So in this installment of '80s cartoons, I'll be talking about M.A.S.K. That stands for "Mobile Armored Strike Kommand." Yeah, I know that's not how you spell "command." Yeah, that bugs me too.
This one really is more of a "forgotten" '80s cartoon, at least by me, because I honestly remember almost nothing about this show, despite the fact that I used to love it and owned at least a dozen of the toy vehicles (which I actually remember a lot better than the actual show).
Anyway, it's about a secret task force named M.A.S.K., led by billionaire philanthropist/crime fighter Matt Tracker, who owns a car that can transform into a fighter jet:
In fact, every hero and villain in M.A.S.K. has some sort of normal vehicle that turns into a more badass vehicle -- a motorcycle that turns into a helicopter, a jeep that turns into a speedboat, a helicopter that turns into a fighter jet, a truck that turns into a tank, etc. Each of the heroes and villains also has a high-tech super-powered helmet:
So far so good, right? Now we come to the characters:
Um, yeah, who are you guys? Have we met? I sort of remember that the guy on the left is irrepressibly cheerful, and the guy in the middle is pissed off all the time (though you probably would be too if you'd been assigned to wear the yellow/magenta Sgt. Pepper uniform). But names? Not a clue. And who's that guy on the right? I don't remember him at all. That's really not a good sign.
Half an hour later...
Okay, so I just went and re-watched the first episode. It basically makes no sense whatsoever, and just consists of showing off all the awesome abilities of the helmets and vehicles in a "Hey, isn't this shit cool? Don't you want to bug your parents to buy you some of this cool shit?" kind of way. I mean, it is the first episode, so I guess they have to establish what the different powers are and stuff, and maybe subsequent episodes have more of a story, but I find myself unwilling to soldier on in order to find out.
In fact, I only remember the actual plot of one M.A.S.K. episode. In it, the good guys and the bad guys are racing to uncover buried treasure, and at the end the good guys fail and the bad guys get to the treasure first, but then it turns out that the "treasure" consists entirely of worthless Confederate currency. The idea that cash could become completely worthless if the government that had issued it collapsed was a new concept to me at the time, and struck me as very cool.
Each episode also ends with a few seconds of helpful advice for kids, stuff like "Look both ways before crossing the street" and "Don't lie to your parents" and "Always wear a condom" and "In the event of a fire, don't try to save your pets, just let them burn" and "Never get involved in a land war in Asia." I guess some of that advice actually did come in handy, so I guess watching M.A.S.K. wasn't a total waste of time. Thanks, M.A.S.K.!