 7:57 AM on May 22, 2007


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