After learning recently that “Fast and the Furious” actually had an animated series on Netflix for kids, I was stunned, but not entirely shocked. There’s still some cash to be mined from the series, and there’s room to appeal to kids. In either case, with that and with “Gremlins” also being turned in to animated series, I couldn’t help but think back to five great animated series I watched as a kid that were based on feature films. What are some of your favorites?
Jim Henson’s Muppet Babies (1984)
Based on: “The Muppets Take Manhattan”
Originating in “The Muppets Take Manhattan,” the Henson company and Marvel Productions created a – now very beloved – animated series. “Muppet Babies” focused on a small group of the Muppets (including Kermit, Ms. Piggy, and Fozzy) as toddlers who used their imaginations to get in to all sorts of wonderful and happy adventures. Looked after by their half-seen caretaker, Nanny (Barbara Billingsley), these adventures would range from space missions, to wild west romps and all sorts of journeys as they learned the basics of being children. The series is still considered a classic, even being rebooted in 2018.
The Real Ghostbusters (1986)
Based on: “Ghostbusters”
Not to be confused with Filmation’s Ghostbusters, The Real Ghostbusters focused on the foursome of NYC ghost hunters from the film as they battled a slew of demons, ogres, and specters alike. It also explored their sudden friendship with the inadvertent series mascot, Slimer, the gross specter who has a too close for comfort encounter with Venkman. The animated series (later retooled as “Slimer! And the Real Ghostbusters”) was great often injecting genuinely creepy episodes, along with some classic dark comedy that appealed to both kids and fans of the original film. It also gave way to an amazing action figure line that’s highly coveted by collectors.
Based on: “Beetlejuice”
The animated series took the darker and more adult overtones from the Tim Burton movie and toned it down in to a dark but fun animated adventure. This weird but entertaining animated spin off followed Lydia as she and Beetlejuice went on random fun journeys in to other dimensions and the netherworld. Along the way, Beetlejuice dodged the dreaded worm monsters, and experienced all kinds of bizarre occult adventures with excellent animation reminiscent of Edward Gorey.
Toxic Crusaders (1991)
Based On: “The Toxic Avenger”
I fondly remember loving Toxic Crusaders as kid even though then, I had absolutely no idea who Lloyd Kaufman was, or what the heck Troma was. Fun, and often very funny, “Toxic Crusaders” took the X rated cult film and turned it in to a PG rated superhero show about the Toxic Avenger and his misadventures in Tromaville with his gang of heroic mutants. Toxie was also turned in to a more sympathetic, comical, and silly superhero. I loved this series then, and I love it today. I also loved owning all of the great action figures and underrated comic books from Marvel Comics.
James Bond Jr. (1991)
Based On: James Bond Film Series
As a man who’s never seen a single James Bond film, I consider James Bond Jr. a wonderful memory of the early 90s. Rather than focus on a young James Bond, “James Bond Jr.” instead focuses on his nephew (who kind of looks like Johnny Depp circa “21 Jump Street”) who engaged in many of the same action-packed adventures as his Uncle James, while wooing the ladies in about as much of a G-rated manner as possible. Overall, the series lasted 65 episodes and was even spun off in to a comic series, a few novelizations for kids, garnered its own line of action figures and was given an NES and SNES game. I think it’s very under appreciated and deserves at least a few viewings from Bond buffs.