Stanley Kirk Burrell better known by his stage name MC Hammer was an icon during the late 80s and early 90s. As a result in 1992, he wound up starring in his own Saturday morning Cartoon simply titled Hammerman. The show only ran for 13 episodes and sadly that length is in no way unjustified. The cartoon had many problems in both style and substance.
The premise of the show involved Gramps who was the hero Soul Man. Eventually Gramps got old and decided to retire. Gramps and his granddaughter Jodie tried to find a successor. The two found Stanley and he quite literally filled Gramps’ shoes. Upon wearing Gramps’ magical talking shoes Stanley transforms into the hero known as Hammerman. In each episode Hammerman often faced a variety of social issues with the help of the magical talking shoes.
The problems are made apparent right from the theme song. Most cartoon theme songs are important in establishing the show’s animation style and premise. The intro here however seems more focused on showing Hammer himself rather than the animation. The intro itself is very drawn out feeling the need to describe every last detail. The lyrics neither rhyme nor sync up that much. But to MC Hammer’s credit he does put his all into this theme song and it does give the song its own campy charm.
Much like Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids in the 70s, the episodes often began with a live-action segment of Hammer sometimes describing the whole episode and even the lesson. However what made it work in the Fat Albert show was that the issue was only framed at the beginning and the audience could absorb characters’ experience through the episode and it would come full circle with the lesson being described at the end. Here however the lesson is hammered in within the first part and throughout the episode which takes away from its impact
The animation in the opening is surprisingly fluid. However in the show it looks downright clunky. The character movements have a horrible habit of skipping frames. It can be argued that other shows have had worse animation but with a show full of music and dancing this is something that deserves better animation.
Hammerman’s powers are never made clear. While he can make objects dance with his music and have parachute pants, he emits musical notes whose abilities are never fully explained. Hammerman also seems to have backup vocalists, which is not a bad idea in the sense that maybe they work as sidekicks but all they do is sing in no way contributing to Hammer’s crime fighting.
Gramps’ granddaughter Jodie is the typical damsel in distress as the villains always kidnap her. But the real kicker is that she somehow doesn’t know Stanley is Hammerman despite the fact that the two in no way look different from one another and the fact that it’s established in the intro that she has been helping Gramps search for a successor.
The villains have some interesting gimmicks (at least by this show’s standards) like Defacely Marmeister who manipulates kids into painting graffiti around the city and brings them to life in order to wreak havoc or Rapoleon who wants to shrink the world so he can be larger than everyone else. Unfortunately these villains have little if any depth or development.
Hammerman’s bad writing and lazy animation cause it to be forgotten and even now there have been no attempts to put this cartoon on DVD. However that proves to a massive drawback. The cartoon is certainly bad but it is bad in such a bizarre way that makes it worthy of remembering. It truly proves that sometimes creators will put a popular name on any product without adding much effort into the rest of it to make some kind of impression.