Nostalgia is a hell of a thing. It gives us that skewed perspective of our past, letting us remember things as perfect. That’s not always the case. As I write these posts, looking back at old shows, I can’t believe how many of them were bad. Still, most of them persevered. It wasn’t until the second round that cracks began to show. Many of the most popular shows from the Saturday’s of yore have been remade in the last decade. Other than a scant few, nearly all of them failed.
First there was the original Saturday morning cartoon, He-Man. In 2002, nearly 20 years after the original premiered, Cartoon Network rebooted He-Man and the Masters of the Universe. The new version was decent, showing the origins for both him and Skeletor. The new opening was neat, as it mimicked Prince Adam’s original monologue, interrupting him with an attack from Skeletor. Rather than aiming for both the younger and older audience, the writers focused on the younger one. After watching a handful of episodes, I tuned out, as did everyone else. The show plummeted in ratings, only producing 39 episodes.
Then there was Voltron. I’ve already discussed the Defender of the Universe before, and won’t get too much into it here. Much like He-Man, Voltron was also given a second shot in 2011 from Cartoon Network. Unlike He-Man, Voltron Force stayed in continuity with the original. Why, I don’t know. I couldn’t even finish the first episode. Only one season was ordered. Probably only aired once.
G.I. Joe refuses to die. Two shows have been produced recently, both aiming at different audiences. Adult Swim aired the more mature G.I. Joe Resolute written by comic book legend Warren Ellis. It’s not entirely fair to call this a failure, as it was meant to only be 11 episodes. G.I. Joe Renegades, though, in 2010, is a different story. Also on CN, Renegades was a decent attempt at revitalizing the property. Unlike the previous two entries, I actually enjoyed this one. Sadly, it only lasted a season.
Finally, there’s Thundercats. Of the four here, Thundercats is the one I hold most dear. Much like He-Man, the original show was filled with utter nonsense. CN gave the series a reboot in 2011. Many older fans were genuinely excited, myself in included. There were a few misses during the season, but still good overall. Sadly, inconsistent airings of episodes broke the early momentum. It became difficult to find the newer episodes. Quickly, the show faded.
Not everything is doom and gloom in cartoon land. Transformers seemed to be going down the same path. After the hit/miss combo of Beast Wars and Beast Machines in the ’90s, The series went back to generation one characters with Optimus Prime in Armada and its subsequent series. Though Michael Bay tried to kill the property with the movies, another animated show, Transformers Prime, was created to coincide with the live-action counterpart. For my money, this is the best series yet.
Then there’s TMNT. I was completely in love with the 1987 series in my youth, but watching it now, I can fully admit that it’s terrible. There was the good, but very different 2003 Fox series, and the current Nickelodeon one. TMNT is an evergreen series like Batman. There will be a different incarnation every generation. Some will be made for you, others won’t. The Turtles won’t die.
And last, there’s My Little Pony, which I can’t even begin to understand and is arguably the most popular reboot on this list…
Why do some of these reboots fail while others don’t? Is the market absent? Do the toys not sell? Or should some of these stay in the past? I’d really like to hear thoughts. Comment below!
Bummed out about Thundercats.