?By Ethan Kaye
A few weeks ago, TR contributor Adam Pawlus reminded us all of the phenomena of the “babies” cartoons that dominated the ’80s and early ’90s — that is, when kiddie versions of popular franchises were all the cartoon rage. Obviously, the most predominant were Muppet Babies and Tiny Toons, although there were more than a few stinkers in the bunch… which led in no small part to the whole fad dying a horrible death a few years later. But isn’t it time we took another look at baby-fied cartoons? With so many awesome properties out there, aren’t there more than a few blockbuster cartoons just waiting to happen for the upcoming pilot season? We say yes, and we have 10 properties just dying to put on the metaphorical diaper and pee in it… but in a good way.
10) Angel Investigations
If the book series Encyclopedia Brown has proved anything, it’s that kids solving mysteries is “cute” rather than “potentially dangerous or open to lawsuit.” And who’s the best fictional detective out there? Angel, the vampire spin-off from Buffy! Just ignore continuity and set a 6-year-old-bodied Angel (who cares how old he’d be mentally) up with a “for-hire” detective shop in his parents’ garage, along with his pals the bitchy Cordelia and the nerdy Wesley! He can be a vampire still, but only crave red kool-aid and solve his crimes at night. Colorful friends like Lorne and the mean kids from Wolfram & Hart Private School for Evil Youngsters show up on a weekly basis to solve crimes like “Lost Little Puppy” and “Who’s Been Eating Congressmen?”
9) ‘Lil Jabba and the Tatooine Tykes
The feel-good hit of the year! Since little Jabba the Hutt can’t really travel too far, as he is a big slug, his friends have to make up adventures for him to go on while he’s stuck at home. In these stories, Jabba takes on the role of a swashbuckling daredevil, and his friends (younger versions of the characters from the opening of Return of the Jedi) get equally cool fantasy transformations. Sometimes they’re smugglers in space, sometimes they’re exploring galaxies, and sometimes they’re superheroes! Every episode ends with the story being over, and everyone going back to their real lives, especially poor Jabba, whose obesity will prevent him from ever finding love. Maybe it’ll make kids exercise or something.
8) Patton Oswalt’s Weird, Weird Life
Every night a live-action Patton Oswalt (played by the comedian himself) goes to sleep and has animated dreams where he’s a kid again! All his comedy bits about heavy metal and Star Wars and stoves that rape people come to life every episode! His friends from the Comedians of Comedy tour can show up every week too! Hey, if Louie Anderson and Roseanne Barr can get shows where they’re kids, Patton should get one too, since he’s funnier than both of them, and skinnier, too.
7) Swamp Thing, Jr.
Less of an entertaining kids’ show and more of a PBS nature program, Swamp Thing, Jr. introduces Alec Holland’s swamp-child Buster Thing. Buster asks his “dad” questions about nature, especially plant life, and Swamp Thing explains them through a lot of recycled NOVA footage. After they go through all the cool carnivorous plants the series slows down, but hey, any series with Swamp Thing is automatically better than 90% of nature shows already on PBS.
6) Jim Henson’s Hindu Babies
Very edgy, very risky, but potentially very profitable. With over 830 million Hindus worldwide, this has a tremendous audience. The amazing gods of India such as Hanuman, the monkey god, Ganesha, the elephant-headed god, and Brahma who has three faces, can be shrunken down (but not reduced in power!) into cute, fun-loving versions of their regular-sized selves. Lots of religious fun and lessons plus some scrape ups with various cosmic demons make for a gripping, and wholly wholesome, half hour for the entire family, provided they’re not racists.
5) Ziggy Stardust and the Pre-Schoolers from Mars
Speaking of colorful, why not have a Saturday morning cartoon about kid-versions of ’70s glam rock stars? David Bowie’s perfect for kids, and so’s Iggy Pop; Lou Reed could be the cool part of the gang. They could all hang out at “Daycare 54” and chase girls and rock out all the time. The musical breaks could be a lot of fun, for both young children and adults on drugs, the hallmark of all the best cartoons. Gary Glitter would not be included in this list of cast members, for obvious reasons.
4) Yu-Gi-Oh Juvenile Master Card Fun Time!
Basically the same as the regular show, except the characters are slightly younger. No one really seems to understand it, kids included, so making the characters 5 years old won’t really improve or damage the show. But it does buy an extra half hour of TV time.
3) The Young Over the Top Chronicles
Sly Stallone can lend his voice to the adventures of young Lincoln Hawk, a schoolyard tyke who solves all his problems with arm-wrestling. There is no problem that Hawk can’t solve by grabbing the offending party and forcing them to arm-wrestle on a conveniently-placed table. Much like Punky Brewster, Hawk will have his own alien friend named “Hubbins” who gets into mischief, usually of an arm-wrestling nature. One episode (the holiday episode) will feature Hawk understanding the meaning of Hanukkah, then beating some home-schooled kids at arm-wrestling.
2) The Afterschool Arkham Asylum Gang
What better crowd of juvie delinquents than the deranged, colorful psychos at Arkham? It could be a Welcome Back, Kotter scenario, where the good ‘ol Arkham Asylum gang has to take detention every day and they learn life lessons from teacher Jeremiah Arkham while having goofy fantasy sequences a la Muppet Babies. Wouldn’t you like to see kid versions of Joker, Mad Hatter, and Hush? Yes, you would, and DC knows it. And if DC likes to make money, they’ll get this show in gear ASAP.
1) Cthulhu’s Clues
As evidenced by this marvelous cartoon, Cthulhu is ready-made to entertain our nation’s youth. Whether he’s going on adventures in the darkest reaches of the universe or just palling around with Dagon and the other Deep Ones, Cthulhu loves to play as much as he loves to devour souls! So why not have Cthulhu bring kids on his adventures with him by having them play along and spot various eldritch horrors on the screen? Sure, the children will all end up gibbering insanely, but how many parents would really notice? Or, for that matter, care as long as the kids keep occupied for an hour or so? And as soon as those children sacrifice their parents to Yog-Soggoth and can watch TV whenever they want, Cthulhu’s Clues will be a guaranteed ratings hit!