Happy New Year, J1 Fans! Devildriver1313 is back with a fresh new look at our animated past with “Awesome Cartoons!!” Back in the days of hair bands and laceless Adidas sneakers, several popular celebrities were given the right of passage into the animated world—Chuck Norris, Pat Morita and Hulk Hogan to name a few. When he isn’t knocking badguys through walls or driving around with his vigilante Army pals, Mr. T coached a team of gymnasts and rode around in a school bus. With further ado, here is an awesome look back at Mr. T.
In the animated series, Mr. T coached a young gymnastics team as they toured the world competing in events while solving mysteries on the side. The team consisted of ten members each with their own attributes. Jeff Harris is the big ego-ed wise guy of the team. Woody Daniels is an African-American gymnast and Jeff’s friendly rival. Robin O’Neill (no relation to April) is a blue-eyed redhead who’s eager to jump into any situation. She also acts as Mr. T’s second-in-command and has the cutesy catchphrase “What the hairy heck?”. Robin little brother Spike is Mr. T’s biggest fan and has taken to match his heroes’ attire. Japanese gymnast Kim Nakamura is the daughter to a scientist with a photographic memory. There’s a Native American gymnast named Skye Redfern whose grandfather was accused of a crime, Garcia Lopez who is Latin American, Vince D’Amato who has dreams of being a movie star and is Italian, Courtney Howard, who is African-American with a military father and a magician uncle who used to mysteriously appear in people’s homes and make valuables disappear and Grant Kline, an ex-gang member who turned his life around, thanks to Jeff. Their mascot is Mr. T’s bulldog named Bulldozer who has a similar mohawk. He is also called Dozer for short.
AWESOMENESS!! Mr. T is one the top “tough guys” of the eighties. This factor was played up as he is shown performing super humans feats such as tossing an alligator by its tail, punching a shark and making a charging bull turn tail and run just with a glare and a snarl. Even cooler, Mr. T provided his own voice and starred in live action segments before each episode, where he tells that episode’s situation, and gives a moral lesson at the end. Though it played out mostly a kids show, there was still moments of action whenever Mr. T and the kids encountered the badguys where the kids used their gymnastics skills to take them out. Also awesome is the diversity among the gymnasts. There weren’t many shows in the early eighties that showed a group of people from different ethnicities working together and those that did went no further than two or three. This illustrated how the series pushed this boundary.
Mr. T ran for thirty episodes on NBC over the course of three seasons (13 in the first, 11 in the second and 6 for the third). Reruns were later seen on the USA Cartoon Express in the late 1980s and early 1990s, and more recently as part of Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim late-night programming block. The series’ first season was released on DVD in 2011. Unfortunately, the remaining two season have yet to be released. Nevertheless, Mr. T and his squad will always hold a special place in our hearts as champions. And Bulldozer will be a dog with the coolest haircut ever.