You remember when you were a little kid, and you used to watch TV shows? Remember when these shows were good? Remember when there used to be stuff that was actually smart on TV? Thankfully, it is seeing a resurgence, but the fact is that smart is not something that appears in overwhelming amounts anymore on TV, especially where kid’s shows are concerned. Now, I was thinking about doing a post on the top 10 nostalgic kid’s shows that I grew up with, but rather than do that, I thought about taking the characters who really made an impact with me. The ones who I remembered, even to this day. The ones who really got me to thinking about stuff. With that in mind, I give you my list of the characters from the shows that I watched, who have still stuck with me in a lot of ways, even today.
10. Tom Paris
Star Trek Voyager
If you are a hater of this show, piss off. I happened to like it. While there were elements that didn’t hit so well, like that stupid-ass outfit they stuck Seven of Nine in (seriously, did you see the episode where she is in uniform? She was much more attractive in that!), they did a lot right, and it is a credit to the Star Trek franchise. And by far my favorite character who me and the parents who sit down to watch was Tom Paris. Paris was the helmsman, the pilot. He was skilled at what he did and competant in many areas. This guy had it all going on. He was cool, he was fun. He was a smart-ass, he was a rebel. He would disobey and fight for what is right, even when it got him in a lot of trouble. This was the character for the young guy’s crowd, and he was well-portrayed. He wasn’t like Robin from Batman: The Animated Series, doing stupid stuff that incompetant writers feel can connect with younger people. He was just himself, and it was fun to see. I really liked this show, and he was a big reason why.
9. Evil Tommy/Green Ranger
To anybody who was a kid in the early 90′s, you watched Power Rangers. Don’t deny it! Just accept that you watched this show, and that this was by far the coolest character. I have always loved a villain more than a hero. And when he was a villain, man was this guy cool! He kicked so much ass! He had the moves, he had the look. Even his Megazord was a badass dragon! He would kick your ass in and out of costume, and he was the thing that made the show. Sure, when he became good, he was still cool, but let’s fact it, watching him beat the shit out of all the other Power Rangers was lots of fun, and when we got older, we could have fun imagining him and an evil Kimberly having crazy and kinky romps together! (She would turn evil for him. He is that awesome) He was a really cool addition to a really silly show that we all watched and enjoyed.
8. Ms. Frizzle
The Magic School Bus
I don’t think that there is a kid who grew up in my generation who doesn’t know this bat-shit crazy broad and her utterly absurd and often dangerous adventures that she took her students on with a magic bus. She was funny, weird, and enjoyably over the top. You liked how much fun she was having, and how much she enjoyed her position in life. You learned a lot watching her show, and since the lessons were fun, you wanted to get more of them. The animation was interesting, and all of the characters in that show were unique. Ms. Frizzle was most definitely a staple of my childhood because she made the idea of learning about the world exciting. Ever since she has disappeared, PBS has seemingly lost the ability to make such likeable characters, every time I was baby-sitting and tuned in. For real, she was a lot of fun, and I, as an adult, still think it’s a good show.
7. Wufei Chang
This was the first anime that I had ever seen, and I was immediately drawn to Wufei. He is a Gundam pilot who fights for honor, for his own sense of integrity. True, he is fighting a battle for vengeance, but the fact is that he is fighting for what he believes is right. A lot of people think that Wufei is sexist and hates women. Not true. He hates weak women. When he met Sally Po and saw that she would keep fighting her guerilla war, knowing that all the odds were stacked against her, he showed a lot of genuine respect. He hates women who are led by their emotions, women who let their kindness get the better of them, especially in military situations. But he is an amazing warrior, and a hell of a pilot. For it being the first anime I saw, I was introduced to the genre with an amazing show. Gundam Wing challenged a lot of themes like the innocence of youth, the value of war, and what true peace really means. It is a lot of fun.
I think a lot of how I talk and my general approach to things that are legitimately serious came from this character. This show still gives me big laughs, even now. Partly produced by Steven Spielberg, this show was a parody of all superhero shows, and I love it. Freakazoid is by far the strangest character ever to greet children’s shows. He doesn’t take what he is doing seriously at all, and makes a big joke about it. This guy really is a little bit nuts, and his villains are all totally not the stereotypes that we all assume we will see. It’s kind of a bummer that the show only lasted two seasons. I would loved to have seen how far they could go with this character. But yeah, my way of saying things in strange ways and not taking a serious approach to the big stuff mostly came from old episodes of Freakazoid. A great show, if you are ever in the market.
5. Sonic the Hedgehog
The Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog
It’s so ironic that I love the Nostalgia Critic’s videos. He did a review of this show, talking about how bad it was, and how bat-shit crazy it is. I remember being really young and looking forward to seeing this show. I don’t know what it was, but I just loved watching it. Maybe it is because I am a little bat-shit crazy myself. I kind of dug the absolute insanity and the total lack of focus that this show had. And I am also a die-hard Sonic the Hedgehog fan. Still, I think what I liked about this character was how weird he was. Normal bores me. It bores the living shit out of me. The more crazy and bizarre something is, the more that I generally tend to enjoy it. Call me crazy, but the thing that I like about this show is that reality and comprehension have nothing to do with it. It’s just nuts.
Garfield and Friends
The late Lorenzo Music supplied his voice to a character who I have been a fan of for years. I love the old comics, and this show was just fun. Music’s voice will always be what I associate with this character. He’s fat, he’s mean, he’s a complete jerk, yet for the same reason that we all love Dr. House, we love him because Garfield reflects a part of ourselves. He reflects that part that does what it wants to be evil, and do horrible things. The part of ourselves that is selfish, and feeds only our interests. Garfield is the perfect example of how fun that can be, even if we never take part in it. And I love him for it. This was another of the shows that I just love because of how much I was able to bond with it. And the title character was every reason why. Lorenzo, rest in peace. You won’t be remembered by everyone, but you will most certainly be remembered by me.
3. The Joker
Batman: The Animated Series
I love this show so much. Not only was it grown-up and kid friendly, but the characters were amazing. Mark Hamill’s Joker will always be the real Joker to me. The laugh, the personality. Everything about this character is exactly what I imagined. He was disturbing, scary, and genuinely terrifying at moments. It was the perfect portrayal, and even though I know that Hamill will probably just be remembered as Luke Skywalker, this is the role that he did greatest, for me. I just love how electric this character is. As much as you hate and are afraid of him, it’s almost impossible not to like him just a little bit. My favorites episodes with him in it are in Superman: The Animated Series. I just love how it doesn’t matter who he is bleeding or killing, it’s all the same to him. This character is not only my favorite villain in this show, he is my favorite villain, period. What a great performance.
2. The Brain
Pinky and the Brain
It is completely impossible not to like this character. He is a great pun on evil geniuses. This character is just pure fun. He is a little lab mouse who was experimented on and now possesses massive amounts of genius. His mission is simple – to try and take over the world (of course!)! This guy and his accomplice/wife Pinky just play off one-another. If you are asking why I call Pinky his wife, just watch the show. These two are so much like an old married couple it’s scary. They argue, they fight, they have moments. They even show to genuinely have compassion for one-another, even if it almost always is coming from Pinky. When I was a kid, this is who I wanted to be. I wanted to be the Brain. I wanted to take over the world. Part of me still does. Of course, his crazy schemes not withstanding, I just loved this character and how fun he was to watch. He was so sure that his absolutely nuts ideas would work, and I think that’s just awesome.
And the #1 character that I looked up to as a kid is…
1. TJ Detweiler
I swear, I could do a character analysis about this guy. I may just do that one of these days. More than any other on this list, this is the character that I took the most away from. TJ is so unique in so many ways as a kid’s show character, especially looking at the shows that are on now. For one thing, he openly mocks authority. He will disregard any authority figure that he doesn’t have respect for. While many of the teachers and administrators at Third Street think that he hates them, he has shown that he pulls pranks on them because it is in his nature. He is also not some lean and super-attractive kid. TJ is most surely the everyman. He is a bit chubby, but nobody makes a point of that because of his outgoing and likeable personality. He is honest and has a very strong sense of justice, along with right and wrong. He will protect the common kid, trying to help those that he sees as the down-trodden. He is loyal to his friends and will fight for them. But the part I took away most was the absolute lack of respect for authority unless they proved to be worth respecting. You would NEVER see such a character in a kid’s show these days, and that bugs the shit out of me. But yeah, more than any other, TJ is the character on this list who I try and emulate the most, even to this day.
Until next time, a quote,
“I don’t have a best friend. I have five!” -TJ Detweiler