It’s been a long time since I’ve put fingers to keyboard for one of these so I wanted to make it a good one.
Folks, when I was a kid, Cartoon All-Stars To The Rescue was a fucking happening! We were still heavy into the “Just Say No To Drugs” era in the States which literally meant nothing to me since my 8 year-old ass had absolute zero access to drugs to even consider saying no to, but it did mean we got some terrific animated specials concerning the dangers of recreational drug use.
This originally aired in the US on April 21, 1990 and was simulcast across all four major networks in the Saturday morning cartoon blocks. I can remember being in the 3rd grade and having this be part of the announcements because it was THAT fucking major. Not because any of us really cared about saying “no” to drugs at the time, but because it sounded like the most bad-ass team up of cartoon characters that would ever exist.
I don’t really remember the specifics of it outside of a bunch of characters helping a kid get her brother off the pot or something, but I do remember being disappointed that the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles were such a tiny part of it. The Turtles were over as fuck at the time and I wanted them to be major players.
Since I’ll be typing as I watch this, maybe you’d like to do the same. It’s on YouTube and I’ve already taken the guess-work out of it for you, so here’s your handy-dandy link if you’d like to watch along:
I could have sworn this was some major two-hour production, but alas, just a basic half-hour. I don’t know what the hell I was remembering, but man, I can’t wait to be reminded. I also recall this being awesome for a trip to Blockbuster Video (RIP) because it was considered a free rental! Many was the time my mom was forced to listen along to this as my brother and I selected it from the video store as a favor to her wallet! The only thing we may have rented more frequently back in the day would have been The Jetsons Meet The Flintstones which was and is something that fucking blows my mind to this day. That’s some real big boy shit right there.
OK, enough blabbering! Let’s get on with saying no to drugs! Nancy Reagan FTW!
The posted video is actually a rip of the commercial VHS release. It opens with a stern talking-to from then President George Bush and First Lady Barbara. They don’t want us to do drugs. Maybe should have given that advice to their own kids first.
I don’t remember if this was included in the broadcast version, but I assume that if they were able to get them to film this, it would have had to have been included. You don’t waste that kind of star power on a VHS release.
That’s Booking 101.
We open the actual show at a house reminiscent of the Seville house from Alvin and the Chipmunks. Man, I loved that show. Is that on DVD? I’m gonna have to check if it’s on DVD. Yeah, I still buy DVDs here and there. Big whoop, wanna fight about it?
A little girl is fast asleep when an evil hand reaches through a thin space in her door frame and steals her piggy bank. A Smurfs comic book on the floor of the bedroom shows Papa Smurf awakening and immediately realize that Corey (the sleeping girl) has been robbed! Papa Smurf immediately cements himself as the greatest detective of all time because, shit, I don’t see a fucking thing in the morning until I’ve had coffee, a cigarette, a warm shower and – depending on the day – spanked it. But this dude rolls out of his mushroom hut, gives a good stretch and – YAHTZEE – notices the bank missing. He then rings the bell of Notre Dame because now all the Smurfs have to team up to wake the girl so she can be alerted of the theft.
Not gonna lie, that’s actually a pretty decent thing of them to do. I wouldn’t have said shit. Snitches get stitches, bro.
The Smurfs jump out of the comic book and the noise awakes a framed fucking photo of Alf! At this point, I’d like you all to know that I am all-fucking-in on this show.
Alf falls out of the picture frame and asks Garfield (at this point, he’s a lamp) to help find the burglar, but Garfield’s not interested in waking up until it’s time for lasagna. Alf then threatens him by saying, “Do you wanna help or do you wanna be lunch?!”
Yoooooooo! Because Alf fucking eats cats! ALL. FUCKING. IN.
At this point, The Chipmunks pop out of a record collection and they’re gonna help too. Winnie the Pooh, a doll Corey sleeps with is roused and he hits a Muppet Baby Kermit the Frog alarm clock to stir Corey. She’s wondering why in the bluest of hells she would have set the alarm for a Saturday when Slimer of The Real Ghostbusters fame, comes through a wall and eats a lamp that is designed like a fruit basket because this girl apparently needed a dozen lamps in her room. He then shines the lamp – even though it’s no longer connected to an electrical outlet – on to the empty space once occupied by the piggy bank and Corey is aghast!
Alf, Garfield and The Chipmunks are wandering the halls of this poor girl’s house when a crash is heard. It’s obviously a smashed piggy bank. Obviously. So the crew sneak into Corey’s brother Michael’s room to investigate, but hide under the bed when they hear him coming out of what looks to be a luxurious walk-in closet. Maybe it’s a bathroom. But how the fuck would this teenage kid have his own connected bathroom? Don’t get me wrong, the family doesn’t appear to be poor by any means, but even comfortably middle-class kids don’t have their own bathrooms like this. But I digress.
Yeah, it’s Michael and he’s emptying the bank and shoving quarters in his pocket, happy that there must be $20 in there. Apparently, you can get a lot of drugs for $20 in 1990. Corey comes into Michael’s room to catch him in the act! She also notices a strange box on his bed that he immediately tucks under the bed where Simon Seville then deciphers that the smell indicates that the contents of the box are marijuana! Marijuana is an illegal substance used to give artificial highs. I dunno, man. When are all the cartoons gonna bust a crime ring or something? What the hell is this supposed to be about again?
Corey and Michael have it out and he chucks up the deuces and leaves the house. All the cartoons huddle up and decide that Michael needs their help. They all jump out the fucking window in pursuit of him…all except for Pooh because he’s a lazy fuck, I guess. He just doesn’t seem interested in exercise or going outside. I mean, it does look hot out, why go outside if you don’t have to?
In what would have been the return from commercial, Michael is shown at an arcade hanging with a crew eerily reminiscent of the old Burger King Kids Club. After a little research, I found out that this cartoon special was funded by – of all fucking entities – MCDONALD’S! This had to have been done on purpose. I’m convinced. Fuck outta here with your Kid Vid, Jaws and Boomer!
OK, I’m back from that tangent now. So these kids are just smoking weed in arcade like it ain’t no thang. That’s fucking ballsy. At least go into the wooded area of your local park. You’re just asking for trouble by doing it out in the open like this. Also, in what is my new favorite thing in the history of the world, when Michael first exhales, his smoke turns into an evil smoke ghost who encourages him to do even more drugs. This shit is fucking bananas.
One of the kids says the weed is good, but he’s got something even better. Fucking crack! Just when all these kids are about to jump on board with the crack, police sirens are heard and the kids scatter. Michael is left by himself and about to shit his pants when the officer walking up on him turns out to be…Bugs Bunny in a police hat.
Evil Smoke Ghost is laughing at Michael for running from a rabbit so Bugs traps him in a conveniently placed alley garbage can. Michael turns to leave while Bugs hits him with the third-degree over why he started smoking in the first place. Michael says it’s because he wanted to so Bugs pops open a time machine he stole from Wile E. Coyote.
Probably a good time to say that the theme of this is to stop you from doing drugs, but it’s becoming more about the benefits of stealing, whether it be piggy banks or time machines. I don’t think stealing should be good.
Bugs and Michael hop in the time machine, but Evil Smoke Ghost slips in before they can take off. Bugs looks for the instruction manual as we cut back to Michael’s family’s house where his dad – who looks like a dark-haired version of Duke Phillips from The Critic, but is definitely not Duke Phillips from The Critic – notices a couples of his beers missing. Mom just assumes he must have had them while watching football the night before.
And that in itself is odd because it’s really nice out and doesn’t look like football season. This special aired in April which is definitely not football season so now I’m wondering if this entire family is on drugs to think that they were watching fucking football in the spring.
Dad is all like, “whatever, I’m gonna clean the garage” while Mom brings Corey some breakfast. She asks Corey if she’s noticed anything off about Michael and Corey says no because “I ain’t no fucking snitch, ma!” I think that’s what she said. That’s what I heard.
Her Winnie the Pooh is perched on the table as she eats and he suddenly comes alive to ask Corey why she didn’t tell her mother about the bank. But Corey knows the deal and looks Pooh dead in his eye and says, “I ain’t no fucking snitch, Pooh. Snitches get stitches, bro.”
Cut back to Michael and Bugs in the time machine and we go back two years ago to where we see Michael as a star…guy throwing a frisbee in the schoolyard. He then succumbs to peer pressure and smokes pot for the first time. Bugs is being smug AF about this not being because Michael wanted to as he said. Evil Smoke Ghost, for his part, is loving the shit out of this.
Bugs then cuts an inspirational speech that will in no way be confused with Paul Heyman before ECW Barely Legal in 1997, but it does seem that he put a morsel of doubt in Michael’s head.
Back at the house, Corey has a momentary lapse in judgment where she’s gonna snitch, but thinks better of it because snitches get stitches, bro. So we rejoin Michael and the Burger King Kids Club who are now in the park and not in Bugs’ stolen time machine despite no explanation for how he got back or found his friends. The Unnamed Girl wants Michael’s money so they can get some crack. Michael doesn’t think that’s a good idea so he turns to leave, but Evil Smoke Ghost steals his wallet and throws it to Unnamed Girl who takes off like a Hot Wheels Car on that track with the ejector start. You know what I’m talking about.
Michael sprints after her, followed by Evil Smoke Ghost, but takes a timely tumble into an uncapped manhole. ESG, who was following quickly behind, then runs smack-dab into the manhole cover and trickles into the sewer now occupied by…Michelangelo of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles! Michelangelo has absolutely nothing of value to say so he pulls the drain cap out of the sewer as if it was a bathtub and Michael and Evil Smoke Ghost go swirling down a drain and straight into a roller coaster cart being steered by Kermit and Miss Piggy in their Muppet Babies form.
They’re taking a trip through the human brain thanks to the powers of imagination. The roller coaster features a slow build representing the highs of drugs, but steep drops that are the downs. The higher the highs, the steeper the drops. Turns out, this entire ride had been taking place in Michael’s head the whole time and now he’s freaking the fuck out because he sees himself riding his skateboard and about to fall because of all this pot!
He’s back in his own mind, laying on some grass with his skateboard nowhere to be seen when Huey, Dewey and Louie of DuckTales check to see if he’s OK. The ducklings are shocked to learn that Michael’s on drugs and break out into song to teach Michael how to say no to these here drugs. Hey, fucking Tigger is here! So apparently, there’s a million wild, wonderful ways to say no.
I have no fucking clue what Michael is supposed to learn from this fucking song.
Michael shoots up from his bed. This was all apparently a nightmare. Corey comes into the room and tells Michael that Pooh Bear wants him to talk to Mom and Dad. Michael tells her to tell Pooh to mind his own fucking business. I think he’s got a point there. He then grabs Corey’s wrist and throws her into the wall like it’s Kurt Angle vs. Shane McMahon at King of the Ring 2001. Corey doesn’t sell it, though and just leaves; apparently done with her big brother. Michael is now conflicted between hurting his sister and his love for drugs. It’s a real Sophie’s choice.
Alf sees what’s going on and pulls Michael into a mirror to show him that if he keeps smoking pot, he’ll become an extra in Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” video. I dunno, man, if anything, that would encourage me to smoke MORE pot.
While Michael is in the mirror with Alf, Corey comes back in the room, after what is probably 30 seconds after being tossed into a fucking wall. Michael’s obviously not there, but Evil Smoke Ghost is and he’s gonna lure her to the dark side.
But apparently not so fast, because now Michael is in a theme park filled of horrors and buzzsaws as Evil Smoke Ghost does a creepy voiceover to keep him from turning his back on his love of drugs. This is a lot of commitment to keep one fucking kid from giving up pot, not for nothing. Michael wanders into a fortune-teller spot at the park where Daffy Duck will read him his future out of a bowling ball, but we cut back to Corey and Evil Smoke Ghost where she’s thinking that she should probably start smoking pot if she ever wants to be friends with her brother again. Well, duh, kid.
Daffy finally replaces the bowling ball with a crystal ball which shows Michael in what appears to be a rehab clinic going through withdrawals of heroin. This shit has escalated quickly. But that was enough for Michael to come sprinting out of his closet…or personal bathroom (I still can’t get over the possibility of a teenager having a personal bathroom like this) to find Corey about to dive into some delicious weed.
Michael knocks the shit out of her hands and says, “Don’t do drugs, Joey. Mr. T wouldn’t do no drugs!” and realizes he needs to get rid of Evil Smoke Ghost before he can ever truly take his life back from the perils of…marijuana.
He grabs ESG by the tail, waves him around like a lasso and sends him flying out the window and into a waiting garbage truck driving down the street. He then hugs Corey and decides to go talk to his parents about his addiction…to marijuana (which is not addictive). Fin.
Whatever I remember watching as a kid, this was not even close to it. Did anybody really stay away from drugs because of this shit? I mean, real talk, you would have needed to be ON drugs to even write this.
Even as a one-time team-up of all these characters, the results are incredibly disappointing as it’s more of a cameo thing than any sort of actual team.
So what did we learn? I have no idea. Don’t throw your sister into a wall? Don’t trust a mystical smoke ghost to give you good advice? I dunno, man. Like I said, 8 year-old me was fired up to see this because of the team-up aspect and that sucked so this whole thing is a fail.
And, most importantly looking back, the representation of what smoking pot does to you is so completely and utterly ridiculous. It amazing how the generation that this cartoon special was made for is now actively working to legalize weed all through the United States. Because, as we all know, there ain’t no party without drugs!
Thanks for reading if you stuck through it the entire way. I’ll trying getting back in the saddle of doing these things again. In the meantime, make sure you listen to the podcast every week and stick with all the social media as well.