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*** This review may contain spoilers ***
In the early 1980s, there would be a strike at Hanna Barbera which
affected the Saturday morning cartoons.
Other shows managed to get their cartoons out, such as Shazam and the Kid Super Power Hour. I think this was the year of Pandamonium as well.
It didn't matter. What stood out more was the cartoons that didn't make it, and as a comic book reader and cartoon watcher, it was apparent which shows this was, as they still appeared in the comic book adverts.
The two biggies were the Flintstones Hour, Show, whatever it was called, and this one, the Space Stars.
Both shows were simply rehashings of older characters in newer varieties (Fred and Barney with the Shmoo, Wilma and Betty with Captain Caveman and so on).
Space Stars consisted of new adventures for Space Ghost and the Herculoids, all new characters in the Astro Force (or Teen Force, Alpha Force, something like this) and Astro and the Space Dogs and the original Jetsons cartoons.
Of them all, in my area anyway, I think only the Jetsons turned up.
With the strike, we were handed the return of Daffy Duck, Dynomutt and the Harlem Globetrotters.
Other areas would get different characters. I think I've read online some people got the Funky Phantom back.
It would take a good couple of years before the strike was over, or the damage to Saturday morning could be reworked, but it didn't matter.
Cable was taking full charge. Saturday morning to appeal to kids was growing redundant.
But this strike, which tarnished Saturday morning viewing, played its role in that tarnishing as well.
These cartoons would eventually air to less than stellar fanfare.
I would later catch the Wilma and Betty with Captain Caveman show later on on Cartoon Network and found it to be merely another Flintstones episode. Yabba Dabba Doo.
Likewise, I've seen the new Herculoids and really couldn't tell the difference in them from the 'classic' 60s versions until a familiar piece of Superfriends music strained thru.
The other two again, were simply rehashings, reworkings, retoolings. Gone and forgotten.
But they have a place in history in that they were victims of the changing of the times from Saturday morning vegetation for kids glad to be out of school, to make your own time for vegetating with cable and tivo and downloading.
Ironic that the two cartoons to be affected would be one from the dawn of time and one from the future.
When Space Stars first came out on NBC in the fall of 1981, it was originally slated to debut the year before but was delayed to a writer's strike that impacted many TV shows, including Space Stars. The other show that was impacted was the Flinstones Funnies. During that fall, a little show by the name of the Smurfs captivated the imagination of youngsters old and new and gained Emmys in the seasons ahead. Not so with Space Stars. It lasted only one season since it was made that way and consists of several segments revolving around Space Ghost, Astro and the Teen Force, and the Herculoids. Nearly all of the cast members from the original 1960's TV show return to voice them. The animation is still American made and was one of the last cartoons to be made in the USA before Hanna Barbera focused on Asian studios for work. The visual effects by Laserium used for the space travel scenes as well as the closing and opening credits are amazing. I started watching it in reruns on USA Cartoon Express and have seen the full episodes online in stunning 480p quality and it holds up today.
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