Saturday, July 17, 2010

The Cartoon Historian Lesson 19: Thundercats

Well,It's safe to say that I've covered every Iconic Cartoon of the 80's....except for one. And that's the one I'm gonna cover Today. It's Thundercats on the Cartoon Historian.

[Cartoon Historian Theme]

Welcome to the Cartoon Historian,now before I go on to talk about the Thundercats,I'm gonna wait for my assistant Mina,who's 5 minutes late. For those who seen The Spider-Man Cartoon Trilogy episodes,you'll know who I'm talkling about.

[enter mina]

Mina: Sorry I'm late,Stefan. I had a crapload of things to do.

Don't do this to me again,Mina.

Mina: Or What?

Or I'll tickle torture you.

Mina: Oooh Kinky.

*sigh* Anyway,The ThunderCats were produced by Rankin/Bass Productions in 1985. They were based on characters created by Tobin "Ted" Wolf.

The animation was provided by Pacific Animation Corporation, the working name for a group of Japanese studios including Topcraft,the group who would later go on to form Studio Ghibli.

Season 1 of the show aired in 1985. In 1986 a Thundercat TV movie was made,ThunderCats - HO!

Seasons 2-4 followed a new format of twenty episodes each, starting with a five-part story; these aired from 1987 to 1988, 1988 to 1989, and 1989 to 1990, respectively.

The series was originally distributed by Telepictures Corporation (which would later merge with Lorimar Productions).

Near the end of 1988, Lorimar-Telepictures was purchased by Warner Bros., whose TV syndication arm would assume distribution of the show.

Mina: In other words,Warner Bros. owns Thundercats.

Mina: On March 17, 1997, ThunderCats was seen on Cartoon Network's Toonami. The series would depart and return in various timeslots including Saturday mornings and late night marathons until 2002.

It was announced on June 5, 2007, that Aurelio Jaro was making a CGI-animated feature film of ThunderCats, based on a script written by Paul Sopocy. In October 2007, Variety magazine revealed that Jerry O'Flaherty, veteran video game art director, had signed on to direct.

The film is being produced by Spring Creek Productions. It was originally set for a summer 2010 release, but it has since been reported that the movie is on hold. Concept art for the film has also been leaked online.

Mina: Interesting. I wonder how this movie's gonna turn out?

Probably a big pile of crap. Y'know how Hollywood is.

Mina: Really? Ya think? Anyway,ThunderCats follows the adventures of a Cat-Humanoid alien heroes from the planet of Thundera. The series pilot begins with the dying Thundera meeting its end, forcing the ThunderCats to flee their homeworld.

Mina: The fleet is attacked by the Thundereans's enemies, the Mutants of Plun-Darr, who destroy all the starships in the "ThunderFleet," but spare the flagship hoping to capture the legendary mystic Sword of Omens they believe is on board.

Mina: The sword holds the Eye of Thundera, the source of the ThunderCats' power, which is embedded in the hilt.

Mina: Though the Mutants damage the flagship, the power of the Eye drives them back. The damage to the ship means the journey to their destination of "Third Earth" will take decades longer than planned.

Mina: Lion-O's elderly guardian, Jaga, volunteers to pilot the ship while the others sleep in capsules; however, he dies of old age in the process, but not before ensuring they will reach their destination safely.

Mina: The flagship contains the young Lord of the ThunderCats, Lion-O, as well as ThunderCats Cheetara, Panthro, Tygra, WilyKit and WilyKat, and Snarf.

Mina: When the ThunderCats awake from their suspended animation on Third Earth, Lion-O discovers that his suspension capsule has only slowed his aging, and he is now a child in the body of an adult. Wicked!

Mina: Together, the ThunderCats and the friendly natives of Third Earth construct the "Cat's Lair," their new home and headquarters.Soon however,the Mutants have followed our heroes to Third Earth.

Mina: The intrusion of these two alien races upon the world does not go unnoticed,The demonic, mummified sorcerer, Mumm-Ra, recruits the Mutants to aid him in his campaign to acquire the Eye of Thundera and destroy the ThunderCats so that his evil might continue to hold sway over Third Earth. So that was Mumm-Ra's goal,huh?

Anyway,According to the first chapter of the Comic,Thundercats Origins: Heroes and Villains;Third Earth is actually Our Earth in the future. Mumm-Ra comes from ancient Egypt, where he first met the Ancient Spirits of Evil and acquired his tremendous powers.

He's the one responsible for destroying the human race, after he broke free from the onyx pyramid’s burial chamber where a Pharaoh imprisoned him.

Mina: Whoa,who thought Mumm-Ra could be such a Hard-Core Villain? Sweetness!

Anyway,Mumm-Ra's the main Bad-Guy for most of Season 1 and served as the basis for a vast array of stories that freely mixed elements of science fiction and fantasy into a traditional good-versus-evil tale that steadily introduced more and more recurring allies and villains into the world of the ThunderCats.

Futuristic technology is just as central to the series as magic and myth, but even with all this all this action, the series never under-emphasizes the importance of moral values in solving problems.

Each episode would normally include a short moral lesson. The characters,after the events of the story,would take the time to single out a personal value or wholesome approach that helped save the day, or could have done so if they had not overlooked it.

Mina: A PSA within the show,folks. And this was Before the FCC 'Educational Value in Action Cartoon' ruling. But we'll get into that another time.

The first half of Season 1 featured a gentle continuity, with early episodes following on from one another and establishing recurring concepts, although this became less common as the season transitioned into its second half, which were mostly one-shot adventures.

Mina: Tying the second season together was the five-part adventure "Lion-O's Anointment,". In these episodes,an unarmed Lion-O faced off against the other ThunderCats to truly earn his title as Lord of the ThunderCats.

The 1986 TV movie "ThunderCats - Ho!" featured the first major shake-up to the status quo of the series, introducing three new ThunderCats who had also survived the destruction of Thundera.

A massive cast of returning heroes and villains were incorporated into the story to make it the most epic ThunderCats adventure yet,and it concluded with the apparent destruction of Mumm-Ra.

Mina: When the series returned in 1987, however, this was quickly proven not to be the case in the opening mini-series, "Mumm-Ra Lives!", as the evil wizard survived his fate.

Mina: "Mumm-Ra Lives!" set the pattern for the show's final three seasons, which each began with a five-part mini-series that established the new characters and concepts that would go on to influence the rest of the series.

In the case of "Mumm-Ra Lives!", these concepts included the debut of the Lunataks, who became the 3nd set of BadGuys and the new team of ThunderCats from The Movie being given their own headquarters, vehicles and so forth.

Mina: The 1988 season began with "ThunderCubs," a miniseries named for its plot about the ThunderCats being transformed into children, but which was principally about Mumm-Ra reconstructing Thundera in order to retrieve both the weapon that had originally destroyed it (the Sword of Plun-Darr) and the legendary Treasure of Thundera.

Mina: In the course of the adventure, the treasure - containing the Book of Omens, a tome holding all the secrets of the ThunderCats, and many other mystical items - was scattered across the New Thundera, ushering in a new concept for the series: a season with an actual story arc.

Continuity between episodes became tighter as the ThunderCats, Mutants, Lunataks and Mumm-Ra alternated their adventures between Third Earth and New Thundera, searching for the treasure and exploiting its powers.

Mina: The season also featured the running theme of the Ancient Spirits of Evil having to take a more active hand in pushing Mumm-Ra into action. Ultimately, the villain failed, and was banished to the farthest corner of the universe by the spirits.

However, Mumm-Ra returned for the 1989 season. In the opening miniseries, "Return to Thundera!", the ThunderCats returned to New Thundera to rebuild their society, but before departing, they destroy Mumm-Ra's pyramid, enraging the Ancient Spirits of Evil to the point that they bring Mumm-Ra back, and install him within a new pyramid on New Thundera.

Mina: The season proved to be quite divorced from what had gone on before, with adventures consigned almost entirely to New Thundera, and most villainous opposition coming from either Mumm-Ra or assorted new villains.

Mina: The Mutants and Lunataks returned for one episode each, however. In the series finale, several conclusions are reached. Such as:Mumm-Ra standing up to and asserting himself over the Ancient Spirits of Evil, the mystery of the Book of Omens was at last solved, and the terrifying environment of Thundera was at last rendered peaceful and pristine.

Mina: Now,here's some interesting info about the Voices.

Despite its large cast of characters, ThunderCats featured a rather small circle of voice actors, with only six actors providing voices for the entire first season.

Every actor provided multiple voices, although the distinctive baritone of Earle Hyman (Panthro) left the actor providing only very occasional guest voices in comparison with his fellow performers.

Mina: For those who are unaware,Earl Hyman was the Old dude who played Russel Huxtable,Cliff's Father on The Cosby Show.

Very Good,Mina! Lynne Lipton (Cheetara and WilyKit) was the seasons Only female actor and provided voices for every single female character that appeared in the season.

Above all others, however, actor Bob McFadden would most regularly provide the voices of the male guest characters as well as Thundercat Companion Snarf and Mutant Leader Slithe.

Mina: Despite introducing a large number of new regular characters, the show's second season brought in only two new actors: Gerrianne Raphael and Doug Preis. Gerrianne Raphael was brought in to voice Pumyra. This provided Lynne Lipton with some relief by adding a new actress.

Mina: I'm surprised they didn't take a page out of Voltron's book and had the Male Actors play Female Characters. I can't believe the people behind Voltron actually did that.

Anyway,While actor Doug Preis is regularly credited on the Internet as the voice of Lynx-O,though in reality,it was Bob McFadden who provided that voice. Preis played Lunatak Alluro.

Mina: That info was likely taken from IMDb,a fountain of missinformation. Just goes to show you,you can't trust everything youn read.

Yup. Anyway,In January 2009, IGN named ThunderCats as the 49th-best show in their Top 100 Best Animated TV Shows.

Mina: Next Year,A new Thundercats series will debut on Cartoon Network [wasted potential?] and will be produced by Warner Bros. and animated by Japan's Studio 4C.

I Hate Cartoon Network. I swear to God I do.

Mina: You and the majority of Americans.

Well that about wraps it up for the Cartoon Historian,See...

Mina: *cuts me off* Wait What!? That's It? I thought there'd be more inside info on the series?

Unfortunatly this is all the data that I could aquire. As I was saying,See ya next time on The Cartoon Historian.

Mina: See Ya!

[fade to black. credits roll as the thundercat closing theme plays]


KingsSideCastle said...

Great episode!! Thunder Thunder Thundercats Ho!!!

Stefan said...

Thanks. A lot More to come. And according to the Poll my next CH episode should be Cartoon Network.