I am a huge cartoon fan, so I talk and rave about a lot of them, but not every one of them deserves its article or even to be on a top ten list. There are a lot of good ones that are left off or have been forgotten because they were not instant cult classics. I love Batman The Animated Series more than the next guy, but who will stand up and talk about all of the other cartoons it squashed on the way to the top? With that in mind, let’s talk about some of the underrated cartoons from the 90s, and allow me to gush about the red headed step children.
Any true connoisseur of bad films has seen the Attack of the Killer Tomatoes and its sequel that this cartoon is inspired by. The plot of the animated version actually continues the plot from the films, and goes on to show what happens when Dr. Putrid T. Gangreen actually succeeds in taking over the world, and is eventually overthrown by his army of tomato constructs. The show not only had an ongoing plot, numerous inside jokes, and references that occasionally broke the fourth wall, but was also one of Fox’s first animated children’s shows. The wonderful piece of trivia for this show is that it was actually a segment in The Muppet Babies that featured scenes from the first film, which inspired the creation of the second movie and this cartoon. I will watch most anything that is Muppet approved.
Based off of one of my favorite game series, I love and hate the Double Dragon cartoon. I hate it because the series spawned the worst game in the franchise, Double Dragon V: The Shadow Falls, Tradewest’s awkward attempt at a fighting game. What the series did well however was give brothers Billy Lee and Jimmy Lee more character and background than just their girlfriend being punched and thrown over the bad guy’s shoulder. The show also managed to come across as violent and depressing in some parts, while remaining kid friendly, building up Shadow Master as a violent and ruthless villain with things like his shadow mural that absorbed defeated warriors. Not only were the storylines decent, but the writers created several interesting original characters for the IP.
Saturday nights on the USA Network were made awesome by a private dick, which happened to be a duck, voiced by Jason Alexander. Duckman was a series with characters based off of comics from Everett Peck that had a long solid run, but ended on one of the biggest cliffhanger episodes, that a sequel was never planned for. The show was quirky, sexual, and had a strange and morbid sense of humor that matched its art style and Frank Zappa music. Overall it was memorable. The show was doing so well at one point that a rare and hard to find PC game was made for the duck detective, but little has been done with the franchise since then, but here is to hoping for more Duckman one day.
On the fantasy world of Mer, Ren and his crew fight against the evil Bloth as they struggle to find the thirteen treasures of Rule, so that they can save their planet from the encroaching dark water. Pirates of Dark Water offered up a great expansive world, memorable characters that bicker expertly, and some top notch voice acting. It sadly never had a proper ending and is hard to get a hold of on DVD. The legacy lived on for a while though, with the franchise seeing two video games, a role playing game book, and a nine issue series from Marvel Comics. This is one cartoon I would love to see more done with, and for more people to see.
Some people want to knock Mighty Max for being a vehicle to promote the British toy line, and sure it involves a magical baseball cap, but Mighty Max is more than it appears to be. After the initial setup of the prophecy and meeting Virgil and Norman, the series seems pretty normal at first, other than its strong themes of violence, fate, and death that had some viewers saying that the show was almost not kid friendly. Many smaller characters are killed off, Max has to make several very adult decisions, and the last episode is ripe with time paradoxes after his two companions are slain by Skullmaster. I actually love that the series is ‘technically’ an infinite loop. To celebrate that, I have watched it multiple times!
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