The painful experience of The Jackson 5ive

There’s no doubt the Jackson 5 were insanely popular in the ’70s and just like any popular musician during the time, they got their own cartoon. The show follows Tito, Michael, Marlon, Jermaine, and Jackie on their wacky adventures doing everyday things like saving snakes, traveling to Wonderland, and being adopted by gorillas and they still find the time to perform a song or two. In other words, it’s ridiculous. The only involvement the Jackson’s actually had were providing their pictures for the intro and some of their songs.

Out of the three episode I could tolerate the worse one had to be the pilot recounting how the Jacksons got started. It all starts with Diana Ross not being able to perform because a pink snake is in her room. It’s not doing anything, just sitting in her flowers and it apparently has the ability to resist all attempts at capture. Of course, the snake belongs to Michael. For some reason they decided to make some of his pets characters, including two mice named Ray and Charles. That’s smart writing right there. Michael saves the snake, Diana invites them to stay for her show, and they decide to randomly perform on stage. This is where we’re treated to a poorly animated video for “ABC,” a song we already heard during the intro. She likes the song, they got a record deal, the end.

Ray, Charles, and Rosie just in case you were wondering

To be fair it’s not the most terrible cartoon out there, but it is pretty bad. The animation looks like initial sketches that someone was too lazy to finish. Backgrounds look hastily drawn and a lot of the same animation is reused, especially their dancing animation. It’s pretty bad, but the 70s weren’t exactly known for their innovative animation. And for some reason all the Jackson’s look like they have overbites. Speaking of the guys, the voice actors don’t try to hide the fact they’re reading straight off a script. It’s like they’re not even trying to act. To make things even worse there’s a laugh track. A really bad, really loud laugh track that drowns out the audio and comes after every lame joke.

And speaking of the jokes, these are some of the gems found in this episode alone: “We gotta get that snake back before those cats done there do him up bad.” “This is the first time I’ve ever autographed a snake.” “Crazy doors here in Detroit!” “Can you let us out? Up here in the air conditioning. It’s kind of chilly.” “I don’t care if they’re the Beatles rolled up into five, I never wanna see them again!” “And you know something Tito, we just grewed up!”

The second episode finds the guys trying to save a forest and their message is pretty loud and clear. The same wacky adventures happen: the guys get into trouble and try to use their “wit” and crazy disguises to get them out of it. What I noticed in this episode was Michael can talk to animals. He interprets what a bear says and no one bats an eye. I know he loved animals, but maybe this was going a little far. Again, we are treated to two songs by the group. Think I’m starting to see a pattern here. Next, I watched the “Michael in Wonderland” episode because it’s the one I remember when I was a kid and man is it weird. There’s a scene were Jermaine is half man, half cat and can’t stop dancing. That’s an image I never wanted to see. If you thought the videos for the songs were weird, the ones here are down right trippy. There’s even a scene where Michael eats a cookie and goes on an acid trip that hurts your brain and your eyes.

It’s clear that the show was made to sell records. The Jacksons’ music is constantly playing. Even the background music are melodies from their other songs. A medley of their hits plays both at the start and the end of the show. It gets old really fast. Each episode follows the same pattern: the Jacksons learn about a problem, they try to solve it and get in the trouble in the process, and find time to sing two songs. And since their pictures are showed at the beginning you would think they would have some more involvement with the show. But even if they were the show probably would’ve been bad. Just look at their variety show from 1976. Same terrible jokes, questionable skits, and hammy performances. If you really want to check out this travesty of a show, you can watch the entire first season on Amazon Prime. It’s good for some laughs, but you’ll find it difficult to make it past the first few episodes. I sure did.


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