The 1980s cartoon Mr. T, which ran for three seasons and 30 episodes from 1983 to 1985, featured an animated depiction of a real-life person named Mr. T. The show’s storyline is really straightforward.
There is a gang of young people who practise gymnastics and double as amateur investigators. The show is so fantastic because it is based on the well-known actor Mr. T, has live-action parts at the start and end of each episode, and has a varied cast that makes it easier for youngsters to relate to the characters.
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What The Cartoon Television Series Is All About
The 1980s saw a lot of cartoons featuring famous people, but none can compare to how well-known Mr. T was at the time. The recognised celebrity is the head coach of a team of young gymnasts that go about in a bus and solve mysteries, typically with a non-paranormal bent, on the show. The programme is similar to a multicultural, secular Scooby-Doo. The large cast also features Bulldozer, a dog with a mohawk, and Ms. Priscilla Bisbee, the bus driver and a Southern belle with the catchphrase “my stars and garters!”
In addition to the primary characters Woody, Kim, Robin, and Jeff, other notable members include Bulldozer. Takayo Fischer provided her with a voice. Mr. T is the guardian of Spike, Robin’s younger brother. Spike wears a denim waistcoat and gold chains to look like his hero and delivers all of his lines in a voice so abrasive that the voice actor must have been selling blood in between takes.
They travel all over the states and sometimes the world for gymnastics competitions, and end up inevitably solving some sort of crime or mystery. To convey the weekly educational lesson, Mister T voiced his own character and also made live-action appearances at the opening and finish of each episode. Ruby-Spears Productions handled the animation, and the show had three seasons of 30 episodes. Steve Gerber and Martin Pasko, both of whom functioned as regular writers at Ruby-Spears, created it.
Initially, they had put forth three different script ideas. However, the show that they ultimately made was very different from the ones they proposed. Other authors included Buzz Dixon, Paul Dini, Matt Ultz, and Flint Dille. Phil LaMarr had his first voice acting job on the show as Woody Daniels, who joins the gymnastics team. He later became a great voice actor and dubbed for The Green Lantern, Samurai Jack and many others.
Reruns were then broadcast on USA Cartoon Express during the late 1980s and early 1990s. More recently, it has been shown as a component of Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim late-night programming block and sister network, Boomerang, which broadcasts vintage animated films from the Hanna-Barbera, pre-1991 Ruby-Spears, Turner, and classic Warner libraries.
Main Characters of the cartoon series
Mr. T, who is voiced by himself, is the main lead of the series and the coach of the gymnastics team. He also appears to be a licensed bus driver, because he takes the helm of the team’s bus when Ms. Bisbee is either not available or has reached her limit of driving time. But knowing Mr. T, he probably does have a license because he doesn’t do illegal things (like drugs, don’t do drugs, or else). If you get that reference, then kudos to you; you’re clearly a cultured person.
The team’s actual bus driver, Ms. Priscilla Bisbee, is voiced by Takayo Fischer. Her catchphrase, “My stars and garters!” is pronounced in her usual Southern voice. She is a mother figure to the children and a fan of mystery books. She is also extremely adept at helicopter and boat navigating. You wouldn’t think a bus driver would need these skills, but they are clearly a requirement when you solve mysteries on the down low.
Now the team members. Jeff Harris, who is voiced by Shawn Lieber, is the team’s wisecracking, egotistical leader. A friendly rival of Jeff’s is our African-American friend and gymnast, Woody Daniels. Woody is voiced by Phil Marr, as we have already mentioned. He intends to be a lawyer after gymnastics.
Amy Linker provides the voice of Robin O’Neill. She is a stunning redhead with freckles and green eyes who is willing to get involved in any mystery they have at hand. She serves as Mr. T’s deputy as well. Her chosen catchphrase is “What the hairy Hell?” Then we have Kim Nakamura in Siu Ming Carson’s voice in the role of a young Japanese American woman. She is, a little stereotypically, the daughter of a computer scientist.
She has a photographic memory because of which she can recall certain magazine articles and book passages, as well as the issue of volume and even the page numbers she read the words on. Spike O’Neill, who is Robin’s younger brother, idolizes Mr. T and occasionally even talks like him. He also wears clothes like him. He is voiced by Teddy Field III. It is revealed in “Secret of the Spectral Sister” that Spike is only a pet name. However, he never reveals his first name.
The other characters are Skye Redfern, a Native American gymnast whose grandpa was charged with a crime. She is voiced by Cathy Cavadini. Garcia Lopez is another gymnast on the team from Latin America. Vince D’Amato is an Italian American who aspires to be a famous actor.
Courtney Howard is another African-American gymnast whose father is a major in the military. There’s Grant Kline, a former gang member who is also part of the show. Jeff’s help changed his way of life. It is quite an inspirational story. Obviously, saving the best for the last, we have Bulldozer, Mr. T’s bulldog. He has a mohawk haircut like his master, and he goes by the name Dozer as well. He can be seen frequently traveling with Spike.
Laurence Tureaud (who later renamed himself Mr. T) was the inspiration behind the tv series. He was the youngest son of a family of twelve children. He was born in Chicago, Illinois. Tureaud grew up in a three-room flat in the Robert Taylor Homes among his seven brothers and four sisters. Nathaniel Tureaud, his father, was a clergyman. He changed his name to Lawrence Tero after his father walked out when he was five years old. He formally changed his last name to T in 1970. Mr. T. was inspired by his early perceptions of the disrespect shown to his family by white people and said this about changing his name:
“I think about my father being called ‘boy,’ my uncle being called ‘boy,’ my brother, coming back from Vietnam and being called ‘boy.’ So I questioned myself: “What does a black man have to do before he’s given respect as a man?” So when I was 18 years old, when I was old enough to fight and die for my country, old enough to drink, old enough to vote, I said I was old enough to be called a man. I self-ordained myself, Mr. T, so the first word out of everybody’s mouth is “Mr.”
It’s difficult to describe exactly how famous Mr. T was and how rapid his rise to fame was. His breakthrough performance as Clubber Lang in Rocky II premiered in theaters in May 1982, and The A-Team, which debuted in January 1983, became an instant smash.
In September of the same year, Mister T, a cartoon with an oddly formal title, debuted in the venerable Saturday morning cartoon time slot. T’s most fruitful years of popularity would last until 1986. During that time, he would participate in the film D.C. Cab, the first two Wrestlemanias, a best-selling motivational video and Nancy Reagan’s Just Say No campaign, among other things.
Mr. T’s anti-drug PSA was the thirty-second distillation of his character; tough, brash, but good-hearted; a cartoon, even before it was inked onto an animation cell. He is seen ranting about drugs at a dinner, becoming so enraged that he smashes his milkshake glass, eventually bundling the camera to the floor in fury, but ends with a smile. What a fantastic character to pique children’s wandering interest! Mister T is the program from whence many “actual celebrities teaching animated principles” cartoons emerged, from the sincere (Chuck Norris’ Karate Kommandos) to the parodic (Mike Tyson Mysteries).
Mr. T initially sported the odd hairdo for which he is now famous as a Mandinka warrior, while reading the National Geographic. He made the decision that adopting the look would make a strong statement about his African heritage. He also wears heavy gold chains to represent the oppression faced by his people. He also wears wings that he was given by patrons or were lost by people during his days as a bouncer, like a walking, talking lost-and-found. He used to be in the army as well before becoming a bouncer. He had been a bodyguard to the stars as well.
Sylvester Stallone noticed Mr. T in 1980 while he was competing in NBC’s “America’s Toughest Bouncer”, a part of NBC’s Games People Play series. Mr. T was subsequently cast as Clubber Lang, the main adversary in Rocky III. Initially, his part was only supposed to be a few lines. When asked if he dislikes Rocky, Lang responds, “No, I don’t hate Balboa, but I pity the fool”, which has become kind of iconic.
Before taking part in the television series The A-Team, he later made appearances in the boxing film Penitentiary 2 and a Canadian sketch comedy episode of Bizarre, where he fought and devoured Super Dave Osborne. Additionally, he made an appearance in the episode of Silver Spoons, playing Ricky Stratton’s bodyguard once more (played by Ricky Schroder). When asked about his name, he describes it as “First name: Mister; middle name: period; last name T” throughout the episode. In one scene, Mr. T throws his body in front of the flying papers as Ricky’s class breaks out into a paper-ball throwing battle.
In 1982’s Rocky III, Mr. T made his film debut as a fictitious boxer. Still, by 1985, the actor had switched to professional wrestling. He had a memorable appearance in the first WrestleMania match, teaming up with Hulk Hogan to face “Rowdy” Roddy Piper and Mr. Wonderful. He also battled cancer in the 1990s and beat it. He even had his own cereal and comic book in his name.
The first episode of the series has a sweet message of how one should not be mean to new kids because you might just be missing out. It follows the entry of Woody to the team, but he is not welcomed by his teammates at all. As the story progresses, Spike gets kidnapped. In the mystery of the medallions and the kidnapping, Woody’s help is what ultimately helps the group find Spike.
They also end up stopping a robbery of game programs while performing gymnastics tricks. The second episode, the mystery of the forbidden monastery, has a considerably larger amount of adventure and action. The team is traveling to New Mexico for a competition, except that there is no competition. Skye, a Native American girl on the team, had sent a fake invite for a gymnastics meet.
Why? Well, her cousin who lived there wrote to her about how fake monks were taking over the town, stealing goods, and shipping them to be sold all over America. The people were too scared to go to the authorities, so Skye tricked the team into coming and rescuing everyone in the village.
Somehow, this episode also has a lot of kidnappings. Jeff, Robin, Skye, and Kim get kidnapped by the fake monks while they are trying to find clues. Woody nearly escapes falling down a cliff in the process of rescuing them, but Mr. T is able to rescue everyone. The entire episode ends with Mr. T telling us to think twice before doing anything wrong, even if it is for the right reasons.
The third episode follows the mystery of a mind thief who keeps stealing people’s thoughts. The mind thief keeps Kim’s father hostage when he is supposed to be at her gymnastics meet. Due to the kidnapping, he can’t make it to the competition, which upsets Kim, because she doesn’t know about her father’s predicament. As the story progresses, Mr. T is also under the control of the mind thief.
However, he snaps out of it when the device tries to make him hurt his friends. He would never hurt them. The team then goes through some trials, tribulations, and lots of action scenes to get to Mr. Nakamura, who was being put inside a space shuttle by the mind thief.
Mr. T crashes the bus into one of the stands of the space shuttle, stopping it from launching. Turns out that Mr. Nakamura was being targeted by Dr. Yorbee, who was making her voice sound like a man and wiping people’s memories. The episode ends with the message that one should care about others’ feelings because sometimes the ones who hurt us are also hurting.
Mr. T Comics
1993 saw the publication of Mr. T and the T-Force by NOW Comics. Pete Stone wrote it, Neal Adams did the illustrations, and other creative teams continued the project after their run. Before ending, when NOW Comics went out of business, the series reportedly ran for 14 issues straight excepting a 1994 annual, and several printings of #1. Mr. T’s trading cards were included in most of the issues of Mr. T and the T-Force. There was another comic series called Mr. T in 2005, which garnered a lot of attention. It was from APC Comics, a British publisher. However, they went out of business, so only three copies were released.
Mr T appeared in the A-Team comic adaptation as B.A Baracus. The plot of the show follows the former members of a fictitious United States Army Special Forces. The team’s four members were put on trial in a court martial for a crime they didn’t commit.
They were found guilty and given jail terms in a military facility, but they eventually made their way to Los Angeles, where they started working as soldiers of fortune in an effort to clean their reputations and evade law enforcement and military officials. Frank Lupo and Stephen J. Cannell came up with the idea for the series. This formed the premise of the A-Team Comics.
A-Team was published by Marvel Comics ran for three issues between 1983 and 1984. Describing this as a 3-issue “mini-series” is probably true given the enormous popularity of both the comic books and The A-Team program at that time. The first two issues of the Marvel Comics series were sold separately before being published in “packs” of three. Each pack had a sealed, clear bag with an image of Spider-Man and the Marvel emblem on it. The A-Team Storybook, a trade paperback published by Marvel, included the whole series.
The A-Team Summer Special #1 and #2, a yearly hardback book, and other Marvel US comics which were also reprinted by Marvel UK in a variety of formats (1986). Several years after The A-Team TV series was canceled, the final Marvel UK hardcover A-Team annual was published in 1991, demonstrating its enduring appeal in the U.K. in spite of this.
Mr. T was a great educational and moral show for kids of all ages to watch from the 80s. It had immense popularity, charm, and action. The show edges the line of too much action for kids all the time but in a good and entertaining way. It is a great show to watch with kids or just alone if you’re feeling nostalgic. Let us know what you thought of Mr. T and this amazing show in the comments below!