Saturday mornings in the 1980s were a magical time for the lucky kids who got to see their favorite toys, video games and live action TV shows get a toon makeover while eating a bowl of cereal featuring some of the same licensed characters.
These ten animated TV shows from the 1980s may be a bit strange compared to their better known Saturday Morning Cartoon siblings, but that's what makes them all so memorable!
1. Rubik the Amazing Cube (1983-84)-
It's the frustrating color matching cube that became an iconic symbol of the 80s, it's Rubik the Amazing Cube! Give that colorful little cube a pair of blocky legs, a cute little elfy voice, Mickey Rooney's face and a theme song by Menudo and you've got the makings of a mighty odd cartoon show.
2. Punky Brewster (1985-86)-
Punky and her dog Brandon discover a magical village at the end of a rainbow where they meet a gopher-leprechaun hybrid named Glomer.
Glomer has the magical ability to send Punky and her friends anywhere on Earth, but he's constantly bungling spells and landing Punky's crew in hot water, which is instantly forgiven because he's so darn cute!
Turbo-Teen tells the tale of a young man who crashes his red sports car into a secret government laboratory and gets zapped by a molecular beam that fuses kid and car together to form Turbo-Teen!
He's like a crime fighting were-car, except his transformation is triggered by heat, and he solves mysteries with help from his reporter friend Patti, his dog Rusty and his mechanic buddy Alex, who keeps TT running smoothly.
4. Kidd Video (1984-85)-
Jem and the Holograms definitely made girls want to start a band, but Kidd Video made all 80s kids want to band together and make sweet music, because they were the hippest teen band on TV! Kidd and his band Kidd Video are kidnapped by the evil Master Blaster and transported to his dark homeworld The Flipside, where music and mayhem rule.
Kidd Video featured music from popular artists of the day, a fairy who looks like she came straight from Jazzercise class, and an awareness of their toonification, which they often used against the evil Master Blaster. Kidd Video was tailor made to appeal to 80s kids, which is probably why it has yet to make its way onto DVD.
5. Meatballs & Spaghetti (1982-83)-
Meatballs & Spaghetti was an understated little show about a traveling husband and wife band who stumbled into adventures as they toured the country in their mobile home.
The show played with television tropes in a way that even adults could appreciate, and featured a cast that seemed familiar to all cartoon lovers, because they were the grown up equivalent of a group of meddling kids! So what's the strangest bit on the show? How about their dog Woofer on drums...
6. Beverly Hills Teens (1987)-
Richie Rich was the first rich kid on the block to make young viewers long for the good life, and the Beverly Hills Teens were the spoiled brats who made kids happy they didn't hang out with rich kids.
Created as a response to the violent action shows sweeping the airwaves in the 1980s, Beverly Hills Teens taught kids important lessons like money cures boredom and makes you cool, and if you have enough money you can get away with anything!
7. The Mork & Mindy/Laverne & Shirley/Fonz Hour (1981)-
Laverne & Shirley joined the likes of Fonzie and Mork & Mindy in getting their own animated TV show for a short while in the early 80s. The girls were teamed up with teenage versions of Mork & Mindy for an hour of animated television that epitomized the "animate everything" trend taking place in the 80s.
Laverne & Shirley In The Army was based on a two part episode of their live action TV show, and since Fonzi was the link between Laverne & Shirley and the crew from Happy Days he came along for the animated ride. The coolest part about this hour of animated TV? Fonzi's dog Mr. Cool, who was a great source of comic relief.
8. Potato Head Kids (1986-87)-
What's a Mister and Misses Potato Head without a bunch of spuds running around the potato patch? The Potato Head Kids were cute yet a bit creepy looking, and stylistically they totally could have been BFFs with the Fry Guys and McNuggets from McDonaldland!
They were just ordinary vegetable kids having imaginative adventures and trying to keep their heads out of the fryers, but they never appealed to kids quite like their beloved potato parents.
I hope this totally radical cartoon trip has brought back some good memories for those of you who grew up in the 80s, and for the rest I hope it inspires you to seek out and explore all the animated goodness the 80s had to offer!
Turbo Teen was not.
It was disturbing. But it had addressed a thought that I had come up with all those years ago.
I thought Kidd Video was a good show - because we didn't have cable and sometimes that was the only was I saw a popular music video. Or at least a small clip of one.