Kids love heroes. Not real ones, real people are for suckers. Kids love cartoons. Cartoon heroes like Bo Jackson and Perry the Platypus are awesome and teach kids that you can be anything, as long as you’re not really real. But not every hero is a secret agent monotreme in a hat, oh no. Some are just sucky bags of suck sucking up the screen on the way to Sucksville.
Sweet Mary, ain’t this something. If you ever read the stories of Hercules, you may have overlooked his shrill twat of a sidekick Newton, as no one in all of ancient Greece or Rome felt it necessary to ruin a good story with an asshole sidekick. Not so for cartoonists of the 1960’s, when assholes sidekicks were all the rage.
Newton is a centaur, or, more likely, the unwanted offspring of a slow witted human parent and a donkey. While lantern-jawed Hercules roamed the ancient world in a toga and helpful ‘H’ belt buckle, fighting Daedalus, a guy in a purple onesie, because no one who wrote this show had ever picked up a piece of mythology ever, Newton stands next to or behind him making high-pitched squeaks and squawks.
Adding nothing to Hercules’ heroics, Newton mostly served to repeat himself and call for help. He was a Ginger rape whistle who ran funny. The Green Hornet’s sidekick could kick a man’s head off. Newton eats oats.
This show made as much sense as a transient who’s been freebasing gasoline and Lysol trying to explain quantum theory. The premise is that there’s a Rubik’s cube from outer space or an alternate dimension or Detroit or some shit, and it’s magic or solves crimes or maybe it just lets you know the day is going to be saved so long as you make a little girl cry.
Rubik helped three kids deal with every day problems, and also fight a wizard, which is only an every day problem for some of us. Despite apparently having the ability to do anything, he spent his days cooking hot dogs and making children weep to prove points. Also, his voice is probably the last thing you’ll hear before you die if you’ve been a bad person.
It’s tough to determine who tried harder to pussify children, Captain Planet or the Care Bears, but the edge has to go to the bears. At least if you followed Captain Planet you could make a couple bucks from recycling cans. All the Care Bears could offer you was a super power that bore a stark resemblance to exhibitionism, and the assurance that caring for others was much better than hating them. We’re forced to assume, if not for this show, a generation of children would have decided to set their homes on fire and model most of their behavior after Emperor Palpatine.
Something tells me He-Man was meant to be the ultimate hero, his preposterous name implies he’s so much man he’s become an exponent. He has a mighty sword and friends who have giant fists and all is well in the world, except for a small handful of often overlooked but significant details which knock He-Man from his perch of “superhero” down to “lame ass Pointdexter with a sword.” Let’s investigate;
1. Skeletor. Time and again, He-Man butts heads with his nemesis, the evil wizard Skeletor. On the surface this seems to fit the hero paradigm well. Superman has Lex Luthor, Spiderman has the Green Goblin, FOX News has integrity. The problem is Skeletor is more bumbling than Mr. Bean after a bottle of schnapps. Did Skeletor actually do anything right? And even if he did, he’s a skeleton. I don’t want to ruin anyone’s day, but do you know how to fight a skeleton? Hit it with anything, anywhere. 2. Cringer. Thanks to the power of Grayskull, Cringer, the cowardly green tiger, turns into Battlecat. However, the rest of the time, he’s a cowardly green tiger. Why the hell is he a cowardly green tiger? Couldn’t you have a brave green tiger that becomes even more awesome thanks to the power of Grayskull? Yeah, you wrap your head around that concept. A manly tiger would probably be able to shoot lasers right out of its dong with the power of Grayskull. All Cringer gets is a masquerade costume. 3. Prince Adam. When not saving his hapless planet from its remarkably dense villain population (compared to its ‘everyone else’ population, which seems very low), He-Man spends his time as Prince Adam, a man in a pink vest and pink tights with a page boy haircut who is friends with a guy named Fisto. Only when you make him angry will he take off the pink an instead put on fur underpants and a harness. Yeah…
You would have to wander the desert for dozens of years, surviving on the blood of venomous snakes and your own urine to hatch an idea as nonsensical and batshit crazy as the Mr. T cartoon. It’s Mr. T, 80’s tough guy and star of the A-team, traveling the country with teenage gymnasts and a dog that has a Mohawk, fighting evil and pommel horses. Look at what happens in that video at 0:35. A log, suspended from 2 dead trees by nothing more than the mad whims of a cartoonist, for no reason, completely destroys a hovercraft with Mr. T on it. How does T respond? He swims up behind an unsuspecting alligator and, while treading water with only his feet, hurls it from the very swamp itself by its tail. For no reason at all. At all.
Mr. T and his team of young gymnasts traveled from gymnastic meet to gymnastic meet on their bus, inexplicably running afoul of not just mysteries, but actual terrorists and thwarting their plans. There’s an episode where they stop men who have a biological weapon, for God’s sake. And, for whatever reason, Coach T feels the need to constantly have children at the forefront of his assault on international crime before coming in at the end with a lesson we all need to learn. The lesson is never “don’t let Mr. T coach your kids, they’ll probably die.”