Friday, November 19, 2010

Memories of Filmation

If you have grown up during the time I grew up (or maybe a few years later – I am a long-time fan of cartoons and never really stopped watching), you will probably have seen one or more Filmation series.

I’m not writing this post just because I’m bored or something, but because I’m currently watching one of them on DVD. Personally, I can remember four series that were definitely “Filmation” – two of them with a lot of action figures and two which (at least in Germany) came without. The four series were “He-Man”, “She-Ra”, “Brave Starr” and “Ghostbusters”. It is the latter I’m currently watching.

There’s one rather annoying thing which all four series have in common (besides basic design and graphic style): the moral at the end. Every episode (save for stories with multiple episodes) had a moral which was retold to the kids at the end. That was annoying, even then, even for a kid.

Those morals aside, the series were quite funny. Each came with a rather large group of bad guys (and girls), some of which were really strange. Each also introduced a host of side characters. I’ve watched all of those series at some point (though some never completely), but this post will be mostly about “Ghostbusters”, which has an interesting real live story attached to itself.

I think the series was produced after the first “Ghostbusters” movie came out. It had absolutely nothing to do with the movie – unlike another cartoon series, “The Real Ghostbusters” (plus the sequel produced a lot later). But the characters (both heroes and villains) of this series were much more bizarre than those of the “The Real Ghostbusters”. There seems to have been a real-life series with the same characters about ten years prior, but it never aired in Germany, so I can’t comment on it.

Like all Filmation series, this one had a change sequence for the main characters (which, I guess, Filmation ‘copied’ from Japanese ‘Magical Girl’ animes). But, unlike the other series, this one did not feature heroes with supernatural powers (although you could qualify the ability of smelling ghosts as one), so it really was a change of clothing and no change of appearance (unlike with He-Man, She-Ra or the horse in Brave Starr).

The voice talents – of the German version, at least – are quite questionable in some cases and I have the feeling (but can’t bring proof as my DVD set doesn’t contain the English version) that the dialogues were toned down a bit in some cases (making them more ‘suitable’ for kids).

By today’s standards, the animation quality isn’t very high, but we’re talking about a TV series produced in the USA around 1985. Stories are usually quite simple and predictable, but that’s pretty normal for series aimed at kids.

Provided you switch back to the main menu in time (before the ‘Moral of the Day’), the series still is quite fun today and I definitely had fun while watching it.

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