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DuckTales invented a new animated wonderland—that quickly disappeared (avclub.com)
225 points by Lightning on Feb 12, 2013 | hide | past | favorite | 101 comments

I can't tell whether the 90s were a little renaissance in animation, or whether it's just my imagination.

As gcatalfamo and yareally pointed out, Disney had Duck Tales, Darkwing Duck, Chip n Dale and so on.

Meanwhile at Warner Brothers they had Tiny Toons, Animaniacs and of course the excellent Batman: The Animated Series. I rewatched it recently and, unlike a lot of my nostalgic favourites, it has held up beautifully.

MTV backed Beavis and Butthead and Aeon Flux. Fox backed King of the Hill and was riding the wave of some of the best of the Simpsons.

And let's not forget Klasky Csupo -- most famous for Rugrats and Aaahh!!! Real Monsters, they were also responsible for my favourite "cartoon for grownups", Duckman. I love that show -- if it'd been around for the DVD era we'd probably still be watching it.

Edit: and Nickolodeon (forehead smack) with The Ren & Stimpy Show and Rocko's Modern Life.

Don't forget "Gargoyles". Where else can you find a Disney 'toon voiced by half the cast of TNG?


Gargoyles was amazing. The movie (which shows the story of their "creation") and some of the early episodes can get surprisingly dark (but deep).

Another show along those lines is "Batman Beyond" (a dark "reboot" of Batman in which an aging Bruce Wayne enlists a young protege to be the next Batman in the near future).

In both shows (particularly Batman Beyond), if you ignore some obvious elements that point to them being shows for kids/teenagers, they almost seem like they were originally intended for adults, and then later rewritten to be targeted towards younger audiences.

If you enjoyed Gargoyles and you're still inclined to watch animated shows, please check out two of Greg Weisman's other creations: The Spectacular Spider-Man (not to be confused with the currently airing Ultimate Spider-Man [1]) and Young Justice (currently in its final season).



[1] emphatically not.

Thanks for the hint on Batman Beyond. It's dark, awesome and surprisingly deep.

Wow. I didn't know Disney put these online. Thank you!

This actually supports my theory that the 90s were the greatest decade in popular culture history. It jibes so well with the (arguable) Golden Age of Rap/Hip-Hop music as well as the Seattle Grunge and Hard Rock renaissance.

Rap in the 90s had Biggie, Tupac, Wu-Tang, NWA, Nas, Outkast, De La Soul, Snoop Dogg, Jay-Z and a Tribe Called Quest.

Rock in the 90s had Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Soundgarden, Radiohead, the Smashing Pumpkins, Oasis, Weezer, Green Day, Nine Inch Nails, and Rage Against the Machine.

It also had some of the greatest movies of all time in the 90s as well: Goodfellas, Terminator 2, Trainspotting, Fight Club, the Matrix, Shawshank Redemption, Fargo, the Big Lebowski, Boogie Nights, Schindler's List, Rushmore, and Pulp Fiction.

Now, I may be looking through with rose-tinted glasses (and having my adolescence back then, how could I not?), but let's just make it official, and not only with just cartoons. It's almost empirical that the 90s were the greatest decade of American Popular Culture.

My Dad grew up in the 1960s and he thinks the 60s were the best decade ever. My Nan thinks that everything went wrong after the 1930s.

Your Dad and Nan kinda have a point.

After the 1960s came the stagflation of the 1970s.

The late 1930s saw World War 2.

I suspect that my generation will look on the 90s as a benign time, and we would be right.

The Cold War was over, the War on Terror was yet to come, the Internet was taking off and economic growth in most countries was uninterrupted for almost the whole decade.

Just to give a counter-anecdote: Live in East Germany sucked in the 90s, after the euphoria of reunification wore off.

I agree with all of those great things except grunge. While fun then and even now, to my ear it lent little to later music - a dead end. It's easy to find Radiohead, rap, and Rage's influence through eras, but which post-grunge groups of note were influenced by Nirvana?

Grunge led to Foo Fighters, Live, Collective Soul, Silverchair, Bush, even Alanis Morissette. That led to Creed, Matchbox Twenty, Puddle of Mudd, Staind, Audioslave, Incubus, Nickelback. The next wave included Shinedown, Seether, and The Vines, as well as mainstream pop incorporation such as with Avril Lavigne. After that I lost track because millennials don't seem to know how to rock out.

After that I lost track because millennials don't seem to know how to rock out.

They just don't understand, man.

But seriously, millennials are all about 'the party'. They were really young during the roaring late 90's and weren't burdened by the issues of the 00's. If pop music is the a good measure of a generation's status, you wouldn't know of bad times from all the Katy Perry, Kesha, Taylor Swift, Bruno Mars, Justin Bieber, Pitbull, and Maroon 5. Every one of those except Katy Perry currently has a top 20 hit.

Or maybe it's just escapism. Tough call.


Too bad it seems to get worse (or maybe more bland) with every generation.

Thankfully the Foo Fighters showed everybody how to do it (again) last year with Wasting Light

You can say that for just about any time in human history. there was a lot of shoddy entertainment in the 90s too, and there were lots of great stuff from the 80s and 00s.

You wouldn't be alone in thinking that: http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/TheRenaissanceAge...

With that being said, I feel like animation is following music's lead, in that there's still some fantastic animated shows being produced, but they're not necessarily the most popular ones: My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, Dan Vs., Adventure Time, Gravity Falls, (straying into adult) Archer, American Dad!, half of what Adult Swim shows, etc.

(On an semi-related note, I do feel that nostalgia is the main factor in what time period of animation people feel is best: I mostly associate good animation with late-90s/early-00s Cartoon Network shows, but I know quite a few people who do the same with 80s cartoons.)

I have had so much fun watching Gravity Falls with my (17 year old) younger brother.

Also Spectacular Spiderman, Phineas and Ferb, Avatar: Airbender/Korra.

The first season of My Little Pony (stigma or not) was really great, too. It was headed by Lauren Faust who was behind The Powerpuff Girls.

She recently did Super Best Friends Forever, which was just as great: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h7ging4Nqww.

Bruce Timm, who was involved in Batman: TAS, and later The Adventures of Superman, and then Justice League Animated, is now doing Green Lantern, all of which are excellent.

I don't think we should get too wistful, because a lot of the greats are still around making material on par with some of their earlier, classic work.

I remember watching interviews Vince Gilligan, who went from writing for X-Files (and Lone Gunmen) to Breaking Bad, and back in the days of X-Files, the budgets were just obscene, which allowed them to do whatever they want. The now-ancient Superman cartoons also had a by our standards insane budget, and a lot of that probably explains why today feels slightly different, nostalgia aside. I mean, just consider back when Tom & Jerry and Donald Duck cartoons employed entire orchestras to score the sketches.


I remember accidently seeing My Little Pony on TV in the 90's while zapping for good cartoons. It was something with flying pink pony's with long hair that looked all girly to me.

Why do I hear so much about My Little Pony on the internet these days?

It was rebooted (is that the right word) a few years ago. Lauren Faust had to quit the project, unfortunately, and the show isn't very interesting now, but you definitely should check out the first season. It is unironically one of the best cartoons out there.

I babysit a lot of my friend's kids (lacking kids of my own, I'm available for this) so I get to watch A LOT of children's TV. Perhaps its just an "in my day..." sort of bias but I do feel like the 90s were of higher quality than content of today.

Most hit shows of the '00s till today are invariantly tied up in trying to peddle toys of some kind. Certainly older shows were used for merchandizing but it seems like today the toy comes first and the show is developed around it. Plot development is optional and stories need not build off one another or refer back to past episodes. Out of those the early seasons of Pokemon and Digimon weren't bad and there are certainly a few neat shows on Disney & Nickelodeon (The Fairly Odd Parents and Sponge Bob come to mind).

Aside from that it seems like a lot of shows lack the complex story telling of shows like Batman: TAS, Superman: TAS, Spiderman, Beastwars, Reboot, XMen, and the others mentioned in the article. While not really a kids show (seriously - watch this as an adult and its 10 times funnier), Freakazoid outdoes most content peddled to adult audiences.

Another thing I've observed that seems to be detrimental to animated shows is the rise of cheap soap opera style live animation in place of cartoons. Probably the biggest example is Miley Cyrus' early career (Hannah Montana, etc). These shows let companies monetize in more ways since you can create concert movies and albums and the fanbase will follow the actor/actress to multiple shows. Benda Song[1] has spent nearly a decade jumping between various TV shows on the Disney channel (and playing a pretty good 'crazy girlfriend' in the Social Network IMO). I'm sure there are many other examples (all the faces seem to look the same between Disney's shows) but she stands out to me since she's seemingly the only cast member my age in shows filled with 12-16 year olds.


>Most hit shows of the '00s till today are invariantly tied up in trying to peddle toys of some kind.

This isn't anything new or particular to children's shows from the '00s; this has been going for the entire lifetime (or longer) of many HN posters.

Wikipedia has a compendium of TV shows for kids that are tied into toy lines, over the last 30+ years:


edit: On doing a little more reading, I didn't realize that this was actually banned up until 1984 when the Reagan FCC rescinded regulations on children's television. Those regulations had previously banned "program-length commercials," a category under which shows like this would have fallen.

The 80s were particularly notorious for toy-based animation.

Transformers is the most famous example. Characters would be killed off and replaced to boost toy sales.

Still, there's a difference between a show where you make the toys and then get the nastiest animation done to create a 22-minute advertisement; vs making a halfway decent show and flogging some merch on the side.

In other media, one might compare the original Star Wars trilogy with episodes I-III.

I'm reminded of the "Mattel and Mars Bar Quick Energy Chocobot Hour"


In one sense, I'm glad they had the freedom to kill characters. Hearing that Optimus Prime had been killed was one of the more emotional moments of my childhood, even if they only did it to replace one truck with a bigger truck.

I don't recall characters being killed off in the Transformers cartoon show. A good chunk of the classic characters were killed off in the first ten minutes of the theatrical movie though. After watching several characters get killed in the span of thirty seconds, keep in mind we had never really seen this before, they then top it off with killing one of the most beloved characters in the series.

I was a kid at the time. I was shocked. I cried. About a fictional cartoon robot. I didn't feel that way again until that jerk Whedon killed Wash.

The result was that since the reaction to all this was rather severe, kids were devastated, that they actually changed the storyline in the GI Joe animated movie they were producing at the time. Duke was supposed to be killed in that movie but changed it so that he actually survived instead. Of course, they show that he survived by just adding in a background voice at the end of the movie saying that Duke was going to be okay! If you watch the scene where he is injured, with the idea he wasn't supposed to survive, you can tell by the way the scene was animated that he clearly dies right then and there.

On a side note, most of the time none of the GI Joes would be killed in the comic book, just faceless Cobra soldiers. But I remember one comic where a few of the Cobra soldiers commit mass murder by shooting up several of the Joes that were being held prisoner in a pit. As usual, older characters to be replaced by newer ones to freshen up the toy line I suppose.

I think the Star Wars as toy commercials began with Return of the Jedi because of the Ewoks. To complete the setup they then made a TV cartoon featuring the Ewoks.

Don't forget the 2 Ewok made-for-TV movies, The Ewok Adventure[1] and Ewoks: The Battle for Endor[2].

[1] http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0087225/?ref_=fn_al_tt_2 [2] http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0089110/?ref_=fn_al_tt_3

Gotta Buy Em All! Pokemon!

Yup, definitely not a new thing.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (had lots of turtle toys when I was a kid). My brothers and I would mix them in with other random toys, like Lincoln Logs and do cross-overs. Nothing wrong with cartoons and marketed toys in moderation and expands creativity if done right.

Even The Simpsons had toys and games.

It's been that way for 30+ years now: Transformers, He-Man, G.I. Joe, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, etc.

There's also Genndy Tartakovsky with Samurai Jack and Dexters Laboratory, although I realize they're in early 2000 - they're both excellent. Sad that his first foray into feature films is Hotel Transylvania.

Samurai Jack was amazing. I was really hoping for a resolution to that show.

It seems like he still wants to make awesome, and is at least well aware of the challenges he faces in selling people on buying into what may be a limited (albeit super dedicated audience)


Loved Dexter's Laboratory. I missed most of Samurai Jack, but what I did see was good. Adult Swim is currently showing Sym-Bionic Titan on Saturdays at 2am (so that would technically be Sunday at 2am). It's pretty good too.

Did they make more than one season of Sym-Bionic Titan? I thought the art was gorgeous, but it felt like a decent high school drama, an awesome "large mecha fighting monsters" drama, but that the two halves didn't blend well at all. The strongest episodes were the ones that were either entirely in the high school, or entirely in the suit.

I also enjoyed the political stuff & (oddly) the robot dating the cheerleader.

Well, at least it was a commercial success, so he has the opportunity to make more films... :)

That's exactly what I said to my wife. At least he'll get to keep making films. At one time, he was heading up the Astro Boy movie. That might have been amazing.

I had a crush on Gadget from Chip n Dale. I think she was an influence in deciding to date my last girlfriend.

Was she a mouse or a mechanic?

She's incredibly mousey, and her personality is so over the top quirky, a detailed biographical account would come across like she's a fictional character written by a clumsy simpleton who is trying to write a serious novel but can't get his mind away from the scripts he's written for after-school animated cartoons. Like, people would read it and say shit like, "I can't suspend disbelief for that. Maybe don't try so hard? Like, don't make her a germophobe like Monk with the agoraphobic/Fluttershy thing and on top of all that, and then the whole 'Flowers!' thing like she's the baby skunk from Bambi. And then you even add the Anime girl trope with shoving stuff piled to the top into her closet. Who's going to believe all that at once?" (Actually there's even more stuff I'm leaving out.)

Except she's actually un-self-consciously like that and just thinks of herself as "a normal girl." I doubt you'd actually be able to imagine what that's like, except that it's a little bit like living with an Italian Greyhound, but a lot more complicated, and sometimes she talks even less. I'll never meet anyone like that again, and I'm kinda sad and glad at the same time.

She probably thinks the same about me. (My quirks are completely different, though.)

I don't know if this is some sort of joke or not, but apparently there is some sort of cult / fan club for Gadget in Russia. http://www.odditycentral.com/news/russian-cult-worships-fema...

It's not your imagination, but if you were a kid in the 1990s, then you probably didn't watch a lot of new kids' cartoons in the 2000s.

- Futurama (it counts as 2000s if Simpsons counts as 1990s)

- Avatar: The Last Airbender

- Invader Zim

- Samurai Jack

- My Little Pony (well, 2010)

I'd personally pick "Avatar: The Last Airbender" over any of my childhood "Disney Afternoon" favorites. I'm actually kind of jealous of kids growing up with better programming. The other side of the pond (no, the other pond) gave us some great stuff too, such as Shinkai and Kon.

I think Shinkai deserves special mention, because he got a theatrical release with no staff and no funding: just himself in his apartment with a PowerMac G4 (although his fiancée helped with voice acting). We'll only be seeing more people like him as time marches on and the technology becomes affordable for hobbyists.

My guess is that the 2010s will be my favorite decade for animation, at least for the next ten years or so.

Samurai Jack is perhaps one of the most perfect animated shows of all time. Hyperbole be damned there is something about that show that struck a nerve with me. Some episodes had almost no dialogue. It was just awesome.

> Rocko's Modern Life.

Best show of the 90s right there. Thankfully Netflix has had the entire series on streaming for a while now. Great times.

You could call it renaissance. It was a pinnacle of what we learned about hand drawn animation for the past century. Then, a new method entered the arena (CG) where principles had to be taught all over again, so we lost a bit of time while catching up. A decade or so, you can see CG finally having nice animation now (pixar doesn't count since it spawned 2d principles in 3d, along with PDI).

Last 2D animation that advanced 2D animation was Tarzan from Disney.

And Talespin. That was my favorite. The storylines were awesome, the whole series had panache.

What, no love for Goof Troop, or Histeria? No, that was when you could tell they were out of ideas.

But seriously, does anyone remember Freakazoid? I only saw a few episodes, but I remember it being very funny.

Yes I remember Freakazoid, I enjoyed it alot with the excellent animation and all the pop culture references/jokes.

Then we had all the imaginative villains like Candle Jack and t

As per my memory there was something of an explosion of animated tv shows during the latter half of the eighties and first half of the nineties.

I guess part of this was that they were animated 'cheaply' by japanese studios, pretty much all animated shows were, including Duck Tales. Later they were getting stiff competition from korean studios, and I believe that today the vast majority of US animated shows are being animated in korea, just like most Disney 'direct to video' releases.

It was a good example of when outsourcing works. Japanese animation was still cheap at the time (mid 80s to early 90s). Same thing happened with Korea after that. No idea where that will move next.

It gave the show's developers the opportunity to think about what did and didn't work instead of managing the politics.

Duck Tales is by far the best, most fulfilling cartoon I can remember watching. I don't know how old I was when I saw that episode where they bring bottle caps to Shangri La, but I've never forgotten how inflation works since then :)

Hah, I gotta find that episode. I am near a place the Chinese government renamed "Shangri-la" for tourism purposes recently: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zhongdian

Zhongdian and ducktales, those are two things I'd never thought would be put together in a hackernews post. Awesome mountains though, we stayed up there for a couple of nights in '06.

I was a fan of the old Barks comics, and I loved it when episodes like this one would reuse old storylines.

And instead of drawing its inspiration from a toy line or popular movie (like other pioneers in the afternoon animated-syndication market), DuckTales drew its inspiration from a series of comic books that weren’t terribly well-known in the United States.

I think the author suffers a bit from US-centric short-sightedness here. If the goals was world-wide syndication, then the Carl Barks stories were the most logical option, as they have always been Disney's most popular comics internationally speaking.

Yeah, the Carl Barks stories and Donald Duck in general are very popular in the Nederlands for example. Most families will have a subscription to the weekly Donald Duck magazine; supposedly for the kids, but I think all the parents read it too.

Just to give a counter-example: I am from "international", but until you just mentioned him I never heard of Carl Barks. I do know Donald Duck an Co. though, they were wildly popular among children when I was growing up.

Well, do you know who the authors of the Donald Duck comics you read were? Maybe I should have said Donald Duck comics in general, but Carl Barks created the majority of that particular comic universe.

(The funny thing is, I still don't know any authors except Barks and Don Rosa, but I can see if a Donald Duck comic originates from the Netherlands, Italy, Denmark, etc.)

I think I must've read "Back to Klondike" (in Serbian) about 60 times at least.

I must be an outlier because I can't stand Duck Tales. I grew up reading Uncle Scrooge comics (and even at age 8, I could tell a Carl Barks story just from a glance, even if I didn't know who Carl Barks was at the time) but the first episode of Duck Tales I saw just infuriated me. They ruined Carl's stories.

For instance, the one episode they link to in the article, "Back to the Klondike" is nothing like the comic story. In the comic, Glittering Goldie stole Scrooge's gold nugget by drugging him---he goes back to town, forces Goldie to give him his gold back, plus sign an I.O.U. for the rest, with interest. The story is him going back to collect on the I.O.U. with a now penniless Goldie and him intentionally throwing a contest (via a subplot of him losing his memory) to let Goldie "win".

The show? Too much changed and I couldn't even watch it past the 10 minute mark when they introduced two new characters never in the original story. Goldie was presented as a love interest (there is no love story in the original comic) and the subplot leading to Scrooge throwing the contest was dropped entirely. Given that I stopped watching a very painful episode for me, I don't know what else Disney did to the story, but I just can't stand the show.

Okay, I can somewhat understand Disney's reluctance in using Donald, but really? Launchpad McQuack? And you really needed April's nieces in the stories? Ahhhhh!

I also can appreciate and admire the animation quality for a TV show. But I think I'm just too much a fan of Carl Barks stories to enjoy the TV show.

And how did you feel about the Lord of the Rings movies, about 2/3rds of anime or 12% of the BBC's output?

Stories transposed into different media are under no legal or moral obligation to produce 1:1 copies of any previous version.

I think if someone wants to use that excuse, they should produce a substantially different adaptation of the source material, like some of the crazier variations of Shakespeare.

LOTR was mostly well done (yes please, cut Tom Bombadil and that whole pointless detour), but they also made changes for no apparent reason.

The Harry Potter movies were perhaps the worst offender, substituting perfectly decent dialogue from the books with cringeworthy kids movie crap. Just because you can, doesn't mean you should.

Oh, my young life. And yes, the 90s were a Golden Age.

My son and I watched DuckTales together for the first time this year. I was pretty disappointed that the discs stopped before the last season, although I did feel the earlier shows were more atmospheric and classic.

I had massive deja vu for every single frame of the GizmoDuck 5-parter. We must have taped it and I must have seen it many many times.

The other thing I really love about this show is that it's so sweet. The characters really mess up and have feelings and make important choices. Scrooge many times walks away from money for family and friends and is better off for it (he gets the money in the end too but that's not the chewy center).

Some of the stuff I enjoyed:

* Saber Rider and the Star Sheriffs

* BraveStarr

* Defenders of the Earth

* M.A.S.K.

* Thundercats

* Ulysses 31 (80s series but ran in the 90s here)

Fun anecdote:

I watched Ulysses 31 and the day before one of my Latin exams in school they aired the episode where he returns home and proves it's him via the bow.

The great thing was that the exam was an experimental one where instead of the usual translation+grammar we got a pretty long text and had to summarize it and answer questions about it. As soon as I recognized some key words (name of the hero, arcum tendere construct) I basically wrote down the stuff from the episode (-the space theme) and hoped they stayed true to the original story :D

Least painful Latin exam ever.

M.A.S.K. was awesome! I have trouble finding people who remember it. They also had the second best toys (after Transformers). I wonder if this stuff is on Netflix...

Goddamn, Ulysses 31 was creepy. I remember the one with the dead people floating around or something. Anyone remember Silverhawks?

Ducktales inherited much of its sophistication from the comics on which it was based. Carl Barks, creator of Scrooge and most of the rest of the Duckburg universe, was an avid reader of National Geographic and sought to expose his readers to the wonders he found within. I'm incredibly thankful to have been exposed not only to this show but the comics which were also briefly resurgent in the mid-late 1980s (published by a small company out of Arizona called Another Rainbow under the Gladstone mark). The editors recognized the importance of these works not just as simple stories for kids and filled the comics with analysis alongside reproductions of the golden age works. It was around this time that Don Rosa (who was featured on Hacker News last week) emerged as a modern day torch bearer. What a great time to be a kid! It's a shame this stuff has faded from popularity and public consciousness.

I was a Duck Tales junkie but my love of good cartoons goes before that. I was raised on Looney Tunes and Tom & Jerry, before they were censored and rehashed multiple times. I remember religiously watching Danger Mouse, Bananaman, and Count Duckula on Nickelodeon in its infancy. Most people remember the original Thundercats, but I was more into Silverhawks which was around at the same time as Duck Tales.

I always came home from school to cartoons, whether it was Looney Tunes, something from Hanna-Barbera, Transformers, G.I. Joe, old anime like Speed Racer and Robotech (Macross), TMNT, or the various Disney and Warner Bros.-inspired cartoons mentioned in the article. I still watch cartoons, and always will.

"Right DM, but what if somebody's parked there?"

"Penfold, shush."

I miss that show.

On Hulu now, if you feel nostalgic.

I still have a VHS of DM episodes that I taped during the 80's , I still dig out the VCR once a year and watch it (with commercials) just to get the nostalgia hit.

Yes. The Tower of Terror. The bad luck eye of the little yellow god. The custard mite episode.

That show was always funny. My first real taste of British humor.

I was a big fan of DuckTales, Thundercats and a lot of the other cartoons of the time. As a military brat what would always amaze me is the different afternoon cartoons that would come on depending on what region of the country you were in. I know it had to do with syndication but whenever I moved or visited somewhere as a kid they would have different afternoon cartoons than I was used to. This was probably noticeable a little more before the DuckTales effect happened as stated in the article.

For example, when I lived down south I would see Tennessee Tuxedo, Sherman and Peabody and several other different cartoons. But when I would visit my grandmother in Delaware I would see cartoons like Chilly Willy, Inspector Gadget and Heathcliff. The only time I would get consistent cartoons was when they came on basic cable stations like TBS. When I moved to Massachusetts they had afternoon cartoons like Dinosaucers and Denver the last dinosaur, two cartoons I had never heard of before moving there.

The big budget cartoons (Transformers, Ducktales) were for the most part a constant no matter where I lived. But the next level cartoons that I described earlier I would only see depending on what part of the country I was in at the time.

I'm glad they included the hindi version of the title theme! It was a great hit in India too, where they were completely, but artfully, dubbed into Hindi

My girlfriend is very into nostalgia and a few months ago put DuckTales on her Netflix queue... At first I laughed at her but quickly realized that the show holds up surprisingly well as an adult - as the article mentioned, the stories are top notch, the animation is of shockingly high quality and its pretty funny to boot. I'm glad I'm not the only person to pick up on how entertaining this show really was.

The adventures of Teddy Ruxpin is what I grew with in Bulgaria - it was very popular show (also Pink Panther, Flinstones) - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Adventures_of_Teddy_Ruxpin

we still use some of the abbrevations from the movie (LB) but in Bulgarian when we talk to other people

...but most of Barks’ comics about the Disney ducks centered on Donald, a character the DuckTales writers couldn’t use for reasons both corporate (Disney didn’t want to overexpose such a key character on an afternoon series) and practical.

And then Disney went on to expose Goofy in 'Goof Troop'.

Other than Duck Tales, I think what happened to a lot of those shows is their quality slowly went downhill in the race for syndication. A lot of them devolved into slapstick comedy that was 'too easy' for the more maturing audience.

As an example, in the beginning of TaleSpin, Don Carnage is a ruthless air pirate who almost lays waste to Cape Suzette with a lightning gun. By the time you get near the end of the series, he's simply comic relief.

I think the audience also grew up and moved on to the MTV shows (Beavis & Butthead, Aeon Flux), Fox's Batman: The Animated Series, and The Simpsons put the shows focus on Homer and marginalized Bart, which was genius.

Does anyone remember the Pirates of Darkwater?

And yes. Watched it with my father.


Another duck-based animated series that passes the nostalgia test for me is Count Duckula. The heated exchange in the Who Might You Be segment reminds me of some HN comment threads I've read:


The last line:

it’s surprising to look back at it today and realize just how thoroughly it was shaped by the world that required it, a space on the TV schedule that simply doesn’t exist anymore.

... makes me wonder. Looking at what channels like HBO, AMC, and Fx have done with adult programming, you'd think there would be a market for a channel that focuses on well-done animated series.

I have three kids 10, 16, and 18. In the late 90's I'd watch cartoons with the older two, and many of the shows weren't half bad (I still wish Samurai Jack had continued). Luckily, though, my youngest prefers watching sports over cartoons because I don't think I could tolerate watching most of the stuff that's on today.

Well, there's a lot of good anime. I know it's cliche or whatever, but a lot of it is very entertaining and sometimes mature and thought provoking.

Duck Tales is not on Netflix Instant, but Season One is streaming on Amazon Instant, FYI


Weirdly enough, they are available on Netflix in Sweden (http://i.imgur.com/QhWX8WN.png).

Given that it's a Disney property, I'm stunned that they are available on YouTube - http://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=ducktales+full+e...

And all the full episodes are on YouTube!!! LINK: http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLKbjh13l4YB9KHRCl5SjMs...

'The Mysterious Cities of Gold'. What can I say, pure gold and personal favorite of most of me and most friends that watched it.

I remember thinking this show has the best graphics ever! The gold shining in the sun off the flying bird plane when they first discovered it is etched in my memory forever.


Duck Tales was the first American cartoon series shown in post-Soviet Russia and it was incredibly popular over there. Every single kid that had a TV watched it in the early 90's, along with Ghostbusters the animated series, Tailspin, Gummi Bears, and Winnie the Pooh.. but Duck Tales was always the best and most loved.


More! More! I want to see more! DuckTales: 25th Anniversary Retrospective http://bit.ly/PUUCKE

duck tales and darkwing duck were the absolute best...good times

Don't forget Chip n Dale: Rescue Rangers, Gummy Bears and Tailspin.

On the Warner Brother's side, Animaniacs, Tiny Toons, Pinky and the Brain are almost as good as the original Looney Tunes (which I also loved as a kid and still do).

I know Looney Tunes was originally geared towards adults (as short films before movies), but grown ups and kids alike love them. I've recently gone back to watch the classic Looney Tunes[1] and was surprised at how much satire was in them related to the 30s, 40s and 50s. It's the kind of stuff you would only really noticed if you studied the history of the era and are somewhat aware of the pop culture then. They were definently not meant for children, but the slapstick comedy and music draw in all audiences. Looney Tunes was my first real introduction to classical music. I would later go on to play Violin (probably somewhat influenced from Looney Tunes) for a number of years in school and still listen to classical music when I program quite often.

I don't know what happened to cartoons, but nothing seems to be interesting that's also geared towards children these days. Most just seem like some half-hearted attempt to educate children while attempting to be entertaining, instead of being entertaining and also subtly educating at the same time.

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Looney_Tunes_Golden_Collection

edit: elaboration

> I don't know what happened to cartoons, but nothing seems to be interesting that's also geared towards children these days

I don't disagree entirely, but there are still some gems today that are enjoyable for kids and adults. Speaking of Looney Tunes, the new "The Looney Tunes Show" is pretty great. And there are some things on Cartoon Network that are passable, like Adventure Time and reruns of other niche shows from the past 10 years.

I think the options are fewer, or the ocean of content is vaster, so it seems like there's nothing there when there is.

Ah yeah, I've heard of the Looney Tunes show and looked at some clips online. I was kind of turned off when I saw they had Yosemite Sam rapping though[1]. Just seemed like they were trying too hard to be relevant to kids. I know that might be premature judgment, so I'm keeping an open mind and have a question for anyone who has watched it.

How is it outside of that? Is it pretty faithful to the original Looney Tunes? I know my example could be somewhat of a hyperbole, so I would love to get another opinion on it before passing final judgment.

[1] http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dP2qEo8j2KM

Yeah, the new "Merrie Melodies" (of which that clip you linked) are the worst part of the show IMO. They only lasted the first season, probably for good reason. A couple were funny/interesting but most were not.

Other than that, it's a show I really look forward to watching. You may be disappointed if you're looking for original Looney Tunes, it's not really like that. The characters are the same, their personalities are more fleshed out and exaggerated, the times are modern and they live "ordinary" lives. Some of the reviews I've seen on Amazon for it accurately labeled it as Looney Tunes meets Seinfeld (they were being pejorative but I find the comparison apt and view it in a positive light).

Try watching an episode from Season 2 (the currently airing season) before writing it off. It will only take ~21 minutes out of your life if it's not your thing.

I'll check out Season 2 and see how it is. I don't mind if it's not one-off clips like the original as long as they ditched things like the youtube clip, haha.

Thanks for the reply :)

I know this has 91 comments, I know its on the front page, I know that three days ago I got slapped for being on the other side of this issue, but, really... this thread is HN worthy?

Yes. It tells an important story about product creation.

DuckTales had to make it over 65 episodes and under budget. It had simple goals and it accomplished them.

Look at Apple at their brightest hours. You can say that the iPhone was Apple throwing down the gauntlet and rejecting the tyranny of buttons and saved us all, but the reality is simple. Touch was expensive and bad for a long time, so Apple waited until touch was cheap and good, then they solved for X. They didn't care if you didn't buy iWorks for your iMac and your iPad, they just wanted to sell hardware.

That is the secret to success for many products and avoiding it is the road to failure for many others: if affordable{solve for x();} else {do something else();}

MS and Disney have shot themselves in the foot numerous times. MS making sure they didn't hurt other product lines created huge waste and left consumers hesitant. Disney obsessed with the Disney Princess and drove away everyone but the pre-teen girl and parents didn't bother taking their kids to see The Princess and the Frog because Dad would lose his mind and empty his walled if he thought he'd have to spend another second in Hanna Montana-ville. Instead of just solving for X, they lost consumers who assumed they'd get screwed down the road somewhere.

Spoken like a DuckTales virgin. ;)

This is a story about a finely crafted work of art being influenced by a commercial market.

Not everything on the site is a "how to succeed in business without really trying" morality play, linkbait product announcement, or self-help column. The guideline is "stuff that is interesting" and it's intentionally vague.

Just let it roll, like water off a duck's back.

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