episodic list articles by Corey B. Buckner

The 5 Best: Afterschool Progams

by Corey B. Buckner

Running home from school or football practice to catch just a few minutes of my favorite shows was as much a part of my youth as sitting in front of the television on Saturday morning with a big bowl of cereal until cartoons and children's programs gave way to infomercials and pre-game shows. The afternoon programming block was a bountiful cornucopia of youthful entertainment that produced culture-defining entertainment that is still alive with us today on storeroom shelves in the form of collectibles and memorabilia. While the 1980s is the undisputed champion of Saturday morning cartoons, one could easily argue that the 1990s was the pinnacle of after school teen and kids entertainment. In fact, that is a point that I would argue myself. With that, I would like to share my pics for the 5 best teen and kids after school TV shows of the 90s.

5. Disney's Gargoyles

I was shocked to learn that many of my friends did not watch Disney's Gargoyles. This 90s classic animated series was like the second (or third, forth or fifth) coming of Batman the Animated Series. Unlike many other cartoons that copycatted Batman; Gargoyles took the sound and animation style of the Batman cartoon and elevated it in a lot of ways. Goliath, Brooklyn and the rest of the gang were cool and intriguing, and boasted a unique array of character types. Additionally, the very Batman-esque music was the perfect backdrop for the often gritty and dark story lines. While at first I had written Gargoyles off as just another attempted theft of the Batman the Animated Series format; I was eventually won over in a major way with Disney's exceptionally unique take on the genre.

4. Mighty Morphin Power Rangers

I can still vividly remember my older brother coming and telling me that FOX was releasing a live-action version of Voltron. Like so many shows before, I had never heard of it and yet somehow my brother had a full-canon of details before the show had even launched. Despite my lack of prior knowledge, to say that I was highly anticipating the first episode would be a gross understatement. This was Voltron… in real life! The show premiered during high school football season, so I would have to actually have to set the timer on my VCR and hope that I'd done it right to see the show once I got home from practice.

For the premiere episode, I sprinted home from football practice as fast as I could and tuned in just as Jason yelled for the first time, "It's Morphin' Time!" I watched them morph, form the Megazord and quickly vanquish the enemy leaving me wondering, "oh… my… goodness… what did I just miss?!" Although I hated the Red Ranger, the rest of the cast was awesome; though I could have lived without Zack's breakdance fighting in the show's intro. The impact of The Power Rangers on 90s culture cannot be overstated and their lasting impression is evidenced by the fact that they are now airing the twenty-third iteration of the show in the year 2021.

3. Stephen Spilberg's Tiny Toon Adventures

When I found out that they were creating a cartoon about younger Loony Tunes characters loosely based on Bugs Bunny, Donald Duck, Porky Pig and the others; I was all in. But, interestingly enough, it wasn't the younger versions of older, established characters that set this show apart for me. For me, it was the new characters that were created for the show that have given Tiny Toon Adventures a permanent place of fondness in my memories. Elmyra, Montana Max, Gogo Dodo and other show-exclusive characters added such uniqueness to the show and did a great job giving the Tiny Toon universe a distinct feel from the Loony Toons universe (although they did overlap). Tiny Toon Adventures was the perfect update to the beloved, Warner Bros' cartoons of the decades prior.

2. Batman the Animated Series

If ever there was a case to be made for perfection in televised, animated cinematography, Batman the Animated Series (Batman TAS) would be it. The oft-copied character designs created an entirely new art and animation style for televised superhero shows. The voice work and sound effects added a feeling of realism that was previously unheard of in kids animated television shows. Overall, Batman TAS was just a whole new version of cool that none of us knew that we were missing. For many, Mark Hammil's Joker in the series is the best version of the Joker; and other characters like The Sandman, Two-Face, Poison Ivy and the Riddler live in our minds primarily as the versions of their characters depicted on Batman TAS. Not to mention, this gave us Harley Quinn who has gone on to be a fan favorite of the Batman Universe.

1. Stephen Spilberg's Animaniacs

The Animaniacs took everything that Tiny Toon Adventures was doing and ramped it up to a hundred times better! Wacko, Yacko and Dot were hilarious, and they introduced a brand new cast of characters who themselves have become the favorites of many fans of the show. The Goodfeathers and Pinky and the Brain are prime examples of how well-executed the additional cast of characters were around the three Animaniacs siblings. As for the Animaniacs themselves, how could you not love their character-designs and the personalities that accompanied them. The theme song telling of how and why they get locked in the Warner Bros water tower that plays before every episode is iconic and brilliantly sets the pace for the hilarious thrill-ride they are about to take you on.

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