Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Thundarr the Barbarian, 1980.

Chris has been working on a post, but I have no idea when he's going to publish it, so I'm going to go ahead and post something. We really should probably work out a posting schedule, but whatever. So lately I've been Tivo'ing Thundarr on the Boom Network. It was a cartoon that ran in the early eighties and I have very fond memories of watching it on Saturday mornings. It was a futuristic, post-apocalyptic cartoon featuring the exploits of Thundarr, his faithful sidekick Ookla the Mok, and the sorceress, Princess Ariel. They battle Wizards (Thundarr hates Wizards) and other injustices in world. I thought (and still think) that this cartoon was way ahead of it's time and also was a pretty heavy topic for kids to digest at nine o'clock in the morning. But I loved this show and I think this is where I got my love of post-apocalyptic storylines. Anyways, here's the intro to the show, which I think is arguably the greatest intro to any cartoon ever made:

How awesome was that? The answer is; pretty awesome. Ah, 1994, what a terrible year. First Cobain killed himself, then a runaway planet passed inbetween the middle of the Earth and the Moon and destroyed the Earth's ecosystem. Wait a minute, I don't remember that happening, what the hell? Personally, I love when they set some futuristic event like ten to twenty years in the future. Like in Terminator 2, when the Russians counterattacked us in 1997 and created a nuclear holocaust. Mmmmmm, yeah, that didn't happen either. And according to Back To The Future II, we're less than seven years away from finally having flying cars (I've been waiting for this to happen since I first saw the Jetsons) and Hoverboards. I can't wait for that to happen. It's gonna be rad.

Anyways, I saw one last night and it was called the "Attack of the Amazon Women" and it was great. This one does kind of highlight Thundarr's Barbarian side though, and it's not pretty. For example, you'll see Thundarr kind of turn into a misogynistic asshole at about the 2:20 mark of this clip (you can skip the intro if you watched it in the clip above):

"Lords of Light! A woman! You took Thundarr by surprise, woman, it won't happen again! You're just a woman with a small brain. With a brain a third the size of us. It's science." Ok, maybe he didn't quote Anchorman, but you get the idea, Thundarr doesn't really see women as being his equal. I don't really understand why he had this reaction because he travels with a woman all the time and she holds her own. I think HR needs to send Thundarr to some sensitivity training real soon because it's only a matter of time before he gets the entire company in trouble over something he said during a conference call or while he's at a client in a sales meeting. Not cool, Thundarr, definitely not cool.

So if you watch the entire clip, you'll come across the funniest thing about the whole episode, which is the physics that are displayed when they fight underwater. It's basically just like they're on land, only they have to swim, but there's really no resistance from the water. At all. Anything they can do on land, they can do underwater, no sweat. Later in the episode Ookla throws a piece of a coral reef like he normally would and takes out like five Amazons. Thundarr swims down an Amazon riding a shark. Seriously, I'm not joking, he chases down a shark and hits an Amazon on the head and she falls off the shark. Totally awesome. And his Sun Sword works underwater, no problem. You'd think he'd electrocute the crap out of himself because, you know, electricity and water don't really mix, but somehow, someway, it works. Hey, it's a kids cartoon, what more do you want here?

Obviously parts of the show were blatently ripped off from Star Wars (Ookla is based on Chewbacca, the Sun Sword is a Lightsaber), but one of the main reasons I decided to write about Thundarr (other than the fact that it was just totally rad cartoon) is because The King was involved in the production. I caught one episode last week (I think it was called "City of Evil") and there was a city and some spaceships that looked like it was right out of an Eternals or Inhumans comic. I mean, you know Kirby's work instantly when you see it. He didn't have total creative control over this series, but you can definitely see his influence and you can really tell when he specifically designed something. Like I said, the man had an instantly recognizable style. I am hoping one day that they will put this masterpiece out on DVD, but for now I guess I'll just have to catch it on the Boom Network. Ariel! Ooka! Ride!


Jason said...

You gotta love how the clip of Thundarr cut to black in the middle of the climactic final scene. Brilliant! Don't stop believing!

Tyler said...

Yeah, but did Thundarr get whacked or did the audience get whacked? Will Ookla still take the construction site gig if Thundarr is dead? And when the hell is Ariel gonna learn how to parallel park?

Ahi said...

Gotta love a giant squid with laser beam tentacles, brilliant.

I think there must have been like one or two foley studios supplying all of the sounds to cartoons in the 80's, cause whenever you watch an old cartoon you can pick out sounds that you know from other cartoons. Like the standard chain lowering/platform raising sound that you hear when the Craken is released that can be heard in probably every other Scooby Doo episode.

Tyler said...

Yeah, I've definitely noticed the sounds lately while I've been watching them. Like the laserbeam sounds are all the same too, I heard every variation at least 9000 times growing up. Kind of brings back the memories though.