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90’s kids will remember watching every Saturday morning Darkwing Duck! This goes out to all those kids, and those who want to learn more about our masked loveable super hero! No, not Batman, DARKWING DUCK! Let’s get dangerous with 107 Facts! http://frdr.us/2tpR7DY

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ABC Saturday morning cartoons “After These Messages”, circa late 1980′s, early 1990′s.

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FILLMORE! (2002)

an American animated television series created by Scott M. Gimple for ABC and, later, Toon Disney. Based on popular police dramas of the 1970s, Fillmore! is centered on reformed juvenile delinquent Cornelius Fillmore and his partner Ingrid Third, who solve crimes as members of the Safety Patrol at X Middle School. The series was aimed at young teenagers, but also skewed an older audience with its ‘70s references.

Why was it special?: WHAT WOULD NORMALLY BE A TIRESOME 1-EPISODE JOKE IN ANY OTHER SHOW ENDED UP MAKING A GREAT SERIES.

We’ve all seen this kind of plotline in cartoons before; parody episodes where a character is a secret agent, detective, or cop of some description. They usually have the aesthetics or lingo of what they’re trying to copy and sometimes it can be funny. Now imagine if you will, an entire animated series based on this idea that some others can barely squeeze out an episodes worth of materials for.

Would it work?

Ohh it can, and it can be fantastically entertaining while playing its jokes and parodies completely straight.

Normally it’s hard for me to say with a straight face that any property made by Disney is forgotten since… well, it’s Disney. Most of the time even their lamest, most forgettable, or most uninteresting movies and t.v. shows have some sort of rabid cult following but this– there isn’t really a whole lot of buzz. I didn’t watch it since it was on the ABC Family channel on Saturday morning as part of the warm-up act to Disney’s recently acquired Power Rangers and Digimon and I wasn’t ll that interested in either at that point so I passed this block up.

I really wish I did watch it because there were some decent cartoons (that later found their way to the Disney Channel and Toon Disney) and I feel like I probably would’ve liked Fillmore! the best.

It’s a lot of fun to watch! You can see what facets of those 70′s cop shows are being parodied and it’s a gas to see them shown in a family friendly way and it never really gets tiresome.

Now’s the time we get into the real meat & potatoes of this post, the reason it’s being featured on Black Animation Month. The series takes place in a  fairly diverse, and realistic school setting with lots of different kids but the main draw is our Black protagonist who’s a play on the ex-convict turned good cop trope. He knows how the criminal mind works and will stop at nothing to see justice prevail.

It’s silly and it can get way over the top, but it’s a cartoon, so it works. I don’t know, Pix, you watched this cartoon and you liked it, tell us all why we should like it too.



What can I say about the glorious Fillmore! that hasn’t been said by it’s fans before? The awesome cop adventures of Fillmore and Ingrid. They even had the “frustrated police chief” in the form of Horatio Vallejo.  
It’s a cult show maybe too good for television during its run, heck maybe even now. A unique spin on 70’s cop shows set in the halls of a middle school is a cool enough premise on its own. But having  a diverse cast set with some smart writing truly made this show stellar.
I think what really made this show work with me is basically how its ole Cornelius Fillmore and his fellow force on the safety patrol is handled.
So many times, when a cartoon or television show involves a black lead or any other person of color, the creative powers that be try to specifically pinpoint on that aspect of that character’s race or culture. The character’s skin color and family roots becomes the focus point of that show.
I understand why, and as a black male, I think that’s needed in media as far as representation. It’s a way to educate the masses without being limited creatively, while also aiming to properly represent a target audience that rarely gets any recognition.
Yet, representation in media goes beyond that concept, and few creative powers truly understand that. Representation in media also includes shows that just simply have a person of color as a protagonist or in the spotlight, while what happens to that character or the stories they share support what that show is about. Just like any other cartoon or show, you’re weighed more on the general writing and presentation than how you handle, in this case, a character’s blackness or how in tune it specially is to black culture. It would be like (finally) casting Idris Elba as James Bond. The character of Bond wouldn’t really change with such a casting decision, nor any of the obstacles he might have to endure. The only thing that changes is the perception that white males have to be the standard of norm in media and Hollywood.
In a way, it’s also like Miles Morales as Spider-Man. On the surface, as a kid who grew up reading Spider-Man comics, I like the fact that he’s black and happens to be Spider-Man. But what’s really made me love the character even more than Parker is Morales overall struggle to pay homage to the original while carving out his own identity and handling his own obstacles. He experiences struggles as a superhero that could only be unique to the name of Spider-Man. Yet he also experiences struggles that could only be unique to him as his own character. That’s what truly makes him so cool.
And this was the same feeling I got from watching Fillmore! Cornelius is a black cop..er..um..I mean safety patrol member. That’s never really shied away. But its his experiences solving cases and the obstacles he and the rest of the diverse cast endure that take center stage. And luckily when you’ve got superb writing, great jokes, and memorable characters, you want all of that to be the focus.
The fact that you’ve got Fillmore in the lead is just icing on the cake. 


Sometimes it’s the little things that really mean the most, and the little thing from me is that any other day this would be featured as a GOOD FORGOTTEN CARTOON

TRIVIA

  • This was the final series produced solely by Walt Disney Television Animation, before producing shows exclusively with Disney Channel, and also the final ABC Saturday morning cartoon. 
  • The series was cancelled in 2004 due to low ratings, but maintains a dedicated fanbase and is considered a cult hit. Reruns later aired on Disney Channel, Toon Disney, and Disney XD
  • While the series has not been released on home video or DVD, all 26 episodes are available for digital download in German from iTunes Germany.

CLOSING THOUGHTS

Not much left to say that hasn’t been said already except that this is a cartoon that deserves to not be forgotten. I’m trusting all of you out there to make sure that doesn’t happen.

The last episode of the show, “Gilligan the Goddess”, aired on April 17, 1967, and ended just like the rest, with the castaways still stranded on the island. It was not known at the time that it would be the series finale, as a fourth season was expected but then cancelled.

The New Adventures of Gilligan was a Filmation-produced animated remake that aired on ABC Saturday Morning from September 7, 1974, to September 4, 1977, for 24 episodes. An additional character was Gilligan’s pet Snubby the Monkey.

Ten years after the original series ended, in a 1978 made-for-television movie, Rescue from Gilligan’s Island, the castaways do successfully leave the island, but have difficulty reintegrating back into society. During a reunion cruise on the first Christmas after their rescue, fate intervenes and they find themselves wrecked on the same island at the end of the film. Snubby the Monkey is not present and is presumed drowned.

Gilligan’s Planet was an animated science fiction show produced by Filmation. In a follow-up to The New Adventures of Gilligan, the castaways escape from the island by building a spaceship, and get shipwrecked on a distant planet. Only 12 episodes aired on CBS between September 18, 1982, and September 3, 1983. In the episode “Let Sleeping Minnows Lie”, they travel to an island, get shipwrecked there, and Gilligan observes, “First we were stranded on an island, then we were stranded on a planet, and now we’re stranded on an island on a planet.”

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The Plastic Man Comedy/Adventure Show (1979) - intro

The adventures of the original stretchable superhero and various other characters.