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As far as animation goes, I believe that this was Hanna-Barbera's best work
in the 80's. (Take that as a compliment or insult as you
The storylines were nothing spectacular; they were formulaic rip-offs of Popeye, the Smurfs, and the Flintstones- Pac-Man and/or his family would be bothered by the inept ghosts, who were henchmen of Mezmeron... a vaguely Gargamel-like being whose sole purpose in life was to bother the citizens of the town the Pacs lived in. After some "drama", one or more of the Pacs (they all had their star turns, and most of the Pacs from the various video games were represented) would ingest a power pill, chomp some ghosts, and things would be safe 'til the next episode.
What set the whole series apart was the fact that everything in the show was inhuman, but led human lives. Their lives were shown in Flintstones fashion- they would do things "ordinary humans" did, but with their own twist. They would open a tin can, and pour dots out; to mow the lawn they would "chomp". It was funnier and more surreal than the Flintstones, though; everything had a drug-addled look to it, and it was quite bizarre to watch if you either weren't familiar with the concept of Pac-Man, or couldn't accept it.
To this day, I have to live down the fact that I dropped out of a school play so I could stay home one evening and watch the Pac-Man Christmas Special. So... I guess you can say that despite my critical eye, I think this series is one of the best cartoons from the 80's.
I am going to beg to differ with the comment already posted on here,
which basically lambastes the Pac-Man cartoon. I was in 3rd grade or
something when it came out in 1982 and found that era of Saturday
morning cartoons most agreeable. If one is going to attempt to make
real sense out of the ridiculous era of early '80s cartoons based on
products, then one is really barking up the wrong tree. The
aforementioned previous post says that the cartoon goes against things
that the video game stood for. WHAT THE HELL DO YOU THINK PAC-MAN stood
for??? It was just a game! A simple, stupid game. Sure, we had loads of
fun with it at the time, and I too played it every chance I had,
whether it was in an actual arcade, at home on Atari 2600, or the table
top version at a cocktail lounge. I, too was psyched that they were
going to make a cartoon out of it, but I loved it. Of course, it
doesn't make any sense! I was lucky enough to have already been raised
on the older films of Laurel & Hardy, James Cagney, and many others. I
therefore got a lot of the references that were admittedly over the
heads of most little kids. Things like Clyde's derby hat as a symbol of
this representing classic 1930's Thugdom. And Sue's make-up and voice
hinting at saucy Dame-ness of that same era. Yes, Pac-Man's voice was
ridiculous, but like i said, this whole era and culture was completely
retarded and based on junk: junk games to numb you, junk cereal based
on junk games, and last but not least junk cartoons to go with junk
cereal based on junk games to numb you. I feel sorry for anyone who
really felt a sense of true loss over the show. The Pac-Man character
of the video game is featureless, with no personality, much like most
game characters of that era. Personalities had to be created in order
to make the show possible. Could it have been better? of course. of
that there is no doubt. i have no idea why Mezmeron was created, aside
from the fact that Star Wars was in it's heydey back then. He clearly
resembles Lord Vader in the lamest way. he looks like a gay Lex Luther
in drag, pretending to be the Fallen Anakin. I truly would go out and
buy the series were it available on DVD. My favorite episode was the
one with the OK Corral and the Beanstalk.
NOW, as far as the Dragon's Lair cartoon is concerned, THAT is another story.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
By the time the 80's had rolled around, the trends of Saturday Morning
animation had shifted from superheros, teen detectives, and slapstick
chases, to pop culture fads such as toys, cute mini-critters, and in
the case of "Pac-Man"...video games.
If you are not aware, the original Pac-Man video game consisted of a pie shaped being traveling around a maze eating as many dots as possible while avoiding a roaming group of ghost-monsters. It was (and still is) very popular. Hanna-Barbera's adaptation of the concept featured Pac-Man and his family (wife, toddler son, cat, and dog) and their adventures in "Pac-Land"...mainly their adventures against the Ghost-Monsters, hit-men employed by an overlord named Mezmeron who's goal was to obtain the town's source of power-pellets (lifeblood of the Pac-land residents). Sounds ominous, but the general feeling was one of humor and comedy.
The show is a typical HB product, regular catchphrases used by the characters and formula-tic plots. A lot of those story lines are carried over from older HB shows. The Ghost-Monsters being funny-villains along the lines of the Chopper Bunch and Dick Dastardly's gang...forever failing miserably in their chase for their "prey"..often in spectacular ways. And Pac-Man being very similar to Popeye the Sailor Man...though instead of a can of spinach, the yellow guy chows down on a power pellet in order to defeat the bad guys...in this case chomping them...sending them back for new ghost suits.
While some episodes are indeed dated, rehashed stories, and at times relying too much on a then-fad, there are moments of funny Saturday Morning craziness that many folks grew up on and loved. One such episode involving the Pac family going on a picnic is downright hilarious! You actually feel sorry for the Ghost-monsters as they fail from one scene to the next in an attempt to ruin the family's outing (of which they are simply unaware of the ghosts' activity)!!! And stealing the show..Sourpuss and Chomp Chomp...the family pets. Their back and fourth battles could have been made into a series of their own. Why they were not made into free-standing character is a mystery. Brilliant characters!
So is this show good? Depends on who you ask. You may love it...or not. But if anything, "Pac-Man" is a perfect example of what was hot at the time.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
You know what really creeped me out about the "Pac-Man" cartoon? When
he or Mrs. Pac-Man would get "eaten", they would deflate and get all
weird and stuff... o_O There was this one episode where Pac-Man had
already been attacked and he was all deflated and listless and the
Ghost Monsters decided to attack him *again*! I was only 6 or 7 when I
saw this and it really freaked me out.
Mesmeron... was completely useless and a waste of ink. I always wondered why the ghost monsters bothered with him.
However, the show had some good points. I like the Mrs. Pac-Man character more because it seemed her character had more depth. I also like the Pac cat and dog--always good for a laugh or two.
One thing that always bugged me was why the ghost monsters didn't just go and collect the Energizers without dealing with Pac-Man when the Energizers were so readily available...
It has been great seeing Pac Man on television for the first time in 20 years! It brought back memories of my childhood! This was one of the best cartoons of 1982. And I think it was cool how they based a video game on the cartoon. I got through the first world before they permanently took the game out of the dorm. I loved Chomp Chomp and Sour Puss.
Without a doubt this was the most horrendous display of how Hanna-Barbara took and destroyed one my most favorite childhood memories. To this day I still enjoy watching a wide variety of cartoons including: The Simpsons, The Family Guy, The Critic, Ren & Stimpy, Beavis & Butt-Head, Duckman, Rocky & Bullwinkle, and others, but the Pac Man cartoon is the one I consider to be the worst ever made. I remember how neat it was when I found out that there was going to be a Pac Man cartoon. Like many others I was caught up in the Pac Man craze that swept through the early 80's and played the game whenever I had the chance. I knew the music, characters, the intermission cartoons, and everything else that had to do with Pac Man, so when the cartoon came out I made sure to plop my butt in front of the television so I wouldn't miss a thing. What a disaster! Hanna-Barbara had taken Pac Man and transformed it into a monstrous piece of garbage. The characters were wrong and contradicted a lot of things the video game said. Pac Man had an annoying voice and personality, and acted too old for what the video game's age range was aimed at. The rest of the characters and elements were given somewhat different names then the video games had given them (example: Energizers were called Power Pellets in the cartoon) or certain things just made no sense. There was a character called Mezmaron that bossed around the 5 ghosts (I use the word `ghosts' only because it's easier for the average reader to relate to, the video game's `Intermission' cartoons clearly showed them to be something else). Mezmaron was always trying to get Pac Man with some stupid idea that could only be thought up by Hanna-Barbara, he is a good example of how Hanna-Barbara changed Pac Man for the worse, there was no need for this character, he was a stupid creation that should have never made the storyboard. In the video game, Blinky (the red ghost) was always chasing Pac Man, so whenever I played the game I revered Blinky as a worthy opponent. Hanna-Barbara without even thinking had reversed the order of the ghosts and made Blinky the coward. This goes to show that Hanna-Barbara didn't even research the game prior to creating the cartoon, they simply took the names of the characters and gave them whatever personality they wanted, not even considering what the creators of the video game had intended. The rest of the ghosts acted like characters out of other badly written Hanna-Barbara cartoons from the 70's, mostly 1930's gangsters. And what's with the hats? All the male characters in the show wore stupid looking hats, including Pac Man and Blinky. I think that Hanna-Barbara had become sell-outs during the 70's & 80's and created cartoons catering to whichever toy or product company gave them the most money or whichever `politically correct' group pressured them the most, this showed in the quality of their cartoons produced during this time, and Pac Man was a prime example. Thankfully during the 90's, cartoons like The Simpsons and Ren & Stimpy came out and changed many cartoons back to way they were prior to the 70's: they are FUNNY again!
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