Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Guest Post: The Best Animated TV Shows of the 70s

I'm proud to present, for the first time ever, a guest post on The Wonderful Wonderblog. See my comments at the bottom of this post.


Often referred to as the decade of disco, the 1970s were a phenomenal and memorable set of years still widely referenced in today's culture. In addition to bell bottoms, platform shoes, Afro puffs, and white disco suits, the 70s are also renowned for their classic entertainment. Animated television was one form of this entertainment. Before 3D, high def, and blue ray, there was pure, old-fashioned animated TV that brought the quality entertainment its viewers so desired. Join us on a trip down memory lane as we revisit ten of the best animated television shows to air during the 70s!

1. Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids: (First aired 1972, ran until 1985) "Hey hey hey! It's Faaatttt Albert!" This was the beloved expression of the characters on Fat Albert--an animated series that was created, produced, and at times voiced by comedian Bill Cosby. The show was based on remembrances of Cosby's childhood gang and focused on the lovable and oversized character Albert. Often featuring an educational lesson and a rock song performed by the characters, Cosby's upbeat kids had an impact on children across America, regardless of race. In 2004, the animated series was released as a film adaptation, but of course nothing tops the original.

2. Schoolhouse Rock!: (First aired 1973, ran until 1999) Remember how in grade school your teacher would turn certain lessons into a song to help you remember it better? Well that's exactly how the widely popular show Schoolhouse Rock! got its start. The show began after David Mcall noticed that his son was having trouble remembering his multiplication tables but knew the lyrics to several rock songs. Each episode was an animated musical and educational short film that covered topics such as grammar, science, economics, and math. Schoolhouse Rock! was short but sweet and adorned by kids and parents everywhere. It'll definitely go down as one of the classics. Rock on dudes!

3. Scooby-Doo, Where Are You!: (First aired 1969, ran until 1972) Who can forget America's favorite Scooby-snack loving, easily frightened, affectionate Great Dane dog and his four fun-loving mystery-solving pals? Scooby-Doo, Where Are You! was the first incarnation of the long-running Saturday morning cartoon Scooby-Doo. Each episode involved Scooby and his four teenage pals, affectionately called "the gang," solving a super-natural mystery. Scooby and Shaggy were the somewhat clumsy, "fraidy cats" of the group, while Daphne was the damsel in distress, and Fred and Velma were usually the brains of the operation. These five personalities were combined to create a show that, despite its antiquity, is still being embraced today.

4. Josie and the Pussy Cats: (First aired 1970, ran until 1972) Before Hannah Montana and the Cheetah Girls, there was Josie and the Pussy Cats--an animated series that featured an all-girl pop music band that toured the world getting swept up by delectable adventures along the way. The show became famous for its music and the girls' leopard-print leotards complete with tails and ears. The original show only ran for 16 episodes before it was transformed into the amusing spin-off Josie and the Pussy Cats in Outer Space. Even after its final airing, the spunk and charisma of Josie and her team continued to influence animated series for years to come. Hooray for girl power!

5. Star Trek: The Animated Series: (First aired 1973, ran until 1974) Geeks, hold on to your seats as we take a brief journey into what some might call the biggest asset known to geek-kind. After Star Trek: The Original Series but before Star Trek: The Next Generation, there was Star Trek: The Animated Series, sometimes referred to as The Animated Adventures of Gene Roddenberry's Star Trek. Star Trek: The Animated Series was an animated science fiction television series set in the titular Star Trek Universe following the original series of the 1960s. The animated episodes were largely modeled after the original show, with a bit more flexibility in introducing new characters and technologies. (Because let's face it--it's easier to draw a Klingon-speaking, non-humanoid alien than it is to actually build one.) The series went on to receive critical acclaim and a Daytime Emmy Award.

6. Jabberjaw: (First aired 1976, ran until 1978) As part of the overall shark mania of the 1970s and shortly after the then-recent film Jaws, Hanna-Barbara Inc. released Jabberjaw--a Saturday morning animated series about a 15-foot talking great white shark. Jabberjaw was the drummer for a rock group made up of four teenagers who all lived in an underwater civilization in the year 2076. As Jabberjaw and his rock band buddies traveled to different underwater cities, they would encounter and attempt to conquer diabolic villains with plans to take over the undersea world. The format and writing for Jabberjaw was similar to that for Scooby-Doo and Josie and Pussycats, but for a time when people were scared out their minds of sharks, you've got to admit it was pretty cool to create one that was heroic and loveable.

7. Super Friends: (First aired 1973, ran until 1986) The Super Friends were an animated group of superhero comrades. The show was based on the Justice League of America--a fictional superhero team that appeared in then-recent comic books. During its 13 year span, the show existed under several different titles, all involving some combination including the words 'super' and "friends.' Plotlines for the show focused on the often far-fetched schemes of mad scientists and aliens, who were eventually revealed to be well-intentioned but pursuing their goals through unlawful means. Typically, each episode would end with the Super Friends convincing the antagonsits to adopt more reasonable methods. The Super Friends and the Justice League of America were merely the animated embodiment of the "justice for all" atmosphere that cloaked the nation at that time.

8. Captain Caveman and the Teen Angels: (First aired 1977, ran until 1980) This series can be accurately described as a cartoon take off of Charlie's Angels. After being set free by the Teen Angels from a block of glacier ice, Captain Caveman emerged as the world's first superhero. Along with the three Teen Angels, the Captain solves crimes with his super strength and an endless assortment of gadgets that he keeps hidden in his caveman fur. Even after the Captain's own superhero days had ceased, he continued to make appearances in other shows and was featured in The Flintstone Comedy Show, the Flintstone Kids, Robot Chicken, and a few others. Who says our Stone Age brethren can't make it in the modern day?

9. The Funky Phantom: (First aired 1971, ran until 1972) The 70s were all about getting down at the disco and keeping it fresh, so it only makes sense that the Phantom had to be funky too. Attempting to find shelter from a rain storm, three teens take refuge in an abandoned house. While there, they discover the ghost of an old coward who had hidden in his clock from British soldiers during the Revolutionary War. Not to worry, however, because this ghost was far from frightening and soon became the gang's favorite "Funky Phantom!"

10. Groovie Goolies: (First aired 1970, ran until 1972) Groovie Goolies was an animated spinoff of Sabrina The Teenage Witch (the original comic book series, not the one with Melissa Joan Hart). Keeping with their name and the atmosphere of the time, the Groovie Goolies were indeed quite groovy. The show actually produced a hit song for Richard Mondo called "Chick a Boom." The Goolies themselves were a group of hip monsters who sang a pop song during each episode. What you might not have guessed from their name, however, is that the Goolies were drawn to be funny and not scary.

Brittany Johnson is a writer for Guide to Online Schools.


A great big thank you to Brittany Johnson for the guest post. Well, What do you think? I think this is a pretty good list. It would be tough for me to choose just 10. My list would definately include Fat Albert, Schoolhouse Rock, Super Friends and Groovie Goolies. I also really like Hong Kong Phooey, Grape Ape, Tarzan and the Super 7, Battle of the Planets and The Godzilla Power Hour. What are your favorite 70s 'toons?


DLR said...

One thing that should be mentioned is that the content of 70's animated kids show was highly bowdlerized by parental overreaction to those incredibly cool (but allegedly violent and nightmare-inducing) cartoons of the 60's like Space Ghost, the Herculoids, Spider-Man, even Milton the Monster (!). Hence the lessons of Cosby, the fake-ghosts of Scooby Doo (some of which still thankfully managed to be scary) and worst of all the non-villains of Super Friends (and eventually Bat-Mite). Nevertheless I agree with the list. Good shows, all of them (though I preferred Mr. Jaws, the shark character shoe-horned into the Pink Panther show to Jabberjaw).

The Artful Gypsy aka Wendy the Very Good Witch said...

Aw...these bring back lots of good memories of sitting my lazy butt on the couch as a kid and watching cartoons on Saturday morning. And don't forget Hong Kong Phooey and Grape Ape! There was something fun about not being able to access the cartoons the rest of the week. Unlike today's kids who can watch them 24/7! Great post!

Chris Thorndycroft said...

Great post. The 70's really was the age of cartoons that stood the test of time. Although I'm too young to really remember most of this stuff when it first began, a lot of it continued to be shown throughout the 80's and well into the 90's (and beyond). Will the same be said of cartoons today? Methinks not...

Gary R. Peterson said...

This was a well-done, thought-provoking post and I appreciated Brittany's commentaries on each cartoon series. I would add that GROOVY GHOULIES mosty closely resembles LAUGH IN, then an iconic show and a prerunner to SNL. Wendy already mentioned HONG KONG PHOOEY, one of my favorites that I would add to the list. I would certainly add THE NEW ADVENTURES OF BATMAN from 1977 which featured Adam West and Burt Ward (and, yes, Bat-Mite, who I actually enjoyed!). STAR BLAZERS merits a mention, as I credit that and BATTLE OF THE PLANETS for really sparking the "Japanimation" craze of the 1980s. Here's hoping Brittany will return with her list of Best Live Action Shows of the 1970s (for kids). I'm on a crusade to turn people on to the great Filmation live-action shows of that era, especially GHOST BUSTERS, but also ARK II, SPACE ACADEMY and JASON OF STAR COMMAND. --Gary in Omaha

Anonymous said...

My cousin recommended this blog and she was totally right keep up the fantastic work!


Unknown said...

I remember watching Captain Caveman when I was a baby! It would come on Boomerang.