Monday, July 16, 2018

Strange Saturdays: Mister T

The 1980’s were a strange time on television. Freed from the normal constraints that required them to produce educational children’s programming, the networks went on a crazy toy and candy binge that resulted in some of the strangest animated cartoons ever created. Today we take a look at one of the weirdest of the bunch- Mister T.

Mister T was everywhere in the 1980’s. He became a hero for kids when his weekly NBC television show- The A Team
became a huge hit. While he was little more than a vigilante on the television series, Mister T decided to become a hero to his new fans by being a great role model. He reminded kids to stay off drugs, exhorted them to treat their moms right and always drink all of their milk. He even found himself meeting the First Lady of the United States.

It seemed like a no brainer to give Mister T a cartoon show, but what would it be about? Well obviously, it should be about a traveling gymnastics team who solve crimes in their spare time. Why Mister T would be leading a team of gymnasts is not something the show ever bothered to answer. Was he their coach? A chaperone? A body guard? Who knows? The creators didn’t, so they just put in a shot of Mister T swinging an alligator around.

Amazingly, that wouldn’t be the craziest thing shown in this cartoon. Breaking with industry standards, Mister T provided his own voice for the cartoon and even went above and beyond by taping live action bumpers in which he highlighted the various lessons we were supposed to learn from each week’s episode.

Often the only lesson to be learned was not to mess with Mister T. Unfortunately for T and his gang, the long lead time required for even the cheesiest of Ruby-Spears animation meant that even the rushed production arrived towards the end of Mister T’s popularity. Mister T faced the foes who proved unbeatable- NBC executives. The show was canceled after just two seasons.