April 4, 2002
7:25 AM   Subscribe

The Death of Saturday Morning Cartoons. Old news? Kind of, as the decline of Big Network cartoons has been happening for a while. However, as a Generation X-er, I'm wondering if it's possible to have a comparable shared-common-experience these days as digital cable and the internet widen our options into smaller, hyper-specific choices. Roots, Shooting JR, the last MASH, Live Aid: would these still have the same impact today?
posted by FreezBoy (40 comments total)
... And whatever happened to FrankenBerry and BooBerry cereals? Very rare, but available online. My Saturday Morning sugar-cereal fix is just not the same.
posted by FreezBoy at 7:26 AM on April 4, 2002

You can still get FrankenBerry and BooBerry, along with their more popular cousin Count Chocula, at regular grocery stores around here.. Although I know there was a 4th "monster cereal", a werewolf one, which has disappeared from the planet.
posted by jozxyqk at 7:47 AM on April 4, 2002

Blah, I am in my mid twenty's and I still wake up to catch the new cartoons on Saturday. Even some of the shows that target 5 year olds are some how entertaining to me. Shows like Pokemon, X-Men Evolution, Ugio all are quite enjoyable to me. So what if I actually sit down with a cooked breakfast instead of a bowl of ceral, I still enjoy the cartoons.
posted by thebwit at 7:52 AM on April 4, 2002

FreezBoy, I've noticed that sort of commonality of experience you're talking about going on the internet, oddly enough. The net maybe huge, but common interest seems to throw people into similar pipes of surf. Isn't Kaycee our JR? That name will inspire the same sort of reaction to we who experienced it when mentioned in the future. It seems there's still big groupings of audiences, just less of a geographical definition to them.

BTW, I'll take Samurai Jack or Sponge Bob over Spiderman and his Amazing And His Incredibly Fey And Ineffectual Friends anyday. I realized that show sucked when I was nine.

Also, berrys both Franken and Boo are readily available at my local Publix (Publix. Selling crappy food to america's southern dyslexics since 1786.)
posted by dong_resin at 7:55 AM on April 4, 2002

AH, but google tells me not only that, but there was a fifth, Fruit Brute (the werewolf) AND Yummy Mummy (from here).
posted by malphigian at 7:59 AM on April 4, 2002

jozxyqk, i believe the cereal you mean was "Fruit Brute".
posted by zoopraxiscope at 8:01 AM on April 4, 2002

Saturday moring cartoons are far from dead. Check out the line ups for next season I found on Toon Zone. Fox sold their Saturday lineup to 4Kids Entertainment and they are going to load their programming with Japanese fan favorites, Kinnikuman, Ultraman Tiga and Kirby.

If you are really mouring the loss of your Satuday morning cartoons, I would suggest you stay up and watch (or tape if you are out clubbing) Cartoon Network's Adult Swim from 10 to 1 (central)

Ahh anime.
posted by lheiskell at 8:03 AM on April 4, 2002

Boston is definitely cereal-lacking.

dong_resin - true, there is definitely shared experiences on the web, but it certainly isn't on the same scale (since there are many more choices) and it's also much more widely-spread. When a kid goes on the playground on Monday morning, he probably won't be reliving the latest SuperFriends episode with his friends; he'll be talking about watching the Discovery Science channel while playing Quake against a kid in Norway.
Not that this is a bad thing, but our connections to people and events has changed alot since I was a kid.
posted by FreezBoy at 8:06 AM on April 4, 2002

"SuperFriends" and others of its era run on the cable channel Boomerang. We just saw an episode where the Legion of Doom thought they had killed all the 'Friends, but lo and behold, in the nick of time they'd smartly replaced themselves with their robot duplicates!

Best SuperFriends link on the Web has to be Seanbaby.
posted by GaelFC at 8:07 AM on April 4, 2002

In 1981, Saturday mornings really took off with the creation of The Smurfs.

Article obviously written by someone too young to have any memory of just how great Saturday morning cartoons were in the 1960s and 1970s and without Cartoon Network on their cable service to remind them.

NBC dropped Saturday cartoons a long time ago in favor of the Today show and teen live-action shows.
posted by briank at 8:08 AM on April 4, 2002

And another thing,

Bandai and DIC are revamping Strawberry Shortcake.

Here a quote:
"Little girls today will certainly be entertained in the new world of Strawberry Shortcake, just as their mothers were nearly 20 years ago.?

Holy crap. I feel I'm getting old now.
posted by lheiskell at 8:12 AM on April 4, 2002

Freezboy-you have a point although I don't know whether the exponential growth of niche cable channels is a contributor or merely a symptom. The US has been splintering into smaller and smaller groups divided my narrower and narrower criteria for years now, and I for one find it kind of depressing.

That and I really miss Grape Ape, too.
posted by jonmc at 8:52 AM on April 4, 2002

Well, I'd say the first survivor or the day Kurt Cobian died will be seen as a big deal for Gen Y'ers. Add 20 years on top of those events, and they'll seem positively historic.

I agree that things have changed, FreezBoy. I see it as a good thing, though. It was interesting when everyone watched the exact same thing on television, but that kind of lockstep approach makes it much harder to experience new things.

As it is, I'm constantly being told about new discoveries in entertainment. I usually ignore it the first time someone tells me, but by the second or third recommendation, I know it must be good. Compare this to the past when everyone watched Spiderman mostly because everyone else did and there weren't many other options.

We're living in an age where indie content (Sopranos, South Park, heck, even Nirvana) can make it onto the scene more with actual merit than with a huge business backing them.

Sure, the Survivors and Britneys of the world still rake in millions, but the mainstream is more splintered than it was before. And that's a good thing.
posted by jragon at 9:00 AM on April 4, 2002

Mighty Mouse and Heckle & Jeckle were the cartoons I grew up with. I told you I was old.

Good stuff about all kinds of cartoons on Don Markstein's Toonopedia.
posted by bjgeiger at 9:04 AM on April 4, 2002

Jim Nabors is the person ultimately responsible for the death of Saturday Morning Children's programming and shared-common experiences.
posted by BentPenguin at 9:06 AM on April 4, 2002

While WB and Cartoon Network have been showing more and more Japanese cartoons, they are also running shows like Justice League (Batman & Superman spin-off), X-Men Evolution, Static Shock, The Zeta Project (Batman Beyond spin-off), etc, which are based on US comics. Thanks to TiVo, I am just glad I don't have to worry about WB moving the shows around to give the prime slots to Pokemon and Pokemon reruns.
posted by riffola at 9:13 AM on April 4, 2002

Bullshit - my son's 4-1/2, and Saturday morning cartoons are still a shared ritual in our family. Who cares if the "major networks" are showing them or not? He doesn't get to watch TV during the week, and the selection on Saturday is pretty vast - classic Warner Bros. on Cartoon Network, Arthur & Clifford on PBS, Buzz Lightyear & Little Bill on Playhouse Disney, and a whole bunch of as yet undiscovered stuff, all floating around out there in TV land.

What we're really lacking is a Clutch Cargo revival.
posted by groundhog at 9:20 AM on April 4, 2002

Hmmm, actually I'd contradict you on that one and say the exact opposite. Sid and Marty Krofft (creators of The Lost Saucer for which Jim Nabors starred) were responsible for the pinnacle of Saturday Morning Children's programming and shared-common experiences.

What Gen x'er worth his/her salt can't think back to some twisted memory of the acid-tinged world that passed for programming those days; H.R. Pufnstuf, Land of the Lost, Far Out Space Nuts, The Bugaloos, Sigmund and the Sea Monsters, Lidsville, Wonderbug, Electrawoman and Dynagirl.

That article has it all backwards; The Smurfs were the beginning of the end; a poorly animated excuse of a show designed to sell more products rather than a vehicle for stimulating/warping young minds.
posted by jeremias at 9:22 AM on April 4, 2002

Damn! A discussion about cereal and cartoons, and I missed a bunch of it....DAMN YOU, WORK!

FreezBoy - FrankenBerry And BooBerry are best found around Halloween, especially at Target. Target always seems to have cases of the stuff around Halloween. If you can't wait that long, like you said, you can order them online. Trust me, it's well worth it. (Ah, Frankenberry.....So delicious.....)

As for the demise of Saturday Morning Cartoons, I think the love of cartoons skipped "Generation Y" for some reason. I know my younger brother was never really one to wake up at 6am on a Saturday and watch cartoons until well after noon with a brimming bowl of cereal, like my older brother and I would do. (Well, except for the whole cereal thing. Like I've said before, I wasn't allowed such treats growing up.) The original audience of Saturday Morning has grown up, and the cartoons have followed them to a time when they're more likely to watch.
posted by emptybowl at 9:24 AM on April 4, 2002

Boston is definitely cereal-lacking.

If this is in reference to the Monster Cereals, maybe you're going to the wrong grocery store. :) I'm near Boston and I know I see them at the local Stah Mahket.

Some of the best parts of Saturday Morning cartoons of the late 70s/early 80s were the stuff in between the cartoons. You can't forget Schoolhouse Rock! And I've also got that damned "I hanker for a hunka cheese" song stuck in my head now. :)
posted by jozxyqk at 9:24 AM on April 4, 2002

"I hanker for a hunka
A slab, a slice, a chunk-a
I hanker for a hunka cheese!"

What the hell was that guy's name? I remember another one where he taught you how to make healthy popsicles with fruit juice and an ice cube tray. And also "Don't Drown Your Food", about how to use condiments properly.
posted by emptybowl at 9:40 AM on April 4, 2002

emptybowl: Time for Timer!
posted by mr_crash_davis at 9:46 AM on April 4, 2002

A hard-boiled, a chicken leg,
grilled cheese or luncheon meat
or a peaut butter sandwich
any time of day's a treat!

I blame Timer for my lingering habit of eating cold leftovers for breakfast.
posted by jennyb at 10:01 AM on April 4, 2002

Conjunction Junction, what's your function?
"I like hookin' up words and phrases and clauses..."

posted by johnnyace at 10:16 AM on April 4, 2002

we totally made those orange juice ice cube popsicles! my favorite part of saturday morning was the school house rock and time out for timer bits. remember yuck mouth? the crest cavity creeps? (we make holes in teeth)

my favorite schoolhouse rock?

Interjections show excitement or emotion;
an interjection's always followed by an exclamation point;
or by a comma when the feelings aren't so strong.

so when you're happy (hurray!)
or sad (awww)
or frightened (eek!)
or mad (rats!)
or excited (wow!)
or glad (hey!)
an interjection might you want to add!

ok i'm done. oh and i think it was luther vandross that sang conjunction junction btw.
posted by monique at 10:22 AM on April 4, 2002

I submit that we hereby rename this topic to "the end of Saturday Morning Cartoons" in keeping with the overall MeFi theme today.
posted by jkaczor at 10:24 AM on April 4, 2002

oh and i think it was luther vandross that sang conjunction junction btw

Nope, Jack Sheldon sang "Conjunction Junction", "I'm Just A Bill", and several other SHR faves.
posted by briank at 10:35 AM on April 4, 2002

ok, according to this site luther was zack the guidance in cartoon form. i remember hearing something about him performing a schoolhouse rock and i thought it was conjunction junction.
posted by monique at 10:52 AM on April 4, 2002

Another recent tv shared experience is of course all the 9-11 stuff.

Other cities have been starting up "What if everyone read the same book?" programs, an attempt to combine reading and shared experiences.

What's the value of large scale shared experiences? Are they only cool for one-time events or things that can't be replicated (i.e. LiveAid or a cancelled cartoon show?).
posted by gluechunk at 10:53 AM on April 4, 2002

For those of us who love all the Schoolhouse Rock cartoons, a 30th Anniversary DVD will be released this August. I'm sure I'll add it to my collection.
posted by onhazier at 11:11 AM on April 4, 2002

What's the value of large scale shared experiences?

I think you've seen an example of it in this thread. The people who have seen Timer have some common ground. For better or worse they have an ABC Saturday Morning meme taking up part of their memory.

I'm a huge pop culture junkie and after reading that article I wonder what pop culture nostalgia is going to be like in the near future, if people's experiences are so varied. Mention Kaycee on the internet and a bunch of people will know what you're talking about. If I mentioned her to my offline friends I would get blank looks and rolled eyes. But if I mention Schoolhouse Rock online or off, more people know what I'm talking about.

Does this have any value? Who knows, but it's helpful at parties.

jozxyqk - Thanks I'll keep my eyes open, cereal-wise.
posted by FreezBoy at 11:21 AM on April 4, 2002

Thundar the barbarian and his mighty sun sword could kick pokeman's butt (and then Ookla the Mook would eat him like so much Franken-Berrie!).
posted by Mick at 12:33 PM on April 4, 2002

This thread reminds me..."Schoolhouse Rock Live" is playing in Seattle this weekend.
posted by GaelFC at 1:37 PM on April 4, 2002

---"Thundar the barbarian and his mighty sun sword..."

Thank you, oh thank you for that flashback.

Ookla, the Mock! What the hell is a fucking mock? (okay, slightly different than a wookie...)

What still confuses me is that I found it extremely physically difficult to get my little butt up at 8am for school on weekdays, but come saturday morning, i was out of bed and up on the couch in front of the TV, bowl of cereal on lap, at 6.
posted by Ty Webb at 2:38 PM on April 4, 2002

Another inter-show memory: Woodsy the Owl anti-pollution messages. "In the city or in the woods, help keep America lookin' good. Hoot hoot!"

Some of the cartoons these days do kick ass - I'm particularly fond of Dexter's Laboratory and Powerpuff Girls. (I got dragged in by my daughter, who's just shy of 3).

The level of irony and subtle adults-only jokes is quite good, imho.

Much better than the SuperFriends (who can forget Bizarro World?).
posted by beth at 4:50 PM on April 4, 2002

Sid and Marty Krofft were responsible for the pinnacle of Saturday Morning Children's programming and shared-common experiences.


Compare this with something intelligent, witty like Dexter's Lab!
posted by ParisParamus at 6:44 PM on April 4, 2002

Still looking for confirmation of the very early, very primitive cartoon on Channel 4 in NYC Saturday mornings with the space ships. And Do-Do, the Kid from Outer Space. Circa 1970.
posted by ParisParamus at 6:47 PM on April 4, 2002

Paris - evidently an episode of Do-Do is on dvd.
posted by FreezBoy at 7:12 PM on April 4, 2002

Thanks for that. It's amazing to think that I could play to theme music for that cartoon, having absolutely had no opportunity to hear it in 30-something years.

Land of the Lost ruled!
posted by ParisParamus at 7:23 PM on April 4, 2002

Ok Mr. Paramus; how do you explain Land of the Lost "ruling" if it was made by Sid and Marty Krofft who you seem to think were NAUSEA. CRAP. UNBEARABLE. TRAUMATIC. STUPID.

Hmm? Mr. Paramus?
posted by jeremias at 7:57 PM on April 4, 2002

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