Saturday, 12 January 2019

The Saturday List #203 - The Magnificent Seven of TV Cartoons

I was born in 1962, I grew up with black and white TV, in 1970 we were lucky enough to get a coulour Telly, in time for the World Cup. My Dad was friends with Derek Tyne, who ran Mill Hill Television, a shop in the Broadway. They were good friends, with a love of cars, aeroplanes and gadgets. Derek was a successful businessman and had his own private plane at Elstree, a Rolls Royce and his company not only sold but built TV's. In return for resprays etc, we'd return home to find the latest gadget (such as Betamax video's, teasmades etc). The best of these though was the Colour Telly. As a seven year old, this was not only great for the football. The thing I loved most was watching cartoons in colour. I was thinking about this and it occurred to me that there was a magnificent seven of TV cartoon series that I absolutely loved.

1. Tom and Jerry.
The absolute best.  My sister in law once informed me she disliked it intensely because it was "anti cat propoganda". I rather like moggies, but Thomas is not a great advert for wiles of moggies. But there is a subplot that they actually like each other and even save each other and work together on occasions, such as when the baby escapes. The other thing that should be mentioned is the high quality of the animation. The expressions on Tom & Jerries faces are pure genius.

2. Yogi Bear.

I loved Yogi bear, sadly it was rarely shown. Yogi was never content with his lot. He was living in what in many ways was an idylic setting but it drove him mad. He saw Tourists hampers as fair pickings and was always up to trouble. I felt a deep sense of empathy with him.

3. Top Cat.

Wheras Tom wasn't the best advert for the intelligence of moggies, Top cat was the poster boy for feline intelligence. All of the humans were portrayed as rather dim, not least Officer Dibble who's job seems to be to keep Top Cat in his place. I particlarly liked the depictions of when Top cat's heart was stolen by glamourous female moggies. It is a good warning of how even the smartest of us can turn into fools in the face of romance. I think I learned more about life watching Top Cat cartoons than I ever learned at school. 

4. The Flintstones.

When I was a kid, I thought that Fred Flintstone was the man I wanted to be when I grew up. His life was pretty much how I wanted to live. He was lazy, he had a family, animals and a job with dinosaurs. He had a best mate and would drink and bowl. He isn't particularly smart, far thicker than he thinks he is. Just like me. In many ways Wilma reminds me of the love of my life!

5. The Jackson 5ive.

This was the cartoon that shaped my life. Like the Jacksons, I come from a big family (There are six of us). Like the Jacksons, when I was small, I used to share a room with my brothers. This video was the closest thing to real family life ever shown on TV. Like the Jacksons, my elder brothers were amazing musicians. Unlike Michael, I sing like a hog. I used to dream that we'd put a band together, and I could be the front man. Unlike my brothers, I'm a natural show off. I also loved the images of a broken down American landscape, as the boys bus drove from city to city. 

6. The Harlem Globetrotters.

I used to love Basketball as a result of this series. Eventually I nagged and nagged my Dad and we went to see The Harlem Globetrotters on a tour at the Wembley Arena. That was when I realised that watching Basketball is incredibly dull. Like many things, it is far better as a cartoon. It made me realise tha Football really is the only team sport that is worth getting the beers and curry in to watch. I don't really understand why, but I had a great empathy with the black community, a love of Reggae, Motown and Soul. I think that the Jackson 5ive and The Harlem Globetrotters have a lot to do with this as the music in the series was always amazing and the dudes were cool. Something I've always aspired to, if not always succeeding.

7. Scooby Doo.

I finish with Scooby-Doo as this is really where my childhood love of cartoons ended. I remember the huge excitement of my friend, who lived up the road, Dale Malone, telling me that there was a new cartoon series on the TV. I made my way, excitedly up to number 65 and we sat enthralled as the action unfolded. For a few months, I loved Scooby Doo, but the more I watched, the less I actually enjoyed it. Wheras Tom and Jerry stories were all action and slapstick, the Scooby Doo tales all had plots. Once I realised they were all the same, there was never a ghost and the whole thing was ridiculously implausable, I stopped watching it.

Over the years, there have been all manner of cartoon series designed for cynical adults that I've enjoyed, perhaps the best is The Simpsons. When the children were small, we'd watch some of the newer offerings on CBBC. I always struggled because I just don't think they were a patch on the list above. Maybe it is just the rose tinted spectacles of my own past, but I think that in terms of production quality and sheer enjoyment, Tom and Jerry is simply in a class of its own.

There is a full list of all animated 1940's &50's, 1960's and 1970's  on Wikipedia. It is well worth a peek! What are your fave cartoons?

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