Here’s the thing. The original She-Ra and, by extension, He-Man were not great cartoons. In fact, I would go so far as to call them pretty lame. The characters, the mythology and the action figures (let’s not rule out those hunks of plastic we all loved as kids, but are now as adults slowly coming to terms with the fact they are destroying our planet and all that dwell in its seas) were all awesome. Or rad. Or dope. Or whatever 80’s term you prefer to proclaim them rather good indeed.
But there’s no escaping that shows like She-Ra and (to a lesser extent) Voltron were… of their time. It is refreshing to see Netflix and DreamWorks give them treatment far greater than your nostalgia would have you believe they deserve. Last month’s She-Ra and the Princesses of Power was a fun frolic through a much embellished fantasy world for ol’ Adora that, in typical Netflix fashion, introduced progressive social and LGBT+ elements.
The reboot of J. Michael Straczynski’s She-Ra also proved that Netflix’s Volton: Legendary Defender was not a one-off. It got us thinking about five other potential cartoons from the 80s that would benefit from another spin, in a hypothetical world where the rights were up for grabs. And before you ask: No, another go at Thundercats (which is getting a new series in 2019 anyway) is not on the cards, and neither am I mentioning My Little Pony at any point–DAMMIT!
Visionaries: Knights of the Magical Light
Ah, Visionaries. Where a bunch of brave heroic types and some ne’er do well villainous rogues all get the powers of the animal or beast handily depicted on a marketable holographic screen in their armour. Everyone’s a winner – except for the big bad of the series, whose power is that of a mollusc; and nobody seems to think that’s a bit crap. There’s a huge amount of scope to bring this show back from the grave with some spectacular transformation visual effects that Netflix/DreamWorks seem to absolutely love too.
Few things on TV were as cool as the Centurions suiting up to foil another attempt by Dr Terror (actual name) and his Doom Drones (actual name) to wreak havoc on an unsuspecting 21st Century America (usually). Whether the attack came by air, land or sea, there was a toy– I mean, gizmo, for every eventuality. Kid’s television shows might not be the best place for advanced warfare and military combat these days, but with the right touches, it could become a relatively sophisticated anti-war series.
Challenge of the GoBots
Alright, look, like just about everybody else over the age of 30, I also thought this was garbage and much preferred Transformers. But the ship has probably sailed already on that show getting the Netflix treatment without it tying into the hideously mediocre trash that the movies have been – and nobody wants that. Imagine what fun could be had with a complete reboot from scratch of GoBots, which uses an almost identical premise, but without the baggage of having to rely on Optimus Prime and Megatron going fisty-cuffs every episode whilst people are just waiting around for the dinobots and destructicons to show up anyway.
Dungeons & Dragons
Holy Hell was this show dark. Dungeons & Dragons was an early-80s attempt to create serialised adventure storytelling following six kids who were transported into another world and transformed into all kinds of cool character types (and an acrobat) from the role-playing board game. It also featured some of the most traumatic nightmare-inducing scenes from the decade, including a boy being dragged through a portal under his bed screaming for help from his father who runs into the room only to find his boy missing. Yikes. Fantasy shows have never been more popular with Game of Thrones and the upcoming Amazon Prime Lord of the Rings series. Time for Netflix to capitalise.
If you’ve never seen Dino-Riders before, then I’m delighted to inform you that it very much does what it says on the tin. An intergalactic battle winds up ripping a hole in space-time, landing the warring parties on prehistoric Earth where, of course, they stick frickin’ laserbeams on the frickin’ dinosaurs’ heads. And put saddles on them. And armour. And other weapons. And… that’s about it. I’m pretty much happy to give Netflix the bare fossilised bones of this one and get them to do what they like. I trust them.