The year: 1990. The day: Saturday. The time of that day: morning. I think. It's "Cartoon All-Stars to the Rescue," a unified effort by the stars of children's television to convince America's youth not to do drugs.
So there's this teenager. He is crafting a healthy drug habit when, summoned by the hopes and fears of his kid sister, a cavalcade of cartoon characters pop into this his reality to put his life back on track. And we're not talking about Scrappy Doo or Alexandra Cabot. We're talking about the major leagues of 1990s cartoons.
- Bugs Bunny.
- Alvin, Simon and Theodore.
- Miss Piggy, Kermit and Gonzo.
- Michaelangelo (though, oddly, not Raph, Don or Leo).
- Huey, Dewey and Louie.
- Papa Smurf, Brainy Smurf and Smurfette.
- And, of course, Gordon Shumway himself: ALF. In cartoon form.
Naturally, the cartoon characters successfully convert Johnny Everyteen back into an upstanding member of society. It's remarkable, since one would guess that hearing ALF talking to you about drugs would convince you that drugs RULE, since you'd obviously be hallucinating. Furthermore, the show's creators are lucky the special didn't motivate children to try drugs, just in an effort to meet the Muppet Babies.
But yeah, in true half-hour format tradition, everything is fixed by the closing credits. That's expected, especially from what amounts to the most star-studded service announcement ever. No, the big deal here isn't even that ABC, NBC and CBS would each agree to whore out their characters to defame narcotics. What amazes me most is that those three networks simulcast the show. "Cartoon All-Stars to the Rescue" aired at the exact same time on the three major channels, thus increasing the odds that you reading this now have some inkling what the hell I'm talking about.
I like the notion of broadcasts. I like the idea of everybody seeing the same thing and the same time: a group experience, even if it's an experience for something that sucks, like, say "Cartoon All-Stars to the Rescue." At least then everybody has the same thing to bitch about. If everybody goes home and puts in their own VHS or Beta or Laserdisc or whatever, then they lose a bit of common ground, even if they're happier that they all got to do what they wanted.
The kicker here is that Jim Davis, creator of Garfield, raised a fuss because he claimed the show's creators didn't properly secure the rights to his flabby feline monster. No one actually got sued, but in the end the creators agreed to never air the special in the United States again. So that's it. If you didn't see it the first time it aired, you wouldn't ever see it again unless you bought it on tape. And, really, who would be so lame as to buy this special on tape?
So there you have it. Yay simulcasts and cartoon super-crossovers. Boo Jim Davis and his shit-cat.
In case you'd like a complete synopsis written by somebody far funnier than I am, there's plenty about it online. Here's the best I've found.