Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Old School Lane's Nickelodeon Tribute: Acquired Animated Programs from the 1980's

Back in the 80's, Nickelodeon acquired many animated programs from different networks and different countries. At this point, they were barely suspending themselves on the network. They were the worst network on television. But still, being the only network exclusively for kids made them stay on the air for the duration of that time. Nonetheless, they tried their hardest to persavere despite their odds. Due to time restraint, I'm going to give you a quick synospis of all the animated programs that aired on Nickelodeon exclusively! So let's get started!

Bananaman (1984)

BananaMan Introduction Shot.JPG

This BBC cartoon based on the comic book of the same name, Bananaman is about a nerdy kid named Eric Wimp who was rocketed to Earth as a baby. He gained his superpowers due to the cresent moon being the shape of a banana. Whenever trouble is afoot, Eric eats a banana and turns into Bananaman. He fights against evildoers such as Doctor Gloom and the Weatherman, King Zorg of the Nerks, and Appleman.

Bananaman was created by Steve Bright. He created to be an homage to DC Silver Age comic books. Bananaman is truly an homage to Superman in which he's an alien baby transferred into Earth and his main weakness being moldy bananas. The villians in Bananaman are homages to DC villians as well. Doctor Gloom is an homage to Marvel villain Doctor Doom and Appleman is an homage to a Superman villain named Bizarro. The show ran for 3 years ending its run in 1986. Overall, it gained a huge cult following in the U.K., but American children didn't really understand the oddness of Bananaman. I think it's a pretty quirky show. I love the subtle way they're trying to parody classic DC comic book characters. However, there are some moments when it's a bit too weird and quirky. But if you look past it, it's a pretty cheesy, goofy, and fun show.

Think of like like a precursor to the classic 90's cartoon The Tick.

Bananaman was overshadowed by another cartoon that ran alongside it. A show that has been dubbed a classic among old school Nickelodeon fans. That show is...

Danger Mouse (June 4, 1984)


This British cartoon was the first to air on American TV since Simon in the Land of Chalk Drawings and Paddington Bear back in the 70's. If you want to know more info about those two shows, check back on my review on Pinwheel. Danger Mouse was about a mouse secret agent who takes down evil masterminds alongside his sidekick Ernest Penford. Similar to Bananaman, Danger Mouse was an homage to secret agents such as James Bond and John Drake from the British espionage TV series Danger Man.

Similar to James Bond and John Drake, Danger Mouse had many evil villians. Some include Baron Silas Greenback and his henchmen Stiletto Mafiosa and Leatherhead, Doctor Augustus P. Krumhold III, J.J. Quark, his robot Grovel, and El Loco.

But the most well known villian of Danger Mouse was Count Duckula, a vampire duck who wishes to have his own TV show. Whenever he tries to entertain his audience, he ends up scaring them. Instead of sucking blood from his victims, he instead drinks ketchup making him the first vegetarian vampire. Ha! Take that Edward Cullen! Eventually he would get his own spinoff show called Count Duckula. That show was also a huge hit on Nickelodeon that you should really check out.

Overall, Danger Mouse is still a fantastic cartoon. It's funny, action packed, and a great parody of espionage shows and movies that were showing at the time. Still to this day, Danger Mouse is still very popular in the U.K. There are many brands of merchandise and DVD releases of the show. If you want to see a classic old school Nickelodeon cartoon, check this one out sometime.

Belle and Sebastian (July 1st, 1984)

No, no! I'm just kidding!

There we go!

This Japanese anime was based on the French book series by the same name written by Cecile Aubry. The story was about a boy named Sebastian who is constantly teased by the other boys due to not having a mother. Then one day he finds a Great Pyrennees Mountain Dog whom he names Belle who was accused of vicious crimes. Together they travel around the Pyrennees to locate his long lost mother. However, the police is trying to locate Sebastian and Belle and they avoid getting caught to continue on with their journey. The show lasted for 52 episodes. Not really much to say about it except that it was pretty cute and stuck close to the original book series. Americans weren't too crazy about anime just yet until the undeniable success of Sailor Moon, Akira, and Dragonball Z years later. Overall, it's a really nice anime. 

The Adventures of the Little Prince (June 1, 1985)

This anime based on the French book by Antoine de Saint-Exupary. It follows the main protagonist The Little Prince alongside his friends Swifty The Space Bird and the Rose Girl. Similar to the book, The Little Prince travels to Earth from his own planet discussing about life and human nature. The show ran for 4 years ending its run on December 29, 1989. Overall, if you love the classic French novel, you'll like this anime. But expect it to be a little bit more cutesy than its original source material.

The Mysterious Cities of Gold (June 30, 1986)

The Mysterious Cities of Gold.jpg

This Japanese-French anime takes place in the year 1532. A Spanish orphan boy named Estaban is traveling with a navigator named Mendoza and his associates named Sancho and Pedro, an Incan girl named Zia, and the last descendant of the Hiva clan named Tao. They are searching for one of the Lost Cities of Gold to gain riches while Estaban is searching for his missing father. The anime was a mixture of Southern American history, science fiction, and archeology. The characters encouter the Inca, Mayan, and Olmec civilizations throughout the entire show. For anyone who has a love for history of these lost civilizations and old legends of El Dorado, then this show is for you. It's a very fascinating show filled with history, action, and adventure. Out of all the acquired cartoons from Nickelodeon, this is one of my all time favorites. It's a real underrated cartoon filled with action, great characters, humor, and history. The one thing that weighs it down is the voice acting. It's a bit awkward at times, especially with the kids. But this was anime dub in the 80's. It wasn't at its prime like it is today, so it deserves a pass. That aside, check it out!

Spartakus and the Sun Beneath The Sea (October 4, 1986)

This French animated show was about a lost city named Arkadia at is currently in trouble surviving due to a dying sun called the Tehra. A group of Arkadians sealed away their past in the city's Archives to keep the citizens safe. One Arkadian named Arkana found the Archives and sees that live on the rest of the Earth is still sustaining. She meets up with two human children named Matt and Rebecca and brings them with her to help save Arkadia.

Overall, this show was okay. The premise was a really cool one, but it's a bit underwhelming at times and the pace is a tad bit slow. But it starts picking up around the later seasons. Not much to say, but it's okay! Nothing great, but nothing terrible either. I still recommend checking it out, though. Although not to the same degree as Danger Mouse or The Mysterious Cities of Gold. 

The World of David the Gnome (1987)

The World of David the Gnome was a Spanish animated series based on the book by the same name written by Wil Hyugen. The show involved a gnome named David and his wife Lisa living their simple lives in the forest with their fox Swift. With their powers, they're able to restore the forest due to the damage of humans or the evil trolls. In each episode, they would give a lesson about taking care of the environment and that nobody is better by being bigger.

The show had 26 episodes in total. Overall, this was one of the shows that I used to watch when I was younger and looking back at it makes me have happy memories. This show, while a bit preachy at times, is still a really good show for kids. The ending is one of the saddest endings I've ever seeing in a kids' show. It has a really good message at the end, but man, I actually teared up. Check it out sometime.

That's all for now. Tune in next time as we discuss Nickelodeon's high and low points. Find out how a group of people, an now iconic logo, and a new cable program for adults changed it from being the worst network for kids to the best.

Hope to see you around Old School Lane real soon. Take care.


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