In the early-to-mid 1980s a lot of action/adventure animated children’s series are airing. Thundarr the Barbarian, Dungeons and Dragons, He-man and the Masters of the Universe and, of course, Transformers are racking up high ratings and making a lot of money for toy companies, studios, producers, writers, directors and voiceover artists.
Viewers, especially boys, love the action/adventure series, despite parents’, educators’ and child psychologists’ sometimes raised eyebrows. Producers try to assuage critics’ concerns by saying heavy action/adventure series are targeted at an older demographic. But that doesn’t stop younger viewers from watching them.
DIC Entertainment will have a few action/adventure series, such as Jayce and the Wheeled Warriors. But for the most part, our series are softer, like The Littles, Care Bears, Inspector Gadget and Heathcliff and The Catillac Cats.
Action/adventure aside, Heathcliff and the Catillac Cats has another different element – one most critics don’t pick up on. This is one of the first children’s animated series to feature a true romance angle. Heathcliff has Sonja, and Riff Raff has Cleo, although tomcat Riff Raff frequently pursues other female felines in the neighborhood.
Romance and boyfriend/girlfriend relationships is something new for children’s series. As I read more and more story springboards, treatments and scripts being submitted and as I continue to view earlier episodes, I come to understand that the romance element is an integral part of Heathcliff and The Catillac Cats. I like that.
I recall Frenchman Jean Chalopin has his fingerprints all over the series, and we all know French isn’t called a “Romance” language for nothing. Ah, the French…