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I've actually watched several episodes from this series recently, and was surprised to discover that -- far from horrible -- it's actually a serviceable bit of Saturday morning nostalgia.
First airing on Saturday morning in September of 1972, the show had a very short run of 13 episodes. Going in, I was hoping for excitement and adventure reminiscent of Jonny Quest (far and away Hanna-Barbera's finest moment, in my opinion). Alex Toth, who designed many of H-B's most popular classic characters (Space Ghost, Herculoids, etc.) did many of the designs for 2020, which lends it a cool comic-booky look not unlike Quest.
Alas, the show has a very different tone -- perhaps because of the prevailing attitude of the early 70's that cartoons should abstain from violence. The result is an almost educational show, teaching kids about the various sea creatures and rudimentary information about the ocean and diving. And initially the show comes off as very boring because of this. But I have to admit that after being bored by the first 2 episodes, I found myself becoming more and more interested in the next two. The show has some good messages, such as overcoming handicaps and preserving the environment, and deals with some decent issues most cartoons would never touch.
In some weird way, the stories and scripts are more reminiscent of live action programs than a cartoon. They are fairly adult and lack the zaniness one might expect from this era of Hanna Barbera (i.e. Funky Phantom, anyone?). In other words, it is a perfect counterpoint to the new Sea Lab 2021, which goes for sheer laughs.
I think that the other reviewers that gave 2020 negative reviews have never actually seen the show. When you think about the time period when this show was made, it's probably one of the better H-B shows. While we'll never have another Jonny Quest again, 2020 was an interesting project that will probably, like Quest, never be duplicated.
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