Thursday, January 20, 2011

The Top 9 Dubiously Awesome Cartoon Intros Ever

Hey, who doesn't love list posts? The correct answer is probably "everyone who sees them as a rather transparent way to disguise a lack of content," but never mind that. This time out, I thought I'd regale you with some thoughts on one of the things I've only briefly touched on here--my love of 80's cartoons, one of the many things that totally screwed up my mind, as I mentioned last time.

So I thought rather than begin another long-winded bloviation about 80's cartoons, why not show off a few? No? Well, we're doing it anyway. Presented for your edification and delectation, Witless Prattle presents, in no particular order, the top 9 awesomest cartoon intros ("awesomest," of course, is by my deeply subjective definition) It was supposed to be ten, but I couldn't embed by 10th choice, and so you are free to speculate one what it might be if you choose to.

Let's get this rolling!

1. Silverhawks

Okay, so let's be honest here--while Silverhawks is leagues better than Thundercats (this is not open for debate. One had the Berbils, one didn't. The one without wins) they and their third counterpart Tigersharks were basically the same damn show--team of guys with vaguely anthropomorphic animal powers fights team of bad guys, the leader of which changes form in some rather badass way that somehow never really seems to turn the tide as much as you think.

But you don't figure that shit out until you're older, so never mind that. Man, that is a killer intro, even if that "Partly metal, partly real" line is utter bullshit (I understand why it's there, though--"Cyborg" is a hard word to rhyme) and that's before the guitar solo kicks in.

Of course, the intro promises far more action than the show can ever possibly deliver--I mean they're just in the fight. No strained comedy, no unlikely plot to slow us down, no bullshit stuff with Copper Kidd learning about goddam astronomy, just action, action, action.

2. Voltron

Oh HELL yes. Optimus Prime can narrate the phone book and make it sound like some important shit. I think one of the reasons that Voltron is "loved by good and feared by evil" is because Voltron is rather disturbingly imaginative when it comes to wrecking people. "Oh, well, today I'll gut the giant monster like a rainbow trout. . . upside down! Take this fucker--it's Opposite Day!" It's like Hostel with giant robots.

While this one doesn't promise much in the way of action, it makes up for it by making the show look as epic as possible (easy to do with impressionable kids) by a combination of dramatic narrating and a really awesome main theme.

3. Iron Man

This is actually the second intro, and as goofy and risible as it is, please believe me when I tell you it is an order of magnitude better than the first one. The weird thing is, as silly as it is, and how both you and I are giggling as we watch this . . .it kinda works. I mean, we have the image of Tony Stark with a hammer (one of those subtle iconic images that somehow became synonymous with Iron Man--it's in the movie, it shows up on comic covers, etc.) and, for some reason, Eddy Guerrero's mullet. Oh and how many times have we used "I am Iron Man" in some way, shape, or form? Even before they finally used the Black Sabbath song in the movie, people were doing it in ways that one would think music clearance rights would make impossible.

4. The Adventures of the Galaxy Rangers

The baddest-ass cartoon no one knows about has an equally fucking awesome intro. Rocking the space western thing before Firefly was a gleam in anyone's eye, we get the setup, we meet the Rangers, we have some dude shredding on a guitar like this is the most awesome fucking thing ever (it's close) Oh, and they end the intro with firing at the screen. That's always a good bit.

5. The Mighty Orbots

Ohhhh shit--a computer the size of a planet that looks like a fish is threatening earth and only six goofy-ass robots can stand against them. Fortunately, they have a hyperactive/awesome theme song and some beautiful animation (I felt so bad that this was the Superfriends' lead-in back in the day. Kinda made it look like shit) which gets around the fact that the female robots are named "Ohno, Bo, and Boo." Man, I sometimes wish my childish innocence guided my soul more than it does--because then I probably wouldn't wonder who the fuck thought any of that was a good idea.

Bo and Boo. I didn't get it then, I don't get it now.

6. Thundercats

As I said with Silverhawks, there is no way in hell the show can possibly deliver on the awesomeness promised in this intro, and Thundercats never failed to live up to those expectations. I mean, bad enough that all the main Thundercats are pretty dumb (so much so that when the second string gets introduced later, they make the main guys look good by being dumber than they are) but then you add in professional hostages Wilykat and Wilykit, and you a cherry to that mediocrity with Snarf, who is less a "funny sidekick" and more an "unfunny jackboot to the kidneys." When you add the Berbils on top of that . . .well, let's just say the show missed a few opportunities, pat ourselves on the back for not making a joke about furries, and move on to number 7!

7. Transformers

The quality animation and all the cool shit happening here is somewhat of a downer when you consider the following: It was all nicked from toy commercials, the actual story your about to see would be nowhere near as well-animated (when it was animated at all) and this was the last season of Transformers and it's just three episodes about the stupid Headmasters.

Still, pretty rad and delivers on the recommended daily allowance of robots gatting the fuck out of each other, and really, you can't hate on that but so much.

8. Spiral Zone

"SURRENDER, OR PAY THE CONSEQUENCES." In a plot that has "HALO ripoff" (seriously, it seems like someone would have nicked this concept by now) all over it, a scientists has created a brain-sucking biological weapon that threatens to enslave the world, because it gives everyone red lesions and makes most people act like zombies, and the only people who can help are a group of stalwart heroes . . .and the guy behind them fucking shredding on the guitar.

9. Gargoyles

Like Voltron, Gargoyles aspires (and mostly succeeds if you watch the show) to be EPIC, and its intro is geared towards that. The problem is, it's far too easy to push too hard, and so things get a little bit hilarious about the time the narrator says "AND WE LIVE AGAIN!" Man, me and my friends got so much mileage out of how funny that shit was.

The awesome thing, though is that even with that rather notable handicap, it's still pretty awesome and gets you pumped for the show. Such is the way of really cool stuff, I guess--it can somehow round the corner on cheese and come back to "awesome" like some kind of wacky completion backwards principle in ways the intro to, say, "Heathcliff and the Cadillac Cats" never really did.


Diana Kingston-Gabai said...

No love for Carmen Sandiego? :) Although, yes, Epic Gargoyles Intro Is Epic. I still get chills. "The spell is broken... AND WE LIVE AGAIN!!!"

Kazekage said...

Nahh . . .I'd barely seen it, I'm ashamed to say. Man, Carmen got hot somewhere along the way.

I know, right? I kinda miss intros with narration or a theme songs with lyrics (The new Avengers cartoon is so silly it goes around to being awesome again)--it could really hit you in a very visceral place and get you pumped for the show.

Diana Kingston-Gabai said...

And she was voiced by Rita Moreno, no less. :)

I miss intros, period - the norm these days seems to be a three-second title card. Supposedly this gives actual episodes more time, but I have yet to see anyone making real use of those extra forty seconds.

Kazekage said...

. . .right before she became the counselor on Oz, I bet.

I know, right? The idea of it adding more time is just utter nonsense, it's all to jam more commercials in. I've never once seen it lead to more actual program time.

I miss the purpose that intros used to have for psyching you up for the show ahead. About the only one that still manages that trick nowadays is Sym-Bionic Titan

Diana Kingston-Gabai said...

And that, kids, is why crime doesn't pay. :)

Quite right. It's telling that the only series with proper intros tend to be either BBC imports or animated series.

Kazekage said...

Actually, I think she was one of the few characters to survive until the end, and when you consider the show ends with an anthrax attack . . .no mean feat.

And even then, you better have thirty good seconds to hook people, because that's about all you can hope for. That's one of the things that inspired me to do that list on cartoon intros. :)