What’s in a Name? Misleading cartoon titles…

Image courtesy of M.A.S.K. Movie blog (mobilearmoredstrikekommandmovie.blogspot.com)

Back before the internet was known as “the World Wide Web“, back when it was simply used by colleges and the military, the word spam still meant canned meat product that could have been found in one out of every 10 household pantries in the U.S. (what? you say less than 10? statistics… Bah!). Back in those days, young Classick would have applied the modern day meaning of spam (opening one link and getting something completely different than expected) to some of the unfortunate discoveries made while perusing the local listings.

If I had a TV Guide from the mid-1980s right now I would mark certain listings as spam.

I used to take the TV Guide (or sometimes the TV listings in the back of the Daily News paper) and look up which shows were coming on for the week so I can set up my cartoon watching routine. After missing out on so many cool episodes of shows only to hear about them in school later that week, I was determined to be ahead of the game. Much to my surprise, some familiar names resulted in an early form of TV spam. Here are some titles of cartoon shows that turned out to be different than advertised…




A huge shout-out to friends of the podcast at the M.A.S.K. Movie blog. Go check them out and read up on their efforts to make M.A.S.K. into a live-action film! And listen to their MASKast on buzzsprout when you get a chance… Join the movement!

What it should have been:

I was a big fan of M.A.S.K. the cartoon series. Mobile Armored Strike Kommand was super cool because it had transforming vehicles driven and piloted by heroes and villains that wore these really funky masks (more like helmets, really) to operate them. Matt Trakker and his team took on the evil organization known as V.E.N.O.M. (Vicious Evil Network of Mayhem). Episodes of M.A.S.K. initially ran from 1985-’86. I didn’t even need a TV guide to know when this came on, as it was part of my regular after-school TV watching schedule.

Trakker’s gonna lead the mission!
And Spectrum’s got some soooo-per viiiiii-sioooooooon!

Unfortunately, the show’s run ended in ’86 and that was that. But starting around late ’86 or early ’87, here’s what shows up in the TV listings (simulated for lack of an old TVguide):

8:00 PM (Channel 11) – “Mask” (2 hours)

YES!!! M.A.S.K. is back! Finally, one of my favorite cartoons is coming back to TV and this time it’s a two hour special in prime-time! How were my friends at school not buzzing about this awesome return to television?


What it actually was:

In 1985, there was a biographical film about the life and early death of Roy L. “Rocky” Dennis, a boy who suffered from craniodiaphyseal dysplasia, a rare disease that causes deformities in the face and cranium areas. It was a huge hit at the Cannes Film Festival that year and it starred Cher, Eric Stoltz, Sam Elliott and Laura Dern. And it was titled “Mask“.

Mask was a touching film... but not what I was looking for at 11 years old!


Now by the time ’86 or ’87 rolled around I had already seen “Mask” in school (they used to make us watch it on VHS during the time that’s probably now used for study hall). And yes, I probably should have realized that the cartoon was an acronym, hence the periods in between the letters (M.A.S.K.) as opposed to the simple word title of the Cher film (Mask), but if there was ever my first taste of TV mystery meat, it was this. I know I’m not alone when I say RIP Rocky Dennis and I’m sure Mask is a beloved film in the movie history, especially to fans of Cher and Sam Elliott, but seriously fuck this movie for ruining a piece of my childhood.




Fighting crime in a future time!

What it should have been:

C.O.P.S., or the Central Organization of Police Specialists, was a cartoon series produced by DiC (#DiCSlam!) that ran from September 1988 to February 1989.

The C.O.P.S. were led by an African-American federal agent named Baldwin P. “Bulletproof” Vess (one of the awesomest real name/nickname combos in cartoon history) and included specialists with cool code names like “Hardtop”, “Mainframe”, “LongArm” and “Barricade”. They went up against the notorious crime lord “Big Boss” and his organization of C.R.O.O.K.S., which included the likes of “Berserko”, “Ms. Demeanor”, “Turbo Tu-Tone”, “Dr. Badvibes”, “NightShade” and my personal favorite… “Buttons McBoomBoom”. Fighting crime in a future time, C.O.P.S. was wildly popular, both on TV and with a line of action figures by Hasbro.

What more could you ask for?


What it actually was:

As with M.A.S.K. before it, C.O.P.S. ran its course within a few months, never to return. The final first-run episode aired in February 1989 and it was doomed to live on only briefly in syndication through the rest of that year. But lo and behold!!! (yes, 13 year old Classick spoke like that) Look at what’s coming on this fine March afternoon on the new Fox channel? “Cops” is back!

Now, I was fooled once before with M.A.S.K., but this was different right? It’s coming on in the afternoon, right around the block of cartoons that I’m used to watching after school. And then I hear Inner Circle…

BAD BOYS, whutchu waaaaan whutchu waaaan whutchu gonna dooooooo. When Sheriff John Brown come fa youuuuu!!

Ahhhh shit, not again! Damn it, Fox!! You couldn’t just air this in the wee hours when all the kids are asleep? If M.A.S.K. vs. Mask didn’t make kids hate what would have been an otherwise admirable property, this debacle of a scheduling cluster had to have done the job! I’ve hated the reggae group Inner Circle and the show “Cops” ever since. The only time I found that theme song acceptable is when Will Smith & Martin Lawrence starred in “Bad Boys” a few years later (shout-out to Diana King).



The Avengers

This wasn’t an actual cartoon series until several years later…. but it should have been. Just another reason to hate the British, besides that whole Revolutionary War thing.

The Avengers was a 1960’s live action TV series focused on espionage but with hints of fantasy and sci-fi thrown in.

It is also the name of one of Marvel Comics’ greatest superhero teams. Dubbed “Earth’s Mightiest Heroes”, The Avengers of the comics were also around since the 60’s and featured Captain America, Hulk, Iron Man, Ant Man and The Wasp among others (if you’ve been to this site more than a few times, chances are you know who The Avengers are!).

These are my Avengers. This movie should have been made in the 90s. Will it be worth the wait in 2012?

So it was easy to mistake a TV listing of a 1960’s show repeat for the debut of an animated series about one of my favorite superteams. But thankfully the mistake was momentary. After C.O.P.S. and M.A.S.K. I already knew the drill.

That didn’t make the 1998 film adaptation of the 60’s British series, starring Uma Thurman, any less aggravating, however….

She redeemed herself with Kill Bill, but Uma Thurman lost a ton of points for this and playing Poison Ivy in Batman and Robin.




This one is interesting, as both were cartoons of the same name, but only one of them was preferred and sought after, whereas the other, despite its own merits, was shunned and scorned by children the world over.

What it should have been:

The film Ghostbusters was in theaters in 1984 and was a box-office smash that year. Starring Bill Murray, Dan Akroyd, Harold Ramis and Ernie Hudson (shouts out to Sigourney Weaver, Annie Potts, Rick Moranis and this guy!), it spawned a ton of merchandise, from t-shirts to toys to computer games to cereal and then some. So it was only right that the cartoon would be just as popular if not moreso, right?

What it actually was:

I checked the TV listings in September of ’86 because I had already heard from kids at school that there was a Ghostbusters cartoon on the way. Monday, September 8, 1986 (thanks internet!) I’m fully expecting to hear Ray Parker, Jr.’s awesome theme music and see cartoon versions of Peter, Egon, Ray, Winston and Slimer only to find this…

Let’s Go Ghostbusters???

Who are these two goofs?? What’s up with the gorilla rockin an Indiana Jones hat? Why are they riding around in Chitty-Chitty Bang-Bang? Why does the main villain have on a dress?

I had a crapload of questions. Turned out that when Columbia Pictures released the movie titled Ghostbusters in 1984 it neglected that Filmation (makers of He-Man, Fat Albert) had a live-action comedy series of the same name back in 1975. Thus, by the time the cartoon was ready to be released, a court settlement forced Columbia to release their series under a different title. This Ghostbusters that showed up first was the original deal, however it wasn’t what I was looking for.

Later that same week, September 13th to be exact, The Real Ghostbusters debuted on ABC Saturday morning.

Now THIS was more like it! Peter! Ray! Egon! Slimer! Winston! Janeen! Ecto 1! The firehouse! The Ray Parker, Jr. song! Although Filmation’s Ghostbusters had some pretty decent action figures, it was blown out the water by the more popular series. Heck, I even bought the cereal!




image courtesty of 2ndchildhood.tumblr.com

What it should have been:

A live-action movie version of the 80’s cartoon Battle Of The Planets, plain and simple. Is that so hard?


What it actually was:

Disney, you suck for this. Bastards!




My co-host Tim Dogg can attest to this being a bit of a letdown. Yes, the spelling difference is obvious, but if you hear someone in passing talk about watching “Ghostwriter” on tv that week, it’s easy to mistakenly think they mean Marvel Comics’ “Ghost Rider”, which featured a leather-clad motorcycle riding flaming skull spirit of vengeance doing evil demon foes in with magical chains and a penance stare. No, they meant the PBS series about kids solving crimes and mysteries with the help of an invisible ghost. No big whoop, really.

The actual film and its sequel with Nicholas Cage, now THAT was disappointing!

Ghost Rider? meh...




X-Men? How can X-Men be disappointing? What are you on, Classick? Children of the 90’s might think I’m weird for this, but here it is…

Listen, the ’90’s X-Men series was fun, action-packed and yes it retold some great storylines from the comics, I’ll give it that. I watched and was a fan, I won’t lie.

HOWEVER, it wasn’t this…

Magneto’s hordes are on the way to pillage, burn and plunder!
But there’s one team that will not yield, the team that strikes like thunder!

Airing once in 1989 as part of Marvel’s Sunday morning block of cartoons dubbed Marvel Action Universe, X-Men’s pilot episode titled “Pryde of the X-Men” told the story of the mutant superteam through the perspective of its youngest member, an arriving Kitty Pryde. It was AWESOME!!The look and feel of this one pilot episode was so close to that of the previous Sunbow/Marvel series “Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends” of which I was already a huge fan.

Pryde was drawn by Toei Animation, who also animated Dungeons & Dragons, G.I. Joe, Transformers, and Jem. It carried some of the same voice talents from those series as well. One of the only knocks on Pryde was that the Canadian-born mutant Wolverine, similar to his depiction in Spider-Man AHAM, had an Australian accent— a terrible misrepresentation of the character but all the same, easy to overlook. Let’s just say that compared to 1992-97’s X-Men series released by Saban Entertainment, this single pilot ran rings around that whole five year run. When they relaunched X-Men in ’92 on Fox Kids, I could feel the disappointment and watched my heart sink as it was nothing like the awesome super-cool pilot of X-Men that I had got up every Sunday morning since that fateful day in ’89 to see if it would re-air.

Want further proof that Pryde was superior to the 90’s X-Men? The wildly popular 1992 X-Men 4 (or 6!) player arcade game released by Konami? Based on the plot of Pryde of the X-Men.

So suck it, Saban Entertainment!


Classick Material has spent more time in front of the television than shooting in the gym. As such, he focuses on playing defense on the court and has a great amount of respect for women. He also wears jeans in his own size and only cries over spoiled milk, but not spilled. Classick co-hosts the Cold Slither Podcast and owns a copy of Pryde of the X-Men which he plays for dinner guests regularly. Follow him on twitter @classickmateria

3 Comments Add yours

  1. Lamar the Revenger says:

    Damn straight about X-Men. It was alright but that animation was lacking.

  2. A great post thru and thru. When are we gonna get a retro cartoon channel??? The HUB is decent but not 24/7 retro toons. Then we could avoid these mistakes!

    Thanks so much for the huge plug!! Really appreciate the support of the CSP!

    1. not a problem, man!

      A full-on retro cartoon channel would be awesome. There’s Boomerang, but that only airs cartoons owned by Hanna Barbera. I liked when Sci Fi network used to air old 80s cartoons in the early mornings, like Bionic Six and Defenders of the Earth. But that was back in the late 90s, early 2000s.

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