Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Celebrity Toons: Mr. T (1983)

He was one of the hottest commodities in Hollywood in the early 80's. Mr. T went from being a modest nightclub bouncer in Chicago to pop culture icon virtually overnight. T (born Lawrence Tero) first appeared on an NBC Big Event that featured a toughest bouncer contest. From there, you know the rest. "Rocky III", followed by The A-Team, and, finally, a self-titled animated series that cast T as a coach of a traveling gymnastics team, moonlighting as amateur detectives. Not exactly Scooby-Doo crossed with The A-Team, but NBC rode the big train for 3 seasons (1983-86). Here, courtesy of YouTube & Kid 80's, is the show open:

Mr. T was one of two series Ruby-Spears sold to NBC, the other was a revival of Alvin & the Chipmunks, and wouldn't ya know, T guest-starred in the opener of that series, as well. NBC had become the #1 network on Saturdays, but needed another tent-pole, with Spider-Man & His Amazing Friends out of production and soon to depart, to complement Smurfs. As it turned out, they got 2 for a while. Mr. T also appeared in live-action form, bookending each episode by introducing each one, and offering the obligatory moral lesson. I wouldn't be at all surprised, given that T is now a Christian, to see this show land on someplace like Daystar or Trinity instead of Boomerang, which isn't willing to put this show on the air.

Was it fun? Of course. It got formulaic after a while, just like the other adventure series of the period, but T was the draw, and that at the time was all that mattered.

Rating: B.

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