Art & Design Film & TV

‘Toon In: 5 classic shows that deserve a reboot

It's time these cartoon classics made a comeback.

Let’s face it: the ‘90s were the best when it came to animated shows: we had adventures alongside heroic mutants in X-Men, we patrolled the streets of Gotham in Batman: The Animated Series, we went on field trips like no other with Miss Frizzle aboard The Magic School Bus.

With the news that the creators of the iconic X-Men cartoon are currently working to put together a pitch for a revival (or is it a reboot?) of the show at Disney, we here at GIST couldn’t help but think of other animated cartoon shows that deserve another shot at life.

Here are some of our favorites:

Dino Riders, 1988

PLOT: A series about the never-ending struggle between the heroic Valorians and the evil Rulon Alliance, Dino Riders was a fun, adventure-filled show whose main draw involved — you guessed it — battles between weaponized dinosaurs.

What we’d love to see in a reboot: 

The basic plot remains the same, but with more focus put on the ramifications of the use of sentient creatures as tools for war. Also, I know we’re talking about what is essentially a kids’ show, but can we make the dinosaurs and creatures more era-specific?

The Real Adventures of Jonny Quest, 1996

PLOT: A popular media franchise, The Real Adventures of Jonny Quest revolves around its titular teenaged hero who accompanies his scientist father on extraordinary adventures, alongside his other teenage friends Hadji Singh, and Jessie Bannon. Itself a reboot / sequel to the original series from the ‘60s and ‘80s, the show was billed by then-Hanna Barbera president Fred Seibert as “The X-Files for kids,” citing the difficult questions and mysteries posed in each episode.

What we’d love to see in a reboot:

If we had our way, we’d love to see a reboot where Jonny and his squad — now full-time investigators and adventurers — team up with other classic teenage heroes like the Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew in order to embark on new adventures and solve ills brought about by the baby boomers . Weird? Yes. Timely? Of course.

Captain Planet and The Planeteers, 1990

PLOT: A beloved classic in the edu-tainment genre, the Captain Planet series focused on a group of five young individuals from diverse backgrounds who found themselves chosen by Gaia herself, to help safeguard Earth by using elemental rings which they can then use to summon the titular hero.

What we’d love to see in a reboot:

Aside from going head to head with their iconic archenemies the Eco-Villains — characters molded from problematic ways of thought such as capitalism, unchecked and unethical use of technology, apathy, and greed —  we’d love to see a new cast of Planeteers fighting against frackers, Arctic oil drillers, wildlife traffickers, and racists and bigots using the classic monster-of-the-week format.

Also, taking into account the influence of social media and the Internet these days, we’d also love to see segments where young digital activists and personalities such as climate change activist Greta Thunberg can make guest appearances. Cool, right?

Gargoyles, 1994

PLOT: First aired on the ABC and then syndicated globally, the series revolved around the adventures of a species of nocturnal creatures known as gargoyles who, after spending a thousand years in an enchanted petrified state, find themselves reawakened in modern-day New York City where they soon take on roles as the city’s secret night-time protectors.

What we’d love to see in a reboot:

Gargoyles earned critical praise throughout its 78-episode run, most notably for its storytelling. The show was noted too, for its relatively dark tone, complex story arcs, and its effective use of melodrama, causing it to receive favorable comparisons to Batman: The Animated Series, itself another classic cartoon series.

As the series was already ahead of its time with its subtext about racial prejudice, and its characters’ collective journey towards acceptance and understanding, it seems only fitting if a sequel focused on a new generation of Gargoyles gets created instead.

PS: Academy Award-winning director Jordan Peele reportedly wants to film a reboot of the series. And yes, we’re already shaking with anticipation.

Pepper Ann, 1997

PLOT: The first animated Disney TV series to be created by a woman, Sue Rose’s Pepper Ann revolved around titular character Pepper-Ann Pearson who, along with her friends Milo and Nicky, constantly finds herself coping with insecurities and other adolescent ups and downs at Hazelnut Middle School. 

Ahead of its time, Pepper Ann was hailed by many for its episodes which dealt with mature themes such as puberty, the bucking of preconceived gender roles, dating, moral ambiguity, racism, death, gender equality, cultural appropriation, and unemployment, as well as its core message about growing from one’s experiences.

What we’d love to see in a reboot:

Set a couple of years after the original series, Pepper Ann is now in her early 20s, and *surprise, surprise* is now helping kids get back on track as a guidance counselor at Hazelnut Middle School. I mean, who else can possibly take on the role aside from someone who herself successfully navigated the perilous passage through the labyrinth that is the seventh grade?

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