Tuesday, 30 December 2014

Colour blind - Casting for Asian & Asian American Roles: Why I Find This Problematic

Colour- blind casting is still happening today- yet the likes of Hollywood doesn't seem to think it is that much of a big deal. Well, I should explain why it is, and why they do it and that they are not aware of what they are doing. And the repercussions this has on Asian viewers of their shows and movies on this issue. 

For those in the know, colour - blind casting is the practice where casting directors cast an actor or actress in a particular role, without taking into consideration, nor be wary of his or her's ethnicity or race. 

I'm not specifically talking about actors or actresses playing roles that were originally undertaken by Caucasian or Black characters in literature, fiction. Although that is a separate discussion altogether. What I am discussing, is actors playing characters on TV and film, trying to pass themselves off as a member of a specific ethnic sub- category that, in real-life, they are not representative of. All because their ethnicity is not the same as that character's. 

Community's Ken Jeong is Korean- American, but on the show he plays a Chinese- American named Ben Chang. This is one in the many examples of colour-blind casting. 




I recently came across this post on Dienekes' Anthropology Blog and saw this image, which you can see above. Here, it shows 3 faces: Chinese, Japanese and Korean. I had difficulty deciding which is which, as the photos all looked similar. The eye shapes usually give it away, but here I could see little difference between each of them. If you want to know the answer, click on the post link. 

Usually, Chinese - Americans are different to Korean and Japanese Americans, in the same way as Chinese - Canadians are different to Korean and Japanese Canadians. They all have very distinctive ethnic features that whilst mark them out to be Asian, are not vertically identical from an appearance stand-point.

Yet, in Hollywood, if you are an Asian- American actor, they just see you as just that - Asian - American. They just don't notice the little differences. It's like saying ''yeah, you're Asian - American, but we're not going to go out of our way to ask those actors which Asian group they are from, or are descendant from''. 

One of the notable and infamous examples I can use is Memoirs of Geisha. Even though the movie featured Asian actors, there was anger brewing that the Japanese female geisha characters were played by Zhang Zhi & Gong Li - who are both of Chinese origin. The Colour-blind casting that occurs in Hollywood, is no different to that above incident I mentioned. 



Remember the furore on the internet that later surfaced on social media when news broke that Afro-Latina actress Zoe Saldana was casted to play an African- American soul singer, Nina Simone? That as well. 



If we are to use a more recent example, then let's take Korean-Canadian Sandra Oh - I am not lamenting or taking anything away from Sandra's acting abilities and credentials whatsoever. But on Grey's Anatomy, she plays a Chinese American doctor, Christina Yang. Yang is a Chinese surname. I shouldn't take issue with this, but I am, because I couldn't help but feel somewhat frustrated thinking that during that casting process for that role, there were (probably) a few other Chinese American actresses, who auditioned for and could have played Christina. But in the end, none of them got it. And yet because Sandra did so well in the casting process, she got chosen to fill that position, because they wanted an Asian American actress. And yet not taking into consideration the racial differences between Koreans and Chinese. And the character is Chinese American. 

It is about as bad as casting Afro-Latino actors in African- American roles. This white-washing issue is a problem which needs addressing. 

It is and ought to be a problem, because whilst I am all for diversity within the arts, entertainment and media industries, when one is casting an actor for a character of a particular ethnicity, there is a distinct and increasing lack of awareness in distinguishing the differences between different ethnic cultures. Henceforth, if the character is of Korean American descent, the actor playing the character needs to be Korean-American in real-life. 

Television relies so much on portraying people of different ethnic backgrounds to showcase and reflect the diverse world we live in today. And yet, if television is supposed to be a reflection of reality and of America's melting pot of cultures, then it needs to be accurate as well and not to mislead the people, who are watching the programme. Especially to people of that racial group. Race and ethnicity is and can be such a complex concept to discuss itself, which is why the producers and creators shouldn't misinform the audience by colour-blinding actors in casting the characters. 

African- Americans or Black Britons who have Ghanaian roots (such as actor Idris Elba), are different to African- Americans with say English or Native American roots and Black Britons with Jamaican roots or are of African descent. Not all Black people are the same - you also have light- skinned Blacks and you have dark-skinned Blacks. 

My eyes light up when I see someone on TV who looks like me, which doesn't happen a lot; I am of Chinese origin and seeing a person of Chinese descent (especially non-native Chinese) playing a character of Chinese descent, or a presenter of Chinese origin, intrigues me. It's not so much about authenticity- it's about accuracy, more than anything when it comes to ethnic representation and depiction. 

By grouping Asian - Americans as one, instead of by sub-categorizing them, you are just lumping everyone into one bowl and homogenizing them. 

Which is not the way to go about it. 

Saturday, 27 December 2014

The 9 Misconceptions about Chinese Food People Get Wrong



*Image Credit: artisiticco 

Chinese food is hugely popular in countries such as the United States and Britain. Here in Britain, many restaurants offering non-Cantonese cuisine, likewise Hunan's and Szechwan's hot and spicy offerings have become more widespread in the past couple of years, as people's taste buds are so much different, but of whom are also willing to try something completely different to what they are usually accustomed to, which is Hong Kong Cantonese food such as Sweet and Sour pork and chicken, hot and sour soup.   

I think the misconceptions a lot of people have regarding Chinese food, is based on the food and the dishes they have been exposed to, as well as restaurants offering dishes on menus they think Westerners would enjoy more.  

Yet this attitude is changing for the better; here, I list the 9 common Chinese food misconceptions (& myths) that native Chinese, as well as Diaspora Chinese, have encountered, in addition to listing some of my favorite traditional Chinese dishes. 





1) Because the Chinese food they serve in Chinese restaurants in Chinatown across the world is predominately Cantonese, it means it is bad - I'm sorry, but I don't buy this argument, one bit. Egg fried rice, sweet and sour chicken, pork, Won Ton Soup may all be Cantonese, but they are not the only Cantonese dishes available. The variety of Cantonese cuisine offered is so vast and varied, when I think of Cantonese food, I think of mild - yet rich & intense flavours fully- cooked with minimal seasoning added. It is simple cooking utilizing fresh ingredients. 

Cantonese food gets such a bad rep that it doesn't deserve, with most proclaiming it is too sweet and westernized to suit people's palettes, whilst mainland Chinese food gets praised. 

Examples of (good) Cantonese food include Dim Sum, Chinese steamed eggs omelette, pork spare ribs with black beans & chili, water spinach with fermented bean curd and Orange cuttlefish that comes with a sweet dark soy sauce gravy. 

2) There is just one type of Chinese food served in restaurants and take outs - in fact, there is traditional Chinese food and then there is Chinese American food. The Chinese American food isn't held to high regard outside the West, but I can't doubt that it is widely eaten by people in the UK, America, Canada to name. If someone offers you a menu that has Chinese American food items, but you'd rather order something like roast duck with noodles, beef brisket or whatever, do it, - and don't let them dissuade you. 

3) Chinese food is unhealthy and greasy and rarely contains vegetables - Not true  

4) All people of Chinese descent eat insects, organs, liver and dog meat - I find them disgusting and wouldn't touch them with a barge pole. Not all of us eat it or would consider doing so 

5) Chinese food contains MSG - maybe some dishes contain MSG, because the cooks add it thinking it would a) enhance the flavour and b) non -Chinese people wouldn't notice. I like my food without MSG and I don't think it is a good thing that chefs put it in their food  

6) It's all rice and noodles and no bread - you want bread? go to a Chinese bakery, but then their pastries, especially ones with ham and cheese have sweet bread. 

7) Spring rolls/egg rolls, Egg Foo Young, Chop Suey and fortune cookies originated in China - no they weren't, they were Chinese - American inventions 

8) All Chinese people add soy sauce to their food - I don't. Well I only add it during cooking 

9) It's mainly sweet and sour. black bean, egg fried rice. That and/or pig's and dog's livers, intestines, heart - But you also have a choice not to eat it, so it's not like it's a requirement. But I find that notion stereotypical and not entirely true, because it doesn't apply to all Chinese, and people who enjoy eating Chinese food.


This is what people's idea of (authentic) Chinese food looks like: 





So what, in my eyes, is real Chinese food? This.....

Dim Sum - bite sized portions of food offered usually during breakfast and lunch, although in recent years, more restaurants have offered Dim Sim in the evening. Chinese tea is served with Dim Sum. Dim Sum items include Pork and prawn dumplings (Siu Mai), steamed meatballs and buns and lotus leaf rice. 



Congee - rice porridge made with water and boiled to a thick consistency




Roast duck 


Steamed fish with scallions, ginger in soy 




Fried Ho-Fun noodles with beef




Fried pot stickers/dumplings




Steamed sticky rice in lotus leaves with chicken or pork, Chinese sausage 




Scallion pancakes 




Chinese roast pork (Char Siu)




*image source: The Hungry Excavator 

Eight Treasures Duck - A stuffed Chinese Duck dish. Duck is marinated in star anise or Chinese Five Spice with soy sauce & Chinese roast duck seasoning and is later stuffed with 8 ingredients. It is then braised or steamed until it is fully cooked. Ingredients for the core stuffing vary, but it mostly tends to be sticky rice, Chinese or Shitake mushrooms, chestnuts, water chestnuts and duck eggs. Additional ingredients include Chinese sausage, dried shrimps and Bamboo Shoots. 




Scrambled eggs with tomatoes 




Cantonese style lobster with noodles 

Saturday, 20 December 2014

Favourite 20 90s Cartoons

I loved the 1990s, just as much as the 1980s. It was also memorable for grunge, boybands, the arrival of the internet, American sitcoms and other trends. 

If there ever was a golden age for entertainment as a whole, it would belong to the 90s, no doubt about it. Being born in the 80s, I have lived through 3 decades so far - 80s, 90s and 00s. We are currently heading into the mid 2010s, as we reach the end of 2014. 

My personal favourite decade is the 80s- mainly due to the music that came out. However, the 90s was when everything entertainment-wise, was just plain awesome. The movies, TV shows, video games, music. Sitcoms, movies and cartoons are three genres that dominated the 90s in American entertainment in so many ways, and for so many good reasons. 

Like the 1980s, it was a great time growing up in this period; the efforts that came out of the Cartoon Network, Nickelodeon and Disney empires when it came to animated cartoons were of better quality, compared to previous decades. The standard of animation, the characters, the fact that the shows weren't preachy as they were in the 80s', I think many appreciated how care-free they were. Oh and the stories and the writing, especially the dialogue was way better than before. 

The animation companies really raised the bar and took the achievements of the 80s' cartoon shows to a whole another level and exceeding their own expectations. Creatively speaking, the output we got out of it, was second to none. The sheer volume of really good and excellent kids cartoons from the 90s', was unbelievable. 

When I look back, I realise the older cartoons had a lot more class, originality and creativity than today and during the last decade. Sad thing is, for me anyway, cartoons- or more specially children's cartoons - died, right after 9/11 in 2001. That catastrophic event changed the course of popular entertainment, and since then, production companies became more complacent, lacking and not as creative as before when it came to TV shows, especially cartoons. 

The cartoons I have listed are children's cartoons, as I prefer children's cartoons over adult cartoons such as The Simpsons and Family Guy

But these are my personal preferences and in no particular order:




Johnny Bravo (Hanna Barbera, 1997) - the success of the pilot episode on 'What A Cartoon!' later resulted in the forming of an animated series, which sadly didn't last long on air. It was at times funny, silly and the additions of suzy, the little girl and Johnny's mother was a nice touch. It was good because, had Johnny been the only character on the show, there wouldn't be many other characters to focus on other than himself. The humour of the series derives from Johnny trying to date other women, only to get turned down, and get beaten up. I loved the pilot and the series was really amusing. 

And Johnny Bravo will go down as one of Hanna Barbera's greatest and memorable characters alongside Fred Flintstone, Scooby Doo and Yogi Bear





X-Men The Animated Series (Marvel Entertainment Group, Saban Entertainment, 1992) - arguably (one of) the best superhero cartoons to come out, the X-Men animated show was a precursor to the live- action movies that came out in 2000 with the first X-Men movie. It successfully captured the essence and spirit of the X-Men comics and the characters personalities were faithfully well portrayed on the show. There are some issues over the depiction of Jubilee as acting and looking more like a Caucasian, and less so as a Asian- American superhero. But other than that, it was still riveting stuff. This Fox Kids show was, and still is the best animated version of the X-Men to date. 





Arthur (Cinar/Cookie Jar Entertainment/ 9 Story Entertainment, 1996) - don't be fooled into thinking that only kids that can like Arthur. Nope - this animated educational show contains content and info that adults and people aged 10 and over can take from it. Some cartoons try to be preachy, but Arthur instills morality and empowers children and adults by presenting real-life situations, without shoving it down your throat. 





The Adventures of Blinky Bill ( Yoram Gross Film Studio, 1993) - based on the children's books by Dorothy Wall, the cartoons were produced by Yoram Gross and set in a fictional town called Greenpatch Hill in Australia. I really loved this show because it was a rarity to see good, quality animated shows that weren't from america, japan and Britain.  

The characters were really interesting and Blinky was a mischievous little koala, who had a heart of gold. 





Animaniacs (Warner Bros Television, 1993) - The WB cartoons of the 1990s were truly something special. The wit, the irreverent humour, the episodes themselves could be enjoyed by adults, as well as kids and teenagers. Like Freak-A-Zoid, Animaniacs really pushed the boundaries of animation, by taking some of that old school Hanna Barbera magic from the likes of the Flintstones and Top Cat and interweaving it into a new set of characters, as well as to thrown in a couple of subtle pop culture references.

One of the greats when it comes to 90s cartoons.




Freakazoid! (Warner Bros Television, 1995 ) - People have lauded Seth Macfarlane's Family Guy as the only cartoon to make pop cultural references in its show, but in actuality, it was shows such as Freakazoid that really started it all off. The sarcasm and humorous send-ups and spoofs of politicians, celebrities, TV and movie characters and franchises was used to great effect. Freakazoid also pokes fun at other superheroes. Originally a teenage computer nerd, Dexter becomes Freakazoid overnight as he is zapped by a computer screen, whilst on his PC.

If you have never watched an episode before, I suggest you do it. It's great fun. 





Tiny Toon Adventures (Warner Bros Television, 1990) - the adventures of a new generation of Looney Tunes characters, who appear in a mixture of original stories, movie and TV parodies and spoofs and remakes of classic Looney Tunes shorts. Bugs, Daffy, Sylvester and Tweety among others are professors at Acme Looniversity. 

The show is pretty much a homage to Looney Tunes, and another way of giving it a fresh lick of paint and re-introducing it to a newer, younger generation of fans. 





Goof Troop (Walt Disney Animation, 1992) - Goofy is now a single parent with son, Max with then nemesis Pete, becoming their next door neighbour. Unfortunately, Disney, like with Duck Tales, Chip 'N' Dale Rescue Rangers, Talespin and Recess, when they have a good thing going with those shows, they seem to kill them off altogether quickly, to concentrate solely on live-action shows. Sigh. 

I was never really into their animated shorts that much, but I really loved their animated series from the 80s and 90s decades, such as Goof Troop








Where's Wally/Waldo? (DiC, 1991) - based on the popular picture books of the same name, Where's Wally? (or Waldo as he's known in the US version) was a show about a skinny young nerd, who wears a red and white striped shirt and woolly hat and has a dog. By waving his wand, he transports himself to another world. The fun part of the show was the puzzle segment where you had to find Wally, who was hidden somewhere in the image, before the answer was unveiled. I liked that a lot. 





The Pirates of Dark Water (Hanna Barbera, 1991) - A young man named Ren finds out he is a prince and has to find the 13 treasures of rule. Like the 13 Ghosts of Scooby Doo (also by Hanna Barbera), the gang of Ren, Tula, Nibbler and Ioz didn't manage to secure the final set of treasures, as the show was unceremoniously cancelled without a proper resolution and without reason. I was gutted about that. This was one of my favourite 90s cartoons, and Hanna Barbera cartoons, and like other fans felt cheated in the end. 

It deserved a better treatment, and given it was from Hanna Barbera, who is my favourite animation studio, I was very disappointed. 






Mighty Ducks: The Animated Series (Walt Disney Animation, 1996) - I'm actually happy that the animated version of Mighty Ducks went with anthropomorphic duck characters, rather than opting with the young kids and Emilio Estevez's character from the feature length movie. This made the show more promising and entertaining to watch. At one stage the Ducks are playing ice hockey matches, the next minute they become a crime-fighting team. Some said the premise was flawed, but I digress. 

I just wished this show lasted a few more seasons, because it had promise and had a cool concept that was never fully utilized. 





SWAT Kats: The Radical Squadron (Hanna Barbera, 1993) - Razor and T-Bone both work as mechanics by trade, but they also double up as a crack force defending MegaKat city from the bad guys and evil villains. It was a mix of sci-fi and action, with camaraderie reminiscent of the buddy cop movies of the 1980s, such as Lethal Weapon.  

It never tried to be funny or hip, or tried to be something it wasn't; that was one of the reasons why fans and viewers were attracted to it.





Hey Arnold! (Nickelodeon, 1996) - this show, alongside Disney's Recess, were in some ways similar - the neighbourhoods, the racial diversity of the characters, as well as the main characters were kids to name, were some of the things each show had in common with one another. 

Helga was an odd character - she would call Arnold football head and be rude towards him and his friends, yet she had a secret crush on him. As Arnold, being the good guy, he usually always (and rightly so) does the right thing, whilst at the same time learning a few lessons along the way. 

Interestingly, this is one of the few cartoons that manages to be realistic and many of the situations in the series, do happen in real life. 





Recess (Walt Disney Animation, 1997)





Dexter's Laboratory (Hanna Barbera, 1996)





The Real Adventures of Jonny Quest (Hanna Barbera, 1996)





Cow and Chicken (Hanna Barbera, 1997)




The Powerpuff Girls (Hanna Barbera, 1998) 





Darkwing Duck (Walt Disney Animation, 1991)





Pokemon (4Kids, 1997) - Ash wants to become the best Pokemon (pocket monster) trainer in the world, with the help of friends, Misty and Brock. Oh and Pikachu as well. Currently in its 14th season, the Pokemon franchise is still going strong, almost 20 years later. 

It may not be at the same scale as it was back in the mid 1990s when Pokemon popularity was at its greatest, but the cartoons are still airing today. Mainly thanks to the huge sales of its video games. The show's appeal predominately comes from the characters, more so than the standard of animation. 

One may also argue the story-lines can get repetitive and yes, the earlier seasons are still the best. But due to its legions of fans, Pokemon, for as long as it still exists, no matter be it a TV show, video game or whatever, there will always be a demand and interest in it. 

*special honorable mentions go to Batman the Animated Series, Gargoyles, Super Mario World, Dink The Little Dinosaur, Fender Bender 500, Taz-Mania, Tom and Jerry Kids, What A Cartoon! 

Saturday, 13 December 2014

Comment: People Are Watching TV On Phones, Computer, Next Step Watching Overseas Channels Abroad





For quite some time, I have lived without a television for the past 15 or 20 years. During the last year when I discovered online TV the first time, I remembered missing out on a chunk of shows and films I would have watched, had I had a TV set. But with my computer, I have managed to watch movies and television shows online, just to catch up on what I have missed out on or might miss out on. 

Most of these are British shows; US TV hasn't impressed me recently or the last decade. In the 90s, I was a huge fan of American sitcoms, programmes that were out at the time. The current US shows today, with the reality and drama shows, I don't watch much of. Or be it at all.

In the US and UK, more and more people are watching TV shows and movies on tablet, mobile and online devices, with the traditional television becoming more and more redundant. 

Nielson reported that more than 2 million people in America have ditched cable and satellite television, in favour of digital TV. 

In Britain, a  recent study found that 83% of Brits and people in Britain consume television from an 'online source'. 

Ofcom says that a million homes in the UK have broadband internet connection but no TV (set). 

Online and live streaming television poses a major threat towards traditional television, and whereas I do not want the television to go away and die immediately today, I do think that if stations and networks are serious about meeting and living up to consumers and viewers expectations and standards, then they should make their content available online, live, without restrictions and without restricting people from watching them, no matter where they are in the world. 

It is frustrating these networks have to think about 'their' audience and that you can only access their service if you are in that country. 

I'm all for freedom of legal online streaming - I believe that people should be allowed to watch what they like, wherever they are and without feeling as though they are breaking the law. 

If you can travel anywhere in the world on holiday or for work, then I don't see why you shouldn't watch channels from overseas. It's unfair. 

There are various reasons as to why more and more of us are converting to mobile and online TV apps, services and sites; the increasing prices for satellite TV services and packages, people disliking the consistent ad breaks in- between shows, more flexibility in being able to watch their favourite shows and movies through catch-up services, without feeling as though they have missed out. Not forgetting viewers, who are dissatisfied with the station/channel's current - yet tired - looking programming schedule, which hasn't changed one bit, and their reluctance to air their favourite shows that they haven't seen for ages. 

We live in an age where through technology and with more choices this time round than there was 10, 20 years ago through TV apps, channel websites, people are no longer in a position to wait, any more. We want content in an instant, as and when we expect it. And without any interruptions. 

They need to embrace not just the technology fully, but to continue giving people more options, and stop limiting channels to only people living in their respective countries. Many of these stations and networks export their shows to other countries, such as US to UK; therefore, exporting their channels and services will mean more variety, more choice and even bigger audiences. 

I'm not talking about channels such as Boomerang, Cartoon Network, MTV, BET airing UK content in the UK, rather those channels offering US content in the UK, in addition to UK content. And same would apply to the US model.

How many times have you ever wanted to watch an overseas programme on that particular channel or station online.... only to see a message saying this content is only available to UK or US viewers only? Too many. And yet it sucks. 

Or seen a tweet or Facebook update from say a celebrity user, telling you to tune into their show or movie on TV.... yet seeing as you are not in the country where the programme will air, you can't access the station. At all? Again too many times this has happened. 

By making shows and movies available online through live streaming and on demand and catch up TV services in other countries, this allows people to devote more time watching the programmes they want and like. 

Broadcast media needs to move with the times; if it is going to survive in the long run, in spite of mobile and internet TV, then they need to do so much more to retain viewers, but I think it may be too little too late. Unless they start opening up and make their streaming services available, worldwide. 

Imagine being able to watch a show on Channel 4 that is broadcasting live but you can view it outside of Britain and in real-time, and vice-versa with a US show on ABC, Fox, Cartoon Network in the UK, Canada, Japan and other countries. 

With Youtube, DVDs, computers, laptops, smart phones, video game consoles which allow you to view content from providers such as Netflix and TV watching apps on mobile and tablet devices, the days of the TV appears to be over. I give it 2 more years after this one. After that, by 2017, I predict less and less households will own a TV set. A move that should worry providers like Sky, Freesat and US counterparts, Comcast, DirecTV and Time Warner cable, whose subscription based services solely rely on the existence of a television set. 

The TV industry today on both sides of the Atlantic have to put their hands up, admit defeat and realize they must make their channels and networks available for free online. 

Online and mobile internet TV is here, and here to stay. The next part now is expanding on their audiences further afield and that Americans and non-US residents can watch American shows on networks such as ABC, NBC, TV Land etc across the globe and online.

If these networks and stations, as well as UK's Channel 5, ITV, BBC, Channel 4 can do this for overseas viewers and British expats, then I reckon many people will be happy. 

And many won't regret ditching their sets to access programming content. 






Image source: Shutterstock

Thursday, 4 December 2014

Favourite 20 80s Cartoons

If, like me, you grew up in the 1980s and enjoyed this particular time period, you would know that in terms of popular entertainment, it was one of the best decades, ever. 

From movies to television shows, to music and video games, the eighties is right up there with the best that the showbiz and entertainment world had to offer. Especially with most of it coming out of America. There was cheese, but it was still a fun era, way before we had the internet, technology and social media. 

One of the best things about 80s television was the cartoons that came out; animation back then was the stuff of dreams. Yes, many of the shows were produced in Japan, yet the concept is originally from American creators. This was back in the day when cartoons were on every day of the week and were available to every child, and adult in the morning and afternoon on main channels, right before we had cable and satellite television. Not unlike today when Saturday morning cartoons have been sadly relegated to YouTube status at the very least. 

Compiling this list and narrowing it down to 20 was incredibly difficult. With the exception of 5 of them - Alvin and the Chipmunks, Thundercats, Muppet Babies, Bravestarr and He-Man, it wasn't easy in deciding which order I should place each cartoon series that I have enjoyed. 

But I couldn't deny that these cartoons resonated with me a great deal, and of which I have gotten the most enjoyment out of, in contrast to many other 80s animated shows. There were other cartoons that I liked as well, yet these series summed up some of the very best children's cartoons this generation had to offer. 

*special mentions also goes out to Transformers, She-Ra, Shirt-Tales, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, The Real Ghostbusters and many more. 





Alvin and the Chipmunks (Bagdasarian Productions, DIC Entertainment, 80s versions, 1983 -1990) - 3 chipmunk brothers named Alvin, Simon and Theodore are adopted by a man named Dave and they go on all sorts of adventures and experience and encounter many situations at the same time. Unfortunately, I don't think the 80s versions of the Alvin and the Chipmunks cartoons get enough credit or recognition. Which is a shame, because as much as The Alvin Show have been widely received by the older generation, I couldn't get over the way the chipmunks sounded at the time. Which was strange. When the show was later co -developed by Bagdasarian Productions with DiC Entertainment, the episodes were more interesting and the show got better. And the characters personalities were fleshed out properly. 

Whenever I think of Alvin and the Chipmunks, I remember the 80s cartoon shows fondly and forget about those live-action movie versions of the mid to late 2000s when the characters looked like Chip 'N' Dale, rather than their original selves. 




Thundercats (Rankin/Bass Productions, 1985) - ''feel the magic, hear the roar, Thundercats are loose!''. That tagline from Thundercats briefly sums up how badass this show was. Seen as an antithesis to Filmation's He-Man and the Masters of the Universe, Rankin Bass's Thundercats was huge throughout the 80s. I like Thundercats more than He-Man: both shows were great, and had similar themes and plots. But Thundercats was arguably more hip and cooler. The newer (yet recently cancelled) version of Thundercats was all right, but it has nothing on the original series from 1985. Okay, it was at times corny, but this was the 80s after all, and many cartoons around at the time, were a little corny and offbeat. Thundercats had action, a bit of everything but romance. This was an action show, after all. 

If you have never heard of or seen the original Thundercats, I suggest you buy the DVD set or watch the episodes on YouTube. 





(Jim Henson's) Muppet Babies (Jim Henson Productions, 1984) - after the success of The Muppets franchise, Jim Henson decided to branch out into the animated world and created a cartoon version but with toddler versions that included Piggy, Kermit, Fozzie and Gonzo. This show epitomized what Jim Henson's intentions were with this cartoon; as in using your imagination to have fun. We didn't get to see Nanny's face throughout the entire series however. I love the little parodies of Star Wars, Star Trek and Indiana Jones, and yet I couldn't stand Piggy. She was like a massive leech sucking on Kermit's neck and of whom wouldn't take no for an answer from Kermit. When he turns down her advances, she goes berserk. What a drama queen, and crazy too. 

But anyhow, other than that, Muppet Babies was a cute and fun little series that is worth checking out.  





Bravestarr (Filmation, 1987) - Filmation were an amazing animation company that created and produced the likes of He-Man, She-Ra and this show, Bravestarr. I enjoyed He-Man and She-Ra, but Bravestarr is my favourite cartoon from Filmation. I loved the blend of sci-fi and western. They took the old Wild West of Texas and added in the futuristic elements into it. The adventures of the Galaxy Rangers did this as well, but those settings worked better in Bravestarr, in my opinion. Bravestarr was an perfect example of how you should do a space spaghetti Western, and with flair and style.

And making the main protagonist a Native American Indian was a cool touch; Marshall Bravestarr with the powers of Wolf, Hawk, Puma (though it should have been Cheetah) and Bear & assisted by talking Horse Thirty-Thirty, was a man, bad guys would fear. 
He is like the powerful version of Walker Texas Ranger, minus the martial arts moves. 

I was disappointed when Bravestarr lasted just one season. It was good fun, all-round entertainment, and Thirty-Thirty was a total bad-ass. 





He-Man and The Masters of the Universe (Filmation, 1983) - pretty cool action-adventure fantasy animated series. Wimpy and somewhat dull royal Prince Adam, transforms into alter-ego He-Man whilst raising his sword in the air and uttering those magical words, 'I Have The Power'. Together with Teela, her father Man-At-Arms, Orko, Battlecat and the Sorceress, He-Man battles against Skeletor and his crew for the power and keys to Greyskull. 

It was a classic tale of good verses evil, whilst at the same time, there was a moral to each story at the end. 

Filmation had a major hit on their hands, and with He-Man, it will be forever synonymous with the company's brand, as well as legacy in animation history, forever. 




Monchichis (Hanna Barbera Productions, 1983) - cute, lovable creatures that resemble monkeys. They look like a cross between a rodent and a baby monkey. The Jamaican -type accent by the guy singing the theme song was weird though. Interestingly, this came from Hanna Barbera known for The Flintstones, Yogi Bear and Scooby Doo. But this is an adorable show throughout. 





Pole Position (DIC Entertainment, 1984) - based on the Namco video game of the same name, Pole Position centres on a brother and sister in their dual roles as F1 racers/crime-fighters. Really good show. 





Star Wars: Ewoks (Nelvana/Lucasfilm, 1985) 





Chip 'N' Dale Rescue Rangers (Walt Disney Animation, 1989)






Defenders of the Earth (Marvel Productions, 1986)






Jem (Hasbro, Marvel Productions and Sunbow Productions, 1985)  





M.A.S.K (DIC Entertainment, 1985) 







(Action Force Intro - G.I Joe was renamed as Action Force in the UK) 

G.I Joe: A Real American Hero /Action Force (Hasbro, Sunbow Productions, 1983)





Visionaries (Hasbro, Sunbow Productions, TMS Productions, 1987) - The sad thing about its cancellation was that the animated series of Visionaries ended abruptly shortly after the failed toyline by company, Hasbro. So therefore, when the toys weren't selling well, Hasbro and Sunbrow decided to scrap the cartoon altogether. It's a pity and tragic really, given it was such a good show. The first season only had 13 episodes but each one had really good storylines and the animation was great. I enjoyed Visionaries; interesting fusion of medieval knights and futuristic special effects, great characters, good plots and the dialogue was well-crafted. 




The Super Mario Bros Super Show (DIC Entertainment, 1989) - Based on the popular hit video game series by Nintendo, this show was almost perfect but for the technical glitches that marred this series during the animation segments. But it was arguably better than Super Mario Bros 3 and The Adventures of Super Mario World cartoons. 





The 13 Ghosts of Scooby Doo (Hanna Barbera, 1985) - Many Scooby Doo fans would place this at the bottom on their list of their favourite Scooby Doo shows of all-time. But I really liked how different it was compared to the previous outings. Yes Scrappy was still around (unfortunately), but everything else was refreshing. It was nice to see Hanna Barbera opt with a different approach for this rendition of Scooby Doo. HB shows, in the 80s in particular post -Yogi, Flintstones and Jetsons, may not have been appreciated by die-hard Hanna Barbera enthusiasts, as well as cartoon fans, but I liked most of them, apart from Challenge of the Gobots. 





Yogi's Treasure Hunt (Hanna Barbera, 1985) - Yet another Hanna Barbera show that was overlooked in comparison to other Hanna Barbera cartoons, particularly those from the 1960s and 70s. The ensemble that included Yogi and Boo Boo, Huckleberry Hound and Snagglepuss was great to see. 





Galaxy High (TMS Entertainment, 1985) - think 'Saved By The Bell' meets space and you'll get what this show is about. It's pretty much an animated teen sitcom set in the intergalactic universe revolving around 2 human teenagers named Doyle and Aimee. And from Chris Columbus, the man who later gave us Home Alone and Mrs Doubtfire. Funny, but also cool and original. Like many 1980s cartoons, the likes of Galaxy High were aimed at older audiences and when these shows were taken off the air or cancelled, the reason given was it wasn't what people wanted, especially during that decade. Which is disappointing, and ironic, given many of the older cartoons will still hold up today, and many of the cartoons aimed at children today, would not fare well in the 80s. 





The Mysterious Cities of Gold (DIC, 1982) - wonderful blend of Japanese-style Anime with French writing. After all, this is a French production based on South American culture and history. Unlike many cartoons in the 80s, which were either action cartoons, or cartoons based on toys, The Mysterious Cities of Gold was a worthy alternative. The educational value you will get from watching this show is effective, without coming off as preachy and politically correct. And the remake isn't too bad either. 





Dungeons and Dragons (Marvel Productions, TSR Entertainment) - 6 teenage kids are teleported to a world of sorcery and magic as they try to navigate their way back home. The only things I dislike about this show is Eric - the guy was a total whiner, and that there was no proper ending, nor was there an actual first episode. The kids didn't manage to return home, which was sad. There was no other animated show that captured the medieval fantasy realm and essence, as well as Dungeons and Dragons did. The characters were varied yet imaginative, and of whom you could identify with. This was and arguably still is, the best iteration of Dungeons and Dragons to date. 
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