It’s the fifth episode of the seven-part miniseries IT CAME FROM SYNDICATION! This time around, I continue my look at syndicated television from the 1980s and 1990s with a look at cartoons. Join me and Amanda (for her final appearance on the miniseries) for a look back at our childhoods and classics like He-Man, G.I. Joe, TMNT, Voltron, Jem, My Little Pony, Thundercats, and many more!
In the mid-1980s, one of the seminal anime series to ever cross over to American television was watched by children across the country. Combining mecha with a love story and an intergalactic war, Robotech was a sweeping saga that makes it one of the most memorable series of the decade. For this episode, I sit down with Donovan Morgan Grant (The Batman Universe, The Next Dimension, Questions No Answers) to talk about The Macross Saga, and then I come back and take a brief look at the Masters and New Generation sagas.
I think there is a point in everyone’s life where rock music intersects with girls. Every one I know, including me, has a CD or concert stub that can be explained using the phrase “Well, there was this girl …” Usually said intersection occurs during adolescence. Mine happened at the age of seven.
Now, I’m not one of those people who has had important popular music included in every last moment of his life. I don’t have early childhood memories of my mother playing Led Zeppelin and there’s no story about me listening to John Lennon when I was a zygote. In fact, my nursery school playlists were more likely to includesongs like “Who Are the People in Your Neighborhood?” and “C is for Cookie,” and my very first exposure to popular music was through Alvin and the Chipmunks.
Released in 1982, Chipmunk Rock is a collection of late 1970s and early 1980s hits as well as a few classics, such as “Leader of the Pack,” with a cover featuring Alvin taking his place among the presidents of Mount Rushmore (a nod to Deep Purple’s In Rock album) and the jacket opened up to show the group in situations that reflected the song titles. My personal favorite of all of the tracks on the LP was the Pat Benatar hit “Heartbreaker.” There’s something about a chipmunk shredding a guitar solo that pumps the adrenaline of a second grader. Combine that with Rick Springfield’s “Jessie’s Girl” and Kim Carnes’ “Bette Davis Eyes” and I, as well as any kid my age back then, was ready to strap on a guitar, throw on a headband, and freaking wail.
My son turns three today and while I actually did buy him a real birthday present (a NY Mets shirt–gotta start him early!), I wanted to write an entry about something in pop culture that he likes. Now, three-year-olds are not exactly discerning consumers. He’ll sit and stare at the most random crap for at least ten minutes before he gets distracted by one of his toys. However, since last Christmas, he definitely has had a love of Thomas and Friends, the British-produced, PBS-aired television show where model trains get into all sorts of adventures. He has several of the motorized train toys and a mile or two of tracks which I can configure several hundred ways. He’s also got several DVDs, most of which are collections of various episodes from the series.
One of his favorite DVDs, Calling All Engines, is a “full-length” episode of the show, meaning that it’s an entire hour as opposed to several stories in the span of 30-60 minutes. The story is pretty simple–of course, it has to be considering it’s geared toward preschoolers–a new airport is going to be build on the Island or Sodor (where every episode takes place and which has weather patterns so varied that it must take up half of the Western Hemisphere) and Sir Topham Hatt wants all of his engines to aid in construction. The steam engines get to work but them run afoul of the deisel engines. They all fight, get reprimanded after nothing gets done, but then pull together at the end.