Computer animation and the trend towards adult-oriented stories have done wonders for modern cartoons. Still, if you’re anything like me, you have a huge soft spot for the cartoons of your youth, and can’t resist watching them on the rare occasions you catch one on TV.
Two new DVD sets have just come out that will let you dive into cartoon nostalgia any time the mood suits you. Warner Home Video has released Volume 1 of two collections of Saturday Morning Cartoons, one of cartoons from the 1960s and one of those from the 1970s. I had a chance to watch many of the cartoons with my wife and kids, and found myself virtually unable to stop smiling.
The 1960s discs (each set has two) are by and large better, owing to such treasures as “Quick Draw McGraw” (an El Kabong episode, no less), “Secret Squirrel,” “Atom Ant,” and “Magilla Gorilla” (among many others). The 1970s discs have their share of greatness as well, though, with “Josie and the Pussycats,” “Wheelie and the Chopper Bunch,” and—my kids’ favorite—the “Batman/Tarzan Adventure Hour.” I had completely forgotten that the Batman episodes had voices done by Adam West and Burt Ward (which made me grin upon realizing it anew), and had also forgotten about Bat-Mite’s incredibly annoying and unnecessary inclusion in them (which made me cringe a bit).
My kids got more out of it than I’d expected—I had thought they’d be underwhelmed enough by the animation relative to what they’re used to seeing that they would lose interest. But they sat and watched, seeming to enjoy them about as much as they do most of the cartoons they typically watch. My wife and I enjoyed them on a completely different level, of course. The hokeyness and seriously politically incorrect characterizations gave me the occasional I-can’t-believe-I-used-to-watch-this-stuff feeling, but the nostalgia quickly dispelled those.
Saturday Morning Cartoons: 1960s Vol. 1 and Saturday Morning Cartoons: 1970s Vol. 1 are available from Warner Home Video for a list price of $26.98 (but are available for $19.99 from Amazon.com and elsewhere).
Wired: Where else are you going to see “Scooby-Doo Meets the Harlem Globetrotters?” The little kid you used to be will make you grin the moment you start the first cartoon.
Tired: It’s difficult not to cringe just a little at the depictions of some of the cartoon characters, such as Punkin’ Puss, Mushmouse, and Baba Looey. They’re not so bad as to be racist, mind you, but they’re politically incorrect enough that you’re instantly reminded that they couldn’t be made today.