Friday, July 28, 2017

Top 5 80s Cartoons Reboots

For fans of 80s cartoons like me, the current wave of nostalgia shows no signs of stopping.  That can be a great thing, because there's this resurgence of the shows we used to watch, targeting newer generations while playing towards the older fans.  It can be a bad thing as well as some new takes on old properties are disappointing or downright terrible.  It's a shame because some resurrection attempts forget to include the aspects that made the originals so well-liked, but when they get it just right, we get something really special.

For this list, I'm going to look at my favorite reboots of the cartoons I loved as a kid.  Ones able to capture the spirit of the original and maybe in some cases lift it up above the source material.

5. GI Joe: Renegades
GI Joe has had a rough history.  Ever since the original Real American Hero series, they've had a difficult time staying relevant.  From GI Joe Extreme, the beefed-up 90s version, to their terrible movies, to the ultra-violent GI Joe Resolute.  After the last one came GI Joe Renegades, following a small cast on the run from a massive terrorist organization that has already taken over America.  In this series, Cobra has its fingers in everything including the government, turning GI Joe into the bad guy the American people blame for a terrorist attack, and sending another military organization to capture them.  With the smaller cast, they can focus on the characters better, learning why Duke is such a compassionate leader and Snake Eyes's injury that left him mute.  It's a great show that takes on aspects of the A-Team, and shows what the Joes can do when faced with insurmountable odds.

4. Extreme Ghostbusters
Man, I'm going to get a lot of shit for this one.  I've never understood why this show isn't more loved.  In the 90s Columbia made a handful of cartoons based off movies like Godzilla and Men in Black.  Most were decent and did a good job expanding the lore of the shows while getting rid of the more comedic elements.  One of the shows they created was Extreme Ghostbusters, but instead of just making a new adaptation of the movies, it followed up on the Real Ghostbusters with Egon and Janine mentoring a younger team of Ghostbusters. I thought the newer members were a good fit for the show, but the best parts are when it made connections with the previous series, including Kylie's own history with the Grundel, a ghost captured during the original show, and the appearance of the rest of the first team in the series finale, putting both groups together.  The interaction between the two is so fun.

3. He-Man and the Masters of the Universe (2002)
The original He-Man series was a slapdash of toy ideas without many ideas behind them.  Besides Teela's birth and Orko and Marleena's homeworlds, no one had a backstory (Skeletor's connection to Hordak didn't come until She-Ra's series).  The rebooted series attempts to fix that, explaining where He-Man's powers have come from and how Skeletor came to be skull-faced to name a few.  It does a good job of it and also goes on to explore Eternia more, introducing new races that different Masters belonged to.  The voice cast was excellent and the way they poked fun at the original's opening was hilarious.

Update: With the release of Netflix's She-Ra and the Princesses of Power there's no way it's not making this list. I wasn't as big a fan of Etheria's champion as I was of her brother, but I did enjoy it with a bit. Even so, I like this reboot way more than the original. Where the new He-Man show stayed as close as possible to the source material while making it more mature, SPoP goes the complete opposite direction, changing a lot of the setting, the characters, and the lore, making a much more mysterious and connective story. Almost every aspect of this show is improved from the first one and thank goodness because the original She-ra was pretty dull compared to its companion cartoon.

2. Voltron: Legendary Defender
If only Netflix would pick more 80s cartoons and update them like this one.  I was never that big a fan of the original series, but I absolutely love this reboot, which uses computer animation to bring Voltron to life and the excellent animation studio that worked on the Legend of Korra to make everything else.  It's a fantastic update explaining the origin of the team and their robots, an overarching storyline instead of monster-of-the-week formula, and a few surprises thrown in to keep the show fresh.   The best thing about it is it's the only show still in production, with a new season coming next week!

1. Transformers: Animated
I could have easily made this about the top Transformers reboots because there have been over a dozen iterations of the battle between the Autobots and Decepticons.  It started with the CGI Beast Wars in the 90s and a new series has been coming out every year or two since then.  There have been high points and low points - the Unicron Trilogy being the worst of the worst, but for me, the best one so far has been Transformers Animated.  What we have here is the biggest change-up of a tired formula.  Optimus Prime is no longer the commander of the Autobots, but a disgraced leader of a small salvage and repair crew.  The Great War is over and everyone believes the Decepticons to be destroyed.  Optimus and Co. find themselves on Earth where Megatron's head has been brought back online by a human scientist.  It's an incredibly fresh set-up, voiced by a great cast and a surprisingly dark backstory.  I won't deny that the new art-style (which I love) is controversial, and the increased importance on the human cast, including human villains the Autobots need to fight, can be a bit distracting, but overall, this is the best series we've had since the original because of how different it tries to be from its predecessors.  Sometimes changes don't work out, but in this case, it succeeds brilliantly.

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