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RIP Saturday morning cartoons
May 30, 2014 3:47 PM   Subscribe

Vortexx, the last non-E/I children's Saturday morning programming block on broadcast television, is ending this fall.
posted by Small Dollar (67 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite

 
Whaaa?
posted by xtian at 3:52 PM on May 30


If anyone else was unfamiliar with "E/I", it stands for "educational and informational".
posted by brundlefly at 3:52 PM on May 30 [37 favorites]


How on Earth are they supposed to sell cheap plastic toys now?
posted by neckro23 at 3:54 PM on May 30 [3 favorites]


On cable, apparantly.
posted by MartinWisse at 3:57 PM on May 30


neckro23: "How on Earth are they supposed to sell cheap plastic toys now?"

Celebrity tie-ins.
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 3:57 PM on May 30


They don't need the broadcast blocs anymore, because there are other ways to show their wares. Why do you think Hasbro went halvsies with Discovery on a network?
posted by NoxAeternum at 3:59 PM on May 30


I just can't imagine being a kid, waking up, and going straight into playing with your toys. Cartoons are a buffer to the weekend. A mark for the end of the school week....
posted by xtian at 4:01 PM on May 30 [6 favorites]


oh. my. god.

i don't have a tv, but ...

oh. my. god. - no saturday morning cartoons on network tv?

wow, do i feel old and out of touch - when did this happen?
posted by pyramid termite at 4:05 PM on May 30 [2 favorites]


Everything is on demand now. Even little kids know how to stream cartoons.
posted by Kevin Street at 4:08 PM on May 30 [18 favorites]


Well, there are still Saturday morning blocs. It's just that they're not on the Big 3 anymore, but on cable networks geared towards airing that sort of content (CN/Hub/Nick/etc.)
posted by NoxAeternum at 4:11 PM on May 30 [1 favorite]


If its any consolation, E/I has a pretty broad application. I've seen My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic and Saved By The Bell aired as E/I recently. So it's not like strictly cartoony cartoons like Camp Candy are going away.
posted by mediocre at 4:20 PM on May 30


RELUCTANTLY HEALTHY: Comedy actress Judy Greer shares special tips and advice on how to stay healthy while on-the go.

Whut.
posted by running order squabble fest at 4:25 PM on May 30 [6 favorites]


How on Earth are they supposed to sell cheap plastic toys now?

The entire movie industry?

(Get the Django Unchained Sam Jackson with exploding kneecaps!)
posted by Trochanter at 4:27 PM on May 30 [1 favorite]


Eh, good riddance. I would have loved to be able to watch what I want when I want when I was a kid. I bet that way I would never have had to see that sports cartoon with Wayne Gretzky and Michael Jordan and could have simply watched Reboot over and over like I was meant to.
posted by Our Ship Of The Imagination! at 4:29 PM on May 30 [9 favorites]


Philistine! Bo Jackson was also part of that team!
posted by mediocre at 4:32 PM on May 30 [7 favorites]


Dr. Pol Pot: Join Dr. Pol Pot as he gives viewers a unique look into the care and treatment of nearsighted agrarian workers.
posted by Mayor Curley at 4:35 PM on May 30 [1 favorite]


My kids have "Annoying Orange" and "Minecraft" cheap plastic toys. The Internets is a 24/7 Saturday morning.
posted by pashdown at 4:38 PM on May 30 [4 favorites]


My kids have "Annoying Orange" and "Minecraft" cheap plastic toys. The Internets is a 24/7 Saturday morning."

Quoted For Truth. As Ernest Cline explained, kids today have no idea how good they have it. (audio somewhat NSFW in certain moments)
posted by namewithoutwords at 4:55 PM on May 30


oh. my. god.

i don't have a tv, but ...


You know who else didn't have a TV?
posted by Gringos Without Borders at 5:29 PM on May 30


Winsor McCay?
posted by mr. digits at 5:48 PM on May 30 [1 favorite]


adolf hitler?

godwin!
posted by pyramid termite at 5:51 PM on May 30


> You know who else didn't have a TV?

Is this a joke I would need a TV to understand?
posted by ardgedee at 5:56 PM on May 30 [6 favorites]


For me, a lot of my weirder (and therefore better) TV memories revolve around being puzzled or hateful towards the oddball shows that would probably not make it in an on-demand entertainment universe... like I get a lot of wistful mileage out of shitshows like Denver the Last Dinosaur and Beverly Hills Teens.

In fact I am not entirely sure that Street Frogs would have even existed in today's world and that's not a timeline I want to live in.
posted by SharkParty at 6:17 PM on May 30 [3 favorites]


/pours bowl of King Vitamin for homies
posted by thelonius at 6:21 PM on May 30 [7 favorites]


Denver, the last dinosaur, showed you a world you never saw before! How is that not educational?
posted by bleep at 6:28 PM on May 30 [2 favorites]


As much as I liked Saturday morning cartoons, they were dead the day the networks started ripping the credits off the Looney Tunes episodes, showing bits and pieces but never full episodes. It was downhill from there. My son has known how to find cartoons on Netflix for years now. Good cartoons, no advertising, it's a win all around.
posted by caution live frogs at 6:29 PM on May 30 [1 favorite]


Philistine! Bo Jackson was also part of that team!

[A single tear rolls down animated Bo Jackson's face. "Bo knows baseball... but who knows Bo?", he asks the sky.]
posted by running order squabble fest at 6:31 PM on May 30 [11 favorites]


Here is what used to happen to me as a kid in the mid nineties:

The new season of Gargoyles is premiering on Saturday morning. Great! TV Guide or whatever says it will premier on such-a-day at whatever o'clock. I'm up and ready! I turn on the TV... and instead an adult panel discussion show called Puerto Rican Panorama has preempted it. It's not on for the rest of the morning either. Or the rest of the month. I cannot tell you how much, as a kid, I was looking forward to the third season of Gargoyles, and to have it preempted for a world events panel show was harrowing. This same thing happened when I tried to watch Mega Man.

Never mind that both the Saturday morning version of Gargoyles and Mega Man turned out to be awful! I didn't even find that out for ages afterward, because I could never figure out when or if they were ever on! Streaming services would have saved me a lot of grief as a child; I'd have been able to find out shows I wanted to watch were terrible right away, instead of having to wait months or years, building up the idea of the show in my head.

I don't know that the traditional scheduled Saturday morning program block has much place in today's world, and I can't say I think that's a bad thing.
posted by branduno at 6:59 PM on May 30 [3 favorites]


I don't know that the traditional scheduled Saturday morning program block has much place in today's world, and I can't say I think that's a bad thing.

You were a kid in the 90s? You're way too young to be so cold and heartless.
posted by codswallop at 7:09 PM on May 30 [1 favorite]


Do kids nowadays even know what broadcast TV is?
posted by strangely stunted trees at 7:13 PM on May 30


In fact I am not entirely sure that Street Frogs would have even existed in today's world and that's not a timeline I want to live in.

I know! People don't even believe me when I tell them about Street Frogs, but it was part of the Comic Strip along with Karate Cat, Camp Mini-Mon and (best of all) Tigersharks.
posted by Faint of Butt at 7:19 PM on May 30 [1 favorite]


You're way too young to be so cold and heartless.

I was really disappointed that they preempted Gargoyles. That's the kind of thing that sticks with you.
posted by branduno at 7:22 PM on May 30 [4 favorites]


All I remember about Saturday mornings was waaay too little Dungeons and Dragons cartoon, waaay to much goddamn motherfucking Smurfs.

At this very moment my kid is watching his way through one of the PowerRangers series on Netflix. It's ridiculous but harmless, and no toy commercials other than the show itself.

You know what I just found on Netflix? ALL OF BEAKMAN'S WORLD. I loved the hell out of that show, but seemed to just miss it most of the time. And it's still really good; tight jokes and good science. And a guy in a rat suit.

I haven't gone to look but what would really make my day is if they get Hey Vern! It's Ernest, one of my favorite unappreciated kids' shows ever.
posted by emjaybee at 7:38 PM on May 30 [3 favorites]


Pours a box of Lucky Charms.
posted by 1970s Antihero at 7:41 PM on May 30 [2 favorites]


Hulu just put up the old Star Trek The Animated Series. You can't go back, but you can be nostalgic.

And I think I'll make my cereal Quisp.
posted by Meep! Eek! at 7:47 PM on May 30 [1 favorite]


So what of that boon companion, that men called Grape Ape? To whom shall we look for protection, if not those stalwarts of the Justice League and their poorly-drawn flying sequences when responding to far-off danger? With the venerable Olympic games and World Cup soiled by base greed, cannot I look to the Laffalympics for a shining light of hope?

It is to weep.
posted by wenestvedt at 8:00 PM on May 30 [3 favorites]


I can't imagine a childhood in which I could just see all the X-men cartoon episodes in a row without having to watch those interminable Savage Lands bits on seemingly endless repeat. It would have been heavenly.

A boy can dream.
posted by Ndwright at 8:00 PM on May 30


I thought Saturday morning cartoons died in the late 90s, no? Alas. The only cartoon shows I liked back in the day were the Bugs Bunny/Road Runner Hour, Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids, and Schoolhouse Rock. That Hanna-Barbera style limited animation drove me nuts, though I wouldn't know why until I had a couple classes on it at uni.

I preferred live action. For me it was all about the Saturday morning Krofft shows in the 70s to Pee-Wee's Playhouse in the 80s. If you asked me at 3 or 4 what I was going to be when I grew up, I would have sworn it'd be a Bugaloo.
posted by droplet at 8:11 PM on May 30 [1 favorite]


Wikipedia actually has the season schedules for past Saturday mornings. I dunno when the 80s golden age began, but 1984 looked pretty good.

It's weird how I have no memory of a lot of those shows, or of the agony of having to strategize over what show to watch per time slot.
posted by TheSecretDecoderRing at 8:29 PM on May 30 [3 favorites]


I thought CW was entirely a cable channel anyway. Shows what I know about TV anymore.
posted by Foosnark at 8:31 PM on May 30


Saturday mornings were fun, but Sunday mornings were all about Rocky & Bullwinkle before the sun was up.
posted by krinklyfig at 8:37 PM on May 30 [2 favorites]


I was too old to like the bugaloos ,they were roundly mocked in my circle. The New Adventures of Mighty Mouse were awesome ,and so was Pee-Wee. The stuff I grew up with was Stop that pigeon and Wacky Racers.
posted by boilermonster at 8:58 PM on May 30


My PBS station still has a traditional (well, except for the" sell lots of plastic crap" part) Saturday morning.

Tomorrow morning is:

Sesame Street
Curious George
Cat In The Hat Knows A Lot About That!
WordWorld
Bob the Builder
Cyberchase
The Electric Company

Though, like a lot of folk's children these days, my kid can't really conceive of not being able to watch exactly what she wants to watch exactly when she wants to watch it.
posted by madajb at 10:45 PM on May 30 [1 favorite]


pyramid termite: "oh. my. god.

i don't have a tv, but ...

oh. my. god. - no saturday morning cartoons on network tv?

wow, do i feel old and out of touch - when did this happen?
"

I dunno - it seems like it's been that way since the late 90s. I can recall sitting down around 1998, flipping on the tube saturday and it was like Pee-Wee's comeback show, Saved by the Bell(?) or some other sorta live action thing, and honestly if there was any cartoon it was pretty shitty, because I felt like there was NOTHING on besides those few live action shows. I think the last bit of real saturday morning cartoons was the early-mid 90s. You still had a lot of afterschool cartoonage with digimon/pokemon and other assorted things, but I think between the intertubes, other entertainment options (video games, portable devices, netflix, dvds, and the expansion of cable to many places that previously didn't have a lot of access (I grew up in the countryside in the 70s-90s and didn't have access to much beyond the big 3/4 and a few local stations, and if i was lucky I got some stuff from Chicago or Milwaukee on a beautiful summer day))

Times change. It's a real fucking shame, frankly. Saturday morning cartoons had some awesome shit (but to be fair, they had some really horrible shit). In some ways I think the cartoons that are out these days are definitely more sophisticated and mature, but then I see the reboot of Voltron and think we took a step backwards. Which is a damn shame, because I had such high hopes.

And, if we're talking Saturday Morning Cartoons, I can't go without linking to DJ Z-Trip's "Breakfast Club (featuring Murs & Supernatural)"
posted by symbioid at 11:24 PM on May 30 [1 favorite]


boilermonster: "I was too old to like the bugaloos ,they were roundly mocked in my circle. The New Adventures of Mighty Mouse "

OH man - I grew up in a fundie house, and my church had a radio station and there was some sort of "Media analysis" magazine we got (probably James Dobson? I dunno some bullshit fundie thing). I remember reading the article gasping at the horrible Ralph Bakshi and his infiltration of the youth and how clearly Mighty Mouse did cocaine in one of the new episodes and we must morality police our saturday morning cartoons!

Ah yes, of course... Wikipedia has an entry...

Remember Pirates of Darkwater? That shit was the fucking bomb for its time!
posted by symbioid at 11:27 PM on May 30


It's both sand and kind of funny to me, because I think as far as members of the Reconstructionist generation are concerned, Saturday morning cartoons kind of petered out in the 80s, when ABC and NBC stopped showing rival "Saturday Morning Preview" specials in prime-time around the time school started. (Although I see they continued for years afterwards on ABC.)

By the time "'90s kids" were old enough for Saturday morning cartoons, NBC had already put Today on seven days a week. We were already on our first wave of Saturday morning cartoon nostalgia. I didn't even realize any broadcast network of any tier was still doing a Saturday morning cartoon block. The kids I know crank up the on demand Adventure Time or what have you before they even pour a bowl a cereal.
posted by ob1quixote at 11:45 PM on May 30


Children’s programming on Saturday mornings rose to prominence on the broadcast networks in the early 1960’s with the likes of Captain Kangaroo, Mighty Mouse Playhouse, Top Cat, and The Bugs Bunny Show.

Just as an aside, the 1960s cartoon Top Cat seems to have had a cult following in Mexico and other Latin American countries (shown as Don Gato y Su Pandilla). In fact, in 2011 they made a Top Cat movie which was a hit.
posted by eye of newt at 12:35 AM on May 31


Seems like Fox kept the Saturday morning thing going in the mid-90s with stuff like the first X-Men, and the Tick. I guess by then cable was pretty standard, so kids had enough channels for them all day, every day, and it stopped being worth it for the networks.

Even in the mid-80s, though, we did have Nick and (what was then) Disney, but there was still never any hesitation in waking up before sunrise to watch the network shows on Saturdays. It was an event you waited all week for, even if it was reruns.

And when they randomly showed kids' fare in the afternoon, that was a whole 'nother level.
posted by TheSecretDecoderRing at 12:50 AM on May 31


Let me just say:

ZOINKS!
posted by ShutterBun at 1:01 AM on May 31


oh. my. god. - no saturday morning cartoons on network tv?

wow, do i feel old and out of touch - when did this happen?"


They slowly been phased out since the Children's Television Act in 1990.
(Revised in 1996, so the mid-90s were the beginning of the real decline)

Basically, the stations are required to air Educational/Informative (E/I) programs, and the place they dump them is Saturday morning.
The FCC also enacted very strict rules on commercial tie-ins during programming, so you can't, for instance, air commercials for GI Joe cereal during the GI Joe cartoon.

This is also why every now and again, they air that "For a copy of our children's report, please visit our station" blurb.
posted by madajb at 1:14 AM on May 31 [2 favorites]


pyramid termite
wow, do i feel old and out of touch - when did this happen?

When the dot com bubble burst in 2001 in CA, I found myself regressing to childhood mentality and income. I recall Bionicle and VeggieTales were well animated and had interesting characters. But I was also Replaying Adult Swim, so I prolly have a distorted memory. The funny thing was I kept thinking I wasn't getting up early enough to see the really good cartoons...hmmm...
posted by xtian at 4:01 AM on May 31


It's a shame that in 20 years time 30 year olds will be nostalgic for the wrong damn GI Joe movie.
posted by PenDevil at 5:37 AM on May 31 [4 favorites]


People don't even believe me when I tell them about Street Frogs

I have all sorts of crazy nostalgia for Street Frogs, simply because I witnessed its existence. I feel the same way about The Harlem Globetrotters Meet Snow White.

If you can make an impressionable seven-year-old kid scratch her head, you know you've created something seriously bizarre.
posted by Metroid Baby at 6:32 AM on May 31


It's called Disney Junior now.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 8:38 AM on May 31


Saturday mornings were *all* about the Bugs Bunny/Roadrunner cartoons. And other cartoons, too, but Bugs and friends were the best. You could tell the cartoons were over for the day when Candlepin Bowling came on. But in the afternoon, there was still the Creature Double Feature to look forward to for cheezey 60's sf.
posted by rmd1023 at 8:49 AM on May 31 [1 favorite]


It's weird how I have no memory of a lot of those shows, or of the agony of having to strategize over what show to watch per time slot.

Man, looking at that Wikipedia page, I remember my 1984 Saturday morning viewing strategy: Snorks, Pink Panther, Muppet Babies, Alvin and the Chipmunks, Kidd Video, The Littles (though sometimes I'd watch Mr. T instead), Bugs Bunny. In 85, I tended to go for the CBS Storybreak over Kidd Video.
posted by The Great Big Mulp at 9:00 AM on May 31 [1 favorite]


Saturday morning cartoons were a staple of my childhood in the 70s! Bugs Bunny, Road Runner, Tom & Jerry, The Flintstones... but usually I was awake before they started, and watched Frederick K. Price doing his early televangelist schtick until the 'toons started. (This was probably a New York/tri-state regional thing.) I remember being just as fascinated by him as by the cartoons; as an adult now I can see that he was just another cartoon.

Ah, the days of 13" TVs and faux wood and knobs and static and cereal and camping out under the pullout couch early in the morning with my pillow and my blankie when visiting my dad at his dingy apartment in the city... I actually feel really grateful that I got to experience all that. Well, the TV part anyway. The divorce/only-child thing kind of sucked.
posted by flyingsquirrel at 9:01 AM on May 31 [2 favorites]


Muppet Babies vs. Gummi Bears vs. Camp Candy? I don't know how I ever made a decision...
posted by downtohisturtles at 9:07 AM on May 31


I started to do an entire rant to my family this morning on Saturday morning cartoons, about how inconceivable it would to a kid today that we only got cartoons once a week. Kids these days don't know how good they have it, that kind of thing.

Then I remembered my partner grew up in communist Romania and they had twenty minutes of cartoons every week.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 9:17 AM on May 31 [1 favorite]


emjaybee: You know what I just found on Netflix? ALL OF BEAKMAN'S WORLD.

Damnit. I had things to do this weekend.
posted by nathan_teske at 10:29 AM on May 31 [1 favorite]


PenDevil: “It's a shame that in 20 years time 30 year olds will be nostalgic for the wrong damn GI Joe movie.”
On the other hand, they won't fondly remember Far Out Space Nuts, so…
posted by ob1quixote at 12:36 PM on May 31


Not just GI Joe, but even more so, Transformers.

Along with a long list of other franchises destroyed by Hollywood. In retrospect, a lot of those old cartoons may not be as good as they were at the time. Yet for some reason these modern movie adaptations never improve on it, which wouldn't seem that hard to do.
posted by TheSecretDecoderRing at 2:12 PM on May 31


I actually think the Sommers G.I. Joe film is entirely successful in that it feels like a big budget, live action Saturday morning cartoon. Very silly and charming.

The Transformers franchise, on the other hand, is just unpleasant from top to bottom.
posted by brundlefly at 2:37 PM on May 31


The Speed Racer film was actually an excellent recreation of the TV show...which is why movie audiences looked at it and said "What the hell IS this?"

For me, Saturday morning was:
"Ohboy! I'm gonna watch Space Academy!"
"Daddy's "sick" again, so we're going to watch the PGA finals."

For afternoon, it was
"Ohboy! I'm gonna watch the monster movie marathon!"
"Daddy's still under the weather, so we're going to watch tennis. Go play in the yard for the next two hours."

80s: "Fuck Saturday morning, where it's at its 3:00 Monday thru Friday, because that's when ROBOTECH is on!"

Now I'm gonna go inside, and watch 3 hours of "Chaika the Coffin Princess", and then maybe "Rodan". I didn't even have to get up this morning. Life is good.
posted by happyroach at 3:57 PM on May 31 [1 favorite]


How on Earth are they supposed to sell cheap plastic toys now?

Cartoons and talk shows are just one big advertising broken up by smaller advertising in between...
posted by Alexandra Kitty at 4:41 PM on May 31


re: Disney, I spent the weekend with my young nephew, who appears to watch nothing but Jake and the Neverland Pirates, and I have to say that it's a goddamn shame what they've done to Captain Hook. He's not even as scary as Snidely Whiplash anymore. He is simply a hapless character who gets chastised by irritating children in fake pirate clothes whenever he weakly attempts to do something un-neighborly. I am not even a big fan of Peter Pan (book or movie) but I still dislike what's been done to it.

It's the same dynamic in shows like Dinosaur Train and SuperWhy: "Let's remove all traces of darkness from these things (like the fact that carnivorous dinosaurs ate other dinosaurs instead of being friends with them, or that there were actual villains in fairy tales), and instead use them to teach saccharine life lessons."

It's like evil corporate fan fiction; let's take established characters and turn them into puppets to say whatever banal thing we like regardless of the violence it does to the original narrative.
posted by emjaybee at 4:37 PM on June 1 [2 favorites]


Apropos of nothing, I bought a vintage early 1970s Underdog juice glass at our local flea market today, and it made me inordinately happy.
posted by flyingsquirrel at 7:18 PM on June 1 [1 favorite]


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