“It turns out my parents didn’t raise me at all…”
I was born in 1986, and so (thanks to the BBC constantly repeating shows under ten years old) was brought up watching these cartoons. The other day I was babysitting my little cousin (aged four) and, whilst watching his television programs with him realised something. Cartoons today are not how they used to be. This struck me as unfair, I’m 16, I shouldn’t be old enough to get nostalgic and yet, as I stared at the antics of Mona the Vampire (“show us your fangs”) I found myself longing for the likes of Inspector Gadget, or The Bluffers.
Back in the 1980s there was an explosion of good children’s television. Perhaps it was the high unemployment that made creative people turn to animation, or made the animators cater for a larger adult audience that they knew might be sitting, unemployed, at home watching TV, but in the 1980s the cartoons were superb. Today cartoons are aimed squarely at a very young audience and are patronising to anyone else, when watching them you feel as if you are being talked down to. In the 80s it wasn’t like that. Cartoons were made by adults having fun, they would create simple storylines and loveable characters so that children could follow and enjoy them, but they were engrained with subtle humour and irony that could be enjoyed by adults.
In another node I describe The Dreamstone which I now realise was almost a transition point. Whilst good in a nostalgic way, the cartoon is becoming patronising and silly, but an 80s cartoon such as Count Duckula is enjoyable at any age. Young children like the silly characters, and might be amused by the idea of a vegetarian vampire, older viewers will enjoy a lot of the sarcasm and cynicism contained within the program, often voiced by Igor, the blank faced servant.
There was also in the 80s, it seems, pure imagination. What other decade could have spawned “Inspector Gadget” or “The Racoons.” Whilst the premise is ready to come up with, (“hey, let’s make a man who has a helicopter hat,” or, “how about a cartoon about Canadian Racoons.”), the ability to keep them sustained for year after year show true creative input. Adults could get sucked into the soap-opera-like story of the Racoons in the Evergreen Forrest , or laugh at the Inspector Clouseau like antics of Inspector Gadget, I have memories of my parents recording Duckula so they could watch it later.
In my opinion, the following were the ten best cartoons that the 80s produced.
10) Captain Planet and the Planetteers
8)Chip and Dale’s Rescue Rangers
7)Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (Actually I knew this as Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles due to some strange BBC rule)
6)The Poddington Peas
4)The Real Ghostbusters