End of an era
October 4, 2014 12:10 PM   Subscribe

 
What do today's elementary-school aged kids do on Saturday morning? Serious question. Do they have a Saturday morning TV ritual on cable/satellite channels, or do they do gaming or computer stuff? (from what I've seen of extended family, it's entirely the latter). All in all, I suspect the landscape of electronics and multimedia in general has completely changed not just our entertainment but our lifestyles since the 1980s.
posted by crapmatic at 12:17 PM on October 4, 2014 [2 favorites]


darn, that's the end
posted by sourwookie at 12:17 PM on October 4, 2014 [27 favorites]


♫ After these messages, we'll be right back. ♫
posted by SpacemanStix at 12:17 PM on October 4, 2014 [65 favorites]




♫ part of this nutritious breakfast ♫

(looks like a 5-course spread of eggs, bacon, toast, pancakes, milk, orange juice, and hey there's the bowl of Rice Krispies)
posted by crapmatic at 12:20 PM on October 4, 2014 [29 favorites]


In the 80s, we mostly watched Nickelodeon, which didn't have too many cartoons, even on Saturdays. Also, we watched The McLaughlin Group on Sunday mornings because we were weird.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 12:20 PM on October 4, 2014 [13 favorites]


What do today's elementary-school aged kids do on Saturday morning?

Saturday morning always meant soccer games for my kids. That's when the area kids rec league played their games.
posted by Thorzdad at 12:21 PM on October 4, 2014 [1 favorite]


.
posted by ZenMasterThis at 12:21 PM on October 4, 2014


What do today's elementary-school aged kids do on Saturday morning? Serious question. Do they have a Saturday morning TV ritual on cable/satellite channels, or do they do gaming or computer stuff?

When we do Saturday morning cartoons, we usually do Netflix through our television.

When I was a kid, my mom used to make me stay in bed until at least 7, as I would get up way too early to watch the cartoons that started at 6 (if my memory serves). Now my kids can sleep in to 8 or later, eat a pop tart, play a game on the Kindle with mom, and still not miss anything on TV.
posted by SpacemanStix at 12:22 PM on October 4, 2014 [2 favorites]


Dungeons and Drangons, PeeWee's Playhouse, mayyyybe some Smurfs, and then what felt, subjectively, like four straight hours of Roadrunner and Wile E. Coyote. Oooh, and maybe an Ark II rerun.
posted by sandettie light vessel automatic at 12:23 PM on October 4, 2014 [12 favorites]


I'd love an overview of all these 1800s-era Saturday morning cartoons I apparently knew nothing about.

(Yes, I know it clarifies "the first weekend in 50 years" in the article, but still)
posted by showbiz_liz at 12:25 PM on October 4, 2014 [1 favorite]


Suddenly, inexplicably, I hanker for a hunka cheese.
posted by echocollate at 12:25 PM on October 4, 2014 [69 favorites]


I can't remember what cartoons I watched on Saturday mornings - in my mind's eye, they've all bled together into the best four hours of product placement ever - but I remember fighting to the death to watch them.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 12:26 PM on October 4, 2014 [2 favorites]


Double .
posted by 1970s Antihero at 12:30 PM on October 4, 2014 [1 favorite]


UGH. I was a 70s kid, and weekend cartoons were the highlight of the week, dessert for a week's worth of the meat and potatoes of school. I'd be up so early on Sundays I'd even watch Frederick K. Price's telesermons, which were just as wacky to me as the cartoons. Tom & Jerry! Roadrunner! Siiiiigh.
posted by flyingsquirrel at 12:31 PM on October 4, 2014 [11 favorites]


I blame old man Withers from the haunted amusement park.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 12:33 PM on October 4, 2014 [4 favorites]


Some of my favorites: ReBoot, The Pirates of Dark Water, Batman: The Animated Series, Gargoyles, The Tick, TaleSpin, Darkwing Duck, The Legend of Zelda, Captain N: The Game Master, Beetlejuice, Animaniacs, and my personal favorites: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and DuckTales.

I'm guessing very little of that is particularly watchable to me as an adult, but as a kid with a hyperactive imagination, Saturday mornings held entire universes of bizarre creativity. Don't underestimate that 80s-90s golden period of kid's cartoons - there's some intricate worldbuilding and surprising ideas there that have never been matched by any "grown-up" television.
posted by naju at 12:38 PM on October 4, 2014 [19 favorites]


Mighty Mouse and Sky King were on Saturday mornings, back in my black&white teevee youth. My son watched Rugrats and Doug, which were quite good. The show where Chuckie's Mom's death is described totally made me cry. And there was a good Passover episode. The adults were neither all good or all bad; the kids were nicely varied.
posted by theora55 at 12:39 PM on October 4, 2014 [3 favorites]


Man, I was doing my every other day survey of the crap that is free TV today; and I was wondering about where the cartoons went. Man. That being said; survey usually consists of commercials, commercials, infomercials, dead weather channel, more commercials, and then the red button.

Go figure the large flat black slab is a giant monitor 99.8% of the time.
posted by buzzman at 12:43 PM on October 4, 2014 [2 favorites]


I miss the Laff-a-lympics.
posted by jonmc at 12:46 PM on October 4, 2014 [13 favorites]


There is an unending stream of cartoons and other kids' programming on the several Disney channels, Nick and its associates, Cartoon Network, and The Hub (soon to be rebranded as Discovery Family).

While we Olds may mourn the loss of the cartoon block on the three broadcast networks, rest assured that no child in America with access to cable has missed a single moment of cartoon pleasure. There's so much MORE animation and live action programming for the child demographic that it only speaks to the increasing irrelevance of the broadcast networks, not a loss of anything.
posted by briank at 12:47 PM on October 4, 2014 [19 favorites]


Kids these days watch stuff on their tablets, using youtube or whatever. The idea that they have to wait for a specific time on a specific day just to watch some cartoons is probably utterly ridiculous to them.
posted by Foci for Analysis at 12:48 PM on October 4, 2014 [15 favorites]


Cartoons are expensive to produce and the return for the investment has dwindled since the 70's-80's heyday of American animation.
posted by Renoroc at 12:48 PM on October 4, 2014


Darn, I was looking forward to the Mattel and Mars Bar Quick Energy Chocobot Hour.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 12:48 PM on October 4, 2014 [6 favorites]


Fireball XL5, Huckleberry Hound, go clean room while Atom Ant was on, Jonny Quest (no vacuuming allowed!), Jetsons, skip Davey and Goliath to sniff airplane glue, then Bullwinkle.
posted by hal9k at 12:49 PM on October 4, 2014 [12 favorites]


My kid got up and immediately started watching Minecraft playthrough videos. He will do that all day unless I make him move (which I will be doing shortly).

Before that it was Netflix for whatever series he love (Billy and Mandy were big for a while).

Before that it endless Thomas the Tank Engine DVDs.

He has never had a "Saturday morning cartoon" experience, in other words.
posted by emjaybee at 12:52 PM on October 4, 2014 [8 favorites]


My kid watches Stampy Longnose and Diamond Minecart videos on YouTube on Saturday mornings. And afternoons. And Sundays. And every other day. This is the Promised Land we dreamed of as children, wherein the shows we want to watch are on all the time.
posted by Andrhia at 12:53 PM on October 4, 2014 [16 favorites]


What do today's elementary-school aged kids do on Saturday morning?

Among other things, watch cartoons on iPads.
posted by dontjumplarry at 12:54 PM on October 4, 2014


Though my impression is that it's more about "watching stuff" than "watching cartoons" now. A little Pokemon, a little Harry Potter II, a little Frozen, etc.
posted by dontjumplarry at 12:56 PM on October 4, 2014 [1 favorite]


.
posted by Apocryphon at 12:57 PM on October 4, 2014


Cartoons are expensive to produce

Not the shit they were making in the early 70's...
posted by mikelieman at 12:59 PM on October 4, 2014 [14 favorites]


Grrrrrape Ape.
posted by wenestvedt at 1:00 PM on October 4, 2014 [9 favorites]


crapmatic: What do today's elementary-school aged kids do on Saturday morning? Serious question. Do they have a Saturday morning TV ritual on cable/satellite channels, or do they do gaming or computer stuff?
The kids I know watch a little Cartoon Network while they eat their cereal, which these days means Teen Titans Go! or The Amazing World of Gumball. Then they get on Club Penguin, or Hearthstone, or Guild Wars 2, or whatever the game of the week is. They might watch other kids play with toys on YouTube for a while in he afternoon.

It's weird to be a kid in the 21st century.
posted by ob1quixote at 1:02 PM on October 4, 2014 [2 favorites]


.
posted by Ik ben afgesneden at 1:03 PM on October 4, 2014


I miss that brief mid-70s period where the characters were also in a band and there'd always be a musical number, like Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids, The Hardy Boys (the Filmation one, not the live action one that came later), the truly odd The Brady Kids and the incomparable, never to be replicated, forgotten or believed The Kids From C.A.P.E.R.
posted by George_Spiggott at 1:05 PM on October 4, 2014 [13 favorites]


(Though that last was live action, as were the slightly earlier Lancelot Link, Secret Chimp (The Evolution Revolution!), and The Banana Splits.)
posted by George_Spiggott at 1:07 PM on October 4, 2014 [2 favorites]


Meanwhile, back at the Hall of Justice ... [crickets chirping].
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 1:08 PM on October 4, 2014 [22 favorites]


A fitting homage to this belated pasttime.(DJ Z-Trip - Breakfast Club, feat. MURS & Supernatural)

So - I kinda bowed out after those traitorous bastards in Congress and Clinton forced the educational bullshit in the late 90s. I mean, it was already kinda heading to crap (last great cartoon I remember was Pirates of Blackwater)... But that law sealed the deal. I recall, I think, the second to last time I attempted to watch cartoons on a saturday morning was 1998 - Pee-Wee was re-airing on Fox, apparently (for some reason I thought he was making a comeback, but Wiki says it was just reruns). I think I tried one more time when they tried bringing back Transformers in the 00s at some point. But yeah, far as I was concerned it was already mostly dead.

Not just the law, but technological change, of course. We didn't get satellite TV at our house in the country til the mid-90s. High-Speed internet was still just a dream for most of us, no? Those who lived in the city or had more money had access to cable or satellite, but many of the media changes that factored into this demise were still nascent. The law helped hasten the demise, but it would have happened regardless.

I'm sad, but I guess I can't complain. I got to live through an era of watching Breakdancing on ABC Saturday Mornings, Glomer, Mr. T (D-D-DA-DAHHH!), Wrestling Cartoons, The Littles, Gummy Bears, Wuzzles, Captain N, Rubik's, Pac-Man and Q-Bert, Underdog, The first season of Transformers (before airing on Weekdays)... SO MUCH GOODNESS!

Kids already missed out anyways.

But we get Adult Swim. I got to watch Space Ghost in the late 90s, I get BoJack Horseman, I get Sealab, I get Voltron on DVD! I even get NEW Voltron (blech), and new Transformers across a wide variety of media. WE NEVER HAVE TO GROW UP!!!
posted by symbioid at 1:10 PM on October 4, 2014 [4 favorites]


I must get my hands on those Healthy Purple Berries!
posted by angerbot at 1:16 PM on October 4, 2014 [4 favorites]


First comment: "We need the likes of Garfield, TMNT, Sonic, all that late 80's to early 90's magic."

80's cartoons were shit from top to bottom. Cheaply made toy advertising is all they are.
posted by GallonOfAlan at 1:20 PM on October 4, 2014 [4 favorites]


Justice League and The Incredible Hulk. Ah. The memories. Rolled right on into Saturday afternoon westerns on the cable channel. Rawhide, The Rifleman, Bonanza and The Big Valley.
posted by double bubble at 1:28 PM on October 4, 2014 [1 favorite]


I'd love an overview of all these 1800s-era Saturday morning cartoons I apparently knew nothing about.


Well, I always did enjoy Bantam & Perroquet Are The Finest of Chums. Then there was General Gordon's Gripping Adventures, Airship Ho!, and Captain Action of the Royal Squadron- all of those were very exciting. My mum would never let us watch Humorous Scenes Involving The Irish, though.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 1:32 PM on October 4, 2014 [61 favorites]


Man, ABC missed the boat. The last Saturday morning of cartoons should have been a retrospective of old Justice League, Smurfs, Strawberry Shortcake, etc complete with vintage Mattel and Kellogg's and McDonald's commercials with School House Rock breaks. Every parent and many non parents in America would have tuned in with a bowl of Corn Pops and a plate of Eggos and ratings would've dwarfed the Super Bowl.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 1:34 PM on October 4, 2014 [25 favorites]


Though my impression is that it's more about "watching stuff" than "watching cartoons" now. A little Pokemon, a little Harry Potter II, a little Frozen, etc.

Yeah, I'm a little worried about that, actually. My eight year old self would have to choose between channel 4, 7, 13, or 31 over the antennae. Now, my four year old keeps going no, no, no, no as we scroll through a literal plethora of children's program on Netflix, and she might start crying when we pick one. It's literally raining unlimited children's programming from the sky, and nobody who is in that age group understands what a technological miracle it is. My eight year old self would have considered Netflix the mecca of our TV watching existence, and now it's taken for granted.
posted by SpacemanStix at 1:37 PM on October 4, 2014 [5 favorites]


My alcoholic and emotionally absent father and I would watch Looney Tunes every Saturday morning. We'd laugh at the antics of Bugs Bunny, Elmer Fudd, Yosemite Sam and The Roadrunner. I was so happy to spend time with him, since we almost never did. Then he would head off to the bar for the rest of the weekend.

Those cartoons were important to me.
posted by double block and bleed at 1:40 PM on October 4, 2014 [44 favorites]


One of my earliest memories of television was waking up so early I had to sit through Siskel & Ebert to get to cartoons, and seeing a clip of the "helping hands" from Labyrinth that was equal parts mesmerizing and terrifying. I was 4 yrs old, which just seems impossibly young to be sneaking downstairs to watch TV.

The only thing as scary as that was a few years later when the anti-drug cartoon mash-up "Cartoon All-Stars to the rescue (mefi link) gave me a one - second image of a dilapidated junkie.

My early cartoon years were filled with crap (Foofer, Pound Puppies, He-Man, She-Ra, Thundercats, Silverhawks), crap with some redeeming value (TMNT, Garfiel & Friends, Real Ghostbusters, the weird guests from the live segments of the Super Mario Bros Super Show) and some true gold (mostly classic Looney Tunes, but also Muppet Babies, Ghost Writer and Pee Wee's Playhouse). This was followed by a period of decent output by Disney (Darkwing Duck, Ducktales) and the animation Renaissance from Warner Bros that started with Tiny Toons but led to the smart, the weird, the mature, and the intelligently immature (Animaniacs, Pinky and the Brain, Batman, Freakazoid). By the end of my weekend cartoon-watching career, thirteen years had elapsed, all the best cartoons had moved to Sunday, and I was often to hungover for the bright, loudness that was Pokemon, rounding out Kids WB.

We never had cable but in addition to the 3 big networks and Fox, Chicago had a wealth of local, classic, and intermational programming on the UHF dial. My best memories of these Saturdays were the shows I watched with my Dad. There were the shows we loved (classic Warner Bros + Tex Avery + Tom & Jerry, Pee-Wee, the horror movies + jokes + puppets show Svengoolie), the stuff we made fun of (a claymation show called Mr. Bogus, a kid's game show called Click that was hosted by a young Ryan Seacrest and featured very-likable, not-bright kids getting very easy questions wrong), and the stuff we liked AND made fun of (the jiggling butts and dressed-up caballeros dance show Caliente, a show that featured just the romantic chase sequences of Bollywood musicals, WWF wrestling, and an era of Soul Train that featured not just the undeniable classics of 90s hip hop r&b but also shit like Brian Austin Green from 90210's attempt at a rap career.

Good times. I don't know if my parents had any sort of an active sex life at the time but if they did, it was during these Saturday mornings while I was up early, blasting tv, and fixing popcorn bowls of sugary cereal for myself and my younger sister. It's a net win that we live in an era where so much quality tv exists online that no kid should ever have to watch the kind of garbage DIC was pumping out in the 80s but it seems like a shame that Saturday mornings don't seem so special. Also, even my jaded, offensive ass is shocked by some of the language and innuendo I hear on Cartoon Network during the daytime. Sucks to be you, parents who don't like hearing the word "sucks" on television.
posted by elr at 1:44 PM on October 4, 2014 [4 favorites]


Here in Europe, more specifically that part of the Netherlands that is as far behind the rest of the country as Heinrich Heine alleged Holland was to the rest of the world, we never got that Saturday Morning Cartoonfest until that brief, glorious moment we got cable tv when it still meant getting pan-European channels like Super Channel and Sky Channel, before the first morphed into Eurosport and the latter concentrated its activities on England.

Because my parents didn't believe in cable, for me that moment only lasted a few happy months in 1986 (iirc) when it was free. That was when I first got exposed to anime (well, other than Candy Candy and other dubbed into Dutch cartoons like that) in the form of, what else, Robotech. There was also that weird live action laser tag players become galactic heroes series I've never known what it was called and of course the usual American action cartoons like Inhumanoids, GI Joe, Transformers, undsoweiter...
posted by MartinWisse at 1:44 PM on October 4, 2014 [1 favorite]


The Jetsons, Star Trek: TAS, and Josie and the Pussycats in Outer Space were big influences in my early years. I know I can watch clips of most every Saturday Morning cartoon show I want most any time I want on many different screens, but it's not the same.
posted by Rob Rockets at 1:45 PM on October 4, 2014 [1 favorite]


Yes indeed, the Warner Brothers' Looney Toons have still not been surpassed. They were originally produced as movie theater shorts and had to appeal to both kids and adults. I loved them as a kid (I'm an old fart), and watched them with my daughter (I had a whole collection taped off the TV on VHS). MGM had Tom & Jerry, Disney had various mice, ducks and dogs, but even as a kid I knew the Looney Toons were best.
posted by tommyD at 1:47 PM on October 4, 2014 [6 favorites]


I only got to watch Saturday morning cartoons during summer and other school vacations - during the school year I went to synagogue for Hebrew school and services. My favorites were Bugs Bunny/Roadrunner, Pac-Man, Tom & Jerry, Pee-wee's Playhouse, Fat Albert, and Kidd Video, to name a few.
posted by SisterHavana at 1:48 PM on October 4, 2014 [1 favorite]


Also, we watched The McLaughlin Group on Sunday mornings because we were weird.

I was only allowed to watch PBS growing up (which was the only station we got properly, anyway). Channel 11 in Chicago would come on air at (I think) 6.30am on Saturdays with Wall Street Week with Louis Rukeyser, which I watched every week for years, after some delightful viewing of the test pattern.
posted by hoyland at 1:48 PM on October 4, 2014 [7 favorites]


I can't even remember what was saturday morning and what was after school. Pinwheel? Earthworm Jim? Animaniacs? Show me a cartoon from the 80s and I will remember it but I won't remember watching it, just sort of osmotically absorbing it.

also the other day i dreamed that skeletor was nice guying at me in a bar and i was like "ugh can u not, you don't even have a face" and then later he wrote an emo post about it on his facebook
posted by poffin boffin at 1:56 PM on October 4, 2014 [10 favorites]


What killed Saturday morning cartoons? Cable, streaming, and the FCC. In the 1990s, the FCC began more strictly enforcing its rule requiring broadcast networks to provide a minimum of three hours of "educational" programming every week. Networks afraid of messing with their prime-time slots found it easiest to cram this required programming in the weekend morning slot. The actual educational content of this live-action programming is sometimes debatable, but it meets the letter of the law.

I don't understand this. There's a link embedded in that explanation that goes to a Wikipedia page that reveals NBC abandoned its Saturday morning cartoon lineup in 1992, replacing it with a Saturday morning edition of Today and adding an all live-action teen-oriented block, TNBC, which featured Saved by the Bell. . .

How did the FCC define "educational" programming so that Saved by the Bell met the letter of the law but cartoons did not?
posted by layceepee at 1:58 PM on October 4, 2014


*Looks up from watching Korra and Star Wars Rebels*

Really? No more Saturday Morning Cartoons? That's a pity.

*Goes back to watching Korra and Star Wars Rebels.*
posted by happyroach at 1:58 PM on October 4, 2014 [4 favorites]


There are few things worse than turning on the TV on Saturday morning and finding golf instead of M.A.S.K.
posted by Brocktoon at 2:02 PM on October 4, 2014 [10 favorites]


Yeah, Josie Penguin and I are currently streaming Strong Bad Emails to our TV while we eat Italian Ice. The few times we've watched broadcastv TV she hasn't understood why you have to watch what is being broadcast at the moment.
posted by Elementary Penguin at 2:03 PM on October 4, 2014 [4 favorites]


I never understood why segments like In The News were axed. Surely Christopher Glenn's VO rate wasn't that expensive. I mean, if networks were willing to pay for the likes of Kidd Video, then a few minutes every week explaining current events to kids with reused footage and a VO wasn't so much. Heh. Kidd Video. "From my video to my radio!" How quaint.
posted by droplet at 2:09 PM on October 4, 2014 [6 favorites]


I only have broadcast TV, and NO WORRIES, PBS still broadcasts Saturday morning cartoons.

Usually my husband has to get up about an hour before my kids on weekdays, so on Saturday he sleeps in for an hour and gets up with the kids, they watch a little Curious George or something, and then OFF FOR THE DAD-RELATED MAYHEM (which is generally far-away parks or noisy activities that mom doesn't have the weekday patience for).
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 2:09 PM on October 4, 2014 [3 favorites]


George_Spigott: I miss that brief mid-70s period where the characters were also in a band and there'd always be a musical number

The early years of the Cartoon Network were a treasure of crap from Hannah Barbara's vault: the Gary Coleman show, Goldie Gold & Action Jack, Turbo Teen, etc

It never ceased to amaze how HB coasted on the same few ideas. Let's put the honeymooners in the Stone Age and call it the Flintstones! Let's put the Flintstones in the future and call it the Jetsons! Come up with Scooby Doo, fair enough. Swap out the dog for a shark and call it Jabberjaw! Swap out the shark for a ghost and call it the Funky Phantom!
posted by dr_dank at 2:16 PM on October 4, 2014 [2 favorites]


If you lived in southern Ontario in the seventies and got up at the crack of dawn, you could watch the incomparably odd Hilarious House of Frightenstein. Vincent Price opening and closing each show with a poem (any Gen-X Canadian can probably deliver the entire closing poem if prompted with "The castle lights are growing dim...") Billy Van in a dozen different roles, and an installment of top 40 tunage (Rolling Stones, Sly and the Family Stone) to make DVD releases a music rights nightmare. I suppose there could be cooler programming for kids but I have trouble envisioning it.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 2:21 PM on October 4, 2014 [9 favorites]


They just moved Children's fantasy television to Sunday where a ridiculous animated character has a show called 'Meet the Press' where cardboard cutout animated Charlatans, Frauds and other Villains make nonsense noises at a shellacked bobble-head.
posted by srboisvert at 2:24 PM on October 4, 2014 [6 favorites]


Land of the Lost! Was that Sat AM? I'm still traumatized by the dad leaving/uncle showing up.
posted by Ik ben afgesneden at 2:24 PM on October 4, 2014 [6 favorites]


That's All Folks
posted by bukvich at 2:39 PM on October 4, 2014


Mighty Mouse and Sky King were on Saturday mornings, back in my black&white teevee youth.
    Out of the clear [light grey] of the western sky comes SKY KING [zzzzzzzzzzoom!]
brotcha by Nabisco!

How about Fury?
King Leonardo and his Short Subjects?
Astroboy?
Whooo's the Funny Mann? I'm glad you asked that question . . .

Fireball XL5 . . .
    I wish I was a spa-ace man, the fastest guy alive . . .

Josie and the Pussycats in Outer Space
    I'm too old for this one, but can I just say: SEIZE THEM!!
 
posted by Herodios at 2:39 PM on October 4, 2014 [2 favorites]


Land of the Lost traumatized me via the fucking Sleestaks. I still have no clue what they were supposed to be (aliens? Evolved dinosaurians?). Except creepy.

I find all of this nostalgia for the thin, rewarmed commercial fare of Saturday mornings puzzling. Even the good stuff, like Looney Tunes, was often cut-up and badly edited, or slapped together with terrible "new" bits. The rest was 99% dreck that was only good in comparison to the boring adult crap that was the alternative. Guys, it was bad. I have tried re-watching some of it with my kid, and he looks at me puzzled and bored, and he is right. We live in a golden age of TV animation right now. Those were the dark ages. Stop looking at them through the golden haze of your memories.
posted by emjaybee at 2:42 PM on October 4, 2014 [7 favorites]


At least we still have Wonderama on Sundays!
posted by Room 641-A at 2:46 PM on October 4, 2014 [1 favorite]


Stop looking at them through the golden haze of your memories.


Hey, it's either the golden haze of my memories, or a serious benzodiazepine addiction. I'm just fine with the nostalgia, thank you.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 2:58 PM on October 4, 2014 [8 favorites]


This Is the First Weekend in America With No Saturday Morning Cartoons

The first weekend, that is, since the era when movie companies unloaded all their theatrical cartoons to TV stations, since nobody went to movies anymore due to the invention of TV...

Was there good Saturday morning radio for kids before that, I wonder?
posted by Melismata at 3:00 PM on October 4, 2014


...Gadzoooooky....
posted by persona au gratin at 3:11 PM on October 4, 2014 [3 favorites]


Seconding Hilarious House of Frightenstein.
posted by parki at 3:12 PM on October 4, 2014 [4 favorites]


I was an early riser from way back so for me, Saturday usually meant watching shows like "Modern Farmer" before the cartoons started. In black&white of course, since we didn't get a color television until 1974. After that it was shows like "Crusader Rabbit" and "Colonel Bleep" along with something from Hanna-Barbera and maybe some Looney Tunes. Or in other words, the classics.
posted by tommasz at 3:28 PM on October 4, 2014 [2 favorites]


All of my favorite Saturday morning cartoons are from my adulthood. Animaniacs, Earthworm Jim, Eek the Cat, The Tick, Reboot, PeeWee's Playhouse, Sam and Max... All I remember from childhood was Bullwinkle.
posted by njohnson23 at 3:32 PM on October 4, 2014 [1 favorite]


Does coverage of college football games produce more revenue for TV stations than cartoons? The answer to that may explain why cartoons are gone. Guess cartoons did not have effective defense, or a talented quarterback.
posted by Cranberry at 3:34 PM on October 4, 2014


Stop looking at them through the golden haze of your memories.

I can not think of a single reason to do that.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 3:37 PM on October 4, 2014 [14 favorites]


Does coverage of college football games produce more revenue for TV stations than cartoons? The answer to that may explain why cartoons are gone. Guess cartoons did not have effective defense, or a talented quarterback.

I think it's in part due to the commodification of broadcast space. Back when there were only 4 options, they put more, let's use the word effort, even if it's not EXACTLY right into content than "Roll the informercial block"...

When the channels got diluted, so was the motivation to produce things. The point of "Over on Cartoon Network, they're running Teen Titans" is relevant too. It's not gone.. It's just elsewhere...
[mike@orion ~]$ ls -1 /storage/mythtv/l-space/Video/TV/Cartoons/
Adult Swim
Batman - The Brave and the Bold Season1
Chow_Hound__Org.Version_.flv
DC_Animated_Universe
Felix The Cat
GI_Joe
Holiday
Inspector Gadget S01E1-E22
Invader_Zim
Jabberjaw
Josie and the Pussycats
Krypto the Superdog
Looney_Tunes_Golden_Collection
Magilla Gorilla Show
Max Fleischer's Superman_1941-1942
men in black the series 1-3
My Little Pony - Friendship is Magic
Pokemon
Pokémon Season 1 - Indigo League
Puff, the Magic Dragon (1978)
ReBoot
Samurai_Jack_S01
South_Park
Star Trek TAS
Super Friends
Teen_Titans
The Ant and the Aardvark (Pink Panther TV Series)
The Pink Panther Classic Cartoon Collection Disc 1
The.Powerpuff.Girls
The_Tick
Tiny Toon Adventures
Transformers - 80's Version
Transformers - Beast Machines
Transformers - Beast Wars
Underdog
Wacky Races
Yogi Bear

posted by mikelieman at 3:40 PM on October 4, 2014 [2 favorites]


Clutch Cargo in the early 1960's had the worst animation ever, ever, ever.
posted by ThatCanadianGirl at 3:42 PM on October 4, 2014


Mark Evanier (whose credits include the better-than-the-comics Garfield cartoon show and allegedly co-creating Scrappy Doo for the Scooby Doo cartoons) has a more in-depth explanation.

I'm old enough to remember the first made-for-TV Saturday Morning cartoon (and first made-for-TV Hanna-Barbera cartoon) "Ruff and Reddy". And how Rocky & Bullwinkle used the same 'two parts of a longer serialized story' format but with more control over the other segments inbetween (and that it first ran in 'pre-prime Sundays', 6:30PM before being shuffled off to Saturday Morning). How Alvin and the Chipmunks did the first 'pop-music' cartoons before The Beatles, The Jackson 5 and dozens of 'created for kids TV' groups, starting with The Archies. How Warner Brothers' library of Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies were split up into different packages, two sold into syndication for filling 7 minute holes in local TV afternoons, early mornings and 'Lunch Brigade', the third professionally assembled into the primetime Bugs Bunny Show which after two years was also sent to Saturday Morning. How ex-WB director Bob Clampett made a local puppet show in L.A. in the 50s that became the animated Beany & Cecil on ABC in 1960. How Hanna-Barbera's failed primetime shows, like The Jetsons and Jonny Quest, found a new lease on life in Saturday Morning. How HB's Space Ghost began and Scooby Doo ended the short-lived (and parent-group-disapproved) superhero takeover of Saturday Morning. How Filmation lived to repurpose other media as toons, including Superman and Archie from the comics and the not-yet-fully-immortal Star Trek. Terrytoons' theatrical toons like Mighty Mouse and Heckle & Jeckle after the company was acquired by CBS (yet most of its new production was syndicated for weekday afternoons, not network Saturday Mornings). And the first most blatant sponsor tie-in, Linus the Lionhearted, which turned existing Post Cereal box mascots into full cartoon characters. And the memories go on...

I obsessed over the cartoons; as soon as I could read, write and count, I started putting together Episode Lists of the toons I watched and I can declare without fear of contradiction that cartoons that were NEVER part of Saturday Morning Network TV include Crusader Rabbit*, Colonel Bleep, Clutch Cargo, Felix the Cat, Tom Terrific, the 1960s versions of Astroboy** and Thunderbirds***, and any Disney theatrical shorts (which all belonged to their Monday-Friday Mickey Mouse Club).

*except for five second appearances on interstitials for FOX's new '90s cartoons, one of the oddest creative choices I ever saw
**all '60s anime was syndicated in the US, Gigantor, Kimba the White Lion, Speed Racer and the underrated/very weird Amazing 3
***the only Gerry Anderson/Supermariontion show to see the light of Saturday Morning was Fireball XL5
posted by oneswellfoop at 3:54 PM on October 4, 2014 [6 favorites]


Clutch Cargo in the early 1960's had the worst animation ever

Not worst. Cheapest. Not the same thing.

How they did it (the animation, that is.

Great theme music, too.
posted by Herodios at 4:04 PM on October 4, 2014 [2 favorites]


Hey oneswellfoop, what about Bob Hatten's Popeye cartoons!
posted by Room 641-A at 4:10 PM on October 4, 2014 [1 favorite]


I miss the Laff-a-lympics.

You know they were taped weeks before broadcast, right? I also hear they weren't filmed live at all but totally staged.

Also, we watched The McLaughlin Group on Sunday mornings because we were weird.

Sometimes I think old man John McLaughlin's MORTON KONDRECKIE!!! was a silly nod to the kids at home forced to watch. Fun fact: John McLaughlin had a short cameo in an episode of The Adventures of Pete & Pete. Bye-bye!

Suddenly, inexplicably, I hanker for a hunka cheese.

To fill everyone in on this reference, one of the ways networks would try to meet FCC educational guidelines was to slot in short educational cartoons during advertising blocks. It was ABC that mostly did this trick, with Schoolhouse Rock, Time for Timer and other animated bits. Time for Timer was a particularly odd one, featuring what appeared to be an animated gold nugget in a cowboy hat and spurs, but could also have maybe intended to be an egg yolk, or a blob of cheese or something like that, which would make more sense because other than his accent and speaking patterns he had nothing to do with the old west, and instead told kids about how to eat healthy. Very odd.

Earlier, CBS contributed with In The News, where they utilized their huge stock footage library and news department to produce short, newsreel-ish current events spots for kids. They were classic for the time, and I remember being sad when they did the last one. A YouTube search for "in the news" saturday morning will turn up numerous examples of kids news programming done right.

80's cartoons were shit from top to bottom. Cheaply made toy advertising is all they are.

This is inaccurate. Many of the shows named here didn't have pre-existing toy tie-ins. A few did, and it is true that, if a show became popular, it could spawn merchandising. The toy tie-ins were more the province of syndicated cartoons like G.I. Joe and He-Man.

I would get up at 5 in the morning, and have to suffer through the tragedy of the Farm Report, to make sure I didn't any of my precious Rocky & Bullwinkle, Tennessee Tuxedo or Underdog. They were old cartoons even then, but they were so different from the others they showed on Saturday Morning. Then as the morning wore on we'd hit specific bands of programming: the 9 AM kids band that included Smurfs and Muppet Babies, the 10-11 AM band that would include the (greatly underrated and much better than newspaper strip) Garfield and Friends. As we approach noon we'd get into action-adventure shows meant to appeal more to teenagers like Fat Albert and (in the late 70s) Tarzan, and eventually I'd lose interest as the networks segued into golf and football.

> Stop looking at them through the golden haze of your memories.
I can not think of a single reason to do that.


Well, I can. It is true, a lot of those shows were pretty bad. But a lot of them were pretty good too, or would give rise to better things. And some were bad, but had moments of greatness.

Like oneswellfoop, I was kind of obsessed as a kid, although maybe not to that extent. Still though, I would sit with TV Guide open the night before the new series premiered and plan out my viewing for the next morning. I'd even watch the bizarre Saturday Morning Preview special the network would show in prime time the night before, which gave us some infamous sights like The Saved By The Bell 'Who Shrunk Saturday Mornings' Special. [5m, 1/4]

Kids have no equivalent experience now, although we also didn't have Minecraft videos back then. It will be interesting to see how kids' changed early attitudes regarding media transform entertainment in the next 20 years, things should get to be entertainingly strange. And that's good: for few groups of people perennially, perpetually need to be shaken up as do entertainment television executives.
posted by JHarris at 4:14 PM on October 4, 2014 [7 favorites]


Here's a 1979 comic book advertisement for the new season of cartoons on ABC. Every Saturday felt like a little slice of Christmas.
posted by jeremias at 4:30 PM on October 4, 2014 [7 favorites]


*

I've turned into one of those annoying middleaged people who reminisce about the past, and how good it was, etc. etc. getoffmylawn....
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 4:33 PM on October 4, 2014


Jharris, I was just gonna link to this NYT summary of one of those insane preview specials the Big Three networks would air the week before the new fall cartoon schedule. (Imagine Jim Neighbors and Ruth Buzzi giving a Steve Jobs keynote hyping the new season of The Banana Splits).

I used to flip back and forth between those shows (sometimes the networks would air them head-to-head on a Friday night) with pen and paper in hand, deciding what looked good and planning out a schedule of what shows to watch while munching bowls of Strawberry Honeycomb.
posted by straight at 4:39 PM on October 4, 2014 [3 favorites]


Kids I know are barely even aware of television anymore.
posted by spitbull at 4:43 PM on October 4, 2014 [3 favorites]


Filling a cereal bowl with artificially colored sugar pebbles and staring at the tube was every kid's weekend plan.

This sentence describes my childhood exactly.

I recall my brother crying when he realized that Saturday morning swimming lessons were going to cause him to miss the Saturday Superstar Movie.
posted by freakazoid at 5:00 PM on October 4, 2014 [1 favorite]


Metafilter: Imagine Jim Neighbors and Ruth Buzzi giving a Steve Jobs keynote hyping the new season of The Banana Splits

I read that phrase, and I want to turn it into an Orwell reference by adding "forever" at the end of it.

That "Saturday Superstar Movie" promo is hilarious. It reveals, for instance, there was once a That Girl cartoon. Also, the fervor that those singers display in hyping up the Saturday Superstar, Saturday Superstar MOOVIIEEEE!! is insane, as in the sense of, not being sane. Cthulhu cultists show less adoration.
posted by JHarris at 5:09 PM on October 4, 2014 [4 favorites]


Time for Timer was a particularly odd one, featuring what appeared to be an animated gold nugget in a cowboy hat and spurs, but could also have maybe intended to be an egg yolk, or a blob of cheese or something like that, which would make more sense because other than his accent and speaking patterns he had nothing to do with the old west, and instead told kids about how to eat healthy. Very odd.

Every time I leave in the morning and think about skipping breakfast, I'm always reminded, to this day, of this PSA's encouragement to have something, even if it's just some fruit, juice, or a peanut butter sandwich, before leaving the house. The idea was that something is better than nothing, I guess, and it helps you jump start your day. I actually had a piece of toast with peanut butter on it this week because that cartoon dude Time for Timer told me it was a good idea about 30 years ago.

Oh, and here it is.
posted by SpacemanStix at 5:15 PM on October 4, 2014 [3 favorites]


One of my littlest grandson's favourite shows is a Dinosaur Train, a PBS animated show about - I shit you not - a bunch of dinosaurs that run a railroad. The last episode I watched with him was about a visit to a dinosaur observatory, which was obviously a complete fantasy because if they'd really had astronomers, they'd have seen that asteroid coming. And this is what passes for educational TV nowadays. Hmmph.
posted by Mary Ellen Carter at 6:31 PM on October 4, 2014 [6 favorites]


I was usually up on Saturday morning before my parents and watching cartoons. It was great. Except this one Saturday, my parents woke up early to watch TV because some guy called Nelson Mandela was getting out of jail or something. I had no idea who he was and I was kind of upset that I was missing out on some prime cartoon time.
posted by mcmile at 6:34 PM on October 4, 2014 [1 favorite]


It's so sad to lose such a tradition and marker of time (Saturday mornings), even a seemingly superficial one. I guess it's what happens when absolutely everything is accessible absolutely all of the time.

I remember watching cartoon after cartoon for hours half dozing on the couch. I hated it when Teddy Ruxpin was on because when it was on nothing else was on that I could watch instead of it.
posted by Blitz at 6:46 PM on October 4, 2014 [1 favorite]


Cartoons these days are horrible anyway.
posted by Blitz at 6:53 PM on October 4, 2014 [1 favorite]


Oh wow, Pinwheel! Wasn't that on weekday mornings on Nickelodeon? I used to watch that too.
posted by SisterHavana at 7:03 PM on October 4, 2014 [1 favorite]


those insane preview specials the Big Three networks would air

OMFG, they're not kidding. Is that Chuck Woolery as Superman? Watching the SuperFriends clip at around 8:45 makes you realize that the animation in SNL's TV Fun House shorts is not actually worse, and possibly a little better, than the real thing was. And I never realized Rick Springfield had an earlier career as a pre-teen heartthrob in the early 1970s. His cartoon clip starts at around 14:00 and it's completely fucking demented. Jesus, I'm not even going to try. No wonder the generation running things now is insane.
posted by George_Spiggott at 7:07 PM on October 4, 2014 [4 favorites]


Timer was leftover from a Saturday Morning Superstar Movie that was, as I fuzzily remember, sort of a proto-Osmosis Jones story about the effects of nutritious foods on the body. Almost nobody I've ever met remembers this special, but I know it happened. My only possible change would be to accept it as an After Schhol,Special instead of a Saturday movie special.
posted by jkosmicki at 7:08 PM on October 4, 2014 [1 favorite]


If you had asked me, at a certain age, to draw a picture of my best friend it would have been the family Sony TV with Trinitron. I loved TV, I still love TV and those cartoons meant a great deal. Heck, children's programming was insane with things like HR Puff n'Stuff and let us not forget the Superfriends' Lord of the Rings episode (Wonder Woman turned into a Hobbit with the hairy feet kind of freaked me out.) My children don't do Saturday morning cartoons they do Netflix, Youtube and other media through the TV or iPad.

This is like that askMefi question about smells that are becoming extinct from human experience. My childhood markers, OK, young adult markers are fading into time... Shit, I am going to start singing Fleetwood Mac's "Landslide." I better go check on my brining pork.
posted by jadepearl at 7:11 PM on October 4, 2014 [2 favorites]


Your link's broken, George_Spiggott. It's a shame, as what you're describing sounds entertainingly bizarre.
posted by JHarris at 7:12 PM on October 4, 2014


I fixed it moments later, refresh the page.
posted by George_Spiggott at 7:12 PM on October 4, 2014


Ah, thanks much.
posted by JHarris at 7:13 PM on October 4, 2014


dr_dank: The early years of the Cartoon Network were a treasure of crap from Hannah Barbara's vault
If you poke around near the kids' channels you might find Boomerang, which is the Cartoon Network's classic cartoon channel.
posted by ob1quixote at 7:13 PM on October 4, 2014 [2 favorites]


In that previous thread from May, I posted a Wikipedia link that has the network Saturday morning schedule from 1984, and browsing through the years you remember is quite interesting.

Hearing the end of (what's left of) the Saturday morning tradition makes me think of the end credits for Pee-wee's Playhouse, which I most associated with "end of Saturday morning." And the music, by Devo's Mark Mothersbaugh, always struck me as rather melancholy, which seems fitting now.
posted by TheSecretDecoderRing at 7:32 PM on October 4, 2014 [1 favorite]


Wikipedia describes Time for Timer.
posted by dilettante at 7:39 PM on October 4, 2014


JHarris: CBS contributed with In The News
Man, oh man. I could hear that music clear as day even all these years later. Also, that's possibly the greatest Saturday morning cartoon commercial break ever recorded.
posted by ob1quixote at 7:51 PM on October 4, 2014 [1 favorite]


If you poke around near the kids' channels you might find Boomerang, which is the Cartoon Network's classic cartoon channel.

This is on some stupid tier I don't get and I had to hide it in the guide because I'd always get excited by whatever was on.
posted by Room 641-A at 8:10 PM on October 4, 2014 [2 favorites]


My memories of Saturday morning cartoons involve a lot more Yu-Gi-Oh! and stuff like X-Men Evolution, Static Shock, and Jackie Chan Adventures, basically anything on Fox or The WB from 1994 until 2005, plus a lot of stuff on PBS, like Adventures From the Book of Virtues, Redwall, and Liberty's Kids*. I was also really big into the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, to the point that my first word was "cowabunga". Then there was the syndicated stuff like Sherlock Holmes in the 22nd Century or Mummies Alive!... They sure don't make them like they used to. Adventure Time and Steven Universe are good and all, but they're too pastel and sweet-natured. The Legend of Korra is better than the old stuff and I'm old enough to really appreciate it, but it's only one thing you have to make an effort to look for, it's not like it's airing every week on Saturday plus every day after school for you to discover on broadcast TV.

Just call me when there's a dark and gritty reboot of Mystic Knights of Tir Na Nog, which wasn't a cartoon, but a Celtic-themed sentai show with faeries and stuff. Screw Power Rangers.

*They should really do a follow-up series about the Civil War, now THAT would be a compelling cartoon.
posted by Small Dollar at 8:21 PM on October 4, 2014 [2 favorites]


Well, since we're busting out some late '70s Ontario nostalgia (Hilarious House of Frightenstein represent!), here is Rocket Robin Hood.


Literally the worst cartoon.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 9:01 PM on October 4, 2014 [2 favorites]


Now that I think about it, I think Time For Timer wasn't actually the source of the "hanker for a hunka cheese" bit, that was a different educational character on ABC Saturday Mornings. Like the 50s greasers who sang about exercising your teeth.
posted by JHarris at 9:05 PM on October 4, 2014


(The Wikipedia page, however, confirms that Timer was the source after all.)
posted by JHarris at 9:08 PM on October 4, 2014 [1 favorite]


Wow, this thread has made me realize how much of a total fetus i am compared to a lot of people who post on here. Seriously, i'm a baby. Other than what naju and Small Dollar posted about, all of these shows are before my time. That 1994-2005 window is about right.

naju: I'm guessing very little of that is particularly watchable to me as an adult

Batman: TAS still holds up quite well(i watched some of it a couple years ago in college with my roommate, who was a huge batman fan). Reboot is just weird and is watchable just because of it's like, videodrome bizarreness. The beetlejuice show also had some really fucking ren and stimpy "wow, how did they get away with that?" moments.

Static shock was surprisingly deep/good though.
posted by emptythought at 9:10 PM on October 4, 2014 [1 favorite]


All of those cartoons came from the animation revival from the 90s though. Batman TAS remains one of the greatest cartoons of all time (I'd say it ties with Brave And The Bold, both are amazing).

Static Shock deserved better than it got, yes, although I hardly got to watch any of it.
posted by JHarris at 9:30 PM on October 4, 2014


I've been slowly working my way through The Brave and the Bold and it's ridiculous how good it is. The one that sourced vintage Mad's "Batboy and Rubin" (which my friends and I all loved as kids and yes it was vintage even then I'm not that old) made my head fall off with a loud plop.
posted by George_Spiggott at 9:44 PM on October 4, 2014 [1 favorite]



>Static Shock deserved better than it got, yes,

From elsewhere, but tots relevant: "Bless the soul of Dwayne McDuffie."
posted by mikelieman at 10:21 PM on October 4, 2014


♫ Stop the pigeon! Stop the pigeon! Stop the pigeon NOW! ♫
posted by tzikeh at 10:51 PM on October 4, 2014 [1 favorite]


Those cartoons were important to me.

Me too. I spent a childhood parked in front of the TV watching the antics of Bugs and the gang (among many other Saturday cartoons). What were Looney Tunes worth, other than their sheer whimsy? There's something about their frenzied anarchy that was both chaotic and precise, and even more valuable, the anarchy was at the service of deflating pomposity and pretense of all kinds. That is, until the mid-1960s, when the animation started getting soft and lazy and Bugs was more like a version of what Krusty is now on The Simpsons -- chortling mirthlessly, saying the expected lines on cue, going through the motions, everything he did and said a prolonged "meh."
posted by blucevalo at 11:29 PM on October 4, 2014 [4 favorites]


I know it's a drained-of-all-life meme now, but I miss Schoolhouse Rock. Those programs were fun to sing along with and I always felt like, somehow more connected to what my parents were talking about after I'd sung along with that little bill on Capitol Hill. (I know, Simpsons tore it apart, and I thought it was funny too, but this is a genuinely nostalgic thread and I am honestly at a pretty post-post-irony phase so more interested in the originals than the re-tweaks these days).

I'm also surprised no one mentioned AWA wrestling, though maybe that was on Sunday morning. That was always the last kid-ish thing of the day, after which my friends and I would be thrown out of the house by our respective parents, and we would retire to the park or backyard to practice The Claw, or the Big John Studd heart punch, or try to sound like Da Crusher for much of the afternoon.

Kids of today, based on observation - tablet games and YouTube videos, same as any other day. I am not sure with the big wide Internet how they will have the same collective touchpoints that we did, but I'm sure they will find something when 29 hits and the search for context begins.
posted by lon_star at 12:14 AM on October 5, 2014 [1 favorite]


ReBoot in particular is the most relevant show for our times and current aesthetic of cool. It's too vaporwave to even handle. I can't even watch more than five minutes at a time, it's so perfect.
posted by naju at 2:22 AM on October 5, 2014 [3 favorites]




Apparently my husband and I are discontented with mere memories of 80's cartoons. Did you know that many of these shows are available for purchase on DVD nowadays? And did you know how completely insane some of them were? G1 Transformers had an episode in which Seaspray fell in love with a mermaid. And then there was 'A Decepticon in King Arthur's Court.' Just recently, I watched an episode of G.I. Joe in which that team of elite fighters saved the day by dressing up like a band. Shipwreck had a saxophone, and I think Snake Eyes was in drag. There was another one that was all the nightmare of one Joe who had been drugged, and imagined that everyone important to him was an evil simulacrum that melted into goo. I thought these cartoons were amazing when I was a kid, and wow, they were!

When I woke up before the cartoons back then, there was a local station that was always playing creature features like King Kong or Gorgo, so it was win-win.
posted by heatvision at 3:10 AM on October 5, 2014 [3 favorites]


ReBoot in particular is the most relevant show for our times and current aesthetic of cool. It's too vaporwave to even handle. I can't even watch more than five minutes at a time, it's so perfect.

Yep, reboot is to vaporwave what liquid sky was to electroclash... or something.
posted by emptythought at 3:38 AM on October 5, 2014


My earliest Saturday Morning cartoon memory is of a weird, now extremely obscure, action-comedy show called "Pandamonium," about three pandas who fight against cosmic evil. The premise is explained in the intro sequence, which appears to be all that remains in the wild of the show.

Besides Rocky & Bullwinkle and other cartoons of that class, I watched a whole lot of Muppet Babies, Garfield & Friends, and Charlie Brown & Snoopy Show (which was excellent because most of its stories came directly from the newspaper strip).

Few remember these days that Muppet Babies, after the first couple of seasons, was expanded into a two-part hour show, co-starring with an original live-action Muppet production called Little Muppet Monsters. Three episodes were shown before the project was abandoned for some unknown reason, switching over to a full hour of Muppet Babies. Here's the show's page on the Muppet Wiki, and here are the aired episodes on YouTube in-full: one, two, three.

Little Muppet Monsters is now one of the most obscure Muppet productions that actually made it to air. I quite liked it, which included bits with classic Muppets like Kermit the Frog (played by Jim Henson back then!), and very disappointed when that half of the show was cancelled completely without announcement or warning, replaced with a second half-hour of the Babies. But there was one curious remnant of the show that, I think, persisted through to the end of the run of Muppet Babies on CBS. While the intro sequence reverted to just Muppet Babies and showed the typical cartoon shenanigans, the closing credits for a long while kept the combined Muppet Babies/Little Muppet Monsters theme music.
posted by JHarris at 3:39 AM on October 5, 2014 [1 favorite]


Seconded on the experience of getting up so early so as not to miss anything that I had to groan through the farm report for what seemed like an eon before the good stuff started.

.
posted by Captain l'escalier at 4:39 AM on October 5, 2014 [1 favorite]


This moment has been inevitable since the introduction of Scrappy Doo. That's when the decline began.

I remember those Friday night preview shows mentioned above well. Often a whole group of us from the neighborhood would watch them together so we could plan our Saturday morning schedules for the next few months. Of course that would only last a couple of weeks but still some good memories.
posted by TedW at 4:54 AM on October 5, 2014


I hate Scooby-Doo. Always have. Forced to watch it due to the one-TV-bigger-older-stronger-kid-in-the-house thing, and Cousin loved that show. I just am not a fan of Hanna-Barbera output in general, except for Top Cat, which I only have seen as an adult and am aware is a ripoff of The Phil Silvers Show. Tom & Jerry bored me to tears. At least Gene Deitch was trying to do something mold-breaking and freaky; that I could respect.

I've never seen one of those fall season previews. Was that an early 70s thing to do? If so, then I was a little too young to stay up for any of that stuff. There's a list of US TV schedules on Wikipedia, and I don't remember any of the shows from before 1975 (and even some of those shows I don't know. "The Secret Lives of Waldo Kitty"? "Uncle Croc's Block"? What were those?). Now I don't even have a TV! Cable is so very expensive in NYC, and my area doesn't get OTA very well, so...

Of course, though, I remember Avery Schreiber, a man whose career that anyone who fancies themselves an improviser should know about. He seemed to be in everything when I was a child.
posted by droplet at 7:19 AM on October 5, 2014


Tell Me No Lies: "Meanwhile, back at the Hall of Justice ... [crickets chirping]."

I love that the voiceovers were by Ted Knight. Perfect casting.
posted by Chrysostom at 7:50 AM on October 5, 2014 [3 favorites]


freakazoid: I recall my brother crying when he realized that Saturday morning swimming lessons were going to cause him to miss the Saturday Superstar Movie.

This gave rise to the greatest lie my parents told me to get me away from the TV in the 80's: "you can catch it later". I heard that while trying to watch "The Electric Grandmother" on Special Delivery.

It would have been more honest if mom said "you can catch this about twenty years from now once Darpanet develops the ability to handle video".
posted by dr_dank at 8:00 AM on October 5, 2014 [4 favorites]




Saturday Morning TV Memories 1964 - 1976 !!!
"Pop-O-Matic pops the dice, pop a six and you go twice."
For the past 30 years or so I've had this running through my head: "na na na na na na na, pop a six and you go twice." Thanks for clearing that up!
posted by Room 641-A at 9:39 AM on October 5, 2014




.
posted by Annabelle74 at 10:37 AM on October 5, 2014


This talk of PSAs of old has me wishing I could find the (live-action) one whose song went:
I want something good for my heart
Do you know what I mean?
How about pasta with fruit?
That's great! For a healthy heart
Either it never made it to the internet, or I just imagined it in the first place.
posted by enf at 11:03 AM on October 5, 2014


Stop looking at them through the golden haze of your memories.

This is the worst advice I've ever received.
posted by Brocktoon at 12:08 PM on October 5, 2014 [4 favorites]


I am oddly sad now that I know Saturday cartoons are gone. Though, of course, knowing is half the battle.
posted by umberto at 12:08 PM on October 5, 2014


I am honestly at a pretty post-post-irony phase so more interested in the originals than the re-tweaks these days).

I feel the exact same way. Everything has to be mocked and satirized now, and it can be a bit numbing. It sorta feels like payback for being a fan of MST3K, which mocked and satirized old '50s B-movies that were probably a beloved staple for many.

Just recently, I watched an episode of G.I. Joe in which that team of elite fighters saved the day by dressing up like a band.

One episode that everyone always spoke of fondly was "The Viper Is Coming." It was delightfully out of left field. And the mini-series "There's No Place Like Springfield."

The show is on the "Hub" cable channel. It used to be paired with the original Transformers, but no longer is for some reason. Now it's just the more recent spinoffs.

Apparently it's difficult to get Muppet Babies on DVD because of clearance issues for the countless clips that were used. Which is a shame because it must've been the best cartoon of that era.
posted by TheSecretDecoderRing at 1:30 PM on October 5, 2014 [3 favorites]


The Viper Is Coming is a fairly awesome idea, although I haven't seen it myself. From what I've heard, spoilers:

The Joe team in their headquarters gets a mysterious message that The Viper is coming. They've never heard of this Viper before, and are wondering what new Cobra threat it heralds. At the end of the episode they're accosted in their base by an old man with scrubbrushes, who says: "I am the Viper. I come to vipe de vindows." Cue episode ending laughing or something. Ho ho ho! My tax dollars at work amirite?

There was also one I seem to remember in which Cobra tried raising funds for their evil schemes by holding a telethon.

Muppet Babies was pretty good, although I don't know if it'd hold up if I saw it now. Considering the amount of play it got, I'd be surprised if there wasn't a torrent floating around somewhere, or you could just wait until the rights for all the movies they excerpted gravitates to Disney (the state of lowest energy for random pop culture) and watch the BluRay they put out then.

One neglected category of shows is the early Kids WB, which in addition to Animaniacs and Pinky and the Brain contained the now-beloved Freakazoid!, as well as the underrated Earthworm Jim cartoon, which deserves to be remembered better than it is, and the inexplicable Road Rovers.

Road Rovers was a weird show, evidently an attempt to do Freakazoid!'s parody superhero thing but hewing the line closer to seriousness. From what I remember (I don't think the show has ever been syndicated or released on DVD), it didn't quite work. Basically, a bunch of dogs are mutated into humanoid super heroes, but they retain aspects of their doggyness. They also all learn to drive, which helps them to tool around in their Toyetic vehicles. Few Kids WB shows were popular enough to merit merchandising, though. The theme was mostly serious action-adventure, though fairly light-hearted and with occasional knowing winks and references, as opposed to Freakazoid's glorious all-out, chaotic lunacy.
posted by JHarris at 2:05 PM on October 5, 2014 [2 favorites]


I just imagine the Joe writing staff sitting around, pitching the "Viper" story as a complete joke, then gradually wondering if they could actually pull it off.

There was another ep where they sneak into a Cobra training center, and upon hacking into the database, someone remarks how "They have really good benefits." The Joe and Transformers writers occasionally threw in jokes only grown-ups would appreciate, but it was probably more to amuse themselves, since cartoons were much more of a "kids only" thing in those days.

And someone related a story of having Citizen Kane spoiled for them as a kid because there was a Ghostbusters episode which was pretty much a retelling of the movie.

There's random Muppet Babies on YouTube, but I've only seen the Star Wars episode thus far. Cartoons featuring Star Wars parodies sure were different back then.
posted by TheSecretDecoderRing at 2:47 PM on October 5, 2014 [2 favorites]


Man, this brings back memories. I remember getting up at the crack of dawn every Saturday and settling into the old beanbag for several hours of high quality cereal-sponsored entertainment. Who else remembers Noam Chomsky's Anarcho-syndicalizards!, or The Pipefitters Union Local 537 Adventure Hour? Or the incomparably weird The Wupperwoodles, which if you asked me kinda lost its way after that episode where Klaus Nomi saves the wupperwoodles from the clutches of the sinister RAND Corporation.
posted by dephlogisticated at 3:48 PM on October 5, 2014 [3 favorites]


But we get Adult Swim. I got to watch Space Ghost in the late 90s, I get BoJack Horseman, I get Sealab, I get Voltron on DVD! I even get NEW Voltron (blech), and new Transformers across a wide variety of media. WE NEVER HAVE TO GROW UP!!!

I went on a one-night Rick and Morty binge as soon as I discovered it. The writers really have their sci-fi chops, and they also know how unhappy families work.

I wouldn't watch it with kids, though, until they're about 35 or so.
posted by sebastienbailard at 4:02 PM on October 5, 2014


.
posted by dogstoevski at 4:03 PM on October 5, 2014


Maybe we should pick some old Saturday Morning show and do it up right on FanFare?
posted by JHarris at 5:15 PM on October 5, 2014 [4 favorites]


Now that I think about it, I think Time For Timer wasn't actually the source of the "hanker for a hunka cheese" bit, that was a different educational character on ABC Saturday Mornings. Like the 50s greasers who sang about exercising your teeth.

It *was* Time for Timer who sang Hanker for a Hunk o' Cheese! Even though I hadn't heard that in 30+ years, I still remembered all the words once it started playing.

My kids look at me like I've grown a second head when I try to explain weird bits of the past, like only getting to watch certain cartoons at certain times on certain days on certain channels. Then they turn back to their ipad and the endless entertainment-o-rama it offers. Explaining to them that no, we didn't have a computer when I was little, and in fact only had a tiny black-and-white tv was very entertaining.

I think a lot of what I watched in the late 70s/early 80s was pretty terrible; the wider range of options now means that I can try to steer my kids to higher-quality, more-entertaining shows.
posted by belladonna at 6:58 PM on October 5, 2014 [1 favorite]


Oh mighty Isis!
posted by mon-ma-tron at 8:43 PM on October 5, 2014 [3 favorites]


Cap'n O.G. Readmore was the best Saturday morning cartoon host ever.
posted by Sheppagus at 6:05 AM on October 6, 2014 [3 favorites]


I have some very fond memories of a lot of terrible crap.
posted by malocchio at 6:50 AM on October 6, 2014 [3 favorites]


this news would come as a surprise to some of my friends who, when the digital conversion happened a few years ago, strongly believed that there was no more tv besides cable

Not having anything but computer monitors myself, I could do nothing to prove them wrong. And in fact I wondered myself about it.
posted by rebent at 7:03 AM on October 6, 2014 [1 favorite]


(Partial) Saturday morning TV schedule
posted by Room 641-A at 12:22 PM on October 11, 2014


Ha. I remember trying to decide if the last part of Superfriends was going to suck or be a re-run so I could switch over and watch the first part of Godzilla. Looks like it must've been 1978.
posted by straight at 3:29 PM on October 12, 2014


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