Thursday, July 25, 2024

RetroReview: The SquADD Shares Their Best Saturday Morning Cartoon.

November 17, 2023 by  
Filed under Cartoons, GM, News, TV/Film/Movies

( My brother and I have been watching All Def’s Great Taste series and one of the topics the SquADD went into was the best Saturday morning cartoon. Now, this is a video from four years ago but most of the selections were great. Let’s go into the best toons as selected by the SquADD.

Patrick Cloud: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles – Gold Tier Pick

As a kid in the 90s, my first two animation favorites were TMNT and The Real Ghostbusters. Both shows aired Saturdays on CBS and ABC respectively with older episodes airing on syndication—UPN, the WB/FOX during the school week. At least here in Birmingham.

Of the two, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles was the cartoon to held up the best. It went from episodic, spanking Shredder and the Foot Clan every week to crossovers with Stan Sakai’s award-winning Usagi Yojimbo and more of a serial approach towards the end.

The stories were multiple-part affairs in the later seasons, new characters were introduced with their own storylines and it was as if the series grew with the audience. While the aesthetic of anamorphic and other morphs being crime fighters at night and teaming with understanding humans, it was the structure of the show that had long-lasting influence as the FOX Kids cartoons Batman, Spider-Man, and X-Men all followed similar formats early on before providing episodes you had to be on time to catch.

Hell, the fact that most of the SquADD—in their 30s—remembered the theme song of a cartoon that ended in the mid-90s is a testament to how dope the OG Ninja Turtles was.

Patrick Cloud: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles – Gold Tier Pick.

Tony Barker:  Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends – Silver Tier Pick

So, Barker picked a toon from 1981 which ran for two seasons. This isn’t unusual for cartoons made in the 60s into the 90s. After all, cartoons were meant to be 20-minute commercials and not high-level storytelling for elementary school kids. Of the cartoons presented, this and the next option were the best for kids who just wanted color and an adventure.

No, it’s not FOX Kids Spider-Man but it was a fun cartoon in the adventure vein of Jonny Quest, Space Ghost, The Herculoids, and other Hanna-Barbera toons. Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends was very much a villain-of-the-episode cartoon that got the job done if you didn’t need much story or character development.

Khleo Thomas: Darkwing Duck – Silver Tier Pick

I’m giving Darkwing Duck silver-tier honors. It’s basically a parody of Batman and had an action-adventure approach similar to Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends. As it was pointed out, Darkwing Duck’s villains were actually more interesting and powerful than him—like Batman’s rogues gallery—and similar to TMNT, it had a memorable enough theme song.

Actually, the theme song endeared longer than the series itself.  If Disney didn’t mind going as hard with it’s friendly anamorphic characters as it does with the some of the Marvel and Star Wars stuff, Darkwing Duck could be a fresh new series for those who liked the Duck franchise. Low key, I’d entertain a DD remake.

Tacarra Williams: Gargoyles – Gold Tier Pick

I believe I’ve discussed Gargoyles before but that was probably Mummies Alive. If I haven’t discussed it, just know many other Blerds and Black writers who grew up in 90s have praised Gargoyles over the years. I was a fan of the series as it had a little more bite to it than other weird vigilante cartoons of the decade.

Content and story-wise, it was similar to late-Batman: The Animated Series, Batman Beyond, and X-Men. Definitely not as hard as HBO Spawn but harder than Freakzoid or The Tick. The animation had that detailed but sharp style that I liked in 90s American animation. Remember, this was the extreme 90s so softer lines and a variety of face and body shapes for all characters wasn’t a priority.

You’d definitely see big-bodied villains and goons as well as rail-thin sneaky masterminds in cartoons of the decade. Gargoyles, while darker aesthetically, ran with that art style and delivered long-running storytelling.

Of course, this didn’t make for a cartoon that would rock more than two seasons. It was essentially a cartoon that was a decade or so early and would’ve thrived on Netflix for a few seasons.

Doboy: The Jetsons – Foil Tier Pick

Look. I was a fan of The Flintstones, Wait Till Your Father Gets Home, and The Funky Phantom. Hanna-Barbera cartoons were my sh** but I just didn’t care for The Flintstones in the Future. That’s all The Jetsons was, honestly. It’s like back in the 1960s, you had a few sitcoms focused on a married couple then by the 70s and onward you had endless family sitcoms.

The Jetsons was a family sitcom as George Jetson didn’t have friends of note. Meanwhile, Fred Flintsone was a loyal member of the Water Buffalos, had friends, and often went to see the Big Fight. Hell, The Flintstones didn’t become a family sitcom even after Wilma had Pebbles.

Finally, The Jetsons was just boring. Not even mid.

Brent Taylor: X-Men – Diamond Tier Pick

The last pick we’re going into was presented by Brent: X-Men: The Animated Series. First off, I live X-Men and the mutant world of Marvel. The 90s series started out in as serious a tone as it could because the X-Men’s original goal was to fight racism against mutants while other superhumans whose origins weren’t public knowledge got praise for their exploits.

Well, except for Spider-Man but he was a victim of tabloid-grade slander by New York’s main newspaper—and his employer. Also, J. Jonah just had an irrational hate of Spidey, the X-Men were dealing with racism from fellow citizens, future problems, problems from the future, and another group of powerful mutants—perceived as terrorists—wanting extreme change for mutants.

A Saturday morning cartoon explored these themes and made you want to tune in every weekend to see what happens next or to watch a conclusion. It was a great can’t-miss-an-episode cartoon throughout its run even when a story wasn’t that engaging.

With diamond being the highest tier and tin being the lowest—diamond, gold, silver, bronze, and tin—what tier would you rank these cartoons? Let us know in the comments!

Staff Writer; M. Swift

This talented writer is also a podcast host, and comic book fan who loves all things old school. One may also find him on Twitter at; metalswift.

Speak Your Mind

Tell us what you're thinking...
and oh, if you want a pic to show with your comment, go get a gravatar!