Ah, nostalgia! Be it that old cartoon, a favorite toy or a comic book from days gone by, isn’t it great, when out of the blue, the memories come flooding back, and you’ve no choice but to exclaim “Holy Crap! Remember…?”
The 1990′s were a dumping ground for all sorts of cartoon faire thanks to early morning syndication. Sometimes we’d get a real gem like Gargoyles or Beast Wars (contenders for the best shows in the history of forever). More often than not, we’d get garbage. On occasion, though, we’d find something nestled right in the middle; a program seemingly crafted from mediocrity itself… Like Mummies Alive!.
Mummies Alive! scores point mostly because it’s about mummies. The core concept is okay, but the show completely fall apart in its execution. The story follows a boy named Presley who happens to house the reincarnated spirit of the ancient Egyptian pharaoh Rapses. He ruled an alternate ancient Egypt apparently inhabited exclusively by white people, but I digress. Presley’s mother works at a museum and they’re all set to unveil their new Rapses exhibit inside a giant replica sphinx. Presley goes inside and is attacked by terra cotta soldiers (on loan from China, I guess). Luckily, his mummified bodyguards come to life and save him when they go all Power Rangers on their asses and transform into armored warriors to save the day. You know the drill; the evil sorcerer Scarab is apparently immortal and wants Presley for his evil plan… Or something. We never really get a clear idea of what that plan is exactly, but we know it’s evil. Hijinx ensue for a season’s worth of shows with the mummies powering up to fight a different goon baddie every week, often based on Egyptian mythology (again, the show earns some points).
The problem is that beyond the formulaic setup, the show’s kind of stupid. The three male mummies, Ja-Kal (the stereotypical leader), Arman (the stereotypical big guy who eats and breaks things) and Rath (the stereotypical smart one) awaken with no clue whatsoever that their comrade (both in life as in death), Nefir, is in fact a woman – despite her awesome mummy rack – until Presley tells them after their first battle. Nefirtina (see what they did there?) now serves as the stereotypical token girl (who never got an action figure). They’re sworn to protect Rapses (read: Presley), so they take up residence in the most secret of locations. Their lair is so expertly hidden that the evil Scarab could never possibly find them. Yeah, they live in the big-ass sphinx his soldiers first fought them in. And they just sort of chill in peace until there’s evil to smite.
One of the most bizarre elements of the show is the array of vehicles at the mummies’ disposal. At the beginning of episode 2, with no introduction, exposition or explanation, Rath has built a jet and a dragster. They’re completely befuddled with the modern marvels of television, but super vehicles they get, apparently. Plus, they go out on the town in civilian clothes, but keep the bandages on, despite being more blue than rotting, and no one seems to ever notice or care. I get that it’s a kids’ show and all, but I get the feeling they weren’t trying. But hey, they had to sell those toys, right? And of course there were toys. There weren’t a lot, but Mummies Alive! got a toyline with a couple of waves. There were, of course, the standard figures that came with snap-on armor and the ridiculous vehicles, but they also made a couple of figures in their civilian guises with a “scare” feature not unlike the classic Real Ghostbusters toys from back in the day.
The show only lasted a season. This was a syndicated season, so there are 40+ episodes, but it’s a single season nonetheless. There was no resolution to the central conflict at all, which is unfortunate, but them’s the breaks, I guess. Was it a bad show? No. Was it a good show? Absolutely not. It was quirky and weird and for what it was, it’s okay. The animation wasn’t terrible and the character designs and fight scenes were pretty cool. This show actually exists on DVD, believe it or not, so if you want to relive a childhood favorite with new eyes or if you just want to see what I’m talking about, hit up Netlfix or Blockbuster online. It’s worth a watch provided you can laugh at the absurdity of it all.
With the strength of Ra, bitches!