Thoughts On The First Doctor – From The Set Of ‘The Smugglers’

A trip to Cornwall prompts a look back at William Hartnell’s Doctor

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If the BBC’s marketing department is doing its job right, you should be well aware that Doctor Who is back. Along with a reinvigorated title sequence, squeaky theme tune and (slightly) new Tardis interior, the Doctor himself has become a darker departure from Matt Smith’s portrayal. Peter Capaldi’s Doctor is a little knotted, his jokes bristle with cynicism but you still know he’s the same, reliable Time Lord. For me this is a welcome change, while I loved Matt Smith the Twelfth Doctor channels one of my all time favourites: the First.

Recently I was speaking to a friend about classic Doctor Who and they were amazed to hear that I haven’t watched (or listened to) every episode. I had to explain that there were nigh on 700 episodes and that sooner or later I have to get round to watching Orange Is The New Black because everyone’s banging on about it. With that in mind I’ve started picking off the last few Hartnell stories and it’s been a tremendous ride. I’ve only got The Massacre Of St Bartholomew’s Eve and The Celestial Toymaker left and I really don’t want it to end.

The Beginning

I started watching the Hartnell stories in the late 90s when I was 10/ 11. Part of the charm of the First Doctor stories for me was that they seemed so ancient. They were black and white, not all of them survived, and the special effects were wonderfully resourceful. My uncle would record the stories off UK Gold and post them to me which bestowed them with a strange, fantastical aura (intercut with hilariously dated adverts, too). Without the internet, Sky television or a video shop near us, the fact that I was getting to watch these adventures at all felt amazing. I was also impressed with how good they looked in general. Once you allow for the constraints they were filming in, the episodes look fantastic – the title sequence was so good that it was used 50 years later on The Day Of The Doctor.

The mix of genres is perfectly balanced in the first three series, making the whole collection feel like some strange fairytale almanac from long ago that you’ve stumbled across in a car boot sale. There are very few rules this early on in the run, and for me the show’s all the better for it. The Doctor’s character is tricky and unpredictable, one minute he’s smoking a pipe, the next he’s deliberately sabotaging the Tardis for his own ends. While the character had to settle in order for him to take carry the show (rather than relying on his companions), the first few adventures reveal a startlingly selfish, callous nature that I hope Capaldi will explore in future episodes.

The lack of mythology bizarrely makes the Doctor’s universe feel immense. There are only two recurring villains in the First Doctor’s run (the Monk and the Daleks), so the fact that each week there’s something completely new really does make the Doctor feel like a ‘wanderer in the fourth dimension’, rather than the all powerful god he’s become. The imagination on display is admirable, too, with whole stories populated by giant insects, beings that live in ammonia tanks who communicate through robots, and a twelve part space opera epic. It’s this sense of recklessness where anything can happen that I always look for in the new series, which might explain why I enjoyed Matt Smith’s cameo in Deep Breath. If it’s something gobsmackingly new then I’m all for it.

A Holiday For The Doctor

The launch of the most recent Doctor Who series involved a world tour verging on Beatlemania, it’s truly a testament to the groundwork William Hartnell established as the Doctor. If you haven’t seen it already check out An Adventure In Space And Time (a biopic about Hartnell and the inception of the show), it’s an outstanding and moving introduction to those classic serials.

Sadly I didn’t get to go to any of the Doctor Who tour dates, so I used a holiday to Cornwall to visit my parents as an excuse to create my own Tardis pit stop. The First Doctor’s penultimate story, The Smugglers, is a baffling adventure involving pirates and treasure on the Cornish coast. Given that I’m from southern Cornwall the story naturally caught my interest and I decided to research where it was filmed, only to find out that parts were recorded in my home town, Newlyn! After digging deeper I discovered that it was also recorded at Nanjizal bay which prompted a visit and photoshoot.

Recent storms have ruined the Cornish coastline and Nanjizal bay is no exception. The golden sands seen in the story have been buried underneath stones and coastal rubble, but that didn’t stop me bringing the Tardis back to where it appeared decades before. The tide was too high for me to get a picture of the Tardis in the cave where it landed in the story, so instead I plonked it among some alien looking balanced stones that had been left by a seaside artist.

Next Episode: The Tenth Planet

Next Episode: The Tenth Planet

I’m hoping to take the Tardis back to filming locations once I’ve finished off other eras, so look out for a blog about the Second Doctor in the future!

Are you a fan of the First Doctor? Let me know in the comments what your favourite adventures are! I’m a fan of The Daleks, The Ark, and The Gunfighters…

 

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My Number 1 Sci Fi Moment

Dominic pinpoints his favourite moment in sci fi.

Big milestone in the world of sci fi publishing this week, the iconic SFX magazine celebrates its 250th issue! To celebrate, SFX asked readers to vote for their favourite moment in all of sci fi history. The top 10 is filled with classic set pieces like the chest bursting scene in Alien, and some surprising new-comers like the Hulk’s ‘puny god!’ thrashing from Avengers Assemble. Doctor Who ruled the roost though, with Rose’s departure from Doomsday taking the number 1 spot.

While it’s a moving scene it doesn’t rank among my top 10, but it did get me thinking as to what I would call my favourite sci fi moment. Everyone is affected by television, books, comics and movies differently, but after a lot of deliberation here’s my personal favourite moment in sci fi history…

Tommy Is ‘Cured’ By The Metebelis 3 Crystal.

Clever Lupton

‘Clever Lupton’

From: Doctor Who, Planet Of The Spiders, episode 4.

I’ll be honest, Planet Of The Spiders isn’t one of the greatest Doctor Who stories. This 6 part story from 1974 is notable as it’s John Pertwee’s final adventure as the Third Doctor, and because the whole of episode 3 is a car chase where you get to see a tramp run over by a hovercraft.

It’s also padded out with lots of to-ing and fro-ing between a monastery and the planet Metebelis 3, which makes the story’s production code ZZZ seem nerdishly appropriate.

However, as with even the worst of Doctor Who stories there’s always something to enjoy. In this case it’s the stupendous performance by John Kane in the role of Tommy, a handyman with learning disabilities who works in a Buddhist meditation centre.

Tommy is an innocent man at the start of the adventure. He enjoys playing games such as eye spy, and collects ‘pretties’ (usually old bits of jewellery) and stores them in a shoe box in his den under the stairs (which is endearingly decorated with floral seed packets stuck to the walls). Tommy is oblivious to the malevolent actions of others in the monastery but can see the good in people like Mike Yates.

He's also pretty good at taking lasers to the chest

Tommy defends the Doctor

John Kane turns in a measured, nuanced delivery as Tommy. With a naive nature and slight slur in his speech, Tommy is targeted by the adventure’s antagonist, Lupton.

All this changes in episode 4 when Tommy stows away the Metebelis 3 crystal with the rest of his pretties. As he sits down to read he places the blue crystal on a stool and it starts to shine so intensely Tommy faints, but when he wakes up his mind has been ‘cured.’

(By the way, I’m cautious to say that the crystal ‘cures’ Tommy without surrounding it in quotation marks, as this would imply that handicapped or mentally disabled people are diseased and need saving. They can of course lead lives as fulfilling and rich as anyone else. This issue is even covered brilliantly later on when Sarah Jane says to Tommy, ‘you’re normal, you’re just like everyone else.’ To which he replies: ‘I certainly hope not.’)

It’s the way Tommy realises his mind has been expanded that really left a deep impression on me when I first watched this story as a kid. He sits down to read a Ladybird book called Going To School and struggles to recite sentences like ‘we say our prayers’, but when he is revived he can skim through the pages in seconds. Watching a grown man joyfully reading ‘we play in the playground, we dance to the music’ is one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever seen. (Incidentally, I got reduced to a blubbering wreck watching Kate Winslet learning to read and write for the first time as an adult in The Reader.)

The scene is like a microcosm of Doctor Who itself, just as the companions (and the audience) are shown the wonders of the universe, Tommy is shown by the crystal the splendours that can be found everywhere in day-to-day life. If that isn’t a life affirming tug on the old heart strings, I don’t know what is.

What’s your favourite sci fi moment? Let me know in the comments!

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Blast From The Past: Bucky O’Hare

Dominic remembers the Aniverse’s funky fresh rabbit.

bucky o'hare

If there’s one jargon term that’s certain to make a high up TV executive weak at the knees, it’s the phrase ‘crossover.’ This isn’t the sort of fan fiction where Sherlock teams up with Wishbone to solve fiendishly childish mysteries, instead it refers to a piece of entertainment that sits in multiple genre pigeon holes.

A successful ‘crossover’ show would be the pseudo-historical, semi-fantastical Game Of Thrones, or the time travelling crime capers of Sam Tyler in Life On Mars. They aren’t always smash hits though, for every Game Of Thrones there are plenty of Crime Travellers. Fortunately, Bucky O’Hare is a fantastic children’s show cocktail that blends everyday animals with hard science and intergalactic warfare.

If you happen to know someone who grew up watching Bucky O’Hare, chances are the first thing they’ll remember is its relentless theme tune. With an avalanche of neon laser action, Seinfeld-esque bassline and lyrics that rival the poetry of The Fresh Prince Of Bel Air titles, the Buck O’Hare theme is rightfully remembered by the children of the early 90s.

BuckyohareChances are though that the casual viewer didn’t know Bucky O’Hare started out as a comic released in the mid-80s. Concocted by comic book writers Larry Hama and Michael Golden, Bucky made his first appearance in the anthology collection Echo Of Futurepast in 1984. Later on every Bucky O’Hare story was collected together and released as a graphic novel. The strip’s stunning artwork was pencilled by Golden, and it’s one of those fascinating cases where its better than it needs to be.

The story of Buck O’Hare follows the adventures of the eponymous captain in the parallel dimension known as the Aniverse. The inhabitants of the Aniverse are at war, with the mammalian United Animals Federation fighting it out against the repulsive Toad Empire.

The excellent artwork eventually found its way onto toy packaging

The excellent artwork eventually found its way onto toy packaging

Bucky is part of a gang called S.P.A.C.E (or Sentient Protoplasm Against Colonial Encroachment) who lead the good fight on behalf of the mammals in their spaceship The Righteous Indignation.

To ground it with some sort of relatable character there’s a human boy called Willy DuWitt. This bespectacled bowl cut is a pre-teen prodigy who builds a photon accelerator and gets transported from our world to the Aniverse, where he gets taken in by the S.P.A.C.E team.

Shockingly, the Bucky O’Hare saga is an unfinished masterpiece and the first collection ends on a cliffhanger that was meant to be resolved in a second story arc. Hama had written the entire plot for the follow up, which was meant to involve huge Toad battles and the Toad invasion of San Francisco. In another case of creative robbery, ink artist Neal Adams has reportedly completed a lot of the artwork which must be sitting dormant in a draw somewhere just waiting to see the light of day.

The Bucky O’Hare cartoon series ran from 1991 to 1992, and at least these televisual adventures have a sense of resolution when Bucky’s home world, Warren, is liberated from the Toad menace in the finale.

For me the Bucky O’Hare cartoon is the fad that got away. However, y older brother was the prime demographic for the animated space opera and during 1992 our house slowly became infested with a menagerie of Aniverse merchandise. From a croaking Toad stomper spaceship to an array of poseable action figures, if something was stamped with the Bucky O’Hare logo we just had to have it.

We were robbed!

We were robbed!

In another frustrating case of lost potential, the second run of Bucky O’Hare figures never saw the light of day. One of my favourite characters, the telepathic feline Jenny, wasn’t released as a toy, kind of odd seeing as she was one of the main characters.

I always thought it was because her mane of pink hair would have been too impractical to mould, but when I was researching this blog I saw that a whole group of figures got scrapped. Jenny was due to be released (moulds and packaging were even produced) and she was to be accompanied by  Pit Stop Pete, Sly Lee-Zard and a Bucky variant decked out in a space suit.

The reason these figures weren’t released has been blamed on the Toad Air Marshall figure, which was accidentally shipped out in large quantities. Shops reportedly found that this unpopular toy clogged their shelves, so they didn’t think there was a high demand for Bucky O’Hare merchandise. This domino effect of low demand reached the ears of Hasbro toys and they aborted to second run of figures.

If your nostalgia has been awakened and you want to watch the adventures of Bucky O’Hare, the whole series is available on DVD. Comic book artist Neal Adams has created also a 3D online cartoon of Bucky O’Hare, and he’s even reportedly working on a movie project featuring the critter. Let’s hope it takes off and we finally get to see how the original comic was meant to be resolved (or at least get a Jenny action figure!)

Dominic was a dead ringer for Willy DuWitt back in the day.

By Dominic Carter

Do you remember Bucky O’Hare? Let me know in the comments!

 

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Godzilla Review

Once again Godzilla highlights mankind’s flaws in this monstrous blockbuster.

GOdzilla-2014-wallpaperInitial reviews were favourable, the publicity was formidable but mysterious, and director Gareth Edwards highlighted that Godzilla’s latest screen outing was to have a message framed by the recent Fukushima disaster. Could this be a credible relaunch for Toho Studio’s mascot monster?

As this film was touted as a reboot for Godzilla I went into the cinema expecting a back-to-basics disaster film with a giant lizard taking the place of natural phenomenon. What I got instead was a human drama starring the two of the dullest characters ever written and a love story between two giant horny bugs.

Yep, for some reason the new Godzilla film chooses not to focus on its legendary title character and decides that people actually paid to watch a second rate Cloverfield. The film kicks off with the discovery of a giant hatched egg pod and the subsequent seismic disaster at Janjira nuclear plant. Plant supervisor Joe Brody (Bryan Cranston) loses his wife to an explosion in the plant and becomes obsessed with finding out what caused the unnatural earthquakes.

Cut to fifteen years later and Joe’s son, Ford (Aaron Taylor-Johnson), is returning home from military service to his loving wife and son. Before he can get properly reunited with his wife, Elle (Elizabeth Olsen), Joe cock-blocks him from another continent by getting arrested for trespassing back in Janjira’s quarantined zone. Ford flies out to meet him and the pair realise that a giant flying beetle-like creature is being kept secret. Said creature (his species agonisingly classified as a Massive Unidentified Terrestrial Organism, or MUTO) then embarks on a flight across the Pacific to impregnate his mate who’s being held captive in America.

So where does Godzilla fit into all of this? He comes out of the sea, provides some free-of-charge pest control, then goes back home. Oh yeah, he takes a nap at some point, too.

Considering that Godzilla’s wonderful redesign was cleverly kept secret until just before the film’s release, and that the marketing generally built this movie up as an atmospheric outing for the king of the monsters, it was a titanic misstep to present him as a good-guy. While in the 60’s and 70’s films Godzilla becomes a goofy, highland dancing defender of humanity, you expect a reboot to work from the ground up and establish the character before developing him.

Ford is another character who’s too mature for his own good. He’s a bomb disposal officer, his wife loves him, he’s a good dad, there doesn’t seem to be much room left for character development. Even the death of his parents isn’t elaborated on that much, which you’d have thought would’ve formed the backbone of his story.

It’s a good idea to anchor a creature-feature with a human heart, but Godzilla sketches its sentiments in lightly and plot lines are picked up then casually dropped with no apparent ramifications. At one point Ford is travelling on a train when a boy gets separated from his parents. Being the good-guy that he is, Ford protects the lost child from a battle between Godzilla and a MUTO, then in a scene of outrageous serendipity he reunites the family and gains nothing from the experience. If Ford was a bad father who learnt something about parenting and responsibility this would’ve been brilliant, but because he’s so damn marvellous anyway you wonder if the director just gave him the child as something to act against. As if the towering monsters weren’t enough.

Ford’s tedious journey back to his wife shapes the narrative for the rest of the film and it goes as smoothly as you’d expect for a family summer blockbuster.

After you’ve accepted that this film isn’t going to give you what you want (2 hours of high octane Pacific Rim style fighting with a thinly veiled political allegory), there is fun to be had in noticing the numerous logical clangers. Some highlights include: scenes where trained soldiers struggle to spot towering MUTOs through binoculars (one pans over the creature then double takes), coffee shop doors which can hold back flood water that ruins entire buildings, and a happy birthday banner that stays up for fifteen years while the rest of the house crumbles around it.

Godzilla does have its moments, though. One stand out sequence follows a series of flares as they arch through the air, only for the sky to be obliterated by Godzilla’s towering lizard hide. Another, where he unleashes a beam of atomic breath down his enemy’s throat, gives you the sense of gleeful childish joy you’d been hoping for all along. In terms of direction, Godzilla himself is handled remarkably. He gets backlit by lightning in demolished, smoke filled cities, and the scenes where he swims through the sea and disturbs frigates really get you excited. Sadly this swell of anticipation never breaks satisfyingly enough. Whenever you think you’re about to get some meaty action where Godzilla shrugs off bullets and munitions to lay waste to the surrounding area, the film cuts back to Ford’s struggles. You just want to grab the camera and redirect it out of frustration.

This film admirably tries to put a modern spin on its monsters by bestowing the MUTOs with an EMP pulse that renders technology obsolete. Once again though, this unique quirk was not built on. It could have been fascinating to see how people react to a communication breakdown; we are so reliant on instantly accessible data that an information failure could have provided an interesting subtext, especially when a rampaging dinosaur is involved.

The undeniable financial success of Godzilla ($211,204,839 at time of writing) has secured the possibility of sequels, but with the creature already portrayed as humanity’s saviour I struggle to see where this lumbering franchise can go next. Until he’s given a chance to properly flex his reptilian muscles, Godzilla is best left in the bottom of the ocean.

Am I wrong? Did you enjoy Godzilla? Let me know in the comments!

By Dominic Carter

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Top 5 Sci Fi Eggs

Eggs are one of the most versatile foodstuffs, you can scramble them, poach them, even use them as content filler in an Easter themed blog post. Here’s a rundown of 5 notable eggs in sci fi and fantasy.

5. Blon Fel-Fotch Passameer-Day Slitheen

boomtown-egg

Why does an egg need air straws?

As seen in: Doctor Who, Boom Town

Blon Fel-Fotch Passameer-Day Slitheen, or to use her catchier name Margaret Blaine, was a member of the Slitheen family. Infamous for their brutal business models, the Slitheen wanted to burn up the Earth and sell off the remains at a jacked up price. They also had a habit of disguising themselves as humans with unfortunate flatulent side-effects.

As Mickey blew them up with a Doctor guided missile, Margaret teleported herself into the relative safety of a skip on the Isle of Dogs. After another failed attempt at blowing up the planet (and surfing) Margaret was granted a second chance at life when the Tardis reverted her back into an egg.

4. Togepi

Togepi in its egg- and much quieter- form

Togepi in its egg- and much quieter- form

As seen in: Pokemon

In between the first and second generation of Pokemon games, the Pokemon cartoon did an amazing job of building up hype and teasing the audience. Kids had exhausted every last factual nugget about Pokemon and were rabid for new critters to catch, so when the mysterious Togepi egg appeared in the cartoon it opened up a whole new world of excitement and speculation.

For a short while Togepi was the most fascinating and desirable Pokemon in the playground. Rumours abounded of how you could catch Togepi in Pokemon Red if you went into the grass near Pallet Town/ went to the Game Corner with a level 100 Nidoking/ defeated the Elite Four 100 times. Togepi didn’t make his gaming debut until the release of Pokemon Silver, and when realising how weak the hatchling was the player usually flung it into the nearest PC box.

3. Egg Fu

Yup, this existed

Yup, this existed

As seen in: Wonder Woman

Oh boy. When Wonder Woman finally gets her own film I can pretty much guarantee Gal Gadot won’t be facing this relic from the comic’s past. A villain that could only exist in an era when Communist threats needed racist caricatures (the 1960’s), Egg Fu was a Chinese agent ‘inexplicably shaped like an egg the size of a house.’ (That’s a direct quote from Wikipedia, honestly.)

He wasn’t a one off enemy either. Egg Fu had a robot twin called Dr Yes and Wonder Woman battled Egg Fu The Fifth in 1966, which raises the worrying possibility we’re owed adventures featuring Egg Fus 2 through to 4 at least.

2. Alien Egg

I'll ram my ovipositor down your throat and lay my eggs in your chest, but I'm not an alien!

I’ll ram my ovipositor down your throat and lay my eggs in your chest, but I’m not an alien!

As seen in: Alien

Sure Alien is atmospheric, tense, horrifying, but the most out and out terrifying moment has to be when Kane is exploring the egg chamber and a creature leaps onto his face? Up until that point Alien was a film that developed psychological scares and was busy building up suspense. It’s a brief moment of action early on in the film but it sets the tone for the rest of the feature. Alien knows you’re petrified and it’s all the more effective for reigning in the visuals and letting your brain do the rest of the work.

You could say Kane himself becomes a kind of an egg in the movie’s most iconic scene, the chest explosion. Having been incubated by the egg chamber’s face hugger, Kane gives bloody birth to Sigourney Weaver’s worst nightmare and redecorates the Nostromo’s dining room all at the same time.

1. Dinosaur Eggs

Clever girl/ boy

Clever girl/ boy

As seen in: Jurassic Park

The eggs in Jurassic Park are just brittle little reminders that nature will find a way. We’d been given suggestions of this theme earlier on in the film like when the Tyrannosaurus Rex escaped, but when Grant, Tim and Lex find the cracked shells in the wild they truly realise the error of playing God.

Eggs are a great thread throughout the whole of Jurassic park, with the wild eggs foreshadowed by the ones we see near the beginning in the laboratory.

Mr DNA says hi

Give my regards to Mr DNA

If the velociraptor eggs in the lab represent mankind’s greatest scientific achievement, the eggs Grant discovers remind us of our powerlessness and ignorance. Thanks to their genetic coding the dinosaurs in Jurassic Park changed sex independently in order to breed, which means eggs galore and a field day for oviraptors.

While not so much Kinder Surprise as Pandora’s Box, at least the eggs set up the possibility of Jurassic Park sequels.

Let me know your favourite fictional eggs in the comments!

By Dominic Carter

 

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100 Existing Doctor Who Episodes Destroyed

EXCLUSIVE: 100 DOCTOR WHO EPISODES EXTERMINATED!

kandyman-doctor-who-300x210

Doctor Who fans all over the world rejoiced today as 100 existing episodes of the BBC’s hit sci fi show were lost forever.

An insider, Pamela Nash, said ‘the Beeb has gone to great lengths to ensure the most embarrassing episodes from the programme’s past have been lost or wiped.’

The episodes come from adventures in the mid to late 80’s. Speculation has been building for months but the announcement has satisfied fans hoping for ‘the full McCoy’- a total wiping of episodes featuring the Time Lord’s question mark tank top.

‘It’s not often dreams happen overnight,’ said Doctor Who fan Philip Levine. ‘The BBC have done a stand up job erasing these stories, they even burnt my house down so my collection of VHS tapes wouldn’t survive.’

No more

No more

A spokesperson for the BBC remained optimistic: ‘Doctor Who is a global brand and we are proud to upgrade its image. We are confident that in time these lost episodes will become word-of-mouth classics.’

Small groups of Whovians have even taken it upon themselves to seek and destroy any 80’s episodes.

‘We were devastated when we found all of The Trial Of A Time Lord in a ball pool in Huddersfield,’ said episode hunter Ian Morris. ‘But we’re confident we’ve got some leads to the last few DVDs of Battlefield.’

The hunt goes on.

By Dominic Carter

This article is of course an April Fools’ Day joke, hope it amused you! Disclaimer: I have nothing against 80s Doctor Who (except Timelash, and The Twin Dilemma, not overly keen on Revelation Of The Daleks either…)

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Ready To Reboot: Mighty Max

Dominic takes a radical trip back to the 90s!

Mighty_Max_title_card

WARNING: I will be referring to the 90s in a nostalgic way as if they were ancient history, older readers of a nervous disposition are advised to click away now.

Just like fashion, culture likes to recycle the best hits of yesteryear and present them as something new or consciously vintage. This decade’s on trend era is the 90s, not surprising given that kids growing up then are now in their twenties and thirties. However, this does mean it’s prime time to raid the 90s sci fi and fantasy vault and dust off some of its grungy treasures. One programme in particular is  ready to reboot: Mighty Max.

Noticing the phenomenal success of Polly Pocket, Bluebird Toys created Mighty Max as an equivalent for the boy market. Clamshell plastic toys with miniature figurines might seem like a strange craze but this was the 90s, it was either this or go and play with your Pogs.

Takes me back to 1994.

Takes me back to 1994.

Mighty Max playsets came in two different types: Doom Zones and the smaller Horror Heads. Often these had gnarly names such as ‘Mighty Max Neutralises Zomboid’ and ‘Mighty Max Hammers Ax Man.’ Remember this was the decade where everything had to have attitude.

The premise of Mighty Max sounds a bit like if someone created Doctor Who in the 90s: Max is the chosen one (‘the cap-bearer’) whose magical basebell cap can teleport him via portholes to faraway fantastical locations as well as transporting him through time.

Max, Norman and Virgil

Max, Norman and Virgil

On his travels he is accompanied by an immortal bodyguard called Norman and a birdlike humanoid called Virgil.

Just like any fad worth its salt, Mighty Max quickly became a cartoon. Cynical parents might write the show off as a half hour long advert for the toys, but the programme was filled with witty dialogue, time paradoxes and high-stake plot lines. (Children’s shows might still be this sophisticated but I’ve never sat down to watch an episode of Ben 10.)

The Mighty Max cartoon ran for two seasons and ended in 1994, after which the toy’s faded away from shop shelves (and therefore became obsessively collectible if you’re trying to track them down online.)

Mighty Max doesn’t have to be stuck in a 90s time-warp though. Just as the recent Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles trailer has shown there’s a new audience out there who would eat up Max’s mad-cap adventures. Not only that, fans from the first time round would be curious to see how it’s been updated (or at least be dragged along by their kids- not sure if I’ve underlined this enough but the 90s are slowly becoming 20 years old.)

Hold on to your hats!

Hold on to your hats!

In the original series Max is a typical cocky kid from a fairly well off background; he’s got pet lizards and the word ‘Maximise’ arrogantly spelled out in lights on his bedroom wall. Re-watching the cartoon recently I realised it wasn’t the animation or the dialogue that looked dated, it was Max! His character needs to be updated. How would a modern teen react to finding out they’re the cap-bearer? Would it be a welcome escape from the real world or would it be an overwhelming responsibility?

If a reboot ever took off the merchandise would have to move with the times, too. You could have a Mighty Max mini game on your phone (pity clamshell mobiles have died out, they could’ve released some amazing Horror Head-style tie in covers), the monogrammed M cap could usurp Adventure Time’s Fin hat as the hippest headgear piece, and who wouldn’t want a Furby-style Virgil? (Actually that’s one thing parents will actively avoid, it’s too early for a late 90s renaissance.)

Mattel have admitted there is a lot of interest in the Mighty Max brand, but until that groundswell gains momentum I’ll console myself with the knowledge that they don’t make theme tunes like this any more:

 

By Dominic Carter

What do you want to see rebooted? Let me know in the comments!

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