A whole week has gone by, and it’s time to look back at the great science fiction of the past for Throwback Thursday. Today’s choice? Well, it’s only science fiction in the sense that it takes place in space, but it’s my childhood favorite, ‘Space Ghost: Coast to Coast.’
Well, my favorite show in high school that wasn’t ‘Sailor Moon‘… or really, favorite show that made everyone think I was high.
Some of you older folks may recognize the name Space Ghost from the old Hanna-Barbera run in the 1960s, but I rather doubt it. The only reason ‘Space Ghost: Coast to Coast’ exists today (or so the legend goes) is because Hanna-Barbera gave permission to Cartoon Network to any character of theirs, as long as he or she was forgettable. Since that meant Scooby-Doo and Fred Flintstone were out, that forgettable character they chose was Space Ghost.
Originally a show about a sort of intergalactic policeman who defeated evil villains with the help of his monkey and two twin teenagers, ‘Space Ghost’ only ran from 1966-1968, with a small revival in the 1980s. It wasn’t until 1994 that he was resurrected as Cartoon Network’s first attempt at original content, and became the surreal and absurdist talk show host that we all know now.
So ignore what I just said about Space Ghost being a super hero. That’s not important anymore (though, DC did make a comic based on him in 2005). What’s important is that Space Ghost, for no reason at all, hosts a talk show, and all of his arch nemeses have to work for him. Zorak, a giant praying mantis, becomes the band leader, and Moltar, originally a heat-based villain, turns into Space Ghost’s producer. Brak, formerly a catlike space-pirate… well, he becomes… it’s hard to say, but he’s definitely there… and probably the most surreal of all the characters (he once spent five minutes asking Space Ghost “You know what?” and wrote a song about mashed potatoes).
The show centers around re-edited interviews with celebrities filled with awkward pauses and non-sequitars, while Space Ghost wanders on and off stage to do various things. In short, it is bizarre, but probably one of the happiest shows of my childhood. Even better, because of Space Ghost’s success as an weird cartoon for adults, we have things like Adult Swim, which means we get amazing shows like ‘Harvey Birdman, Attorney at Law’, and ‘The Venture Bros.’ It also paved the way for original content like ‘Johnny Bravo’ and ‘Dexter’s Laboratory.’
So, all hail ‘Space Ghost,’ not only for being the weirdest and funniest show of the mid-90s, but also for making Cartoon Network what it is today.