Following two 5 part mini-series in 1983 and '84, G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero
became a regular series that ran in syndication weekdays after school. G.I. Joe became a hot property in the 80's with popular toy and comic book lines, but the cartoon seemed to have a hard time catching hold, though I remember it being popular. It ran for two seasons, in 1985 and '86 before returning with a new show in 1989.
"Cobra Claws Are Coming To Town" was the 39th episode of the 1985 season. It was a Christmas episode written by Roy and Dann Thomas and Gerry and Carla Conway.
While some of the Joes are returning from a Christmas toy drive, they are ambushed by Cobra, who plants a "Trojan horse" among the toys filled with shrunken Cobra agents. Cobra infiltrates the Joes HQ and trap the team,with plans to discredit them by attacking the town and blaming the Joes. Through ingenuity and superior fighting skill, the Joes are able to turn the tables on Cobra and drive them off, restoring their reputations.
I had never seen a full episode of G.I. Joe before and haven't seen snippets of the show in about 30 years, but I really liked this one. It blended a near perfect balance of comic book action and drama with comic book silliness. The puns and tough guy talk were great and Cobra Commander was delightfully evil and corny. Like the Adam West Batman show, it seems like everyone was in on the joke except the characters, which makes the show enjoyable for kids as well as adults.
This was a lot of fun, and I have to be honest, I wasn't expecting to enjoy it so much. The only downfall was the Polly the Parrot character, which was just a bit too 70's cartoony.
I recognized the voice of Duke, and a wikipedia search told me that he was played by Michael Bell, a prolific voice actor whom I knew as Zan from the Superfriends, Mark from Speed Buggy, Devlin from Devlin, and Bruce Banner from The Incredible Hulk.