G.I.Joe cartoons and the struggle to watch them

So last year I got the complete G.I.Joe boxset, which contains the entirety of the G.I.Joe cartoon output except for renegades. This includes the cartoon pre-movie, the 1986 movie, the cartoon after the movie, G.I.Joe Sigma 6 and G.I.Joe resolute. I decided some time ago that I would watch all of these discs, mostly because if you buy a series and don’t watch it, I might as well be giving my money away and I continue to call myself the worlds foremost G.I.Joeologist, then I need to be across all G.I.Joe media or else well, I am not really the worlds foremost expert am I? The thing is, I may have bitten off more than I can chew.

Having seen the pre-movie cartoons before, I understood that the hit to miss ratio of that series is fairly scatter-blast but it’s still a lot more thought out in terms of plots and makes more sense for a cartoon aimed at kids to sell toys. It does have a semi coherent structure, which also helps. Cobra would come up with a wacky scheme or some sort of plan and the Joes had to figure it out before they could stop them. Yes the plots were silly, one had Cobra trying to frame the Joes over Christmas and had the joes stopping them via Cobra Equipment. The problem though happens with the DIC produced series

See, while there was always hint of humour in the first series, it was mostly based around the fact that Cobra would have a plot that the Joes would thwart. Sure not all of the plots were winners, the Cobra love potion episode comes to mind, but such episodes were just few and far between. The DIC did away with that formula and gave some truly absurd plots. One had Cobra kidnapping Sgt Slaughter then challenging the Joes to a football match in order to win him back, another had Pathfinder chained to Cobra Commander as they ran through the jungles of Africa while being chased by an angry lion and a love struck gorilla, I am not making this up. There were created by people who had a basic idea down pat but then just came up with some, quite frankly crap episodes.

Going into it, I knew things would be bad. Looking back on things from your childhood isn’t always easy, there is a level of expectation that aren’t always met. But this is some next level stuff. The episodes aren’t just bad their cringe worthy. If some one were to walk into the room while I was watching an episode, I would reach for the remote to change the channel so quickly that a localised black hole would emerge in my lounge room.

Yes I know it’s made for kids, but it should at least be watch-able and have some sort of internal logic. Watching Joes defeat night creeper ninjas by throwing pies at them is just plain stupid. There are some high points, such as seeing different types of Cobra forces, like range vipers, saw vipers etc. and the different vehicles are a nice change, but most of these are offset by the quite frankly boring stories.

There is a good G.I.Joe cartoon that can be made, perhaps not now seeing as the brand has been in a slow decline mostly because Hasbro would rather chase the MLP money, and who can blame them as there is more money to be made from colourful ponies prancing about than a cartoon about two sides locked into a never ending struggle. Which is a shame, because after so many years of enjoyment, the best the series can muster is four people on the run from a shadowy company after being accused of a crime they didn’t commit.

The only problem is that violence in cartoons now are on the front of every ones mind, and rather then just showing that good can triumph over evil through the power of teamwork, the idea of of American armed forces running over the world stopping bad guys is a tad on the nose. So just make the Joes international heroes, be careful when you’re creating the characters that you avoid terrible stereotypes and you can have on your hands a decent cartoon.


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