Tuesday, May 18, 2010

All, all are gone, the old familiar faces

Inexplicable is the fact that they cancelled this show. I was checking Cartoon Network's lineup of shows today and was deeply saddened at what they're showing kids these days. What did the children do to deserve this? "Courage, the cowardly dog" is still on, for some reason; so are "Ed, Edd n Eddy" AND "Sheep in the big city." I hated those stupid shows with all my heart, even as a kid. I am, however, glad that they have a couple of Batman shows and Iron Man and the X-Men (which is more Wolverine-centric, sadly. I mean, there's only so much you can do with an all-Adamantium body. Jean Grey looks better in the movies); I'm also glad they got rid of Tiny TV (they have, haven't they? Didn't find it in the listings). I tried watching it a couple of years ago and couldn't get through more than an episode of it. Bob the builder has nothing going for him except that theme song which Obama plagiarised. And don't get me started on Oswald the octopus and that asshole Noddy.

Cartoon Network, till about the early '00s, had great shows. The mid-'90s were especially great, with Jonny Quest, Swat Kats (second coolest theme music after Jonny Quest), the old Scooby Doo and Super Adventures. I liked Jonny quest especially because I thought, when the Matrix came out, that the movie had copied the cartoon (I didn't know then that both had been inspired by William Gibson novels).

Which brings me to the earlier gripe. Why did they cancel both these wonderful shows -- Jonny Quest and Swat Kats? Apparently, critics compared the new Jonny Quest 'unfavourably' to the original '60s show. I think this is just a case of critics hanging on to their childhood memories and imagining them as something more wonderful than they really were (something I might be doing with this post myself). I watched the '60s episodes of Jonny Quest too. The newer ones seem way better. For one, the music is much better. Also, the introduction of Questworld somehow enriched the show, adding that (pardon the long-windedness) post-modern funk to it. Although the combat scenes in the Questworld seem bad by today's standards, for a kid in the '90s, they were the epitome of cool. Who wouldn't want to escape into a psychic world and do battle there? And it was a good idea to switch focus from Dr. Quest and Race to the kids. It didn't make sense to me that the '60s show was called Jonny Quest but was more focussed on the titular hero's father and the father's friend. The updated version grew the kids up a bit, making them the right age (around 16. Hey, if you can believe the pre-teens of Enid Blyton can thwart evil kidnappers & smugglers and Harry Potter can defeat the greatest Dark Wizard of all time, then 16 year-olds can comfortably defeat an evil genius like Jeremiah Surd) so that they could participate in the adventures too, instead of just getting caught up in messes and waiting to be rescued by the adults.

My favourite episode from The Real Adventures of Jonny Quest is this one:-

Expedition to Khumbu

Something about the opening credits still gets me all excited. Look how cool it is, the canyon of green Matrix lines with the 1984-like video panels here and there. Sweet. And that episode -- if you're any fan of twist endings, you'll love this one.

The Swat Kats -- now, there was a cool show. It had every qualification to be cool. Good guys do the right thing but are dismissed for it. Then, by dint of their own ingenuity and hard work, they become, for lack of a better word, superheroes. They build a superplane from junk in a scrapyard, for God's sake! They live in a secret underground lair, something traditionally done by supervillains. And they had such cool enemies too. Dark Kat, the Pastmaster, Dr. Viper, the Red Lynx (a Red Baron parody. Loved this episode - Part 1  Part 2  Part 3). And they managed to sneak in a bit of innuendo too. T-Bone says, when Commander Feral's daughter spurns him yet another time, "You are one stubborn she-kat!"

Astonishingly good theme music. It's still cool, managing to age really well. Which is the same case with the Real Adventures of Jonny Quest theme song too. Both these themes were composed over a decade and a half ago and they still sound good. Which is more than you can say for other cartoons. The '60s Jonny Quest theme sounds so dated (probably because it is).

As to why "The Swat Kats" was cancelled...it's not quite clear. But "the show's violence, its inability to move merchandise and a general growing disinterest have been cited as reasons," apparently. Stupid bastards, cancelling a great show just because some idiotic kids wouldn't buy a toy. And what violence? It's no more violent than Tom and Jerry. And kids are more likely to copy, if they're that stupid, the actions in Tom and Jerry and Scooby Doo than the Swat Kats. Because it's next to impossible to build a plane from scrap parts when you're ten. In all, they made just 26 episodes of this phenomenon. It's quite the Firefly of the cartoon world. I still have hope that some day, someone sensible will make a movie of it. Look what Jon Favreau did with Iron Man (and not Iron Man2. Although it was a good ride, it simply wasn't as cool as Iron Man. And Rajiv Masand said it right, Robert Downey Jr. is the only superhero who is more fun outside his super suit than in it).

In summation, Cartoon Network, stop being dicks. Bring back the Swat Kats. Bring back The Real Adventures of Jonny Quest. Be blessed.

Unrelated P.S:- I watched this Tamil movie called "Tamizh PaDam" (lit: Tamil movie). If you've watched Tamil movies of the last two-three decades, you'll enjoy this spoof.


N said...

yeah man.. I just loved Swat Kats.. true... gone are those good old days

wanderlust said...

oh my god, you feel exactly like i do about swat kats and jonny quest. i too love the theme music of both, i love the opening credits, and though i detested questworld when the new adventures first came out, i went on a jonny quest revisit last year and ended up loving the new episodes better than the old one.
oh well, the world moves on.

Arjun Sharma said...

[N] Yup, amazing shows.

[wanderlust] Really? Glad I could find a kindred spirit. Yeah, the newer ones are way ahead of the old ones. In terms of content, art style and music. I detested how artificial the characters' movements looked when they went hand-to-hand in Questworld but got used to that in a while.

Sadly, yes, the world turns a blind eye to a good show and moves on.

The Wabbster said...

The Centurions. Still my fav. Swat Kats was next.

Johnny Quest was a little racist, but yeah, the theme music rocks!

Arjun Sharma said...

Yeah, The Centurions were great. Although Max was a bit of a wanker. Crystal was good, though. Just like April in TMNT and Callie in the Swat Kats.

Jonny Quest stereotyped, yes, but wasn't too racist, I thought.

NyTyne said...

Swat Kats .. Razor and T-Bone..
loved the series mate.. remember the times , used to run back home after the end of day at school to catch up teh 3.30 or 4.00 pm show.