May The Eighteenth Be With You: The All New Ewoks

James Proclaims (4)

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Eighteen days into my month-long homage to Star Wars and I appear to have lost all reason.

Not that I had much of that at the start of all this.

I could have just stopped when I’d written about Episodes I – IX, though I’m sure no-one would have begrudged me writing about ‘Rogue One’ and ‘Solo’ as well.

But that would still only have been eleven posts.

That’s not excessive.

And had I done that, I’m sure most people would have agreed that I’d completed a pretty thorough retrospective on Star Wars.

Instead, here I am, on day 18 of this madness and I haven’t even touched on the aforementioned spin-off movies.

Because I’ve been writing quite a lot about Ewoks.

Some might say too much.

But it ends here.

The Ewok stuff I mean.

Obviously I’m going to carry on writing about Star Wars.

However, I assure you that this is my last post about the bloody Ewoks.

But it is still probably a post too far.

Because I’m writing about series 2 of the 80s cartoon.

I wrote about series 1 yesterday.

But I irrationally felt the two series deserved separate posts.

Because, they were, essentially two different shows.

But before I go on, here is today’s redundant spoiler alert:

Spoiler alert: On the off chance you were planning on watching this long forgotten cartoon, then I would implore you to reconsider. It is not good. It is bad. Series 1 wasn’t great, but series 2 was abysmal. Nonetheless, if you insist on putting yourself through the horrors of this, then I may reveal some plot details in the text below. If I can find any to reveal. I don’t remember there being too much in the way of plot though. 

So, 1985’s ‘Star Wars: Ewoks’ was renewed for another series. But it was also ‘revamped’ and made into something different.

The new version was called ‘The All New Ewoks”.

And it was ‘all new’.

Rather than each episode being dedicated to one 20-minute story, they were split into two 10-minute stories.

Although the first series also concentrated on the exploits of the four main characters of Wicket, Kneesaa, Teebo and Latarra, there were a few other Ewoks who featured quite regularly. Most of those characters, while notionally still in this series are very much in the background.

And, aside from Kneesaa, who is, in fairness, largely the same character, the others are all completely different. And not just because they’ve been drawn differently and they are being voiced by different actors (both of which are true) but because they have entirely different personalities. And they’re much less likeable. Oh and bizarrely, whereas it used to be Latarra who had an unrequited crush on Teebo, it’s now Teebo that has an unrequited crush on Latarra.

Series 1 had recurring villains, and some sort of continuity across the episodes, but each of the mini-stories in series 2 has a new villain and there is no continuity at all. There are so many new characters and species introduced in this series that it appears that the forest moon of Endor (which we’ve established across the two stand-alone movies and the first iteration of this cartoon, is only partially forest at best) is incredibly densely populated with creatures who all possess varying degrees of magical powers. And the Ewoks are the most magical of all because they possess the Sunstar, which is a kind of magical stone, that everyone else wants to steal. I don’t remember the Sunstar from ‘Return of the Jedi’. Or the two Ewok movies for that matter. It is in series 1 of the cartoon, but it’s only central to a couple of episodes. In series 2, virtually every story is about someone trying to steal the Sunstar. And failing obviously.

The two main antagonists in series 1 were Morag the witch, who was killed in that series, and the inept Duloks. The Duloks are back for series 2, but only in a couple of episodes. They mostly have to make way for the plethora of new antagonists, who mostly show up for ten minutes and then are never seen again.

It is rubbish, but it is a kids cartoon. And I didn’t notice any of the changes when I was young and I still watched it so I shouldn’t be too annoyed. But I am a bit annoyed because series 1 was better and I don’t know why anyone would go out of their way to make an ‘ok but not great’ cartoon into a really bad cartoon.

Both versions of the cartoon were extremely far removed from anything resembling Star Wars. But series 2 is the one when any pretence that these are the same Ewoks that helped the rebels defeat the Empire has finally been eroded. ‘The All New Ewoks’ was a cartoon about some bears who live in a magical land and have magical powers. It was a bit like another 80s cartoon, Disney’s ‘Gummi Bears’, but nowhere near as good.

So when, in the penultimate episode, the Empire turns up in a Star Destroyer, complete with stormtroopers, it really is quite a surprise.

Particularly as Emperor Palpatine is referenced a few times and is sort of, but not quite, in the actual episode (he’s notionally in a shuttle that we see a few times on screen).

And you kind of remember at this point that the Ewoks did originate in ‘Return of the Jedi’, but it’s all been so different to Star Wars for so long that it’s actually quite weird when Star Wars appears. It just doesn’t feel right.

I can’t bring myself to fully hate this cartoon, because I did watch it and love it as a child. But I do wish I had only watched the first series as kid, because then I could dismiss ‘The All New Ewoks’ as utterly worthless.

Sadly, however, I know I loved both series equally, so nostalgia does help to redeem this abomination a little bit.

Best character – Kneesaa

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She was one of the more likable characters in series 1 anyway and as she’s pretty much the same character in this, she is the best by default, because the others have all become so much worse.

Worst character – Teebo

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Was pretty cool in series 1 and really isn’t at all cool in series 2. Seems to by a hybrid of some different characters from series 1 that were subsequently written out. Possibly the most irritating of all the irritating changes that were made.

Unsung Heroes – The Duloks

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As antagonists, the Duloks were the most fun in series 1 and they’re severely underused in series 2. But when they do appear they are still pretty good value and those rare appearances are definitely the best episodes.

And that really is all I have to say about the Ewoks. Tune in tomorrow when I’ll probably still be writing about a cartoon, but it will be a much better cartoon than this was.

 

 

 

James’ Shamelessly Nostalgic A-Z Of Cartoon Characters That He Liked As A Child – Part 2: Bananaman

James Proclaims (4)

It’s Day 2 of the month of April and by sheer coincidence, it’s also Day 2 of the A-Z Blogging Challenge. If I’m not mistaken (and I rarely am) the second letter of the alphabet is ‘B’

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‘B’ is for Bananaman.

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I used to read the Beano as a kid. I did not read the Dandy. You couldn’t read both. It wasn’t allowed. You had to pick a side and I opted for Dennis the Menace, Minnie the Minx and The Bash Street Kids, over Desperate Dan, Korky the Cat and Winker Watson. Because they were much much better.

But the Dandy did have one character that might have persuaded me to change sides. And that was the incomparable Bananaman.

Fortunately there was a TV adaptation of Bananaman so I was able to have my banana cake and eat it, getting to enjoy the Beano in comic book form and Bananaman as a televised cartoon.

Without Bananaman it is distinctly possible that I would never have eaten fruit as a child. But to this day, whenever I eat a banana I retain the hope that it will give me superpowers.

James’ Shamelessly Nostalgic A-Z Of Cartoon Characters That He Liked As A Child – Part 1: Athos and Aramis

James Proclaims (4)

It’s Easter Sunday, a day of not inconsiderable religious significance for some people, which I absolutely respect, though I am not especially of a religious persuasion myself. It also is a day on which we’re encouraged to eat lots of chocolate, so long as that chocolate comes in the shape of an egg,  and this is something that I’m more than happy to get on board with. I’ll certainly be having my fill of egg-shaped chocolate today.

Easter Sunday is not always on the 1st April – given that the need for it to specifically happen on a Sunday precludes it from occurring on a consistent calendar date. I imagine there are other factors, which also determine when Easter occurs, because it’s sometimes in March and sometimes in April and sometimes it’s right at the start of April, but other times it’s at the end of April. I don’t know what those factors are. Perhaps I’ll look them up, or maybe I’ll continue in my ignorance. As long as I get to eat lots of chocolate I’m basically fine with it happening whenever it happens.

What does always occur on the 1st April is the much loved April Fools Day celebration, where we all go out of our way to make our family and friends look a bit stupid, while hoping that they don’t make us look a bit stupid in return. If you are going to embark on a little ‘fool-mockery’ today then be sure to observe the key rule – humiliating people is a morning activity only. If you catch someone out with a witty fabrication in the afternoon then tradition dictates that it is you who is the fool, not them. Even if they still clearly are fools for falling for such an obvious prank…

This year, April 1st is also the day on which I down my usual blogging tools and pick up my specially commissioned alphabetised tools in order to take part in the, now traditional, A-Z Blogging Challenge. This year (as you’ll know if you bothered to read this explanatory post) I’ll mostly be blogging about cartoon characters that I liked in my youth. Which brings us neatly on to my first cartoon character (or in this case characters) of choice. Today, being the first day of the challenge is is all about the letter ‘A’:

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‘A’ is for Athos and also for Aramis.

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They were two of the fabled ‘three musketeers’ from Alexandre Dumas’ classic novel ‘The Three Musketeers’. Which I’ve never read. But I have seen numerous adaptations which, as we all know, is exactly the same as reading the book.

And my favourite adaptation, beyond a shadow of a doubt, was the brilliant 80’s cartoon Dogtanian and the Three Muskehounds, in which all the protagonists were portrayed as animals (and mostly, but not exclusively, as dogs).

I was never quite sure why they were called ‘muskehounds’ in the title and theme tune and then referred to as musketeers in the cartoon itself. But no matter, it’s a tiny criticism of what was one of the seminal cartoons of my youth.

Another criticism might be that the characters of Porthos and Athos seemed, in the cartoon, to have been mixed up – ‘Porthos the muskehound’ largely had the character traits of  ‘Athos the musketeer’ from the book and vice versa. It never bothered me too much, but it does seem a strange mistake to have made.

However, let’s not dwell on that now. Instead, let’s all sing along with the fantastic theme tune.

All together now:

One for all and all for one
Muskehounds are always ready
One for all and all for one
Helping everybody…

G Is For Games

James Proclaims (4)

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Games rhymes with James.

I like rhymes.

But I don’t always like games.

I can tolerate an occasional round of Monopoly, but I find my enthusiasm wanes after a while.

I don’t mind chess either but only really against weaker opponents (of whom there are not many).
Continue reading G Is For Games