I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how my writing and I are heavily influenced by my younger years. We all are, of course, influenced by our youth, but I was thinking more about the shows that I enjoyed. As any of you who read last week’s post may have picked up on, I REALLY liked Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles when I was a kid. I guess a lot of people did and the nostalgia is shining through as we all get a little older. There are a number of shows, some a bit more obscure, that I know have had an impact on both my life and my writing. I’m going to tell you about a few of them.
A word on Comic Book based shows…
I want to take a minute and talk about some of the comic book shows that were around in the 90’s. While I of course watched shows like Spider-Man and X-Men, and have many times professed the virtues of the Batman Animated Series, I think that I have expressed my connection to comic book super heroes. While I don’t want to spend a lot of time talking about them, because I talk about super heroes like – a lot, I also do not want to have left them out.
Gargoyles was one of my absolute FAVORITE shows when I was younger and is actually the inspiration for this post, as my wife and I recently blasted through the entire second season of it after she got the DVDs for me as a gift. (I have a really cool wife, you know.) Anyone who has ever watched even an episode or two of the show will know that it blends the Sci-Fi/Fantasy genres better than most. It’s a Disney title, so the artwork and animation is awesome, especially the Gargoyles themselves. Between Goliath and his clan of winged warriors that turn to stone during the day, Gargoyle-inspired super advanced tech suits and robots, and The Children of Oberon, the show kind of dances all over the place with themes and settings. Another cool aspect of the show itself is that almost every member of the cast of TNG has provided the voices for many of the characters in the show (Even Colm Meaney manages to get in on one episode). Which brings me to Xanatos, the primary antagonist for most of the series. Voiced by Jonathan Frakes, Xanatos is probably one of the best parts of the show and easily one of my favorite villains ever. He is insidious and charming, a dangerous combination in even a normal person. David Xanatos is no where NEAR normal, though. He’s ambitious to the point of divinity and will stop at nothing to achieve his goals. That being said, he’s also REALLY smart and level-headed and, as such, he often finds ways to achieve his goals without having to sacrifice a lot, or really even harm anyone. He’s the kind of guy that if he were your boss, you’d be really loyal to him and in turn, you and your would be well taken care of…you know, right up until he turned you into a cyborg, or mutant or something.
Oh also, massive gothic castle atop a major metropolitan skyscraper F.T.W.
Beast Wars: Transformers
Another great show that I loved when I was a kid (and definitely made me the person I am today), is Beast Wars Transformers. I know that a lot of fans of transformers in general didn’t really like this title, because of the cheesy (though, at the time, state of the art) CGI animation, but I honestly like it more than the original series.
“pauses for the inevitable backlash”
Yes, I know that’s blasphemy, but the fact is that it was just a better-written show. The characters alone make it worth the watch from Megatron’s constant self musings, to Dinobot’s references to Hamlet. Hmm… it just occurred to me that I think I liked a lot of things that referenced Shakespeare, as that is what inspired much of Gargoyles as well. Anyway, the overall story arc of Beast Wars not only had a decidedly satisfying ending, but also tied the show in with the original series. I don’t want to spoil anything, but if it weren’t for the Maximals, the Autobots wouldn’t exist…..even though the Maximals evolved from the Autobots…time travel is hard, let’s go battle robots!
All of this aside, the biggest reason I loved this show was one guy. Dinobot. The turncoat-turned-savior of all Humanity. He taught us how to defend ourselves in a hostile universe, using cunning, courage and most importantly, improvisation. Every human in the Transformers universe that draws breath, uses a simple tool or doesn’t get eaten alive by a wild predator owes Dinobot a debt that can never be repaid…most don’t even know his name.
The Miscellany of Heroes
I think that in general I mostly enjoyed stories about heroes and adventure (big surprise!), though I’d occasionally foray into genres of a lighter nature if they were fantastical enough. I remember liking David the Gnome, like a LOT when I was very young, but got peer pressured into not watching it when I was in school for a time. There was also a brief period in my pre-teens when I was absolutely obsessed with Sonic the Hedgehog. Every incarnation of the show I watched and I was even more obsessed with eating chili dogs all the time, which my dad was kind of stoked about.
There are a couple of REALLY obscure shows that I know I really enjoyed, but can really only remember the intros to. One’s called King Arthur and the Knights of Justice. I absolutely LOVED this show (especially the fact that Arthur could summon a golden dragon from his shield – winning), but I remember little-to-none of the actual overall narrative. Another is The Pirates of Dark Water, which I remember just a bit about. Dark Water was decidedly bad and there were 13 treasures that could mitigate that badness. I watched an episode as an adult and realized that it has a decidedly Lovecraftian or Howard feel to it, which is of little surprise to me. I also remember that the main protagonist, Ren, had the broken sword of his father that he used as a dagger, which I thought then was really cool, but I didn’t know why. I know now. Because it just is. Noi Jitat!
And the really obscure…
Then there is the catagory of shows that I KNOW were really cool, but I only got to see like four episodes at most, because they were on at weird times. Double Dragon which bears NO resemblance to the game’s storyline, but was still good for a 9-12 year old me. Oh also, Bots Master had one of the coolest and memorable intros ever! I think it’s also why I tend to feel all emotional towards AI and robots in general. If anyone who reads this actually watched the Mighty Max show, I think we share some kind of empathic bond at this point, because I don’t know many people who ever even heard of it. Norman is the coolest. Does anyone remember the short lived Highlander Animated series? Let’s not forget Where on Earth is Carmen Sandiego, Captain Simian and the Space Monkeys and Mummies Alive!
Well that’s all of the ones that I can remember really enjoying or that I feel had an influence on me or my writing. I’m sure there are others that I cannot remember, there always are. Thanks for taking this little trip down memory lane with me, I had fun and I hope you did too.
What shows influenced you?
Any cool shows you enjoyed from your youth that you’d like to share? Did I not expound enough upon the virtues of one of the shows I mentioned? Do you want to have a stern talking-to with me about just how wrong I am about the original Transformers series? TALK TO ME PEOPLE! Leave your replies/thoughts in the comments below and we will engage in that old chestnut called conversation! Thanks again for reading and as always, have a wonderful day!