Saturday morning cartoons were great. Then they went away.
There’s probably more to it than that but thats the quick version. I wanted to mention this because I feel that Double Dragon The Animated Series is a top notch example of a saturday morning cartoon that was released too late.
First of all, I can hear everyone of you say “Hold on there mister, go back a step. A Double Dragon cartoon? Double Dragon? Really?”
Double Dragon was an arcade game, one of the first really popular scrolling beat em ups. The story, what there was of it, was that you played as Billy or Jimmy Lee. Billy’s girlfriend is kidnapped by someone gang so he (and Jimmy, if you’re rocking the two player mode) has to kick ass and take names and get her back.
So how does this:
Turn into this:
I have no idea. And, frankly, I don’t care.
The cartoon came out of nowhere. I remember turning Sky1 on one day, waiting for Star Trek to start and there it was. Double Dragon. Only now the brothers had swords and masks and Jimmy was a bad guy and the proper bad guy was a dude with a really big black mask and there were dragons in there somewhere.
And it was great. It was fun. The stories were simple, as they inevitably always were. That didn’t matter, the swords looked cool and the world created by the show was quite interesting.
The show also wasn’t afraid to shake things up a little. It started with one of the brothers being the bad guy but he quickly changed sides. This lead to new villains, new hero sidekick characters were introduced, the status quo would change again and again. You never knew quite what to expect from each episode which was one of the reasons I kept going back.
Not everyone kept coming back though. The show lasted two seasons and got a video game, ironically a Street Fighter II clone. It deserved a bigger success. I really do think that if it came out in the 80s with a decent toy line people would be walking round today wearing t-shirts of the cartoon.
I don’t know if you can get these on DVD, which is again a shame. If you do come across this show, give it a chance. It’s probably the best cartoon show based on a video game.