Let's start on some of the earliest stories - and though I could include things like Samurai Pizza Cats, Rupert the Bear, Care Bears, Rainbow Brite and My Little Pony (the original) in this category I decided to just choose three that I hold dear to my heart. I had to cut down a lot - and believe it or not, my parents actually didn't let us watch much television, it wasn't really a big deal in our household - I never recall much of a fuss being made over it, though each of us siblings can recall the big box television on wheels with "In Technicolour" on the side and buttons we had to press to change channels. I think to me the television was simply another means of seeing and hearing stories, and I loved that. I still love that.
I loved getting home from school and being allowed my allotted time to watch my several shows before doing homework. It was a real treat for surviving the school day. I still treat watching shows the same these days, a treat for surviving a long day. ^_^;
The first story we shall address is The Dreamstone, a cartoon released in 1990 (which I believe is a year after I was born). I think what drew me to it as a child was the simplicity of the story and worldbuilding - "good vs. evil" - a theme that much of the media I consumed back then heavily drew on.
In the case of The Dreamstone the "Good" was manifested in the form of The Dream Maker, and "Evil" was personified by Zordrak, Lord of Nightmares.
I recall my mother not liking me watching this show - as it always started within the land of nightmares "Viltheed" where Zordrak had banished himself after being cast out by the council of dream makers for corrupting dreams. He hadn't always looked like the nasty, terrifying villain he now appeared as, either - he had made himself appear thus after his banishment. There was always some scheme going on to capture the Dream Stone within the Land of Dreams (or Sleep?) so that Zordrak could use it to bring nightmares to all those who slept.
However in contrast, the Land of Dreams was beautiful, bright, and full of festivity and light. I recall it being so very, very green and full of much life. If there was ever a place to visit, it was the land of dreams, and such adventures the Dream Maker's young apprentice had with his friends.
Rufus, a Noop who had a daydreaming problem and therefore, could not hold down a job (honestly, what a relatable guy) - and his best friend Amberley (think Hermione Granger, she's basically just Hermione Granger.) Many stories focused around Rufus and Amberley and how they foiled the evil plots to steal the Dream Stone, or went on quests given by The Dream Maker.
However, my favourite characters were not always featured in the show - they were the Wuts.
The Wuts were marvellous. They lived in the forests around the Land of Dreams and protected the land from the forces of Zordrak. Pildit was their leader, and I still recall loving him as a character. He was kingly, with all the weight of a leader, kind but serious in his approach to problems. I liked to imagine that the Wuts were long living, like trees - and Pildit had known the Dream Maker when he had been young, and now the Dream Maker was old, and Pildit was still young. Oh, I should mention my favourite thing about the Wuts. They flew on leaves. Yeah. Leaf flying - the best thing ever. I wanted to fly on leaves so much.
The later seasons sort of went downhill when they stopped focusing on Zordrak as a villain, and instead leaned on the comical relief of the idiotic minion of Zordrak, and I grew extremely frustrated with just how stupid they were. A masterful villain as brilliant as Zordrak, as terrifying as Zordrak - who could make the very planet itself awaken to fight him - would not have had such pathetic minions. I could understand that, perhaps the show was trying to teach, or portray that in the end the underhandedness and cowardly behaviour of the Urpney (Zordrak's minions) would always lead to defeat, but I never found it amusing or inventive.
But it was a children's show - and as my Mother's distaste for the dark imagery showed - they couldn't really have done much more with Zordrak's minions without crossing a line into the dangerous territory of showing actual violence (aside from slapstick humour) and that wasn't what the show was about. It was very much a story about contrasts, and how dreams are stories being woven while we sleep - and sometimes - just sometimes - they become nightmares, but because they are stories, we can rewrite the ending.