News that Animaniacs may be getting the reboot treatment sent a thrill through the big kid in us. It also got us thinking about other old children's TV animations that still stand up to this day. Here are 30 childhood favourites we should all still cherish.
Aired: 1993-1998 Here’s how multi-talented Stephen Spielberg is: while he was shooting Schindler’s List he spent his evenings finishing up the effects shots in Jurassic Park and proofing episodes of zany cartoon Animaniacs. Produced in the spirit of Chuck Jones and Ted Avery, this sketch show of perfectly-formed animation gags still stands up to repeat viewing. The film references are plentiful – an episode riffing on 2001: A Space Odyssey is particularly inspired, while the “Goodfeathers” are clearly riffing on gangster movies – and the dumb humour is surprisingly smart. The three Warner siblings who form the show’s backbone – Yakko, Wacko and Dot – are as cute as they are funny, even when they’re educating us, and we still can’t believe they got that fingerprints joke past the censors.
Stargate for the under-12s, Mr. Benn sees its titular banker disappear through a magical fancy dress shop and into a range of adventures, usually returning before the mysterious fez-wearing shopkeeper hits him with late fees. It was all the handiwork of an unassuming Devonshire illustrator called David McKee – and, frankly, big high-fives to him. McKee later created King Rollo, a benevolent monarch who looked a bit like Paul Giamatti in Ironclad, but Benn is the one we really love. Of course, the animation looks a little creaky now and it’s not so easy to get behind a banker these days, but as kids, this was escapism of the purest kind, kindling the imagination with magic, pirates, knights and a dragon or two.
Aired: 1965-1966 Gerry Anderson’s fanbase is huge and global, with his devotees fanatical to the point of obsessive and most of that passion is for this, his most famous ‘supermarionation’. In it, the Tracys, essentially a whole family of Tony Starks, fight to prevent terrorist atrocities by supervillains with large eyebrows. Since it first aired, there’s been a live-action movie, a Busted song, a hilarious Pete and Dud piss-take called Superthunderstingcar, a stage show and Team America: World Police to continue its legacy. And thanks to 2015's telly remake, Thunderbirds Are Go, a whole new generation was able to discover International Rescue. F... A... B!
Aired: 1981-1992 Sure, he’s the greatest. Okay, he’s fantastic. Granted, wherever there’s danger he’ll be there – we’ll give you that. Ultimately, though, Danger Mouse is still a small, smug rodent who interferes with the mail – and if we wanted that we’d just take a look in our office out-tray. The one we’re really here for is Penfold: Jesse to his Walt, a hapless but loveable sidekick who, we’d like to think, was using his quailing, bespectacled persona to run British intelligence without anyone noticing. For a decade the pair filled our teatimes with their struggles against Baron Greenback and his oddball array of villains in a Bond pastiche that David Jason narrated with perma-cocked eyebrow.
Hong Kong Phooey
Aired: 1974 Unless you’ve got the word ‘Venerable’ before your name, you probably missed Phooey first time around. The pooch’s first run was brief (only 16 episodes) and way back in 1974. As with many children’s animations, it was a parody of a movie trend of the time – in this case, Shaw Brothers martial arts flicks. This inspired Hanna-Barbera and Playboy cartoonist Marty Murphy to create a canine janitor who combined crime-fighting, ass-kicking and an uncanny ability to navigate filing cabinets into one amazing package. Like most things in the ‘70s, he seemed a bit stoned, but, hey, the whole “faster than the human eye” bit was never going to make good telly anyway. Phooey had movie pedigree of his own: the mighty Scatman Crothers voiced him in that bit of his career between singing ‘Everybody Wants To Be A Cat’ in The Aristocrats and being brutally axed to death in The Shining.
Aired: 1957-1966 (b/w); 1974-1975 (colour) Although Horatio Pugwash never seemed that good at piracy and his sense of direction was often a bit questionable, he did find the spot in our hearts marked ‘X’. Unlike his nemesis, Cut-Throat Jake, a true scourge of the high seas, Pugwash was more of a Brillo pad of whatever stretch of water he happened to be in at the time. Long before boozy Jack Sparrow turned piracy into step one of the 12-step programme, here was a brigand who proved that sobriety was no impediment – and we loved him for it. Along for the ride were pals Tom (not Roger) the Cabin Boy, pirates Willy and Barnabas, and Master Mate (not Bates). All that sexual innuendo may be an urban myth, but we’re still rating Pugwash "ARRRHH" for Tony Almeida-style facial hair.
The Magic Roundabout
Aired: 1961-1974 Basically Avatar for the Woodstock generation, this brilliantly weird melon-twister lives on for people of a certain age – not least Emma Thompson, whose dad, Eric, narrated it in English – and continues to define cult tea-time telly. It was originally a Frenchman, Serge Danot, who conjured Zebedee, Brian the serotonin-deficient snail, Ermintrude the cow, and Dylan the rabbit from his tête and introduced Florence (‘Margote’ in the French version), a young girl who joins in with stop-motion adventures that were every bit as magical as that roundabout. Later, a blue cat called Buxton and a CG studio movie would show up and endanger the hippy legacy, but even those worked out okay in the end – the former turned white and the latter got three stars from us.
Willo The Wisp
Aired: 1981 With its flutey theme tune, hammy Kenneth Williams voices, cockney caterpillar, angry Welsh dragon, extra-terrestrials travelling about in a space mushroom and a series of thinly-plotted but largely demented arboreal adventures, this cannot have been the simplest pitch meeting in TV history. That it got commissioned in the first place tells you everything you need to know about the BBC’s children TV department back in the early ’80s, when minds were broader and everyone was drinking the Kool-Aid. This show is so surreal we don’t have any idea what’s going on as fully sentient adults, let alone as six year-olds, which ultimately is why we adore it. Seriously, it’s a television show where the villain is a TELEVISION. What’s not to love?
Aired: 1973-1975 Everyone can list the Magnificent Seven, but how many Wombles can you name? We’ve got Uncle Bulgaria, Orinoco, Gamma Quadrant, Liam, Bunga-Bunga, Disco Steve and Tobermory, but got a bit stuck after that. No matter, there are two seasons and 60 episodes of their Wombly, rubbish-collecting ways to help us refresh our memories. Furrier than a bear burrito, Elisabeth Beresford’s creations sport a motto – “make good use of bad rubbish” – they’d probably picked up from Steve Seagal movie. Their adventures weren’t quite as high-octane as that (hold onto your hat for the episode where Bungo and Tomsk take the bins out), but, boy were they cuddly.
Battle Of The Planets
Aired: 1978-1985 Take five young superpowered folk with some seriously fly clobber, a HAL-like robot called 7-Zark-7, one of the coolest intros in kids’ telly history and a masked villain with an army of ninjas to call on, and, sorry mum, but those fish fingers were just going to have to wait. There was too much fun for just one teatime in this anime – 85 of the suckers just about covered it – as its Avengers-meets-X-Men premise handed its five G-Forcers cool kit (Galacti-cycles! Razor boomerangs! Flaming bird ship!), “cerebonic” abilities (that involved turning into some kind of acrobratic display team) and a worthy adversary to use them on. Sometimes they were underwater, sometimes they were in space. They were always awesome.
The Mysterious Cities of Gold
Aired: 1982-1983 Until someone commissions Pol Potties, this has to be the only children’s telly show set in the middle of a genocide. Admittedly, the show doesn’t major on the Spanish conquistadors and their atrocities – this wasn’t Aguirre Babies – instead following the far more wholesome adventures of a Spanish boy called Esteban as he embarks on a perilous voyage to the Americas. When he gets there, there’s a quest for those mysterious cities to undertake, a giant mechanical condor to hang out with, and gold, loads of gold ("mwahahaha!" etc.). We’re not sure what lessons all that bling imparted on us, but it may explain why we came to work in golden shoes today.
He-Man And The Masters Of The Universe
Denizen of Castle Greyskull, a drafty des-res in the up-and-coming part of Eternia, He-Man had a kind of Clark Kent/Superman thing going on. One minute he was Prince Adam, regal scion of King Randor and Queen Marlena; then with a bellow of "By the power of Grayskull!” - a spell we can confirm worked literally not once on the playground - he’d morph into a mighty warrior with a massive sword and a battle cat. Seriously, who has a battle cat? The dude had game. He had a touch of the Robert E. Howards about him, too. Skeletal foe? Semi-nudity? Sequel-baiting ending? Sexy female spin-off? Yep, he’s basically Conan with training wheels. He also had some pretty cool toys, and indirectly gave birth to a football chant. Altogether now: “SHEEEEEE-RA!”
Aired: 1985-1989 One of the most iconic cartoons of the ‘80s (you can tell because there’s a range of popular basketball shoes with these characters on) and certainly the biggest yet to be adapted for the big screen (though we'd pay real money to see this made), ThunderCats tells the unlikely story of the nobility of Thundera, who escape their dying planet pursued by mutant enemies. They find a new home on the Third Earth, but those mutants team up with the native Mumm-Ra The Ever-Living, and it’s up to young leader Lion-O and his magic sword to make the world safe. Honestly, looking back, the mythology barely makes a lick of sense and Snarf can snarf right off, but you still can’t resist joining in for that “Hooooooooo!”
Aired: 1997-2004 Capacious of muscle but skimpy of brain, Johnny Bravo is one of the great underrated characters of the ‘90s. A sort of Elvis by way of Looney Tunes, the hulking himbo with an ego the size of his pompadour spends all his time chasing women only to get rejected, ignored or – surprisingly often – beaten up. Somehow, women seem able to resist lines like, “Hey there Spanish señorita; sprechen zie love?” and are positively repelled by his tendency to strip to show his “studly bod”. Seth MacFarlane was one of the show’s early writers, but don’t let that put you off. Just for the episode where Johnny shows his caring side by taking a wealth of piñatas down to release them in the wilds of their native Mexico, this is very nearly essential.
Aired: 1959-1993 While they originated in Finland, there have been many Moomin series, made all over the world. There’s been animation from Japan, Finland, Sweden, West Germany, the Soviet Union, Holland, Austria, Germany and Poland. Clearly something about these fat-bellied little trolls strikes a chord with a large swathe of viewers around the world. The best-known one is probably the 1977-1982 felt-based animation, wherein the hippo-like creatures had heartwarming adventures, usually with a moral, that only occasionally got too scary for the younger kids. And the theme tune was catchy, just as a bonus. Let’s all get together and promise one another that we’ll never tell the guy from Troll Hunter where this lot live – deal?
Aired: 1981-1982 The handy thing about this science-fiction serial was that one could plausibly claim, when called upon to stop watching TV and do some homework instead, that it was literature. It was, after all, closely modelled on Homer’s Odyssey and therefore it’s a 3000 year-old classic – just with robots and blue-skinned aliens. Ulysses, in the 31st century, is a spacefarer who angers the gods by killing a cyclops in order to free the children that the monster had enslaved – including Ulysses’ own son Telemachus. His entire crew is frozen in retaliation, and Ulysses must sail the stars until he finds the Kingdom of Hades and can thaw them all out. With his magnificent hair, Ulysses could have barely been more '80s if he'd worn leggings and known all the words to ‘Like A Virgin’), but anyone paying attention could tell that tiny robot Nono was the real star here.
Batman: The Animated Series
Aired: 1992-1995 Debates about the best Batman rage wherever two or more fanboys are gathered together. The cinephile consensus overwhelmingly favours Chris Nolan and Christian Bale, of course, but the most common dissenting voice cites this “dark deco” animated series and its big-screen spin-off Mask Of The Phantasm, which took the Bat seriously enough to satisfy those cravings for darkness, danger and grit, but never forgot its comic-book origins. With four Emmys to its name and a host of great voice work – kudos to Mark Hamill’s Joker, in particular – this launched popular characters like Harley Quinn (then added to the comics) and kept the series’ popularity high even while it stuttered on the big screen with the disastrous Batman & Robin. Gorgeously designed, in a way that still defines the DC universe in animation, this is a must for any serious Bat-fan.
Pinky And The Brain
Aired: 1995-1998 The theme song puts it best: “One is a genius, the other’s insane. To prove their mousey worth, they’ll overthrow the Earth. They’re dinky, they’re Pinky and the Brain.” The phlegmatic, megalomaniac lab mouse and his manic, idiotic partner were born as the best single sketch in Animaniacs and soon proved sufficiently popular to merit their own show. The result was one of the great double acts and has a claim to be the most quotable cartoon of all time. “Pinky, are you pondering what I’m pondering?” wondered Brain, regularly. “I think so, Brain, but where are we going to find a duck and a hose at this hour?” was a typical Pinky reply. Like the Brain, it’s utter genius with a side helping of utterly stupid.
Jayce And The Wheeled Warriors
Aired: 1985 J. Michael Straczynski, later of Babylon 5 and Thor fame, worked on this show and, in his own words, tried to “hijack a dopey concept and make it into something more”. He’s right on both counts. The idea, which had the ‘Lightning League’ and their crazy saw-wheel vehicles fighting against plant-based ‘Monster Minds’ in their plant cars, is certainly dopey, but by giving the characters more of a back story and a purpose in life, it helped the series to stand up a little better. Now we know that Jayce, as well as driving a cool car, has to reunite with his father Audric to reassemble a magical root that can destroy the Monster Minds (in plant cars, for goodness' sake) and their leader, Saw Boss. All right, on reflection it’s batshit crazy, but somehow it’s stuck with us.
Aired: 1983-1986 Another Gerry Anderson joint, this time in collaboration with businessman Christopher Burr, Terrahawks is set in 2020 (only three years to go, you guys!) and had the titular group protecting Earth from invasion by aliens and androids led by a figure called Zelda. No, Link hasn’t gone crazy; this baddie is a crazy-haired alien originally created to be a bodyguard to the prince of Guk. Ranged against her are the Terrahawks, led by Lt. Hiro, who’s supported by a team who almost all have bird-related names (Kate Kestrel, Mary Falconer, Derek Pink-Tailed Bunting). We suspect dodgy hiring practices. The show’s then state-of-the-art computer graphics have dated less elegantly than its marionette characters, but it’s a lively space-centric addition to Captain Scarlet and Thunderbirds.
Aired: 1986 Max Ray. Jake Rockwell. Ace McCloud. The original three centurions were joined later by Rex Charger and John Thunder. They were all, as you might have guessed from those names, dripping in testosterone and about as subtle as a brick. The heroes wore “exo-frames” onto which could be bolted a variety of specialised tools and weapons beamed down from an orbiting space station by a lone and presumably long-suffering woman. That lucky girl, Crystal Kane, got to hang out with Jake’s dog and Lucy the orang-utan while the boys fought the terrifying cyborg Doc Terror and his sidekick Hacker (surely it’s only a matter of time before somebody resurrects that character and redesigns him to look like Assange or Snowden?). It’s all ridiculous and sexist even by the standards of the time, but the mech suits looked cool and the toys were awesome.
Bucky O'Hare And The Toad Wars
Aired: 1991 It’s heart-breaking that Bucky O’Hare’s TV outing lasted only 13 episodes. Fortunately – or unfortunately, depending on your view of earworms – the show lived on thanks to its startlingly catchy theme tune that squatted in the frontal lobes of fans for the next two decades. Based on the cult ‘70s comic by Larry Hama, the show stayed true to its joyfully bonkers source material, keeping Bucky a talking green space hare, his crew a mix of telepathic cats, human kiddly-winks, four-armed-and-one-eyed pirate ducks and robots who like to say “Calamity and woe!”. Bucky and his gang were part of Team S.P.A.C.E. – Sentient Protoplasm Against Colonial Encroachment – who stood against the evil militarism of the Toad Empire, headed up by haywire computer program KOMPLEX and its legions of warty amphibian goons. A few more details to wet your whistle: Bucky’s ship is called Righteous Indignation, a ‘Betelgeusian Berserker Baboon’ is a key character and you get to meet a talking dog called Commander Dogstar. You’re right, they don’t make ‘em like that any more.
Aired: 1994-1996 From Sunbow Entertainment, the animation studio that brought you Bucky O’Hare (just as good as you remember) and Visionaries: Knights Of The Magical Light (nowhere near as good as you remember), comes The Tick (even better than you remember). The first cartoon to prove superhero parodies could work on the small screen, creator Ben Edlund’s heroes were two preposterous ‘pajama policemen’: lunking blue meathead The Tick and his weak-but-willing sidekick Arthur. Although the show was generally just silly for silliness’s sake, there was some more direct Super-lampooning, as Batman became cowardly gadgeteer Die Fledermaus, while Captain America and Wonder Woman got a twofer with the show-throwing temptress American Maid. Funny, flippant and definitely not just for kids, The Flea was like a Saturday morning Kick-Ass, only more amusing and with less Nic Cage. The live action version starring Seinfeld’s Puddy, Patrick Warburton, which only lasted nine episodes but, happily, a new version starring Peter Serafinowicz starts this Summer.
Biker Mice From Mars
Aired: 1993-1996 "In this wild and woolly universe, there are three things you can count on: your brains, your bros and your bike!" So says Throttle, leader of the rodent roadhogs known as the Biker Mice From Mars, talking to his fellow biking brotagonists, Modo and Vinnie, in the very first episode of an early ‘90s show about mouse-men and the art of motorcycle maintenance. The last of their kind, the long-tailed trio leave their home planet after the evil fish aliens known as the Plutarks take all of Mars’s natural resources and set their sights on Earth. Aided by human companion (and garage mechanic) “Charley” Davidson, the three cyborg critters – did we mention they were cyborgs? Well, they’re cyborgs – tear up Chicago week after week, usually ending proceedings by blowing up big bad Lawrence Limburger’s office tower to the sound of a well-executed cheese pun. Combining nerd-friendly weaponry, talking animals and an environmental message, BMFM (as no-one called it) kicked Captain Planet’s posterior, and looked good doing it.
Aired: 1995-1996 Most kids' shows were kids shows first, then computer games, but Earthworm Jim was another beast entirely – and not just because it involved a talking earthworm inside a supersuit. Originally released on the Sega MegaDrive in 1994, the game spawned a sequel, a comic-book and this, a 23-episode animated adventure into the seriously surreal. Firmly planting its flag in the freaky-deaky soil of absurdist humour, Earthworm Jim was a fourth wall-breaking, Deadpool-ish cartoon that revelled in life’s minutiae. You were as likely to see bad guys like Psy-Crow, Queen Slug-For-A-Butt, Evil The Cat, Bob The Killer Goldfish and Professor Monkey-For-A-Head finishing off the ironing as plotting nefarious deeds. A word of warning before watching, mind – the theme tune contains the words “Earthworm Jim, he’s such a groovy guy” and once you hear them, they’ll haunt you forever.
Aired: 1985-1986 Taking the best bits of G.I. Joe (a team of military men) and Transformers (transforming super tech) and smushing them together into an acronym-filled hybrid, M.A.S.K. was let-the-show-sell-the-toys TV of the highest order. If they ever get around to putting Mobile Armored Strike Kommand and their enemy, Vicious Evil Network Of Mayhem, on the big screen, pray to all the gods you hold dear that the theme tune lyric “Masked crusaders... working over time! Fighting crime!” makes the cut, because there’s no ignoring that level of songwriting genius. As for its enduring appeal, that’s down to the powers the team’s masks gave them, such as anti-gravity and laser blasts, and the inherent cuteness of seeing a single father – the excellently named Matt Tracker – balancing saving the world with looking after his young adopted son.
X-Men: The Animated Series
Aired: 1992-1997 You can watch all 76 episodes of X-Men: The Animated Series on Marvel.com. If you haven’t already clicked that link and disappeared down the X-Hole, here are some reasons why the show was so much better than its rivals. As well as the built-in brilliance of the key team’s chosen characters – notably including your favourite card-throwing Cajun, Gambit – it dealt with issues everyone else would run a mile from: the Holocaust, AIDS, divorce, religion and, of course, racial prejudice. Then there were its interpretations of classic runs from the comics, notably Days Of Future Past, The Legacy Virus and The Dark Phoenix Saga, on top of cameos from Deadpool, Spider-Man, Punisher and many more. Sure, firework-firing ‘80s hangover Jubilee could be one of the most annoying superheroes ever created, but there’s more than enough bickering between Wolverine and Beast to make up for it.
Aired: 1975-1976 The mix of 2D and 3D animation would be enough to make rewatching the original 1970s Paddington shorts worthwhile, especially if the CG-not-DIY style of the recent movie didn't float your boat, but there’s so much more under the classic kids show’s proverbial hat. The gentle organ/piano/drum theme tune, the way Paddington’s snout wiggles up and down when he eats, the black and white papery backgrounds, the use of the phrase “Bears like..." or “Bears are good at...”, references to Paddington’s Aunt Lucy, narrator Michael Hordern’s gloriously posh voice… the list goes on and on. Essentially a bottomless suitcase of charm, sandwiches and red wellington boots, it’s guaranteed to make all but the fiercest bear-phobics grin a big marmalade-eating grin – or, as an advert once had it, a marmite-eating grin...
Aired: 1978-1981 Although it was named after the bigger, badder, altogether more frightening member of the ‘God-’ family, Godzilla wasn’t really the star of this ‘70s animated show – it was his wimpier cousin, Godzooky, a Pete’s Dragon-meets-Scrappy-Doo ‘Zilla wannabe who had wings but couldn’t fly, a roar but no fire-breathing capabilities. Working with the rest of the good ship Calico’s scientific research team as they tackled such beasties as the Moon Monster and the Stone Creatures, Godzooky was the comic relief and Godzilla summoner combined, and easily the most memorable part of the theme tune (“And Godzooky...”). Okay, Godzooky was genuinely terrible, but the investigatory aspect of the crew as they pootled about the world, discovering inexplicable creatures and destroying the last of their kind with their own pet Kaiju, remains lunchbreak-destroyingly addictive.
Chorlton And The Wheelies
Aired: 1976-1979 The world owes a debt to Manchester animation shingle Cosgrove Hall Films. This British studio turned out golden stop-motion work from 1976, bringing children such classics as Danger Mouse, The BFG, Count Duckula and The Wind In The Willows, as well as Chorlton And The Wheelies, a mad-as-a-bag-of-spanners headtrip for the under-tens. It’s right up there with The Magic Roundabout in the “well-I’ll-never-get-that-image-out-of-my-head” stakes. Cosgrove Hall’s very first production, it saw a group of wheeled creatures scooting around their handily bumpless world, butting heads with the wicked witch down the road and calling on their pet dragon, Chorlton, whenever things got too tough. And if you were wondering why they were all on wheels, well, it made the animation easier, and, we suspect, much simpler to differentiate between a number of children’s shows when one had a bunch of hyperactive busybodies zipping about with wheels for legs.
Aired: 1985-1991 A true fan of the Generation 1 Transformers cartoon would be able to list all of the Autobots (Brawn, Bluestreak, Bumblebee, Cliffjumper, Gears, Hound, Huffer, Ironhide, Jazz, Mirage, Prowl, Ratchet, Sideswipe, Sunstreaker, Trailbreaker, Wheeljack, Windcharger, Hauler) as well as all of the Decepticons (Starscream, Skywarp, Thundercracker, Reflector, Soundwave, Laserbeak, Ravage, Rumble, Shockwave) but even if you’re not a dyed-in-the-Allspark ‘bot buff, just hearing a couple of those names will bring back memories so awesome that you yourself will want to transform into a laser rifle and shoot something close by. Admittedly, the films have rubbed some of the sheen off the nostalgia, but with the yet another instalment out later this year, here's hoping the magic of the Sunbow original will live on this time around.
Dungeons & Dragons
Aired: 1983-1985 After we started watching this animated spin on the massively popular game, we went on a lot of rollercoaster rides, hoping each time that we'd suddenly get swept into another dimension where there were multi-headed dragons to fight. Alas, it never quite worked, and we had to live vicariously through this band of misfit kids who are mysteriously transported to a magical realm and pitted against the evil Venger (why does he ride an evil horse when he also has evil wings?). The Dungeon Master, modelling his look very much on Yoda, gave the kids each powers and weapons (magic, invisibility, wooden club - that sort of thing) and set them loose, but in retrospect he seems a far-from-responsible authority figure when he hands a flaming bow to a 15 year-old boy. With a little more inter-group tension than most shows of the time and a lot more danger, this is at least 75 times more exciting than playing with D20s.
Spider-Man And His Amazing Friends
Aired: 1981-1983 The Marvel Cinematic Universe nowadays has its crossovers and guest cameos, but it had nothing on this series. Spider-Man, Firestar and Iceman are college students at Empire State University by day, but they're also crime-fighting superheroes (and mutants) who have to fend off everyone from Loki and Kraven to Dracula, Wolf Man, Frankenstein's monster and more. For many children of the '80s this was their first introduction to the sprawling Marvel universe, so let's assume this was what primed us all for the current world-straddling film series. We also remember being unbelievably impressed by some of the fiendish schemes the villains here invented: imprisoning Firestar in an icy cage while Iceman was stranded amid flames in another room. Oh the irony! Thank goodness Spidey was around to rescue both, eh?
The Real Ghostbusters
Ghostbusters 3 may never happen, but we’ll always have the 147-episode run of The Real Ghostbusters to make up for it, as well as the tie-in comic books, the video games and the action figures. Switching its tone at the beginning of the third series – and changing its name to Slimer! And The Real Ghostbusters in the process – the show was at its funny and fearsome best in the first two years, going from scaring the wits out of little ‘uns to catering for scaredy-kids over the summer break. It was then that the Slimer-heavy episodes began and Janine changed her gloriously-quiffed hair to something altogether more pedestrian. Boo, indeed. And if you’re wondering why it was called “The Real” Ghostbusters, blame animation house TeleNation’s cash-in reboot of the short-lived 1975 live-action TV show The Ghost Busters, which involved a gorilla named Tracy and wasn’t very good.
Dogtanian And The Three Muskehounds
Aired: 1981-1982 It sounds so obvious in retrospect: take a classic literary tale and remake it... WITH DOGS. Sure, Dogtanian was the only character from Alexander Dumas’ novel to get a proper doggie pun – seriously people, Pawthos! – but the canine swashbucklers always delivered adventure and thrills unimpeded by the obvious constraints of their species. At no point, for instance, do any of them take time out from battling the nefarious Black Moustache to pee on a lamppost or sniff Monsieur Treville’s bum. The Muskehounds concept was the co-creation of a Spanish and Japanese animation studio, a partnership that would later give us Around The World With Willy Fog in which Phileas Fogg was turned into a lion. We only wish they’d got around to redoing Bleak House with gnus.
Aired: 1974 Once upon a time, not so long ago... Bagpuss ruled our early afternoons. The fabulous feline only had three months on the small screen to call his own (admittedly, a decade in cloth-wrapped antique cat years), but the cuddly old so-and-so left a mighty impression. A BBC poll declared him the UK’s favourite children’s TV programme in 1999, and it’s still impossible not to get a bit nostalgic about what was itself a sepia nostalgia-fest created by stop-motion dreamteam Oliver Postgate and Peter Firmin, the Ray Harryhausens of squeaky DIY mice and banjo-playing toads. The pair were also responsible for Pingwings, Clangers, Pogles’ Wood, Noggin The Nog and Ivor The Engine*, but their tale of a little girl called Emily who owned a shop selling odds-and-ends was, while in contravention of most child labour laws, simply enchanting.