Wednesday, October 20, 2010

A Trip Down Memory Lane: Checking on some old favorites to see if they withstood the test of time.

Now to interrupt your regular programming of ranting and general dragon-lady yelling, with something a little different. As awesome as it feels to get some Legit Issues off my chest every week, sometimes, you just gotta slow it down, sit back, and examine something a little less serious.

You may recall that I dedicated a large portion of my time to the absolute unbridled horror and confusion that today's children's entertainment sparks in the hearts of people my age.  When I was young, nothing I watched really had any educational value. Did it impact me negatively? Well, my spelling and grammar skills are on par if not above and beyond that of the average person, I'm certainly well-read and well-spoken, and I can string together a decently-worded and (mostly) error-free sentence with ease. Therefore, I conclude that the terrible movies and cartoons that essentially babysat me in my youth haven't impacted my development negatively. Sure, there were plenty of "moral" lessons in the form of a gigantic purple* Dinosaur who liked to sing**, and I'm sure Full House had some sort of... wholesome... something.

*First of all, that is NOT purple. Barney is magenta, plain and simple. Today actually happens to be Day of Purple, to raise awareness of the recent string of gay suicides, and I am wearing 4 different shades of the colour, none of which are even close to the weird, pinky-reddish thing that is Barney.
** On another Barney note, the other day a middle-aged customer was discussing Barney with me, and how he always really, really unsettled her, and how she didn't like her now-13-year-old son watching it, because in her opinion, Barney is just a Big "Purple" Child Molester, and who the hell sings about loving kids he barely knows!? She brought up many valid points, I must say.

Lack of any educational value aside, were the shows we watched growing up actually any good? I'd love to pretend like came out of the womb with a deep appreciation for Scorcese films and Meryl Streep's acting, but it'd be a filthy fucking lie. I watched Power Rangers. Religiously. And this weird, muppet-laden show that was only on at 5AM called Kingdom Adventures. Sometimes, I'll go back and watch something I enjoyed as a tyke, like Good Burger, and, though stupid - still find it uproariously funny.

So, with the help of YouTube and Retro Junk, I'm going to put some of the old favorites to a modern-day test, and see if they really were as awesome as we, as 5-10-year-olds thought, or if our tiny brains just didn't know "epic".


What has withstood the test of time?

First of all, I should mention a few shows and movies that, upon viewing after the age of 18, are still insanely awesome. They definitely "passed" this test, without coming out too dated:

The Proven Winners

1] Beetlejuice: The Animated Series: This plays on Teletoon and TeletoonRetro every October, and I freakin' LOVED it as a child. I caught it the last couple of years, and it's still fantastic.

2] Labyrinth: Labyrinth is actually considerably better now that I'm older, as it's no longer terrifying.

*Side note: This movie has absolutely nothing to do with Guillermo Del Toro's 2006 epic Pan's Labyrinth, a misconception that plauged me when I worked at the movie theatre, and continues to haunt me now at the video store. THEY HAVE NOTHING TO DO WITH EACH OTHER, PEOPLE. By this "logic", Little Women and What Women Want must obviously by in the same series... A word in common does not a connection make, folks.

3] Dinosaurs: NOT THE MAMA! I have recently re-watched the whole series on DVD. Great stuff.

4] The Magic School Bus: This negates my previous statement that I didn't want anything educational. I can honestly say I learned more from The Magic School Bus than I ever did in actual school. It quite literally made learning fun, and I still enjoy it every time I catch it on TV.

(Sorry for the horrendous quality of the video, all the good ones had embedding disabled)
5] Saved By The Bell: This may not be a fair show to ahve on the list, as it wasn't exactly a kids' show, but the fact it ran 1989-1993 makes it OLD AS SHIT, therefore, it qualifies. However, it was hilarious, and it still is hilarious. If anyone wants to hook me up with the seasons for Christmas, I won't argue! None of that College Years crap, however.

So, I then had to do some research on a few shows and movies that I haven't seen in at least a decade...

"According to my research..."

First up off the docket: Full House.
Reason for choosing: So, once upon a time, I used to have to choose between watching this, or Power Rangers. My bedtime was directly after either one, and they were on at the same time. In the days when DVRs didn't exist, and we couldn't tape it since we only had one TV, this was an Epic Crisis for 5-year-old Brittani. 9 times out of 10, it would result in my watching the first 5-10 minutes of Power Rangers, as well as whatever I could catch during commercial break of Full House. I must've loved Full House. My friend Daniel and I were discussing it a few months back, and we both agreed, "Full House is great!" And then we thought about it... and thought some more... and realized neither of us had seen so much as one episode since childhood. Which lead us both to wonder, was it actually any good?
Research: A YouTube clip. This one:

Initial Impression: I had to watch a separate video of the theme song, and it brought back memories, so that was good. Baby Olsen twins: cute. John Stamos: Gorgeous, but he looks even better now, on Glee. General tone of show, light-hearted, not OVERLY preachy. Exploitation of children for laughs: Present. I could keep watching this, sure.
Final grade: Er, overall, dislike. First of all - Stephanie is So. Annoying. This clip alone is enough to put me in the "May my first child be a masculine child" mindset. No little girls for me, thanks. I chuckled, mildly, a few times, but didn't get any real laughs. I realize it was only a 7-minute clip, but if it's a good cross-section of the show, sufficeth to say I would choose Power Rangers instead, nowadays. Also, knowing what the Olsen twins and Jodie Sweetin turned in to, knowing that Dave Coulier is the subject of Alanis Morrisette's "You Oughta Know" and thinking about Bob Saget's hilarious telling of the Aristocrats (please don't click that link if you're under 18, or around someone young or old, or at work - trust me), taints the whole thing for me.

I'll give it a C.

Next up, we have: Shining Time Station
Reasoning: I have vivid memories of watching this at my great aunt's house, while drawing. She always gave me crayons and markers and craft supplies, she loves to draw and wanted to instill that love in me, too. She succeeded; I'm 21-years-old and you will find markers and pencil crayons, and various paper all over my apartment. I remember spending a lot of time drawing while this show played in the background, so it holds a special spot in my heart. In the last few years, I've discovered that Mr. Conductor was played, at different times by both Ringo Starr and George Carlin - which is epic. So I decided to give it another whirl.

Research: Again, I thank YouTube.

Initial Impression: Although this is an older one and the theme song got better over the years, I was still captured right away by it, but for different reasons than in my childhood. That's Frenchie! From Grease! And look at Ringo! So I'm excited, right off the bat.
Overall impression: It's actually kind of boring, but not that bad. The parts with Thomas the Tank Engine (who still exists for kids, though this show doesn't) are actually the worst parts, in my opinion. This was a really early episode, possibly the first, and not the greatest example, but I think I could still watch it. I really want to find the episode where the kids got hooked on TV and order cheap toys, that's what I remember most vividly. Since it manages to strike such a chord with me, I'll give the overall show the benefit of the doubt that it's better than what I've watched today, though definitely a bit dated.

Bonus video: This used to give me such a great feeling as a kid, and watching it again, I got chills. Such a nice song! I still know all the words.

I think I'd like to watch more, so I'll give this one a B.

Random, the first time mom ever had me give out Valentines - I lived at my Old House, so I couldn't have been older than 3 - they were Thomas the Tank Engine.

The third experiment for today: Rupert the Bear
Reasoning: I think this show was like the original Harry Potter for me; my memories of this are filled with lots of creatures, and magics, and super-cool lands and adventures. It always made me want to draw! And later write short stories, when I was a little older. Imagination is a terrible thing to waste.

Research: This YouTube clip, as well as the ones that follow it (parts 2 and 3)

First Impression: They... were British? Really? How the hell did I miss that!? Why is this so sloooooow? I used to love the crap out of this, why is it failing me?
Overall: Sometimes first impressions are wrong. The show has such an epic whimsy to it. I would definitely watch this over and over. This show has actually aged best of the others I had a look at so far. And I actually love that they're British, it adds to the Harry Potter feel of the whole thing.

Final grade for this one is definitely B+.

4th on my list is: The Real Ghostbusters
Reasoning: I was apparently totally batshit in love with this show. I was going through this phase that lasted a couple of years where, come hell or high water - I was going to be a boy. I had these awful, black spandex "bicycle shorts" with a neon-green stripe running down the sides. I thought when I wore these, I was a boy. I would go around without a shirt on "like daddy", despite my mother's protests. If I wanted to be a boy, no one was going to stop me! So, I loved The Power Rangers, The Ninja Turtles, and the Ghostbusters with all my heart. Apparently, my first-ever crush was on the animated character of Egan.


First impression: DUN NA NA NA NA NA, DUNNA DUNNA DA, GHOST-BUSTERS! Followed swiftly by, "Omg, dear animation, why are you so awful?" It was the early-to-mid 80s, so I'll let it slide.
Overall reaction: Well, this episode was about Chtulhu. That's epic in its own right. I guess it was a semi-smart show, they made direct reference to Lovecraft, so I was impressed with that. However, when all was said and done, the poor quality animation and sound and voice acting proved to be too much for me. Dear Ghostbusters, it breaks my heart, but you did not age well.

So I'm giving this one (sadly) a D.

Lastly, we'll try out: Captain Planet
Reason being: This is actually available on a cable channel I don't get anymore, but I have recent memory of it. Not watching it, just seeing it listed.

Research: Via YouTube once again,

First impression: Ooo, shiny. Epic 80s/90s hairstyles, always awesome theme song, MAGIC RINGS?! I'm in for a wild ride! *Also, serious LOLz at "From the Soviet Union!" That, my friends is what we call a very "dated" little factoid. Last time I checked, it's been "Russia" for most of my lifetime. I'm kind of confused as why the USSR chick gets a specific country... well, "union", and everyone else is only labelled as their continent. Shouldn't she be "from Europe!" or is it Asia? Eurasia? Russia's fuckin' huge.
Overall: That bad guy? Horrifying. My thoughts on him were basically, "sdkjfskbgdasdj!!! FEAR".  The dialogue was painful. Why isn't Australia represented? And along that vein, couldn't they have had like, a talking penguin for Antarctica? Now that's something I could get behind. Whoopi Goldberg is the voice of Gaia, so that's awesome. This show wasn't supposed to be funny, but when Whoopi says, "It's worse than I thought! Earth is dying! The time has come... for the rings," I laughed so hard water I was drinking came out my nose. The kids are such obviously played-out stereotypes, that it's almost offensive. I think the "North American" might be mildly retarded, judging by how he speaks, and why do all of them speak English?
Also, although "Heart" would technically be the best power (And Gaia says it's "the greatest power of all") but really? It's not a power. It's not an element.

Now, I am not on board with the "going green" obsession; and tree huggers make me gag a little. So I'm going to rate this one a P, for Preachy. Oy vey.


That's wraps it up, for now. This is a topic that I could likely revisit often, and I might do so once a month. What are some shows you'd like me to test-drive?

And just so the links don't show up with no thumbnail, have some Full House.


  1. Speak of the devil! I watched Kingdom Adventures the other day. Also, I played the shit out of the Magic School Bus computer games. (In fact, I think I might find them again now that I think of it.) I think I was sheltered as a child because I have never watched Labyrinth before, but always wanted to. Thanks for sharing the nostalgia:)

  2. Those games were actually the best computer games I've ever played. I remember the one about the solar system, where you had to jump over obstacles on each planet, and how high you could jump was directly related to what kind of gravity the planet had... it was so awesome!! I wonder if you can get them vista-compatible!

  3. I know Captain Planet was preachy but cmon! Brittani, it's so terrible that it's amazing. Especially the Spanish kid with the heart power. Ok, so, yeah... maybe it really wasn't super.
    On another note, Full House is back in syndication and it's not the same after watching The Aristocrats and The Roast of Bob Saget. Disturbing.

  4. I never saw the roast, but I don't think I could ever watch the show in its entirety after the Aristocrats... like, that clip was painful enough for me ahahaha


* Anything intentionally antagonistic or misspelled to the point it would cause an educated person pain to look at will be deleted.