Please consider this an appendix to July 2012’s Minch’s Pop Tarts. This post came about in reference to a conversation I had with Mike Minch the day that column ran, and as such is related to it in spirit and heritage.
Young’uns, come ‘ro
und, have a seat and I’ll tells ya a tale, a tale of cartoons and how they used to come on Saturday Mornings. It was special, ‘cause that’s when all the good cartoons came on. Then slowly, some cartoons, lesser toons mind you, started to creep into Sundays, and before ya knew it, there were cartoons on in the mornings, seven days a week. Now, this was a little before your fancy Cartoon Network, and even a little after (but not your sham Cartoon Network that now shows the dang people-in-em-shows…GAFFAW!) No, there was a time when cartoons were great. And in that time, well, some cartoons weren’t so great.
How can you tell a great cartoon from a not so great ‘un? Well, that’s easy. Most times, if you couldn’t get through the 60-second song at the start, well golly, puts ya to rights every time that the show was bad moonshine. It was probably ass-shine. So, here we have some examples, some exemplify the rule and some almost prove it by exception (ALMOST!). And all I’ma gonna talk about is that thar theme music, cause it’s what was so awful—and mebbe even if the cartoon wasn’t so awful, you’d never know on-a-count that, well, the music done set the tone for you. Anyway, I’m a-gonna drop this affected writin’ style and get on with the TOP 5 WORST CARTOON INTROS.
5- Mega Man
Yeah, Mega Man. This music intro isn’t so bad actually, and the music itself is decent. It has the sythesizer going, the running robots, the wires, the heavy guitar hits, and it’s catchy. For the most part, it had all the makings of a decently epic theme, but the downfall of this theme was the lyrics. “Super Fighting Robot. MEGA MAN! Fighting to save….THE WORLD!” That’s it. On a loop. For an entire minute. It was the most mailed-in attempt at theme music until, well, we’ll get there. I put this one on the list despite the fact that the cartoon was decent–not the direction I would have taken a Mega Man cartoon, but still pretty good. Unfortunately, the music failed on lyrics. Terrible.
4- Iron Man/Fantastic Four
This was a Sunday Morning cartoon, just like Mega Man, and spanned for an hour. The show had two half-hour segments; with a part hosted by Stan Lee to wrap them all together in something called the “Marvel Superhero Hour,” or some such lackluster thing. The animation wasn’t so great, neither were the stories. There were two seasons of this show and they were markedly different in tone. To be fair, the second season of both shows was incredibly better. Regardless, one Iron Man segment consisted of Tony Stark beating an anvil with the assistance of a robot tether arm of some sort–the function of which I cannot begin to understand—while the vocals pounded in a blatant rip-off of Black Sabbath “I. I AM. I AM IRON MAN!” As far as the Fantastic Four theme went, one of the lines was literally “They were hit by cosmic raaaaaaaaaaaays!” it then goes on, in full song: “Reed Richards is elastic, Sue can fade from sight, Johnny’s a Human Torch, The Thing just loves to fight, All for four!” So, we’ve got different schools of bad lyrics here. Since this was one show, both themes count for one listing.
3- Double Dragon
Ok, so…I don’t even really know where to start with this one. The cartoon had actually nothing to do with the source material. In the cartoon, brothers Billy and Jimmy are honorable fighters with magic swords and oaths to avoid violence, with an evil magic nemesis in male Catwoman costumes. The video game features gang members fighting for a girl, and in the end, the brothers kill each other over her. As for the music, well, it’s just awful—and not awesomely awful. It makes you feel embarrassed to share a planet with it. It panders; it emulates Asian music in the worst way, and literally invokes the word Dragon 68 times. It’s…just don’t watch the video. Please don’t.
2- Earthworm Jim
All of these shows on the list have something in common; they are adaptations of other properties. That is a common theme with cartoons really; it’s a key part of valuable kid-friendly marketing. Earthworm Jim was awful. I mean as a cartoon it was the pits, I think it was a KidsWB launch show along with Freakazoid (a great show), Superman (a great show), and Animaniacs (an amazingly great show). So the fact that this show happened was…well…mathematically predictable. They can’t all be winners. As for the music, I have no words. It’s just confusing that it even exists. “COW LAUNCH.”
(embedding disabled, luckily. You’ll just have to follow the link if you really want to hear it)
1- Swamp Thing
So, there was once a cartoon called Swamp Thing, and this list would not exist if not for this cartoon. The entirety of this list is just a build up to showing both versions of the intro to this show. (Mike Minch, this one’s for you.) Well…to start, season one of this show literally has an intro that is a straight parody of “Wild Thing” as in “Swamp Thing! You are amazing! You fight everything…nasty!”. Understand? It’s ridiculous music, and really just not fitting for a show about a character that was written by Alan Moore (even when considering the movies and the toys). But then there was a lawsuit. Apparently, this was not covered under parody laws and according to the courts it was just a straightforward rip-off of “Wild Thing.” So the producers of the show were legally required to change the music, and what they decided to do…amazingly…was keep the vocal track and add some sleepy blues guitar underneath it. Unfortunately, the deaf and dead must have arranged this because the music doesn’t make any sense, rhythmically or otherwise, with the vocal track. It was like two separate songs being played at the same time…BECAUSE IT WAS. As Minch said to me, astonished and 100% correct, “There was someone who was in charge and said that this was OK.” It was, and is, the most hilariously awful thing in existence. So, listen to the first one, then the second, because just one is doesn’t do justice without the other in proper order.