I'm sure nostalgia has more than something to do with the fact that we've spent the last several nights content to watch a couple hours of the Rankin/Bass classic Thundercats (season one, part two) on DVD before falling asleep. But beyond just the nostalgic value, this awkwardly drawn and often super far out cartoon from the golden age of afternoon television produced in Japan is totally mesmerising.
And it's pretty crazy too–there's a bizarre back story that I wasn't even aware of when I watched theses as a kid. Fortunately, Mike, Jim and wikipedia filled me in on the details: the Thundercats fled their dying planet of Thundera just before it exploded, but many of the other fleeing spacecrafts were destroyed by long time enemies the Mutants of Plun-Darr. Lion-O, the chosen one, was a boy of twelve when they escaped, but he aged due to a malfunction in his capsule and is now a man of 24 with only the experiences of a kid. That's why he needs a nurse maid (the questionably lovable Snarf) and why he can be a bit of a brat at times.
His loyal companions, who uphold the code of Thundera (Justice, Truth, Honor, and Loyalty) are pretty sweet. Panthro is my favorite personality wise and Tygra and Cheetara are babes, but they're frequently given too little, and there's little character development. It would have been awesome if they really played up Tygra as a hot single dad to Wiley Kit and Wiley Kat (it's implied).
But the greatest scene chewer and the ultimate reason to watch this show is, of course, Mumm-ra the Ever living!!!!! The late Earl Hammond's voice work is hilarious, fantastic and truly awe-inspiring. His schemes, which tend to involve deceptive shape shifting, illusions and/or hypnotism, are devised solely to rid Third Earth of all things good and pure, particularly the Thundercats. Poor Mumm-ra, he doesn't realize it that if he just left them alone, Lion-O would nap all day and he and the Thundercats wouldn't even cross paths–mainly because they live on different hemispheres. What a hassle being an irrational being of pure evil must be, although Mumm-ra's an optimist: time and again his plans come to nought, and time and again he just knows that the next plot will prove to be the one that truly causes the undoing of Lion-O.
It's great fun to revisit this childhood favorite, now conveniently available on DVD (though not super easy to find locally–we finally tracked down a a box at Circuit City which, I'd like to add, is one of the worst places to spend time at in the Union Square area).