Saturday, January 30, 2021

Hey Kids, Cartoons! Violent, R-Rated Cartoons!

Just a reminder that there was a time when the cocaine flowed freely in Hollywood, and network executives thought it'd be a great idea to take violent, R-rated movies and turn them into kids' cartoons.

While it definitely seems ill-advised and just plain wrong, you gotta remember that these movies came out during the golden age of video stores. Despite the fact that kids were prohibited from seeing these movies in a theater, they ended up seeing them anyway— in the comfort of their own homes! 

Parents routinely rented these films, brought 'em home and then watched them with the entire family. So kids were well versed in R-rated fare, and were big fans of their action hero stars. When you consider that, the idea of a watered down, kid-friendly version of the character doesn't seem quite so outlandish.

RoboCop, as you might imagine, was based on the 1987 film of the same name. The animated series ran for one season in 1988. As you might expect, the animated series was quite different from the hyperviolent film. Handguns were replaced by laser blasters, and the world of Old Detroit was much more technologically advanced. 

Rambo: The Force Of Freedom (aka simply Rambo) was based on the Rambo franchise. It ran for sixty five episodes in 1986.

Unlike the Rambo of the movies, who was a one man army, the animated version of the character led a special paramilitary unit called The Force Of Freedom. They regularly clashed with a terrorist organization called S.A.V.A.G.E. 

With its cast of colorfully nicknamed characters, the series was a knockoff of G.I. Joe.

Toxic Crusaders was a 1991 animated series based on Troma's The Toxic Avenger movie.

As usual for these kinds of series, they had to extensively revamp the character to make it suitable for kids. The animated version of Toxie lead a group of mutant misfits who were all environmental activists (!). 

Obviously the edgy violence and sexual innuendo of the movie was toned down or eliminated altogether as well.

Conan The Adventurer was an American/Canadian production that aired in 1992. It was based on the 1982 Conan The Barbarian film, as well as the books by Robert E. Howard. It ran two seasons, for a total of sixty five episodes.

As with all the other shows, Conan was saddled with a team that accompanied him on his adventures. And of course the violence was toned way down for children's TV, completely negating the point of the character.

What's even more amazing is that each of these shows featured its own action figure line! Kids could actually stroll into Toys R Us and buy RoboCop, Rambo, Toxic Avenger and Conan figures!

Personally I'm still waiting for kids' shows based on Eraserhead, Santa Sangre, Pink Flamingos, A Clockwork Orange and Silence Of The Lambs!

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