Follow-up: 80s British Cartoons That Americans Missed (Or Not)

Chris Sobiniek was kind enough to write in to fill in some background information on my recent post about 80s British cartoons that I thought never made it across the Pond. Lo and behold, some of them actually did! Below is what was sent over detailing where and when they made it on the air.

Thanks Chris!

In the US, many of these shows aired first on cable TV. There wasn’t much of a chance for any of ‘em on regular TV much during that time, and the new cable TV market proved to be a great ‘dumping ground’ for foreign toons on channels like Nickelodeon (further picking up the interest of those of us who were tired on the domestic Saturday morning junk). Cable/satellite TV in those days wasn’t quite as proliferated as it was in the 90?s, so there was plenty of room for experimenting and trying different things than what was seen before from “The Big Three”.

Danger Mouse premiered as early as 1983 over here and lasted up to probably 1988 or ’89, but also made a faint appearance in the early 90’s I think too.

Count Duckula would premiere also on Nick in 1988 and lasted for a good number of years as I recall.

Bananaman on the other hand, aired on Nick in the 80’s as well, though I can recall it mostly coming on right after Dangermouse as I think they had 5 or so minutes to kill and just stuck it there anyway, in later years it showed up on a program called “Total Panic” as one of the cartoons shown Sunday mornings.

While Nickelodeon back then was part of the “basic tier” of cable channels one could get, The Disney Channel use to be a premium channel on the same platform as HBO or Showtime, and thus you had to beg your parents to get that so you could watch SuperTed they played too (I think it use to be on around 1984-86). Home Video releases of the SuperTed series also were made available from Walt Disney Home Video (which came in handy for those that didn’t get the channel).

Not sure if we ever got Postman Pat back then, though I do recall videos of it being released here anyway (home video often was the scapegoat for things that may see little or no airings on TV in those days). I’m certainly the later Postman Pat stuff when they got the puppets mouths moving probably did air here anyway.

I don’t remember The Raggy Dolls or The Family Ness showing up here (let alone “The Trap Door” for that matter, and that one surely could’ve hit it over big here too), I do recall this show popping up on Nick featuring Spike Milligan’s wit and narration…

Thomas The Tank Engine had a rather interesting history over here, as we didn’t get quite the same type of program you guys had. Instead, and probably as a means of testing the waters for this guy here, Britt Allcroft co-created a program as a springboard for Thomas that aired on PBS stations beginning in 1989 called “The Shining Time Station”. Thomas’ adventures were told from a little character the kids could see named “Mr. Conductor” (who was either played by Ringo Starr in the first season and George Carlin for the remainder of the show’s run).
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shining_Time_Station

Pretty much the way I view that show today is really just that, we had to get up to speed on this Thomas thing like the Brits and then go from there (such as with that movie)!

So yeah, we Americans weren’t too far behind, but we certainly did miss out on a few stuff now and then.

British Cartoons From the 80s that Americans Sadly Missed

I suppose it’s a sign that I can safely say I remember a time when there wasn’t 24 hour cartoon channels. Yes, I am a child of the 1980s, and I have very fond memories of not only watching cartoons, but waiting for cartoons to come on.

Anyway, here’s a couple of my favourites that I don’t believe made the transition across the Atlantic, which is a shame. However, thanks to the wonder of YoutTube, you can (well, at least the openings anyway). Enjoy!

Count Duckula (which rocks a very thriller-esque theme)

Bonus! The end sequence, which in all likelihood has yet to be bettered in terms of effort.

Danger Mouse

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nf8bInp52sE

Bananaman

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hq2KXudEjkI

The Family Ness

Raggy Dolls

Superted

Thomas the Tank Engine

And my very favourite, Postman Pat

Classic Children’s Stop-motion Animation: Postman Pat Goes Sledging

As a kid, perhaps my favourite TV show was Postman Pat, the classic, stop-motion series about a British postman with the catchy theme tune and his adventures in Greendale. I was reminded of it today because we got some snow here in Baltimore and the fact that one of my favourite episodes of Postman Pat revolves around snow.

The gist of it is that there’s been a heavy snow in Greendale and as a result, Pat’s round is a bit different than usual, involving snow fights, digging out ploughs and delivering straw to sheep.

I mention this episode not only because it is a wonderful piece of stop-motion animation, it also displays some great slapstick moments. The two I mention come later in the episode and revolve around Pat and Alf Thompson delivering supplies to a snowed-in farm high on a hill.

The journey up is pretty straight-forward, but the journey down is anything but. Suffice to say, things do not go as planned when they hit a bump which knocks them flying. Now, as an adult, you might think, “that’s not very funny”, but as a kid, I thought it was absolutely hilarious. The way they sail through the air and then tumble in the snow is superb, and when you think it was all done in stop-motion, it becomes all the more amazing.

At the end of the run, they slide straight into the barn, complete with a crashing noise that suggests another comedic catastrophe, until both characters walk out as if nothing had happened.

The series has remained popular over the last 25 years and it’s not hard to see why. It may not be educational in the contemporary fashion, but it is extremely entertaining, even more so if you’re in the target demographic. It’s what I grew up with, so I might be seeing things through some rose-tinted glasses, but you cannot deny the skill inherent in the animation. The episode is embedded below for you to watch (14 mins. total) in all it’s YouTube glory.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zKMyyAGleSQ]

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4VEO3chtaqU]