We have this channel here you can only get on digitall cable called Retro TV. It's definitely no Centric but not that bad since you don't have to get the extra expanded package to get it. On Saturday mornings they bless us with some throwback cartoons like this one, Thundarr the Barbarian, He-Man and the likes. I could have probably made this article about their entire schedule, but it was Fat Albert in particular that had been on my mind.
It came on the other day and I tried to get G to watch it. He just won't get into it. It doesn't entertain him for some reason. It can't be the shoddy animation because if you ever watch some of the cartoons they have these days, it's not like they put a lot of effort into their work. Maybe it was just because it was so dated that he couldn't really appreciate it? I don't know what it is but it just couldn't connect with him.
Me on the other hand? Well my generation grew up on some Fat Albert. We knew Fat Albert before we even knew that it had come about from a bit in comedian Bill Cosby's act. We knew Cosby as the only live action guy on the animated show as opposed to the cat who helped to further break down racial barriers by being a part of the "I Spy" drama/action series. Cosby was the one who helped decipher the storyline of each episode just in case we weren't smart enough to get the message ourselves.
It was the message in each show that was really the best part of that cartoon. Cosby was out for more than just getting some laughs. He wasn't trying to get a cartoon out there that could lure us kids in so we would want to get merchandise associated with the show. He was out to make sure that kids were able to get a little education while getting entertained at the same time.
It wasn't like Bill was going for little easy messages either. Sure, there were the shows where you are reminded about the right and wrong between things like stealing. However, he would get deep with no problem also. I caught an episode the other day where he was talking about child abuse. Another before that was how kids deal with divorce. Honestly, I don't remember the topics being that heavy when I was a shortie. It's not like these are new shows though so maybe I just wasn't paying closer attention back then.
When you think about it, cartoons of that era were good at giving us kids not so subtle positive messages. "Superfriends" was the same way. "Scooby-Doo" too if you think about it. As if that wasn't enough we also had "Schoolhouse Rock" coming on as interludes between our favorite cartoon shows that were just as good as doing that. It's a lost art that you would be hard pressed to find in the cartoons of today.
But don't get it twisted, you should know the real reason why I liked Fat Albert as a shortie. There were a handful of cartoons around that had maybe a Black character or two. Even the Superfriends had a Black superhero as part of the Justice League. But there wasn't a single animated show that featured an all-Black cast. I was diggin' that. To this day, I can't think of another cartoon that was able to pull off that same thing on a major network. So yeah...thanks to that and "The Cosby Show" and "A Different World" Bill Cosby can pretty much say whatever he wants and I'm good with it