Sunday, July 26, 2015

Nostalgia Theater: Pac-Man Hits Saturday Morning

The Adam Sandler starrer Pixels is currently flopping in theaters, and while the movie itself is almost entirely terrible, its video game-centric plot has ended up giving '80s icon Pac-Man his highest profile in decades. (Just to put in perspective how ubiquitous he was for a little while there, I carried a Pac-Man lunchbox with me when I started pre-school in fall of 1983.) Anyway, what better time to look at the Pac-Man animated show from the character's 1980s prime.

Produced by animation giants Hanna-Barbara and airing on ABC, Pac-Man premiered on September 25, 1982, two years after the arcade game debuted and had become a smash. I'm pretty sure we all know the mechanics of the gameplay, so I won't bother rehashing that, but trying to translate those mechanics into a weekly cartoon was no easy task, as demonstrated by the generic piece of pablum they emerged with. Observe:

As you can see from that snippet, there's Pac-Man and the ghosts, Inky, Blinky, Pinky, Clyde, and Sue. And then there's Mrs. Pac-Man. And Pac-Baby. And they all live in Pac-Land. And...oh geez, whatever. If you watched The Smurfs (also Hanna-Barbara) at the time and loved all the smurfy ways they managed to smurf up regular sentences by weaving the word "smurf" in, then you were gonna pac a big pac of pacs over the many punny ways "pac" got mixed into Pac-Man's vernacular.

Like I said above, this was a Hanna-Barbara product -- emphasis on "product" -- through and through. As the undisputed kings of assembly-line weekend kidvid in the '80s, they were so dominant that they didn't have to try very hard to get viewers, especially when dealing when a concept came pre-sold like this one. And so they really didn't. Try, that is. Amazingly enough, Pac-Man did well enough to garner a second season, which looked like this:

That's guy you saw flying around was Super-Pac, the, uh, super...pac. I don't know, this was terrible. After two seasons and forty-four episodes, the show finished its run in November of '83, but it would hardly be the last video game-to-cartoon translation. The Pac-Man cartoon, meanwhile, is available to own via Warner Bros.' manufacture-on-demand service. I'd advise steering clear, but if you still want to check it out anyway, here, go pac yourself.

One Year Ago in Nostalgia Theater: Punky Brewster -- The Hilarious Life of an Abandoned Orphan

Two Years Ago in Nostalgia Theater: Tracking Time Trax

Three Years Ago in Nostalgia Theater: It's on Fox!

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