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Saturday, September 10, 2011

Saturday Morning - Care Bears

How many of you out there reading today's entry remember your first movie?

I'm not talking about any random movie that you might have seen on television. I mean, actually going to a movie theater where you snack on overpriced popcorn and candy bars, go inside a theater filled with people and watch a movie on a jumbo sized screen.

And, how does this tie in with today's theme of Saturday morning cartoons?

Because as it so happens, my very first experience at a movie theater was at the screening of an animated film.

The year was 1985. Movies like The Goonies, Pee-Wee's Big Adventure, and Back To The Future were among some of the movies that people could watch on the big screen that year, but none of those movies were my first ones.

Back in 1985, we only had one movie house in town at the time. A movie house that had been in our downtown area for many, many years.

The Capitol theater in my hometown was one of those majestic movie houses that was filled with history and years of movie memories for everyone in town. Sadly, the Capitol no longer exists, as it closed down in 1986, and was transformed into a Canada Trust bank. Yet, I'll always have a soft spot for that movie theater as it was the site of my very first movie experience.

So I got my popcorn, my drink, and my oversized Kit-Kat bar, and sat down, waiting for my first movie to start.

By now, I'm sure that you are salivating with anticipation over what my very first movie was, so here it is.

Yes. You are reading this correctly. My very first movie was The Care Bears movie. Hardly the type of movie that one would actively brag about seeing as their very first movie experience ever.

Yet looking back on it now, I'm okay with this.

Better than okay, actually.

As I said before, the film was first released in 1985, March 29, 1985 to be exact. What made this movie even more special was that the production of the movie was based entirely out of Canada. The Nelvana animation studio in Toronto was responsible for animating the whole movie, and almost all of the voice actors in the movie were born in Canada. The film itself was a tale of a couple who ran an orphanage, telling the orphans about the story of the Care Bears who lived in Care-A-Lot, a magical place where homes were built on clouds, and where the bear citizens slid down rainbows. In the movie, the multi-coloured bears helped two orphaned children named Kim and Jason try to find new parents. At the same time, they encountered a young magician's apprentice named Nicholas who is being influenced by an evil spirit. I could go into more detail about this movie, but I'll save it for a future Monday matinee feature, as I really want to go into more details on the cartoon show, as well as the history behind the creation of the Care Bears.

This year marks the 30th anniversary of the creation of the Care Bears, and it might surprise some of you to know that they were a creation for a greeting card company.

It was in the year 1981 that the Care Bears first began appearing on greeting cards for the American Greetings company. The original artwork for the Care Bears was done by artist Elena Kucharik. Two years later, the images from the greeting cards were turned into plush animals, courtesy of Kenner toys. In fact, the same year that I saw the Care Bears Movie was the same Christmas that I ended up getting a plush Care Bear as a gift.

The one that I ended up getting was Good Luck Bear, the mint green coloured bear with a clover on his chest. You could tell that it was an authentic Care Bear by the red Care Bear logo that was sewn into each of the Care Bear's backsides.

As it happened, I ended up getting one of the ten original Care Bear creations when the line was officially launched. The ten original bears (as well as their corresponding colours) were;

Bedtime Bear: Blue
Birthday Bear: Gold
Cheer Bear:  Pink
Friend Bear:  Orange
Funshine Bear: Yellow
Good Luck Bear:  Green
Grumpy Bear: Dark Blue
Love-A-Lot Bear: Pink
Tenderheart Bear: Burgundy
Wish Bear:  Aqua

Over the years, the Care Bear family grew in size to include other bears such as Champ Bear, Share Bear, Hugs and Tugs, and Grams Bear. Shortly after that came the debut of the Care Bear Cousins. Although they weren't bears, they did have the same symbols on their chests as their bear counterparts. Some of these cousins included Playfulheart Monkey, Braveheart Lion, Treatfulheart Pig, Lotsaheart Elephant, and Brightheart Raccoon.

The Care Bears and Care Bear Cousins were some of the most in demand toys throughout the 1980s, and in 2002, the whole line was brought back for a new generation of kids to enjoy, and while I appreciate the sentiment, I tried watching an episode of the new version but it sort of lacked the charm that the original one had.

I think part of it as well could have been the fact that I grew up watching the original cartoon series that aired in Canada between 1985 and 1988. The cartoon series was loosely based on the Care Bears Movie, and what made the cartoon great was the fact that many of the voice actors who were in the movie were part of the television cartoon.

The Care Bears and Care Bear Cousins were featured in the cartoon as well as some new antagonists. Some of them were one shot characters like Sour Sam the Pie-Man, while others lasted the whole run. Beastly and No Heart were probably the main enemies of the Care Bears, and they frequently sent evil spirits to earth in an effort to get people to stop caring about others and engage in self-destructive behaviour. In the 1987 season, No Heart's niece, Shrieky was introduced, and her screech was enough to smash every window in the Empire State Building, it was so loud.

Most of these episodes involved one of No Heart's evil schemes, and his attempts to get the world to stop caring, and it was up to the Care Bears to stand up to No Heart and his minions.

This is where the symbols on their chest come into play.

On any normal day, they're just cute little pictures of hearts, flowers, and stars. The kind you'd see your second grade teacher giving students for good homework. But if they are provoked in any way, their tummy symbols become a lethal weapon.

(Well, as lethal as they can be considering they're shaped like happy things).

With their Care Bear stare, they can melt the coldest of hearts, and warm the most frigid of receptions. These Care Bears mean business, and they will make people start caring about others no matter what.

I figure that you want an example of this cartoon show in action, so here's a few clips from a few episodes for you to see what I mean.  In particular, with the 1986 season, Share Bear would appear in the last segment of the show to teach viewers how they can show others that they care about others.  Here's a couple of these PSA's down below.

You know, I used to get a lot of flack for watching Care Bears as a kid. It's a program that's too sugary-sweet. It's not the show that boys should be watching. It's a show that sucks.

I say wrong. On all three counts.

The show may seem like it's too sweet, but I mean, think about it. It's called CARE Bears. What, did you expect them to karate chop each other through rainbows and heart shaped doors? Common sense, people.

Secondly, who is anyone to say what shows are appropriate enough for boys or girls to watch. I liked the Care Bears, and I'm sure that a lot of boys liked them too. Just like some girls liked the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, which was basically dismissed as a boys cartoon.

And, thirdly, the show didn't 'suck'. If anything, it was a great way to teach kids how to show respect and love towards one another. I would think that would be a great lesson to teach kids, wouldn't you?

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