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Posted by tom on September 4, 2012 in Uncategorized with 2 Comments

Hey party people, I’ve been trolling around the internet of late, visiting animation websites and such, and I see a lot of bad mouthing of Filmation. The so called ‘crappy animation studio’- well listen up butt munch, that is not Filmation’s legacy! If Filmation had one fatal flaw, it’s that they never had a successful original character. All their big hits: The New Adventures of Superman, The Archies, Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids, Shazam!, Tarzan, Lord of the Jungle, and He-Man are all owned by someone else. So they can’t go down in history like Hanna-Barbera for The Flintstones, Yogi Bear or Scooby-Doo, because they never had a true original hit. I suppose Isis would be the closest one, but it was a live action show. It’s a real shame that they had all those hours of great cartoons, that they could never fully call their own.

Getting back to the concept of them having crappy cartoons, face facts, in that time period, everyone made ‘crappy’ cartoons for TV! We were a long way away from The Simpsons, Duck Tales and Batman: The Animated Series! Back in 1976 HB’s Jabber jaw and Clue Club were just as crappy as Filmation’s Batman and Fat Albert. Now, this is not to take away the crazy fun of these shows. I’m talking about weak scripts and cheap animation. So saying Filmation made crappy cartoons is like saying a fast food restaurant makes crappy food- all fast food restaurants make crappy food.

Now let me tell you about Filmation kicking @$$ in animation. Have you ever seen their Flash Gordon TV movie? I’m not talking about the TV series they ripped up from the movie, I’m talking the actually movie! It was made for a primetime audience and has more violence and sex appeal than anything HB ever put out. They even got Nazis in it; something Marvel could barely do in the latest Captain America movie! The animation is great, especially for the time period- the spaceships look like computer animation, being rotoscoped off models. This movie is clearly Filmation’s best work, showing what they could do with the more money and less restrains from Standards and Practices.

As for Filmations stock footage, yes they over used it, but they were making Saturday morning cartoons for very little, while keeping production in the USA- no other studio can say that! And while the animation was over used, most of it still looked frick’n great: from Fat Albert and the gang walking down the street to Tarzan diving into a river, no one had anything else that looked that good. A lot of it was rotoscoped, to be fair, but I’m sure Ralph Bakshi wishes he had rotoscop animators as good as the ones Filmation had. Fully animated scenes from He-man and Tarzan look better than the one’s in Bakshi’s, Fire and Ice (a feature film from the same time period). And what about Filmation character designs? They easily had the best designs in the industry. The Star Trek characters are all spot on. Their Batman looked completely ripped compared the one in the SuperFriends (sorry Toth). Tarzan, the Lone Range, Zorro- they all looked great! Even their comedies, like the Groovie Goolies and Fat Albert had great designs. So while the animation was limited, the designs looked great.

Filmation did go overboard with their educational messages in their shows- that’s true. Though again, it wasn’t completely their fault since the Networks dictated this to them. They did embrace it as a way of life way more than Hanna-Barbera or anyone else, who wasn’t on PBS. I remember being a kid yelling at the TV, just punch him Batman! Heck, I’d seen Adam West do it all the time! And for advice on making friends, leave that to Mr. Rogers, not He-man. Not that I’m totally against the education messages- Zorro and the Lone Ranges had history trivia which I think is far more interesting than a lesson about lying (which should have been frick’n obvious from the show!).

So in closing Filmation did not make crappy cartoons. They made cartoons that reflected their time period, and nearly all of them were above average.

The Offical blog of Toonocity

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