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In which I discuss the merits of 80's cartoon intros - Chronarchy

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April 2nd, 2010


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05:24 am - In which I discuss the merits of 80's cartoon intros
A recent conversation via text message with a friend, who shall remain nameless because he wouldn't want to be implicated in something so awesome. He keeps a low profile:

Friend: Transformers.

Me: More than meets the eye.

F: Autobots wage their battle to destroy the evil forces of the Decepticons.

M: Transformers.

F: Robots in disguise.

M:Transformers

F: More than meets the eye.

M: Transformers.

It's astounding how well 80's cartoon themes work as text conversations. Heck, it's astounding how awesome the themes were in general. I mean, look at those chiseled chins!


What struck me as I was thinking about this at 3:30 AM today (as I couldn't sleep: I have a very nasty cold that's keeping me awake) is that so many of these 80's cartoons didn't actually have a pilot: even viewers who caught the very first episode received nearly all their back-story from the opening credits. Over the course of the show, origins would be revealed through flashbacks rather than through an episode that established the history or the characters.

He-Man is perhaps one of the quintessential shows that provided no pilot at all but just dropped the viewer into the midst of things, explaining Prince Adam's transformation in the credits alone. The old Dungeons & Dragons show is another (far more notorious) example of this: there, you get absolutely zero backstory except for the opening credits; even flashbacks that expanded on the credits were severely limited.

There are exceptions, of course: notably, Transformers had a two-part pilot that established most everything. After that, however, these cartoons consisted primarily of one-shot episodes that didn't contribute much (if anything) to the overall story.

More recent shows have reversed this trend: I've been watching cartoons since the early 80's (pretty much non-stop), and nearly all shows these days have a story-arc format rather than an episodic format like the early cartoons did. I'm not sure if this is better or worse, and I'm not entirely sure that the values of "better" and "worse" can really be applied to cartoons of the the 80's and this latter age with any real use. It's just something interesting in how they have changed.

And, if you couldn't get enough of the cartoon intros above, check out:


Includes He-Man and Thundercats, et al.

There are plenty more of these sorts of videos. Something like eight of them on YouTube alone.

In other news, FireFox needs an update to its dictionary: neither "Autobots" nor "Decepticons" are in the dictionary. That's just wrong.

Current Location: Southeast of Disorder
Current Mood: nostalgicnostalgic
Current Music: "Tryin' to Reason with Hurricane Season", - JB

(7 comments Leave a comment)

Comments:


[User Picture]
From:daemonnoire
Date:April 2nd, 2010 03:57 pm (UTC)
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It was interesting watching those and seeing how short some of them ran. And yet they had a major impact on our culture, just the same.
[User Picture]
From:chiska
Date:April 2nd, 2010 04:18 pm (UTC)
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My cartoon era was the 70s, so Transformers, He-Man, etc. are really more what my kid watched. However, the same could be said (impact on culture) of Scooby Doo, Josey & The Pussycats, Archie, Veronica, Betty, and Jughead...

Man, I do love my Scooby Doo. And the Banana Splits, Land of the Lost, Justice Friends, Wonder Woman. And The Pink Panther!!
[User Picture]
From:chiska
Date:April 2nd, 2010 04:13 pm (UTC)
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The other day on my drive into work I saw the following vanity plate (on a very nice car):

BATL CAT

Totally made my day.
[User Picture]
From:trip_tych
Date:April 2nd, 2010 06:56 pm (UTC)
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I loved me some 80s era Saturday morning cartoons.
However, now I kind of just see them as extended commercials for toys and merchandise.
[User Picture]
From:wishesofastar
Date:April 2nd, 2010 09:25 pm (UTC)

Mysterious Cities of Gold

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I bought one of my childhood favorites, The Mysterious Cities of Gold, on DVD a while back. Now *there* was an '80s cartoon that followed a solid story arc: each episode began with a recap of the previous one, and you really have to watch them in order to get the full story. Also, the episodes end with a cool little documentary. I need to (re)finish watching those.
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From:athenamsb
Date:April 2nd, 2010 09:38 pm (UTC)
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How does one express the awesomeness that is 80's cartoons? In montage??!!

You, sir, rock my socks. Thanks! :D

Oh, and I hope you feel better. Hugs to Maggie!
[User Picture]
From:verginiamus
Date:April 2nd, 2010 09:52 pm (UTC)
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My son keeps me upto date on the Transformers. All of the plots from the 80's, etc. And he is only 21 - but somehow the whole series stuck with him and he collects the toys.

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