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Archive for the ‘TV – Cartoons’ Category

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The Family Ness

Posted by Big Boo on February 25th, 2011

The Family NessThe Family Ness was a cartoon first broadcast by the BBC in 1984, which was all about the Loch Ness Monster, or more correctly I should say Loch Ness Monsters, since the cartoon proposed that there were a whole family of Nessies living within probably the most famous Loch in Scotland.

The show was created by Peter Maddocks, who was also responsible for Jimbo and the Jet Set. Maddocks used the name of the Loch as a joke when naming the various members of the Nessie clan, by calling them names such as Ferocious Ness, Clever Ness, Grumpy Ness and two of my personal favourites, Her High Ness and Eyewit Ness (who wore an eye patch like a pirates). One must wonder though how the clan grew so big, given that there only appeared to be a couple of female Nessies (Her High Ness and Lovely Ness).

The cartoon was not just about the monsters though. Angus and Elspeth MacTout are a brother and sister who have befriended the Nessies, and are able to make them appear when they blow on their Thistle Whistles. It’s a useful friendship, as Angus and Elspeth help keep the Nessies safe when they happen to be spotted, and in return the Nessies help out the two children when they get into scrapes.

Mr. MacTout, Angus and Elspeth’s father, happens to be the keeper of the Loch (although he seems to spend most of his time playing the bagpipes), which explains how the children get to spend so much time with the Nessies. Like most of the adults in the cartoon, he is a complete non-believer in the existence of the Loch Ness Monster.

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Cockleshell Bay

Posted by Big Boo on January 14th, 2011

Cockleshell BayThink of the much missed animation studio Cosgrove Hall and you’ll probably think first of DangerMouse or Count Duckula. They were certainly responsible for a lot of the more fondly remembered, madcap and typically British animation series from my childhood, yet they also had a softer side for the younger child.

Cockleshell Bay was one such example of Cosgrove Hall bringing a more sedate and calm experience. The show was made using the stop frame animation technique, and was about the adventures of Robin and Rosie Cockle, two young twins who lived in a little seaside guest house called The Bucket and Spade, which was run by their parents.

Robin and Rosie lived an idyllic life, and I was even a little envious of them as I would have loved to have lived by the seaside when I was their age. Unlike a lot of today’s children’s entertainment, they spent their time doing normal things, like walking along the beach, playing hide and seek or just chatting with their friendly neighbours, until it was time for tea, which if I remember correctly was how the series brought most of their adventures to an end, by being called in for their evening meal.

The Bucket and Spade was owned by their parents Christopher and Helen, who had moved to the coast to escape the more madcap pace of town life. They were more than ably assisted by Gran Routy, who wasn’t actually Robin and Rosie’s grandmother, but became a sort of surrogate granny to the children.

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Space Sentinels

Posted by Big Boo on October 6th, 2010

Space SentinelsSpace Sentinels was a science fiction/superhero cartoon produced by Filmation in 1977, but would have been shown many times by the Beeb during the Eighties as part of their seeming rotation of back catalogue cartoons.

Despite having most of the ingredients of a decent cartoon (three diverse superheroes borrowed from Roman mythology (well, two were anyway), a big holographic head looking after them and a comedy robot named MO) there was just some vital spark missing and it failed to become hugely popular. I think possibly that spark was the fact that it all seemed perhaps a bit wooden and the way the heroes were dressed just didn’t look all that cool. Plus, it lacked a cool theme tune…

The back story starts with alien abduction! Three teenagers from Earth are taken away and given super powers by Sentinel 1, a big holographic head from another planet. They are then returned to Earth to keep order and make sure that us normal Earthlings are kept safe, operating from a spaceship base at the bottom of a volcano crater.

The three youths were Hercules (incredibly strong but perhaps a little dim), Mercury (able to travel at the speed of light) and Astrea (can transform Manimal style into any living creature). These characters were actually quite ground breaking really for the time, as it gave us three racially diverse characters happily working together as a team. Hercules was Vaucasian, whilst Astrea had African roots (and was female to boot!) and Mercury was Asian.

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Super Mario Bros Super Show

Posted by Big Boo on September 17th, 2010

Super Mario Bros Super ShowWith the Super Mario videogames proving so popular, it was inevitable that Mario would sooner or later receive his own animated TV show, and sure enough in 1989 it happened. In actual fact he had more than one show, but the one I remember most was the Super Mario Bros Super Show.

As I recall it was shown in the UK at the end of TV-am at the weekends (though I might be wrong about that) and it was kind of unusual for a cartoon show because it also featured a couple of live action sections at the beginning and the end.

The cartoon itself was pretty much what you would expect, with Mario and Luigi having to rescue Peach from Bowser in many episodes, all set for the most part in a version of the Mushroom Kingdom not dissimilar to that from the games.

The live action section is what I remember most about the show though, if only because it was cheesier than a 12 pound chunk of cheddar. It featured Mario and Luigi running their plumbing business in Brooklyn, and was basically a bunch of corny sketches which normally bore little in the way of links to the cartoon segment.

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Stocking Fillers - Suppliers to Father Christmas
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King Rollo

Posted by Big Boo on August 9th, 2010

King RolloKing Rollo was an animation created by David McKee, who was also creator of the much loved (by me, anyway) Mr. Benn.

The series was about the titular King Rollo, who though he appeared quite grown up (he even had a beard!) he was actually quite child like in nature, playing with toys and, to be frank, being told what to do by his cook and his magician. So it was he spent most of his time learning about the world, ably assisted by his cat Hamlet, who also appeared to be more grown up and worldly wise than his master.

When King Rollo got bored playing by himself he had his next door neighbour Queen Gwen (two castles next door to each other, what a street that must be to live in!) to play with and also fellow King Frank.

The characters in the cartoon did not speak. Instead it was down to narrator Ray Brooks (who also narrated Mr. Benn as it happens) to do all the talking. As I recall he did change the sound of his voice slightly when one of the characters was supposed to be saying something, but it was more a change of inflection rather than a put on accent or something.

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Inspector Gadget

Posted by Big Boo on July 2nd, 2010

Inspector GadgetAs good as the Inspector Gadget cartoon was, I could never quite work out exactly what Inspector Gadget himself was. Since he had a niece called Penny I always assumed he must be human, but given that he had extending arms and legs and flip top fingers he always appeared to be more robotic in nature. I guess then he must have been some kind of human-android hybrid, in which case having all those gadgets fused into his body must have been quite painful.

Also, assuming the police force stumped up to have this man turned into a crime fighting machine, you’d think they would have picked somebody a little less bumbling in nature, rather than the Inspector Clousea/Agent Smart hybrid they ended up with.

Gadget might have been accident prone, but he did have a huge array of useful gadgets, most of which he brought into service by saying “Go Go Gadget Arms” or “Go Go Gadget Egg Whisk”. You get the idea. Despite the clear instructions from the Inspector, quite often the wrong gadget would activate, thus adding to the accident count.

As well as the extending arms and legs, Gadget had multiple smaller gadgets stored in his fingers (including a laser and a communications device), a helicopter in his hat, an inflatable coat (activated by pulling a button) and many, many more. Gadget also had a suitably high tech car called the Gadgetmobile, which was also laden with useful features and could transform between police car and van modes, and even a boat on occasion.

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Around The World With Willy Fogg

Posted by Big Boo on May 26th, 2010

around the world with willy foggDuring the Eighties the BBC brought us a great number of cartoons which were in serial form, that is made up of 20 to 30 episodes which formed an epic full story, rather than most cartoons which are normally stand alone episodes.

The cartoon which started all this off was Dogtanian and The Three Muskehounds and it soon became a must see for many kids. It’s bouncy theme song welcomed you in but more importantly the story being told was interesting and captivating. The Beeb followed Dogtanian up each year with a new epic cartoon, and one of these was Around The World With Willy Fogg.

This series was created by Spanish studio BRB Internacional, who were also responsible for Dogtanian, with animation provided by the Japanese company Nippon Animation. Willy Fogg’s adventures were based on the famous Jules Verne novel Around the World in Eighty Days, in which Victorian gentleman Phileas Fogg and his man servant travel around the world in the said 80 days, in order to win a bet.

Now, I admit I haven’t read the novel, but I am told that, name changes aside, and the fact that Willy Fogg is a lion of course, the cartoon is actually remarkably close to the original story. Most of the problems and delays that Phileas Fogg encountered in the book are also encountered by Willy Fogg on his journey. The major addition to the story is the villainous wolf Transfer, who has been employed by Willy’s betting opposition to prevent Mr. Fogg from completing the journey.

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The Simpsons

Posted by Big Boo on March 22nd, 2010

the simpsons in the eightiesEr, you might be thinking? Firstly, why is he writing about The Simpsons, surely that’s a nineties thing at most? Secondly, has he been trying to draw his own pictures again?

Well, as it’s own show you would be kind of right about the 90s thing. The first episode actually aired December 17th 1989, so it only just squeezes in as a show of the eighties. However, as you are probably aware, the Simpson family first appeared as a series of short sketches on The Tracey Ullman show in 1987.

Strangely, Tracey Ullman was a British comedienne (remember her from the BBC’s Three of a Kind, with Lenny Henry and David Copperfield, and she even released a few records too) but she went to America and got her own show. When her US show was shown on the Beeb they cut out The Simpsons bits for some reason, so Sky went on to make the family it’s own when they got their own show.

But what about the picture? Well, this is what The Simpsons actually looked like on Tracey’s show. The story goes that creator Matt Groening was asked to provide characters for the shorts, so rather than use his existing Life In Hell characters he created a family based on his own family members, at least in name. His initial drawings were kind of rushed, and he expected the characters to be cleaned up a bit for the show by the animation team, but they used them verbatim (which is to be expected really).

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