Earlier this week, one of my favorite nostalgia blogs - Children of the 90s - had a post about memorable PSAs which reminded me of one of my all-time favorite Don't Do Drugs specials "Cartoon All-Stars to the Rescue." As Children of the 90s lists, there were many memorable PSA in the 80s and 90s (the whole "This is your brain on drugs" campaign being one of the top!), but this one was definitely the most memorable for me!
Sponsered by McDonalds, the half hour special "Cartoon All-Stars to the Rescue" premiered 20 years ago one Saturday morning in April 1990 at the same time on ABC, NBC and CBS and featured many of the beloved cartoon characters we watched every Saturday morning.
We saw Papa Smurf, Hefty Smurf and Brainy Smurf, Alvin and the Chipmunks, Slimer from Ghostbusters, Winnie the Pooh and Tigger, Alf, Huey, Dewey and Louie, Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck and Wile E. Coyote, Garfield, Michaelangelo from the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and Muppt Babies Kermit, Piggy and Gonzo.
Talk about your wide range of cartoon characters!
And it was all made possible due to the license holders giving the producers royalty-free access because of this being a special PSA.
This was also the first work where Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck were not voiced by the legendary voice actor Mel Blanc, as he had passed way shortly before production on this special began.
The premise was quite simple - older brother Michael steals little sis Cory's piggy bank and Cory's favorite animated characters come to life to find it, however they learn that Michael is doing drugs and that's why he stole Cory's piggy bank. They then decide to stage an intervention and take Michael on a crazy trip to show him that drugs are bad. In the meantime, "Smoke" (Michael's drug cloud "friend") starts tempting Cory to use drugs, pointing out that her big brother does it. Will the Cartoon All-Stars be able to help Michael realize the error of his ways and help save Cory before it's too late for her?
I remember watching and thinking "this must be something major and serious if they're going to make a cartoon about it for us kids and air it on all the Saturday morning cartoon networks at the same time!"
I have to admit, while the plot is pretty cheesy, I enjoyed watching this one, as they replayed it every few years and it was eventually released on VHS.
Here's the full video of the special - feel free to take a trip down memory lane!