Review

  • Warning: Spoilers
    Whenever I have a cold, I pass the time by finding and watching 80s cartoons from my childhood. Some of them are almost as good as I remember them, and some are pretty terrible in many respects.

    First of all, if you've not seen any of these before, watch the 'Save Christmas' special before any of the other episodes. There is much more to like there, although the protagonists are as bland as ever.

    'Glo Friends' were a brand of insect-themed night-light cuddly toys. They had plastic heads that lit up and looked pretty creepy. The series was obviously intended as promo material for the toys, and it's rather restricted by the mould in which it was cast. A lot of 80s cartoons have villains that end up upstaging the heroes because the designers of the characters seemed to feel it was necessary to make the protagonists sickly cute goody-goodies. In this case the antagonists don't have to try very hard. There are rather a lot of protagonist characters, as presumably there was a large line of these toys, and most of them are interchangeable. There's one who's an artist and one that looks like a spider, and a token female one who's snivelly and useless. While reliving this childhood memory, I quickly fell into the routine of skipping to the parts with the villains in.

    On to the villains, whom I guess are supposed to be moles, with some artistic licence taken, the most unfortunate being how their noses are drawn. Their noses look like… I don't think I ought to say it on here considering it's a programme for children, but they look like a totally different body part that shouldn't be revealed on daytime TV, least of all a children's programme. The leader of the villains is Starnose, the odd one out, being as he is named after a real mole rather than something to do with groundworks. Starnose is a violent, hectoring thug, other than towards his partner Nails. Nails has a grey pompadour and wears a pink ballgown and gold jewellery. She's shown to be vain and ungrateful, and is in a relationship with Starnose (it's shown they aren't husband and wife, as Starnose mentions a wish of being a king, and Nails agrees she'd like to be a queen, and Starnose complains that he's said he will think about it). Then there's Excavator, an inventor. Rather than the mad scientist trope, he's shown to be more of a burly, practical sort with a propensity for flowery language. And there's Scoop, another female villain, who doesn't agree with the villains trying to enslave the protagonists, yet wants to fit in with them and be accepted (really quite deep for such a minor character in such a cheesy TV series). There are more after this, but it becomes a case of too many cooks, as the others are pretty interchangeable. While they're not particularly imaginative as a whole, Nails and Scoop have some interesting details to their clothing and hairstyles that children might enjoy drawing. There's also Rook, a bird who starts off as quite an unpleasant and competent villain, but is quickly reduced to a buttmonkey for Starnose.

    The thing that strikes me as most inappropriate about this (other than how the Moligans' noses have been drawn) is that on several occasions characters who are supposed to be protagonists insult Nails by calling her fat or ugly. Nails is shown to be angry or upset by this, at one point crying and needing a cuddle from Starnose. It's a truly awful message for children who are not going to grasp well that it's never appropriate to make unkind personal remarks about someone's appearance. There's also a double standard as both Starnose and Excavator are decidedly portly and one of the other minor characters is very misshapen and odd looking, and this is never remarked upon. The 'good' characters are in some instances really not good at all, playing tricks on the villains and using them as servants, writing insulting material about them in a magazine, and destroying their meal.

    I could go on more about the Glo Wees, some other saccharine characters introduced in a few episodes. But fortunately there's a word limit, as I've been sick in my mouth just thinking about them...