G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero (1983) created by Ron Friedman
Produced by Sunbow Productions, Marvel Productions, and Toei Animation
Directed by John Gibbs and Terry Lennon
Script by Carla Conway and Gerry Conway
Story by Dann Thomas and Roy Thomas
First Run Syndication–November 7, 1985
- Duke, Blowtorch–Michael Bell
- Cover Girl–Liz Aubrey
- Dusty, Shipwreck-Neil Ross
- Mutt–Bill Moray
- Junkyard–vocal effects by Frank Welker
- Polly, Wild Bill-Frank Welker
- Roadblock–Kene Holiday
- Tripwire–Rob Paulsen
- Cobra Commander, Ripper–Chris Latta
- Destro–Arthur Berghardt
- Baroness–Morgan Lofting
- Major Bludd–Michael Bell
- Buzzer–Neil Ross
- Firefly–Gregg Berger
- Torch–Frank Welker
- Wild Weasel–Pat Fraley
- Zartan–Zack Hoffman
G.I. Joe must not only stop Cobra from ruling the world but also from ruining Christmas this time in a dastardly plot that jokingly references the Trojan War.
The 80s were magical time for first run syndicated animation. With the advent of He-Man, corporations realized that you could craft a half hour television show to market toys or just about anything else and they went all out. Some were better than others. Some were not worth watching at all. G.I. Joe is one of the best. They were better written with better characters. In tone they had more in common with the action adventure films of the era than anything else.
Back then television shows rarely avoided one holiday themed episode a year. Most shows either had a Thanksgiving episode or a Halloween episode or like here a Christmas themed episode. You do not get that too often anymore on television. It is real shame. Embrace the seasons and celebrate whatever holiday is going on.
Having said all that this is quite possibly the silliest episode of the entire series. It involves toys going to a children’s hospital and Cobra using shrink rays and a wooden rocking horse to sneak inside Joe headquarters. The children’s hospital alone was quite possibly one of the biggest Christmas episode clichés of the era. Make them homeless and returning to an orphanage and you would have the 80s sad Christmas trifecta.
They do not pretend to be serious in this episode. They are going all in on the silliness. It is not meant to be reflective of real-world politics where G.I. Joe at times appeared to draw its inspiration from. It was just a fun family friendly episode. G.I. Joe on a whole was meant to be family friendly but it was also written by people who were not first and foremost children’s television writers. They wrote adult television scripts and treated this series in a similar manner. This episode was a moment of them letting their hair down. And it works.
This episode has all the hallmarks that captured the imagination of kids at the time. Great action with cool vehicles that mom and dad just had to get you. A solid (though fanciful) story. Great villains. Humor. And it all came during Christmas. The animation, while cheap by current standards, was better than most of the time.
Shipwreck (voiced by Neil Ross) had a love/hate relationship with his parrot Polly (voiced by Frank Welker). For me that was a highlight of many episodes and after being especially abusive towards his pet, Shipwreck is confronted by a giant Polly at the end of the episode.
Dig deep in your 80s television collection and find this episode on whatever streaming service you can and watch it. GI Joe-Cobra Claws Are Coming to Town is a throwback to a simpler television time. It is just a fun and silly episode and I think you will have a good time.