Among the many glorious things about being a child in the 1990s and 2000s were Cartoon Network, Disney Channel and Pogo. Those few hours of television time a day were usually spent watching cartoons that taught life lessons, or were people in spandex escaping CGI explosions, and a lot of our world view was shaped by it. On the occasion of Children’s Day, My Kolkata spoke to some young readers about all the shows that made their childhood entertaining.
“Whenever I think about my childhood, the only consistent memory I have is of watching Pokémon. I'd rush back home from school, turn on the TV and just watch Ash and Pikachu go on a glorious journey every day from 4 to 4.30pm. Even though the story revolved around the good-versus-evil trope like every other cartoon, the show was special because of the unique connection pokémons had with their owners. I was particularly in love with Pikachu. The graphics and animation were also very different from the other shows at that time and Ash’s journey of overcoming difficulties to become the world champion has stuck with me till today,” said Rammya Basu, 23, communication manager at Alliance Française du Bengale.
Phineas and Ferb
“Phineas and Ferb kept me glued to Disney Channel as a kid. The plot and characters have immense recall value because of their sheer absurdity. Phineas and Ferb were two brothers who spent their summer break inventing things while their elder sister tried to foil their plans. On top of all this, the boys had a pet platypus, who was a secret agent waging a war against an evil doctor! I loved how the three storylines always converged in the end to produce a hysterical result. Besides this, each episode also had an energetic song, enjoyable in both Hindi and English. But at its core, the show’s positive and enthusiastic outlook on life was what really drew me to it. Behind the inventions were just two boys, enjoying their day doing what they loved the most,” said Virein Sony, 23, credit analyst at an international bank.
Thomas & Friends
“I have been obsessed with wheels since my childhood, so a cartoon based on vehicles with human characteristics was bound to be my favourite. Thomas & Friends was about train engines ferrying goods, carrying passengers and interacting with each other. I remember especially waking up at 7 in the morning, just to watch it. What stayed with me was the beautiful animation and innocence of the facial expressions of the engines. I also identified with how Thomas was energetic, friendly, kind and helpful. Lastly, the human personification of the engines, and the connection between them taught me important lessons about teamwork that I still hold dear,” said Aikansh Agarwal, 24, software engineer at a Pune-based firm.
“I loved all the Power Rangers shows, although my fondest memories are of Mystic Force and Dino Thunder. I used to watch them in English, and it was fascinating to have that introduction to a Western cultural context — much like a window to a whole new world. The wildly outlandish visuals may seem juvenile now, but at that time, it was the coolest thing I’d ever seen. The shows were like a gateway out of my small little bubble and I loved exploring the world they created. They also had a lot of teachable moments. The stories always stressed on concepts of duty and friendship, righteous behaviour, love, forgiveness, sacrifice, perseverance and so much more! I’m glad our generation grew up on it,” said Manasth Jain, a businessman.
“Unlike most people, I really have to scrape to gather fondest memories with cartoons. Before leaving for cricket coaching at 6am, accompanied by a bowl of corn flakes, I used to watch a bunch of animals at a summer camp getting an aggressive wake-up call from a blaring loudspeaker. That resonated with my waking up early in the morning, and I remember these outlandish animals with bizarre predicaments, particularly the cool spider monkey called Lazlo. His three-roommate situation was the original 3 Idiots for me! I also remember loving the world of Camp Kidney in the show Camp Lazlo, where they roasted marshmallows over outdoor bonfires and always forgot to pick them up before it was too late,” said Ritwik Mishra, 24, copywriter at a Mumbai-based advertising agency.
“Of all the cartoons I grew up watching, none of them had as firm a grip on my childhood as Dexter's Laboratory. So much so that I even remember harassing my dad into buying me numerous miniature science kits in the hopes of building myself a similar lab! If the genius idea of a kid my age inventing machines to solve his smallest problems wasn’t enough, the colourful animations and an array of irritating-yet-relatable characters — like Dee Dee and Mandark —kept me glued to the screen whenever it aired. There were even days when I toyed with time by watching it at 7 in the morning, right before school! After all these years, I still find it difficult to believe that Seth Macfarlane co-wrote the series, but at least now I know who’s responsible for my affinity towards surreal humour!” said Ravjit Singh, 24, copywriter at a Kolkata-based advertising agency.
Courage the Cowardly Dog
“I could not get enough of the horror-comedy Courage, the Cowardly Dog as a kid and upon growing older, I found myself relating with the titular protagonist, Courage. While he is a pink anthropomorphic beagle with paranoia, contrary to popular belief, his name is not ironic because he truly embodies courage. His owners are an old couple who manage a farm full of bizarre adversities, and Courage takes it upon himself to defend his masters despite his cautious and fearful nature. He faces every otherworldly being that comes his way out of his unconditional love for Eustace and Muriel. The cartoon really made me believe that Courage is within all of us, and no matter what life throws at us, we will conquer it. Just like Courage,” said Sharon Thawaney, 23, third-semester student of Masters in Social Work, St. Xavier’s University.