A cartoon about a magical Rubik’s Cube? What could possibly go wrong? Science fiction author Theodore Sturgeon is credited with the revelation commonly referred to as Sturgeon’s Law: "Ninety percent of everything is crap."
Nowhere is this illustrated better than the Saturday morning cartoons I watched in the late 1970s and '80s. That said, I do have an odd affection for them, which, I suppose, is why I write things like this.
But I digress.
Imagine that in the 1970s, some animation studio made a cartoon about the Pet Rock. "Oh, don’t be ridiculous," you're probably thinking. "That's just patently stupid." And yet in 1983, Ruby-Spears Productions unleashed "Rubik, the Amazing Cube" on an unsuspecting public.
A mysterious horse-drawn carriage rolls down the road, a gas lamp on its rear. The carriage hits a bump, and a treasure chest falls out, crashing to the ground below. Inside is a Rubik's Cube with its colors jumbled. A group of kids finds the cube, and when one of them solves it, the cube levitates, grows a face and legs. Oh, and it shoots out a tractor beam that carts them along with it as it flies away from the man driving the carriage.
And that's in just the first few seconds of the theme song, which, by the way, was performed by Menudo.
Rubik is a magical Rubik's Cube, and pretty much every episode revolves around him using his various powers until they're actually needed, at which point Rubik gets all jumbled up, which renders him powerless. Apparently Rubik's technology is a precursor to the transporters on "Star Trek."
Rubik's kid friends have to solve him in time to fix the episode's problem, which usually involves Rubik learning something about humanity, like how important it is not to slouch or that you shouldn't talk to strangers. And when I say every episode, I mean every episode.
Sure, I'm talking smack about this now, but I have to admit that I did watch it as a kid. I wouldn't say I liked it, but it was on ABC, the same channel that played "Super Friends," and I didn’t usually change the channel until "Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends" came on NBC.
See, kids, you do pay the price for being lazy.
The funny part is that though the cartoon was essentially a half-hour-long commercial for the Rubik's Cube, it hit Saturday mornings well after every kid had a cube of his or her own, whether they wanted one or not. I had long since solved mine; it's amazing what you can do with a butter knife and a little determination.
While this ran for a whole season, only 12 episodes were made. The shows were innocuous enough, even if the premise itself was shamelessly commercial even for Saturday mornings.
I'm just disappointed there wasn’t an episode where Rubik teamed up with the Magic Snake.
In "It Seemed Like a Good Idea," writer Jeff Sparkman digs through the garbage bins of television past to examine some of the industry's most questionable decisions.