Sports fans throw the word “hero” around pretty carelessly. Sure, Michael Jordan, Wayne Gretzky and Bo Jackson were phenomenal athletes in their respective primes. (Boy, some primes are longer than others, hunh Bo?) But true heroism entails more than just excellence in sport. True heroes should also fight crime, and protect the environment.
That’s just what the jocks did in “Pro Stars,” a largely forgotten and wholly forgettable Saturday morning cartoon dating from 1991. As with any great team, each member of this triumvirate of sports titans had his own distinct part to play: Mike was the brains of the outfit, Bo was the muscle, and Wayne provided the comic relief — a role for which, despite the serviceable job he did hosting SNL two years prior, the tediously earnest real-life Great One would have been very poorly suited. He was also hungry all the time.
The Pro Stars lived in a gym with their mom, “a quasi-Yiddish and Jewish mother stereotype” who supplied them with strange inventions to help them on their adventures.
What was this all about? Well, it was “all about helping kids,” as [the voice actor portraying] His Airness proclaimed at the end of the theme song. Ah, the theme song, that’s another weird thing about this already weird-from-top-to-bottom show.
The original version — “original” might be a misnomer — was a soundalike of Queen’s quintessential stadium anthem “We Will Rock You,” with the refrain “we are, we are Pro Stars.” Hear it at the beginning of this complete (with period commercials!) early episode:
Later in the series, the song got revamped. That’s right, they made two versions of the theme song! For a show that only ran from September to December of 1991! The new theme retained that winning stomp-stomp CLAP beat, but diverged from the Queen track enough, one guesses, to avoid litigation. Here’s the second version of the ProStars opening sequence:
I particularly love how the editor apparently couldn’t find footage of a Gretzky slap shot: The lyric “Wayne’s hot, slap shot!” instead accompanies a clip of the Great One flipping a little backhander into the goal.