If you're one of those people that grew up during the 80's, watching cartoons was likely one of your favorite past times. Remember waking up early on those cold Saturday mornings to watch cartoons, and eating an entire box of cereal all in one day? I imagine that was probably one of the biggest highlights of your week back then. I know it was for me.
Starting way back as a child, I've always been a huge sports fan. Basically, every young person that grew up in the neighborhood I stayed in played outside, but daily sporting events among the kids ruled a good portion of our time outdoors. We enjoyed playing basketball, baseball, football, soccer, and when we weren't playing sports outdoors, we spent a lot of time watching sports on television.
With all that said, probably It's no surprise that when the 1991 cartoon 'ProStars' made it's debut on NBC, it instantly became one of my favorites to watch on Saturdays. Just grasping my mind around the fact that my then favorite athlete at that time, along with two other popular athletes on the same cartoon just lit up my Saturday mornings even more. Although ProStars featured then popular athletes Michael Jordan, Bo Jackson, and Wayne Gretzky, it was a fairly short lived cartoon that many may have forgotten about. Lets see if we can bring some of that 90's magic from ProStars back again. As the the ProStars would say; "IT'S GAMETIME!"
What do you get when you take three of the top athletes in the world from their respective sports, who also fight crime, help kids, and protect the environment? You get the cartoon 'ProStars'. ProStars was a Saturday morning cartoon that was shown on NBC. It was centered around real-life professional athletes Michael Jordan, Wayne Gretzky, and Bo Jackson.
Throughout the 1980s and early 90's, Michael Jordan, Wayne Gretzky and Bo Jackson were all household names around sporting circles. Due to their immense talents and popularity, these three athletes were chosen to represent the four major American sports football, baseball, hockey, and basketball on ProStars. Bo Jackson was chosen primarily because he at one point played both professional football and baseball.
During Prostars run on television, the three hero athletes were headquartered at 'Moms Gym', which was run by the character Mom. The ProStars would receive teleconference messages from various kids around the world, who would explains various situations they were in. The three sporting heroes would then go to wherever the kid was located, and use their gadgets and abilities to stop whatever villains attempting to oppose them. There was often a moral lesson to be taken from each episode.
L-R: Bo Jackson, Wayne Gretzky, Michael Jordan
During episodes of 'ProStars', Michael Jordan, Wayne Gretzky, and Bo Jackson all used gadgets that coincided with their respective sports to assist them in situations. Each character also possessed individual traits that they brought to the team. Here is a closer look at the characters on ProStars.
- Michael Jordan - Much like the real-life Michael Jordan was the leader of the Chicago Bulls, Michael Jordan was the leader of the ProStars team as well. Also, this cartoon version of Jordan could jump extremely high like his real-life counterpart. He was viewed as being exceptionally smart on the show, and encouraged kids to study math and science. He was also the most talented with handling complicated gadgets and contraptions on the show.
- Wayne Gretzky - Gretzky's character on ProStars provided much of the comic relief among the three stars. He frequently talked about and obsessed over snack food. Many of the gadgets that Gretzky used related to hockey, which is the sport that Gretzky excelled at.
- Bo Jackson - Bo Jackson's character was seen as the 'muscle' on the show. Jackson's character was incredibly strong, and carried somewhat of a mean streak. One of Jackson's characteristics on the cartoon that related to the real-life Bo Jackson was the 'Bo Knows' campaign that was run by Nike. The cartoon version of Jackson often talked about how much he knows, similar to the real Bo Jackson.
- Mom - Mom's character owned Moms Gym, which was the headquarters of the ProStars. She displayed a unique accent, and was seen as somewhat of a mother figure to the heroes. Mom often invented quirky gadgets for our heroes to use. The gadgets she created were sports related equipment for the ProStars to use on their daring missions.
- Denise - Denise was an understudy of Mom. She often wanted to help out the ProStars, but didn't have much of an impact in helping them.
- The Neighbor - The Neighbor is a man that lives in the same neighborhood as the ProStars headquarters. Through no fault of his own nor theirs, he was often the victim of the malfunctions that occurred with the equipment the ProStars used.
Now that we know more about the synopsis and characters featured in 'ProStars', lets get into some fun facts in regards to this cartoon.
- None of the three featured cartoon characters were voiced by their real-life counterparts. Michael Jordan was voiced by actor Dorian Harewood, while Wayne Gretzky's voice actor was Townsend Coleman. Bo Jackson was voiced by Dave Fennoy.
- ProStars was initially intended to be to aired on ESPN.
- At the beginning and ending of episodes, the actual real-life ProStar athletes appeared in live-action sequences. They would answer questions from kids, and inform viewers about upcoming episodes. Normally, this was done solely by Wayne Gretzky and Bo Jackson. The two were on different sets, but the footage was edited to make it appear as if they were talking to one another.
- Gretzky, Jackson, and Jordan wore black and white jackets with the their names and the 'ProStars' logo during the live-action sequences.
- During the 1980s, there was a breakfast cereal by the name of ProStars. One of the athletes to endorse the cereal was Wayne Gretzky, who was also featured on the ProStars cartoon.
- Sports announcer Marv Albert appeared as a voice actor in episode 9 of ProStars.
- NBA announcer and former NBA head coach Mike Fratello done voice work on ProStars.
- Voice actor Charlie Adler, who is known for voicing Starscream in the Transformer live-action films voiced Froggy in episode 8 of ProStars.
Although 'ProStars' was fairly popular among kids, the cartoon would only last for one season. The show ran from September 14, 1991-December 7, 1991. However, reruns would be shown for several years following the cartoon's cancellation. ProStars, despite it's following among kids at the time, the show was and is still often met by criticism.
For example, many people have criticized the portrayal of the athletes on the cartoon as being highly inaccurate. The real-life Wayne Gretzky isn't known for being much of a comedian like he was portrayed on the show. Also, many people viewed the basis of the cartoon as being too moral and unrealistic. Maybe I can't argue with that point too much.
Despite the criticism of ProStars, I think it was one of the most fun cartoons from my childhood. It wasn't fun because it was extremely cheesy, nor because of how unrealistic it was. It was fun because we got to see some of our favorite athletes portrayed in a different way beyond how we normally viewed them. Looking back at this show now as an adult, I can definitely point out some flaws. However, I saw it as an interesting show back then, and I still think of it that way now.
Bradrick H. (author) from Texas on January 19, 2018:
@Jan Michael Ong, LOL! You are likely right about that. However, being that Jordan was likely the most popular athlete in the world at that particular time, it is somewhat understandable if he wasn't able to participate like Jackson and Gretzky.
Jan Michael Ong from Metro Manila, Philippines on October 28, 2017:
Bradick that's a nice way of saying the studio can't afford him lol. I wish Jordan would just appear just even on the pilot.
Bradrick H. (author) from Texas on October 26, 2017:
@Jan Michael Ong, Yea it was a fun one for sure. Very memorable. Yea it was unfortunate Jordan never appeared, but somewhat understandable since he was such a huge star back then. Thanks for viewing sir.
Jan Michael Ong from Metro Manila, Philippines on October 19, 2017:
Loved this cartoon. I was disappointed Michael Jordan never appeared on the live action skits.
Bradrick H. (author) from Texas on June 10, 2014:
@Larry Rankin, Thank you for stopping by. I think that there are certain cartoons that we'll never outgrow for as long as we live. Although ProStars didn't last long, it was one of those cartoons that remains memorable in a lot of people's minds. By the way, I agree with you about Gretzky. Bo Jackson was overdone too lol. Thanks again.
Larry Rankin from Oklahoma on June 05, 2014:
I'm a big fan of children's shows and cartoons. These blasts from the past are a lot of fun. I'm sorry, but I can't help but comment on the physique of Gretzky. He was the best hockey player ever, but his animator was very generous on the depiction of his muscle tone, lol.
Bradrick H. (author) from Texas on September 26, 2013:
@Danext, Wow, thank you so much for the awesome comment sir. It's very humbling. All the best to you.
Dan Lema from Tanzania on September 25, 2013:
Very nice article man, really touched me and reminded me of my old days when i was stuck in front of the Tv when these guys were on.....it was a a really emotional trip this article took me......since i'm a cartoon man, i will rate it 10/10.....thanks man and keep up the good work...!!
Bradrick H. (author) from Texas on September 22, 2013:
@Mel Carriere, Yes it definitely is fun to go back sometimes. Thank you very much for viewing and commenting!
Mel Carriere from Snowbound and down in Northern Colorado on September 21, 2013:
It's fun to take a trip down memory lane to when my children were small and still innocent.