Friday, February 05, 2010

BRAVESTARR -- Hulu Recommendation Friday

The cartoons of my youth were both wonderful and mildly disturbing. I have an active love hate relationship with the Filmation animation formula. Essentially, the formula is Hero (male or female), Competent Sidekick of Opposing Gender, Cool Animal/Anthropomorpic Animal Sidekick, and Annoying Comic Relief (Snarf/Orko). This hero faced a villain who was somehow in league with "dark forces."

To be fair, only about half their shows used this formula, but the character archetypes they created created the template for other companies cartoon templates as well. Would we have had Thundercats with Mumm Ra if we hadn't had Skeletor? I think not.

The writers and animators who worked using this framework had a seemingly limitless ability to apply the template to almost any genre. It worked well with the Planetary Romance narrative style of the He-Man, She-Ra, and Blackstar shows as well as for the Space Western format Bravestarr -- and it later worked for non-Filmation shows like the aforementioned ThunderCats.

As much as I liked the cartoons, there were a couple of things that bothered me. I despised, and still do, the lame comic relief characters. I blame Orko for Jar Jar Binks. The shows also had an obsession with presenting "moral lessons" that were often too heavy handed to be taken seriously. Even a 10 year old knows when he/she is being talked down to regarding moral choices.

Those things aside, the cartoons were imaginative and entertaining. I could have recommended the He-Man series that is archetypal for the genre, but I have a fondness for BRAVESTARR. The show came late in the decade and features the voice acting of Peter Cullen (Optimus Prime) as the anthropomorphic horse sidekick .30-.30. How awesome is that? The sidekick is named after rifle ammunition!

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