It’s everywhere in the World and even in the day and age of YouTube it still stands as one of the main means of entertainment for kids, adults, elderly, cats, dogs, and any sentient being in the planet. Sadly nowadays the amount of TV shows worth saving from the bonfire is quite small (not to say non-existent by some sources), but even with the endless affluence of Big Brother, American Idol and other Reality TV rip offs in several countries and languages, TV abides. It never ends (like Fashion, Facebook or The Red Baron).
So, since I want to fill up my time before going back to the fanfic writing board and I need to warm up, I’m bringing you this list filled of nostalgic words towards those TV shows I enjoyed so much to watch (with the exception of one which is rather recent). So, here we go.
10. Humor Amarillo.
Also known as “Takeshi’s Castle” in Japan, The UK and the United States, “Humor Amarillo” is both a TV show and a TV series here in Spain. I don’t know how the other versions of Takeshi’s Castle were in other countries, but I can tell you that here in Spain we took this retarded mash-up of Videogame, Family show, Torture show and Contest show and turned it into an over-arching series. We had recurring characters like “The Cudeiro Chinaman”, a contestant who always died in every single episode and became the mascot of the show (kind of like Kenny for South Park). We also had the rumor that the entire show was a text field to create a super soldier army. And let’s not forget the episode where they brought players from all over the World, and the American ones were Mulder and Scully from The X-Files, who were decided to find the secret facility where they cloned Yao-Ming Super Sayans. Also, the Christmas Special episode was dedicated to the “Cudeiro Chinaman Family”, a tragic episode where every single family member of the Cudeiro clan died a horrible death. Watching this as a kid was stupidly funny. It’s amazing how well it held up, as it was also stupidly funny to watch this as an adult.
Again, I am going for the Spanish edition of this game on this one. I discovered in recent years that this show was also exclusive to Europe, since not many other continents saw the potential to port it. That’s actually too bad. I watched the first edition of the show as a kid and it was mind-blowingly entertaining and fun. Anytime I play standard fantasy setting RPG’s I am reminded of this show. The characters were cool, the challenges were devious, the use of CGI was impressive for the time, and the host was really into it. I remember Treguard, from the original BBC show, and he was great, but here in Spain we had a more interesting Dungeon Master. I forgot his name and Wikipedia doesn’t seem to know much about him either, but one thing I will never forget is his smugness and his douchebaggery (in a good way). Most of the times he was almost acting against the players, but others he cheered for them. He used them as his play toy, and it was marvelous to watch! But what made this show so much better than the original BBC show were the prices. You remember how in the original show they won an emblem with two spurs on it? Well, here in Spain the show was sponsored by SEGA. So during the first season, the winners won SEGA Master Systems I and II, and SEGA videogames. That’s awesome! But then in later seasons they lost the sponsoring of SEGA so instead of videogames they won computers. Let me remind you, this was 1991 to 1994. Getting a computer as a price back then was like getting a fucking iPad nowadays.
8. My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic.
Yeah, you all saw this one coming, but I bet none of you would see it coming this low on the list. You know how much I love the show. Hell, I bet many of you who check my Blog check it out for all the times I said how much I love this show. So instead of talking about how much I love the show and how fucking good it is, I should explain why it is so low on the list. I didn’t want to put my favorite thing right now on the number 1 spot, because it would be unfair. Even I know my fierce interest for My Little Pony will eventually die out as I drift for something else, so putting it on the number 1 spot will be inaccurate for what I’m trying to show here. Also, objectively and compared to other shows, My Little Pony would have a hard time trying to compete with all the other entries that are above it. I will defend MLP: FiM until my fingers fall and my eyes melt, but in my own personal list this is how things work. You have to still feel happy ponies! You are worth mentioning in a list filled to the brim with my nostalgia.
7. Sherlock Hound.
Oh my God, this show is awesome. I bet many of you American viewers never heard of this show until Hayao Miyazaki won an Oscar with Spirited Away. Yes, the guy who did Princess Mononoke, Porco Rosso, Laputa: Castle in the Sky, Howl’s Moving Castle and Kiki’s Delivery Service also made an adaptation of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s books, with dogs. Yes. Dogs. Sherlock Hound is famous for its character design, as every character in the show is an anthropomorphized (or furry) version of a dog. It works surprisingly well as the fact that they are dogs is not part of their personality and never gets in the way. Sherlock Holmes is a brass, brave, cunning and action packed guy who will jump out a window and onto an airplane just to get his paws on a clue. Moriarty is the most enjoyable villain of all time, with his witty retorts, his constant frustrated state of mind and an endless array of PG-Rated insults. This is the perfect example of a show that works really well animation, character and story wise. It does have its highs and lows however. The last few episodes lack the energy and are not as memorable, and there’s the inexcusable omission of “Baskerville’s Hound” (it could’ve been so Meta!). But for what we have, it’s amazing, and watching it nowadays it’s no surprise Miyazaki has gotten where he is now.
6. CSI: Las Vegas (From Season 1 to Season 7).
I make a clarification there mostly because that’s when I stopped watching CSI: Las Vegas. It’s not that I lost interest because Gil Grissom’s character left the show, it’s because the fuckers who aired here in Spain got angry with another TV Channel and now I can only watch the show if I buy it on DVD. But I digress. This show is all shades of awesome and entertaining. This one relates more to my teenage years than my childhood, but it’s not lacking on nostalgia in any way. I remember watching some of the Season 1 episodes and being genuinely shocked anytime a mystery got solved or anytime a culprit got put behind bars. Many times I punched the air in jubilation when that slimy son of a bitch got caught because he forgot that we leave DNA traces everywhere. Also, and this might sound very silly, I love when during science movies or shows they look into a microscope to see the details of miniscule things. They do that fifteen times per episode here. It’s so much fun! And aside from the science (which is soft science but it works, and they make fun of it several times as well) this is a very heavy character driven show. These characters have depth, personalities, stories, places they came from and places they are going to, and the best thing is that it’s never shoved on your face and they develop as the TV series moves forward. It’s surprising for something that comes with the Jerry Bruckheimer Producer tag, isn’t it?
Oh boy, what can I say of this show? This is one of the big ones, and I’m amazed to see that, even in this day and age of the internet, nobody has any intention to bad mouth this show. Yeah, some people may or may not like it, but they never say it sucks or if it’s bad. The general opinion on Gargoyles is that it’s FUCKING AWESOME. And, surprise, I am one of those people. I can’t emphasize how much I like this show. Back then I could be watching either Batman or Gargoyles, and I think I know why I picked Gargoyles instead of The Dark Knight’s Cartoon. For Two reasons: One, the characters in Gargoyles looked cooler to me (come on guys, they are frigging Gargoyles, how cool is that!?); and Two, the Spanish dub of The Batman Animated Series wasn’t that good. It was alright, but goddamnit, Gargoyles was so much better. The Spanish voice of Goliath sounded exactly like Keith David. We should thank Disney for being so good and responsible when doing dubs. Besides that, the animation is fantastic and even to this day it holds up as one of the smoothest, edgiest and bleakest animated shows ever produced. The characters were really complex and well developed, the themes were risky, and the storylines were dramatic and had a lot of catharsis to it. You watch the show nowadays and you’ll realize how much of an impact it can leave on you. If you ever have the chance to check it out, do so. Then try to imagine what would happen if Christopher Nolan decides to make a movie adaptation.
Good ol’ Ducktales. You know you can’t go wrong with a show about a rich duck who wants to become even richer and to do so he scavenges the entire World trying to find treasures. Scrooge McDuck plays here as the ultimate grave robber, as he travels all over the World to steal, pillage, and eventually learn a valuable lesson that money is not the most valuable thing in his life. Ducktales is the Indiana Jones of Animated TV Shows. It’s an action packed thrill ride that feels closer to the 1950’s adventure serials than the George Lucas/Steven Spielberg movies. Even though most of the episodes had a similar structure (Scrooge hears about ancient mystical artefact - goes to recover such artefact - his Nephews save the day – Scrooge learns lesson about friendship and sends letter to Princess-No wait, wrong show) there’s still room for a lot of surprises in here. Remember the episode where they travel to the Bermuda Triangle? The entire thing is a word for word homage to H.P. Lovecraft’s Dagon, all the way down to the tentacle covered ancient horror. An animated show that features the Deep ones should be in high regards. But it doesn’t end there, as the many references and shout outs don’t overwhelm the original storylines and plots this show throw at us. If you feel adventurous and don’t want to crank an Indiana Jones movie, go watch this show. You won’t regret it.
3. Outlaw Star.
I was divided between this one and Firefly, until this thought crossed my mind: Who did it first? Outlaw Star was the answer, so Outlaw Star it is. You may have noticed a severe lack of anime in this list (Sherlock Hound doesn’t count, despite it being Miyazaki’s work). This is because I’m not that much of an anime nut. I watched Pokémon, Dragon Ball, Hellsing, and many other animes, but if I ever watched them and found a soft spot for them was because I liked the videogame, read the original manga or was butt hurt after Twilight (the book, not the pony). Outlaw Star was the first anime I did watch where I knew nothing of it prior to me watching it. I knew it was Sci-Fi and that’s about it. What I discovered was a fantastic overarching storyline that ends within 23 episodes and that it stars some of the most original characters in an anime ever. But it’s not so much the characters but how incredible their relations are and how they work. You really feel the rivalry, friendship, animosity, romance and repulsion they feel for each other. The dialogue is very naturalistic, it flows really well, and there’s not a single line that feels out of place or unnecessary. It’s also wonderful to see these characters, characters you do care for and worry for them, working together, accomplishing impossible feats and getting through troubles bigger than life. It’s fantastic. Any anime fan should check this out, but also any science-fiction fan should give this one a try. A must watch.
2. Amazing Stories.
When I was a kid in the early 90’s there were few TV shows that were not animated that I could watch. The Twilight Zone wasn’t big here in Spain, and The X-Files got kooky and silly even before I knew how to make a computer work. Without any show worth watching for me, and before the arrival of CSI, I have to feel thankful to Steven Spielberg and the group of translators here in Spain who brought us “Amazing Stories”. Amazing Stories was a TV series produced by Spielberg (who directed one of the most memorable (if not the most) episodes in it) and that was basically The Twilight Zone for little kids. That doesn’t mean it was all cute and cuddly. This show had some scary and fucked up shit. There’s the episode of the little kid who sees his parents but they don’t see him, and the kid thinks he’s dead but he actually hasn’t born yet. Then there’s the Christmas episode, which gets everyone teary because it’s about an old Sheriff receiving a Christmas present from Santa Claus himself, after 45 years waiting for it. Then there’s the episode of the two ghosts scaring the ever loving crap out of a porn film crew who were making a movie in their house. There’s the mummy episode, where an actor who plays as a mummy in a horror movie set stumbles upon a real mummy in a Virginia swamp (extra points for having Bronson Pinchot from Perfect Strangers as the movie director). Then we have the murderous wig episode where an alien with the shape of a wig takes possession of bald men to enslave humanity. We have the episode where a kid who gets hit by a meteorite and develops natural magnetism. And we also have an episode where a mother throws a lot of his kid’s toys to the trash only to get assaulted by a dragon…that was inside one of the kid’s comic books the mother threw to the trash. The title of the show said everything about how amazing the whole thing is. I’m sure the episode most people remember is the B-17 episode, “The Mission”, the one Steven Spielberg directed. I won’t spoil it, but it’s a mix between Saving Private Ryan and Who Framed Roger Rabbit. Genius.
And my favourite TV show of all time is…
Yes. I mean, goddamnit guys, what else do you expect me to pick but this? This show is just so good I can’t pint point to an episode and say it’s bad. The premise is good, the characters are good, the plot is good, the writing is amazing, the humour is brilliant (and incredibly well integrated in the plot), and it shows how much effort Matt Groening put into this to make an animated science-fiction TV series that actually makes sense. You know how many times they don’t explain anything in any sci-fi story, movie, book or comic? Here they explain even the things you don’t care for (or that you think you don’t care for), and if it sounds too silly or too far fetched, guess what, it’s a TV Show! Be happy you can at least have an explanation, and if it’s a hilarious one even better. But don’t think this makes the show unwatchable or that you will have to sit through the entire first season to understand everything in it. You can pick any episode, watch it, and have as much fun as you are able to take. The myriad of references is big enough to fill several dozens of pages on TV Tropes, and the amount of clichés this series breaks is so humongous that you won’t be able to think straight about movies for a good while. You’ll find yourself stopping a movie and saying “Futurama proved this shouldn’t be a problem, why is it a problem here?” What I did find funny was the way we reacted towards the show here in Spain. Matt Groening’s (apparent) only achievement in this country was to create “The Simpsons” so when Futurama arrived many expected the same kind of PG-ish rated humour and (almost always) lack of moral message. What the parents got horrified them so much that they requested Futurama to be changed from time slots, moving it from the usual 2pm to 3pm slot to the 1am to 2 am slot. We were not ready to face Futurama’s awesomeness. I guess we still aren’t. When is that 6th Season coming!?