The Threeway: Top 3 Nostalgic Cartoons

Because ten items is too damn much first thing in the morning.

Have I mentioned how much I love nostalgia? The myopic lens through which decades-old toy commercials become paragons of storytelling and artistic excellence? It’s like really good drugs; but legal; and time-consuming; and you have to develop wrinkles, gray hairs, and then you find yourself on your lawn at 8 in the morning, your nose slathered in sunscreen, tutting at how the dollar weed is really just destroying your front yard this year…if only those damn punk kids would just stop their dog from crapping all over…


Like I said. Nostalgia is awesome.

3. “Spider-man and His Amazing Friends” might mark a very important pinnacle in my adolescent development. I’ll leave it up to you to decide which one.

Actually, let me Google that for you…

…yeaaaaah, don’t Google Firestar. It’s just a horrible mish-mash of Rule 34 and adult-oriented cosplayers (and with that I’ve lost my entire audience to the whims of Google Image search).

Let’s move on

2. “Dungeons and Dragons” was utterly forgettable. Indeed, it would have fallen deep, deep into the fog of war that is my middle-aged memory if it wasn’t for one, iconic sequence. At the beginning of every episode, the heroes are transported from the modern day to the middle of a fight with a seething, five-headed dragon (Tiamat, for all you D&D nerds at home). I was into fantasy in a big way at the time (and working through the Lord of the Rings trilogy) and thought I’d seen everything. But a five-headed dragon? That was something new. Never mind that the show itself was utterly forgettable (except for my hate of Uni the Unicorn, that still burns bright); I would wait till 11:30 every Saturday just to see this opening sequence. For me, there was more action in that 45 seconds of video than in an entire morning of cartoons.

1. “Transformers” was something that I outgrew quickly. Once my brother and I had collected most of the first season of toys, we turned to “G.I. Joe” and proceeded to beat ourselves silly with those (I will admit it was considerably more difficult, given the lack of die-cast parts). The storylines are non-existent and the art is beyond horrible (and that’s even before they started farming out the animation to overseas studios). But maybe it was the hazy memories of those afternoon sessions, fighting over who got to be Sunstreaker (it was me), and who got to be Astrotrain, and who got to throw Optimus Prime the farthest…when I found myself at a professional roadblock (Roadblock: member of the Wreckers. Also the first toy that I ever broke on Christmas morning. Also the supposed reason I started collecting Transformers toys) post-college, I found myself obsessed again with Transformers and the mythology that had developed around the cartoon of my youth. Indeed, in the past ten years I’ve forgotten more about Transformers than most people would ever want to know in the first place. Watching the old G1 cartoons now with my son is cringe-inducing. But for every ridiculous plotline, every non-sensical directive from Prime or Megatron, there’s a moment where a robot dinosaur trashes everything on screen like it was papier mache and I can’t help but grin, 12 years old again.

That’s nostalgia.


4 thoughts on “The Threeway: Top 3 Nostalgic Cartoons

  1. I just found out what rule 34 meant earlier this year. That’s how out of touch I am. No pun intended.

    I think Spidey & His Amazing Friends has held up well over time. My kids watch it and love it. Even my youngest daughter who is more into Princess than Superhero. I’m working on that.

    • I, too am working through princess-deprogramming. Firestar is very helpful in that respect.

      One thing I really appreciate about Spider-Man AHAF is that there’s a complete lack of world-building. There’s no protracted seven-episode arc as we exhaustively learn about each superhero as they discover their powers and the motivations of all the villains. No, we just dive right in to Norman Osborne BASE jumping out of a plane on his way back from the insane asylum. And Spider-man’s arachnid-enhanced capacity for snark helps sell it as well.

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