Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Villain Retrospect - T-Ray (and the Fall of Rankin Bass)


Rankin Bass was riding a high.  Thundercats, the 1985 cartoon was a huge success - human/cat hybrids with special powers and magical weapons fighting a muscle-bound mummy.  Next year, they bring us Silverhawks, men and women wearing bird-themed armor that lets them fly in the vacuum of space even with bare skin that fight to stop a space mafia boss that rides a squid.  Not as big a success, but still popular.  And then, Rankin-Bass follows that up with.... Tigersharks.

Tigersharks didn't warrant its own show, instead being paired up with three very cartoony shows that most closely resembles Heathcliff and Richie Rich called the Comic Strip. Tigersharks doesn't belong with the rest of the shows, but it certainly isn't good enough to get its own show.  The cartoon follows the adventures of a salvage crew called the Tigersharks that goes to the planet Water-o to retrieve some explosives.  They weren't escaping a dying planet or part of a federal protection agency.  These guys just show up and somehow get involved in with the villains of the show.  They aren't heroes in any regard.  But they have a special device that lets them turn into aquatic animals that conveniently match their ridiculous names (though no less ridiculous that Lion-O, if I'm being honest), so they get a show named after them.  In fact, it's kinda weird here that they only sometimes have their anthropomorphic forms instead of always looking like half-human/half-animals like the Thundercats.

Anyway, we're not here to talk about the heroes, let's get to the villains.  Or what try to fill the role at least.  The big guy to our right is T-Ray and leader of the Mantannas.  In the very beginning of the show, he arrives on Water-o, sees some ice and shoots it for no reason.  Seriously, he just says to shoot it.  Anyway, it happens to free a stitched up dragon named Dragonstein and its master, Captain Bizzarly, who immediately attack T-Ray, who immediately surrenders to him.  I am not kidding here, the first thing T-Ray does as villain of the show, the very first scene in the show no less, is free another villain and give himself up to it.  That's pathetic!  Throughout what I could see of the show, he does nothing more than that either.  At some point the team-up captures one of the Tigersharks, before he even knew what a Tigershark was, but he gets freed without any conflict.  T-ray doesn't even lift a fin to stop them.
His crew isn't any better, consisting of Wall-Eye up there and these two idiots, Carper and Weakfish, seen here losing a fight to the Tigershark's pet, Guppy.  These two are the absolute worst characters I've seen in a cartoon, making Snarf and the Copper Kidd look like Shakespeare in comparison.  And this is about a third of T-ray's crew, the rest being made up of Shad and Dredge, the former who actually yells at T-Ray what to do, like getting out of enemy range, and the latter, who doesn't show up in the few episodes I've seen and I've only found in Wikipedia.
 
That's something that I need to bring up as well.  I normally have to rely on YouTube to find episodes of the more obscure cartoons I watch for Old School Evil.  When there aren't any there, I go to a few other sites, like WatchCartoonsOnline or KissCartoons.  But besides the first two episodes, which were listed under the Comic Strip, Tigersharks is nowhere to be seen online.  I was able to watch a total of three episodes, and the last one didn't feature T-Ray in them; instead Bizzarly's crew was the antagonist.  Not that there'd be any real demand for the show to be released on dvd, but surely there has to be a way to get more online.  Another point of how lackluster demand is for the show, is that IMDB, the site I go to check casting for shows like this, has four cast members listed and only one of them has the role listed as well. 

This show is truly being forgotten, some may say for good reason, but it makes me sad because it was still a part of most of our childhood.  I still enjoyed watching it, even if I didn't get a chance to as a kid.  No matter the quality, or lack thereof, this show deserves to be remembered along side at least its brethren, Thundercats and Silverhawks.  Even if it were a bonus on their boxed sets.  Maybe watching the whole thing would redeem it a bit in our eyes, or give us a lot of laughs, but we should have that opportunity to find out. There is a petition to get it released and though it hasn't garnered many signatures, it still deserves some attention, so go here to sign.  I did!

Anyway, let's rate this guy.
Coolness - 1. T-Ray doesn't have a lot going for him.  He's got a high-pitched voice but I cannot place who provides it.  He doesn't demonstrate a lot of ability in the few episodes I watched and accomplishes practically nothing after joining forces with Bizzarly.  The picture to the right?  That's about as dynamic as he gets, knocked down when his ship is hit.  I have no idea if he even has powers, and considering Mumm-ra and Mon*Star did, I thought he'd be able to do something. The only reason he gets even 1 point for coolness is because compared to the rest of his crew, he's looks decent.  It's not a high mark.
Effectiveness - 0. I'd go negative if I could. 

I wanted to give a big thank you to Saturday Mourning Cartoons for their Tigersharks episode. Considering what little I could find about the Tigersharks myself, I appreciated the information and insight they provided.  It's a fantastic podcast that takes looks at the show's cast and theme song (which is just as ridiculous as the rest of the show).  Check them out here and tell them I sent you.

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