Friday 23 January 2009

The Shit We Put Up With: Highlander - The Animated Series

Saturday morning cartoons are great. Whilst the genre has undoubtedly seen its peak with Ben 10, there's a lot of people who will tell you that the mid-eighties to the mid-nineties was very much the "Golden Age of Saturday Morning Cartoons". With shining examples like Masters of the Universe, Transformers, Thundercats, Warner Brothers' Batman and the massively underrated Battletech as examples, this would indeed seem to be a convincing argument. However, what historians often do is to gloss over the unsavoury parts of a claim. And by "unsavoury", I mean "things that don't fit in with their argument". What I'm saying is that while the above may be true: for every Inhumanoids there was Bucky O'Hare and for every M.A.S.K. there was a Gobots.

Actually, M.A.S.K. wasn't that good either.

However, the single greatest failure in the history of Saturday Morning Cartoons has to be this:

Yeah. You just saw what you thought you saw. Highlander: The Animated Series.

Everyone here has seen the film Highlander, right? If not, get the fuck off of this website. You can't be emotionally fourteen and not have seen this film. It's pretty much bad acting, awesome sword fights and a Queen soundtrack from start to finish. Kind of like Krull but with awesome sword fights and a Queen soundtrack.

Those of you who have seen the film know that the basic premise is that some people are born immortal, and these immortals have to fight each other to the death (they may only be killed by decapitation) until only one of them remains. Those of you wondering how violent swordfights and decapitation are going to transfer to the Saturday morning cartoon format are probably wondering the same thing as the owners of the Highlander franchise, the writers of Highlander: The Animated Series, and the confused children watching Highlander: The Animated Series and wondering what the bloody hell this has to do with the movie.

I can hasz irrelevant franchise?

The series fortunately managed to avoid this problem by not showing any decapitation and setting the story 700 years after the movie. Thereby having absolutely nothing to with the movie at all.

The story took place on a post-apocalyptic Earth, 700 years after a meteorite collided, killing almost all of the population. In this Madmaxian wasteland, the Immortals united and swore an oath to put aside the sword-fighting and killing, to preserve the knowledge that humanity had lost. Why the hell they'd want to do that is anyone's guess. If I was Immortal on a planet full of Immortal people, I know we'd be using rocket launchers on each other all day just for the hell of it.

However, one Immortal named Kortan (not to be confused with with the movie's villian "The Kurgan", despite the fact that by this point confusion is inevitable) did not ally himself with the other Immortals. He still sought the prize and his empire grew until he controlled most of the planet from his fortress "Mogonda" (not to be confused with the word "mong", despite that being funny).

Connor MacLeod (Christopher Lambert *applause*) challenged Kortan and was defeated. With Connor's death came the prophecy of the rise of a new immortal, he would defeat Kortan. Don Vincente Marino Ramírez (I think that was Sean Connery in the movie, but who gives a fuck by this point, as he died in Highlander and was back in Highlander II. This frachise and continuity are sworn enemies.), has since waited seven hundred years for the unavowed immortal.

Quentin MacLeod is said to be the descendant of Connor MacLeod. Whilst a lot of Saturday Morning cartoons actually built up mythologies and recurring characters (you all remember how awesome it was when The Rat King turned up for a second time in Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles, and don't deny it), Highlander: The Animated Series took an existing universe full of interesting characters and then finger-banged them until they were unrecognisable. Then, they wondered why no-one watched it.

The scary thing? Highlander: The Animated Series actually ran for two seasons between 1994 and 1995. The scarier thing? A box set containing all forty episodes is available on Region 1 DVD. Of course, several crocks of shit that no-one really wants are available on Region 1, so that's not all that surprising I guess.

Highlander: The Animated Series was very much a product of the nineties, and it wasn't the only "adult" product to be twisted and marketed at children. Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles was originally an adult comic series. A toy-line was produced based upon Terminator II: Judgment Day (look out for a future article entitled The Shit We Put Up With: Terminator Merchandising).

This was the point in my life where I realised toys in real-life would never be as cool as they were in adverts.

And, of course, there was this, which thankfully never saw production.

We can't blame Highlander: The Animated Series for being a product of its time. We can however, blame it for the headaches it used to give when we pondered the question "Why?".

Now, to take this rotten taste out of my mouth:

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