If there ever was a golden age for entertainment as a whole, it would belong to the 90s, no doubt about it. Being born in the 80s, I have lived through 3 decades so far - 80s, 90s and 00s. We are currently heading into the mid 2010s, as we reach the end of 2014.
My personal favourite decade is the 80s- mainly due to the music that came out. However, the 90s was when everything entertainment-wise, was just plain awesome. The movies, TV shows, video games, music. Sitcoms, movies and cartoons are three genres that dominated the 90s in American entertainment in so many ways, and for so many good reasons.
Like the 1980s, it was a great time growing up in this period; the efforts that came out of the Cartoon Network, Nickelodeon and Disney empires when it came to animated cartoons were of better quality, compared to previous decades. The standard of animation, the characters, the fact that the shows weren't preachy as they were in the 80s', I think many appreciated how care-free they were. Oh and the stories and the writing, especially the dialogue was way better than before.
The animation companies really raised the bar and took the achievements of the 80s' cartoon shows to a whole another level and exceeding their own expectations. Creatively speaking, the output we got out of it, was second to none. The sheer volume of really good and excellent kids cartoons from the 90s', was unbelievable.
When I look back, I realise the older cartoons had a lot more class, originality and creativity than today and during the last decade. Sad thing is, for me anyway, cartoons- or more specially children's cartoons - died, right after 9/11 in 2001. That catastrophic event changed the course of popular entertainment, and since then, production companies became more complacent, lacking and not as creative as before when it came to TV shows, especially cartoons.
The cartoons I have listed are children's cartoons, as I prefer children's cartoons over adult cartoons such as The Simpsons and Family Guy.
But these are my personal preferences and in no particular order:
Johnny Bravo (Hanna Barbera, 1997) - the success of the pilot episode on 'What A Cartoon!' later resulted in the forming of an animated series, which sadly didn't last long on air. It was at times funny, silly and the additions of suzy, the little girl and Johnny's mother was a nice touch. It was good because, had Johnny been the only character on the show, there wouldn't be many other characters to focus on other than himself. The humour of the series derives from Johnny trying to date other women, only to get turned down, and get beaten up. I loved the pilot and the series was really amusing.
And Johnny Bravo will go down as one of Hanna Barbera's greatest and memorable characters alongside Fred Flintstone, Scooby Doo and Yogi Bear.
X-Men The Animated Series (Marvel Entertainment Group, Saban Entertainment, 1992) - arguably (one of) the best superhero cartoons to come out, the X-Men animated show was a precursor to the live- action movies that came out in 2000 with the first X-Men movie. It successfully captured the essence and spirit of the X-Men comics and the characters personalities were faithfully well portrayed on the show. There are some issues over the depiction of Jubilee as acting and looking more like a Caucasian, and less so as a Asian- American superhero. But other than that, it was still riveting stuff. This Fox Kids show was, and still is the best animated version of the X-Men to date.
Arthur (Cinar/Cookie Jar Entertainment/ 9 Story Entertainment, 1996) - don't be fooled into thinking that only kids that can like Arthur. Nope - this animated educational show contains content and info that adults and people aged 10 and over can take from it. Some cartoons try to be preachy, but Arthur instills morality and empowers children and adults by presenting real-life situations, without shoving it down your throat.
The Adventures of Blinky Bill ( Yoram Gross Film Studio, 1993) - based on the children's books by Dorothy Wall, the cartoons were produced by Yoram Gross and set in a fictional town called Greenpatch Hill in Australia. I really loved this show because it was a rarity to see good, quality animated shows that weren't from america, japan and Britain.
The characters were really interesting and Blinky was a mischievous little koala, who had a heart of gold.
Animaniacs (Warner Bros Television, 1993) - The WB cartoons of the 1990s were truly something special. The wit, the irreverent humour, the episodes themselves could be enjoyed by adults, as well as kids and teenagers. Like Freak-A-Zoid, Animaniacs really pushed the boundaries of animation, by taking some of that old school Hanna Barbera magic from the likes of the Flintstones and Top Cat and interweaving it into a new set of characters, as well as to thrown in a couple of subtle pop culture references.
One of the greats when it comes to 90s cartoons.
Freakazoid! (Warner Bros Television, 1995 ) - People have lauded Seth Macfarlane's Family Guy as the only cartoon to make pop cultural references in its show, but in actuality, it was shows such as Freakazoid that really started it all off. The sarcasm and humorous send-ups and spoofs of politicians, celebrities, TV and movie characters and franchises was used to great effect. Freakazoid also pokes fun at other superheroes. Originally a teenage computer nerd, Dexter becomes Freakazoid overnight as he is zapped by a computer screen, whilst on his PC.
If you have never watched an episode before, I suggest you do it. It's great fun.
Tiny Toon Adventures (Warner Bros Television, 1990) - the adventures of a new generation of Looney Tunes characters, who appear in a mixture of original stories, movie and TV parodies and spoofs and remakes of classic Looney Tunes shorts. Bugs, Daffy, Sylvester and Tweety among others are professors at Acme Looniversity.
The show is pretty much a homage to Looney Tunes, and another way of giving it a fresh lick of paint and re-introducing it to a newer, younger generation of fans.
Goof Troop (Walt Disney Animation, 1992) - Goofy is now a single parent with son, Max with then nemesis Pete, becoming their next door neighbour. Unfortunately, Disney, like with Duck Tales, Chip 'N' Dale Rescue Rangers, Talespin and Recess, when they have a good thing going with those shows, they seem to kill them off altogether quickly, to concentrate solely on live-action shows. Sigh.
I was never really into their animated shorts that much, but I really loved their animated series from the 80s and 90s decades, such as Goof Troop.
Where's Wally/Waldo? (DiC, 1991) - based on the popular picture books of the same name, Where's Wally? (or Waldo as he's known in the US version) was a show about a skinny young nerd, who wears a red and white striped shirt and woolly hat and has a dog. By waving his wand, he transports himself to another world. The fun part of the show was the puzzle segment where you had to find Wally, who was hidden somewhere in the image, before the answer was unveiled. I liked that a lot.
The Pirates of Dark Water (Hanna Barbera, 1991) - A young man named Ren finds out he is a prince and has to find the 13 treasures of rule. Like the 13 Ghosts of Scooby Doo (also by Hanna Barbera), the gang of Ren, Tula, Nibbler and Ioz didn't manage to secure the final set of treasures, as the show was unceremoniously cancelled without a proper resolution and without reason. I was gutted about that. This was one of my favourite 90s cartoons, and Hanna Barbera cartoons, and like other fans felt cheated in the end.
It deserved a better treatment, and given it was from Hanna Barbera, who is my favourite animation studio, I was very disappointed.
Mighty Ducks: The Animated Series (Walt Disney Animation, 1996) - I'm actually happy that the animated version of Mighty Ducks went with anthropomorphic duck characters, rather than opting with the young kids and Emilio Estevez's character from the feature length movie. This made the show more promising and entertaining to watch. At one stage the Ducks are playing ice hockey matches, the next minute they become a crime-fighting team. Some said the premise was flawed, but I digress.
I just wished this show lasted a few more seasons, because it had promise and had a cool concept that was never fully utilized.
SWAT Kats: The Radical Squadron (Hanna Barbera, 1993) - Razor and T-Bone both work as mechanics by trade, but they also double up as a crack force defending MegaKat city from the bad guys and evil villains. It was a mix of sci-fi and action, with camaraderie reminiscent of the buddy cop movies of the 1980s, such as Lethal Weapon.
It never tried to be funny or hip, or tried to be something it wasn't; that was one of the reasons why fans and viewers were attracted to it.
Hey Arnold! (Nickelodeon, 1996) - this show, alongside Disney's Recess, were in some ways similar - the neighbourhoods, the racial diversity of the characters, as well as the main characters were kids to name, were some of the things each show had in common with one another.
Helga was an odd character - she would call Arnold football head and be rude towards him and his friends, yet she had a secret crush on him. As Arnold, being the good guy, he usually always (and rightly so) does the right thing, whilst at the same time learning a few lessons along the way.
Interestingly, this is one of the few cartoons that manages to be realistic and many of the situations in the series, do happen in real life.
Recess (Walt Disney Animation, 1997)
Dexter's Laboratory (Hanna Barbera, 1996)
The Real Adventures of Jonny Quest (Hanna Barbera, 1996)
Cow and Chicken (Hanna Barbera, 1997)
The Powerpuff Girls (Hanna Barbera, 1998)
Darkwing Duck (Walt Disney Animation, 1991)
Pokemon (4Kids, 1997) - Ash wants to become the best Pokemon (pocket monster) trainer in the world, with the help of friends, Misty and Brock. Oh and Pikachu as well. Currently in its 14th season, the Pokemon franchise is still going strong, almost 20 years later.
It may not be at the same scale as it was back in the mid 1990s when Pokemon popularity was at its greatest, but the cartoons are still airing today. Mainly thanks to the huge sales of its video games. The show's appeal predominately comes from the characters, more so than the standard of animation.
One may also argue the story-lines can get repetitive and yes, the earlier seasons are still the best. But due to its legions of fans, Pokemon, for as long as it still exists, no matter be it a TV show, video game or whatever, there will always be a demand and interest in it.
*special honorable mentions go to Batman the Animated Series, Gargoyles, Super Mario World, Dink The Little Dinosaur, Fender Bender 500, Taz-Mania, Tom and Jerry Kids, What A Cartoon!