In the previous post of this series, I had discussed in detail about the Golden Age of cartoons in India and how they made my life back in the 90s so glorious. As I had promised there, I will be discussing, at length, about all the cartoon shows that left an impact on me from that phase in the remaining chapters of the series.
Here I present the first chapter (I will have two more to follow in all probabilities, but may extend it to another one). Do take note that I am not listing these shows here in any chronological order. I am just presenting them in the order as I deem fit. Also, bear in mind that these are not Wikipedia posts; I will just discuss what I loved about the particular cartoon show, what set it apart, its takeaways, and the likes.
Since there are too many cartoon shows that I loved to list here, I am dividing them up as five for each post. Hopefully, by the end of the last one, I would have covered all the ones that I dearly loved.
Suffice to say, delving into my memory lanes and finding out the various facets that I loved of my favourite cartoons shows has been a thoroughly pleasurable experience. It triggered a host of beautiful memories and allowed me to meet the wide-eyed child inside me once again. Hopefully, whilst you are reading this, some of you will feel something similar.
Tom and Jerry:
To actually put into words what I actually feel about this show, I will perhaps need a separate article altogether. In fact, it wouldn’t be an overstatement to say that it was Tom and Jerry which actually kindled the love for cartoons in me as a child. If I am not mistaken, the show initially aired on Saturday evenings and early Sunday mornings. It didn’t require much time for me to get hooked on to the awesome adventures of this cat and mouse. The stories were delightfully comical – mostly laugh-out-loud funny – and the animation was just so clean and adorable.
While Jerry was cute, I actually loved Tom more. The way he always got into troubles despite being so cocksure all the time, and his myriad expressions of anger, overconfidence, and fear, among various others, just had me howling with laughter. I could watch the show all day and actually waited eagerly for Cartoon Network to air the Tom and Jerry marathons during holiday seasons. What was more was that even my mother loved the show, laughing loudly and clapping in delight at the misadventures of this cat and mouse.
There were two productions of the show back then – one by Fred Quimby and one by Chuck Jones. I personally loved the Fred Quimby ones; their storylines were hilarious, music was really pleasing and the animation was just gorgeous. And although I did watch the Chuck Jones episodes as well, I remember I would groan every time they would telecast theirs instead of Fred Quimby. Regardless, this was an absolute golden cartoon show which entertained generations of children and made holidays that much more pleasant. I could just curl up into my blanket like a ball, watch endless Tom and Jerry episodes through the day and never get bored.
Tom and Jerry will always be the show which actually defined my cartoon love during my childhood years. I am yet to find a cartoon show which has such an incredible repeat value. And I doubt anyone ever will.
This was another cartoon show which had a significant impact on my childhood. Dubbed in Hindi for Indian audiences, this Disney series showed the adventures of the billionaire duck Uncle Scrooge and his three nephews Huey, Dewey, and Louie. Set in the fictional town of Dukburg, the series was simply fantastic; a perfect children adventure show having thrill, suspense, comedy and a lot of jolly good fun. The show worked for me mostly because the stories had that real feel-good effect to them. And I remember that on several occasions, I had imagined myself taking a dip in a pool of gold coins, just like Uncle Scrooge.
I especially loved the lucid animation style and the terrific voice acting by the Hindi artists; most notably of Uncle Scrooge. (A bit of research tells me that he was some Mr. Kamelkar from Pune who passed away last year. May his soul rest in peace. He really did charm the lives of several children during that age with the majestic way he voiced Uncle Scrooge.)
And lastly, the theme song of the show was something that I really enjoyed. I remember me and my cousins singing along when the show would begin and yell “Woo Hoo!” every time the particular words would be sung on screen. Even today, I sometimes listen to the Hindi opening theme of DuckTakes just to get a feel of my childhood. Because listening to “Zindagi Suhaani Hai…” still reminds me how suhaani my childhood really was.
What a marvelous little show this was! I discovered this in my mid-teens and loved it thoroughly. I remember coming back from school and immediately switching to Cartoon Network to catch Dexter's Laboratory which aired in the 5 PM slot then. This show usually had quirky plotlines – centered around a young boy genius Dexter with his own laboratory and his eccentric sister Dee Dee. The stories would be absurd, far-fetched and a lot of fun.
All the characters in the show, including Dexter’s parents and his arch-nemesis Mandark, were absolutely wacky and extremely comical. Above all, what I really loved about the show was Dexter’s regular squabbles with Dee Dee, who, I must say, stole the show whenever she would be on screen. Dexter’s voice – which I found out much later was given by a woman named Christine Cavanaugh – was another brilliant feature of this series.
Overall, Dexter's Laboratory was a funtastic cartoon show and will hold a prime place in my memory.
This one, I think, aired on Star World, and was an immensely enjoyable series. It had that classic animation style and real fun storylines filled with action, drama and comedy along with tongue in cheek humor.
The stories revolved around four turtles – Leonardo, Michelangelo, Donatello, and Raphael – who are transformed into humanoids by a strange ooze. The turtles, who live in the sewers, are trained as ninjas warriors by a human martial arts master, Hamato Yoshi aka Splinter, who himself is changed into a humanoid rat and helps them in fighting crime.
This show fascinated me on several counts. First, the distinct weapons used by the four turtles – sword, nunchucks, staff and dagger – had me fixated. This was the first time I had come across such weapons and I would often imagine myself wielding the four weapons and vanquishing the bad guys on idle hours.
This series also introduced me to pizza for the first time. In those days, pizza wasn’t a prevalent snack in India and when I saw how the turtles relished eating it, it got me really interested. I assumed then that it must be a sweet-tasting food item but found out later how mistaken I was. Then, there was the voice of Shredder, the main villain of the show, which I really found fascinating. His deep, booming, and a tad robotic voice had me entranced and I and my brother would often try to emulate it. It was great fun.
While I never really tried rewatching Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, the show holds a memorable place in my cartoon-watching memory for its immense fun-filled action, great camaraderie between the characters, lovely animation, and silly and goofy fun.
For me, this is by far the best representation of Batman. As a child, I wasn’t really much into Batman; he didn’t have superpowers like Superman and there weren’t any great shows, films or comic books for me to know more about him then. But once I discovered Batman: The Animated Series – it started airing in the mid-90s on Cartoon Network – I was blown over.
Although the series was goofy and cheesy at times, it could also get quite dark and heavy during several storylines which is why watching this was so captivating. The show was a combination of superb storytelling and dark atmosphere with a good hint of wit mixed in. It is one of those very rare cartoon show that has genuine repeat value for adults and children alike and can still lure you into its gripping world with relative ease.
So these were the first five selections of my favourite old cartoon shows from the 90s. In the subsequent posts (probably two of them), I will discuss some of the other cartoon great cartoon series that impacted my life during that golden era of animation in India.
For now, I will eagerly look forward to work on the next chapter. Very few things, after all, get me excited as much as discussing my love for cartoons from the Golden Age.
Adios until then.