Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Big Picture: "Last Starr"

Strength of the bear!!!

14 comments:

Anonymous said...

I caught the "Centurions" screenshot in there. I used to watch the hell out of that show!

TheAlmightyNarf said...

I'm really not that surprised that Law Star is based of an actual thing.

Lord Slithor said...

Yeah, Bravestarr pretty much was Filmation's last gasp. They were at the nadir of their career, as all their shows were pretty much using the same formula as He-Man. Also, their cookie-cutter animation style just wasn't cutting it anymore, thanks to Anime gaining popularity with shows like Robotech and Voltron. Plus their post-show moralizing was really starting to come off as ham-fisted and pedantic at that point. So when they finally got bought out by L'Oreal, I can't say I was too surprised. Their time had come and gone.

The other thing that always annoyed me about Filmation was their insistence of putting in an annoying sidekick in almost every single show they did. And that the voice in all cases was supplie by Lou Schiemer hmiself. Now, I'm sure he was a nice guy. But the voice he used was just really grating and annoying. Whether it was Mo in Space Sentinels, Adam in Ark II, Peepo in Space Academy, Bat-Mite in New Adventures of Batman or Orko in He-Man (and I'm sure there were many others), it was almost always the same. And that after several episodes, you just wanted to punch them.

It was kind of a sad end for that studio, because in their heyday they made some really good stuff. Their animated Star Trek was on par with its live action counterpart, and in some cases it was arguably better since it didn't cost anything to draw weird aliens, spaceships or planetary landscapes. So it achieved a kind of larger scope that the live action version could only have hoped for.

Also their version of Tarzan probably came closest of any attempts before or since as being the most faithful to Edgar Rice Burroughs' original source material. In the '60s, they shows based on both Fantastic Voyage and Journey to the Center of the Earth that were pretty cool. And the shows they did based on Superman, Batman and Aquaman in that same era were also very good and very true to the Silver Age tone of the time.

But by far I think the absolute best work they ever did was on their Flash Gordon series in the late '70s. Originally it had started out as a feature-length animated TV movie for NBC to be shown on prime time. But since at the time the pervading notion was that cartoons were and should only be strictly for kids, they chose not to air it, and instead turned it into a Saturday morning show. The show actually did a very good job of emulating the cliffhanger format made popular by both the Buster Crabbe serials as well as Alex Raymond's original strips (at least in its first season). And the show also featured some then-cutting edge effects animation for the spaceships, which were shot using motion control cameras and later rotoscoped. In fact, when the animated movie was to be distributed overseas, the story goes that the foreign rights were given to Dino DeLaurentis, and that's where he got the idea to do HIS Flash Gordon movie!

The series has been released on DVD, and you might be able to still order it on Amazon. But the movie that spawned it is a little harder to come by, with bootlegs on Ebay being your only recourse. But both are very much worth your time.

Lord Slithor said...

Oh, and I also noticed the screenshots you put in of Centurions and Inhumanoids. Of the cartoons to have come out of that era, in addition to Robotech, I always thought they were some of the better ones. Centurions was consistently well-written and had great animation. And Inhumanoids was cool if for no other reason than it served as my gateway drug to H.P. Lovecraft!

Joshua the Anarchist said...

First reaction: "'Star' spelled with 2 'r's? What's he up to?"

Second reaction: "'Strength of the--' NO. He couldn't be!"

Third reaction: *starts singing along to the theme song* "In a distant time and faraway place, the planet New Texas floats deep in space! Sky of 3 suns! Land of precious ore! The kerium rush brought outlaws by the score!"

I'm embarrassed to admit how old I was when I first watched this thing, but I found it on hulu, and just fell in love with the concept of it. As far as I'm concerned, Thirty-Thirty is one of the most badass characters in cartoon history. Gotta be embarrassing when your horse is color than you are. It kills me that they never made a Sarah Jane toy, I so would've bought that.

Joshua the Anarchist said...

*Sorry, "cooler than you are."

biomechanical923 said...

I always thought the Centurions were kinda cool in that they had different suits for different situations (a la Iron Man) there was a jet suit, a submarine suit, etc... It was definitely designed from the ground up with a series of toys in mind.

For some reason, I grew up thinking that Centurions was part of the Hanna-Barbera outfit, or some other attempt by Ted Turner to grab a modern audience. Then again, this was back in the early 90's when Cartoon Network's scheduling was pretty non-existant, and they just ran cartoons in serial non stop. You could see a clip of "2 Stupid Dogs", an episode of "Centurions", and something like one of the "Herculoids"or "Grape Ape" shorts, all in the course of a half hour.

Tom Speelman said...

Oh man! Great episode, Bob!

I've actually SPOTTED Bravestarr on DVD at Wal-Mart a few times and, now, after this, I just might pick it up. I'm a '90s kid, but I LOVE cartoons of all eras!

And nice work mentioning The Trenches! It's a wonderful strip and makes me laugh harder than Penny Arcade more often than not.

Unknown said...

fuck yea, centurions. want new age toys of those

Anonymous said...

@ Lord Slithor...they also have the Flash Gordon series on Netflix streaming. Sadly though I haven't seen the movie.

But yeah...Filmation. Those were the days man.

JPArbiter said...

okay now that there was a clip of The Centurions, there NEEDS to be a Big Picture about that.

I swear there is a big budget scifi action film in there!

Avistew said...

@Joshua the Anarchist: If you want more horses cooler than their riders, I suggest you lend Lucky Luke a look. Jolly Jumper is definitely cooler than Luke. Well, in my opinion at least.

buzzkillinton said...

a modern retake in comic book form of the brave star character would be cool. marvel would do it justice

Zeno said...

As soon as I saw "Law Starr" I thought to myself,"Bob making an episode about an incredibly cheesy 80s cartoon? He'd never!".

I've never actually seen the show myself, I only heard of its existence during a Wikipedia random walk that I think started with Jagged Alliance.