Friday, August 24, 2012

LXB | Saturday Morning Cartoons



This week's League of Extraordinary Bloggers assignment is extremely tough:

You’ve been hired to program the ultimate Saturday morning experience for kids across the nation. Create your own ideal Saturday morning cartoon schedule.

I have mixed feelings about the concept of Saturday morning cartoons. On the one hand, they were an enormous, fun part of my childhood. I'm not a morning person and had to be dragged out of bed every weekday to get to school, but come Saturday morning I was up by 6:00 am - without an alarm clock - to get my cereal with my brothers and sit in front of the TV to watch the test pattern until the first show came on. Then we'd camp out there until noon, which is about the time our folks started shooing us out of the house to play or help with chores.

Every fall we'd start looking in comics and newspapers for ads like the one above, figuring out our schedule for the coming season. Since there were three of us, that sometimes took some negotiation. Those are excellent memories and nostalgia for them makes me want to share that experience with my son. For a long time, I complained loudly about the death of the Saturday morning line-up and lamented the loss of the Good Old Days.

But like with most things, the Good Old Days of Saturday morning cartoons weren't as objectively Good as we remember. David and I are still able to share the fun of watching awesome cartoons, but we don't have to wait for a particular time slot on one day of the week to do it. What's more, we don't have to worry about scheduling conflicts if Super Friends is on at the same time as Scooby Doo. Or sit through lesser-of-evil shows because The Smurfs and Rubik's Cube are all that's on in that time slot. We have entire networks devoted to nothing but cartoons, and thanks to Netflix and TiVo, we can customize our experience. We can watch only the series and episodes that we want and we can marathon our favorites. My ten-year-old self would have shook with giddiness just imagining that something like that was possible. Frankly, as dear as I hold them in my memory, I don't want to go back to Saturday morning cartoons.

That said, if Cartoon Network gave me the job of coming up with a block of programming for Saturday mornings, I definitely have thoughts on how I'd fill that time. Based on my own memories of how those mornings went, I'd start my block around 6:00 am and finish up at noon. That's six hours of great cartoon watching.

There are a couple of ways to do this. I could fill that block with twelve of my favorite, half-hour shows, but there are some big disadvantages to that. First of all, I can only pick twelve shows, which is about impossible. Even worse, twelve shows don't fill 52 weeks of programming for the year unless I show a lot of reruns. I know that's what they used to do on Saturday mornings and - dang it - if it was good enough for us back then... but I think there's a better option.

I like the idea of six, hour-long, themed blocks of programming. That way you could work your way through a series (or a couple of half-hour shows in each block) and when you reached the last episode, start another series with a similar theme. Many of the shows I grew up with had shockingly short runs, but they felt like they were on longer because the networks re-ran them so many times. If you don't repeat them, you can get through a lot of great stuff over the course of a year. So here's how I'd split up the time and some of the shows I'd include in each block.

6:00 am: Comedy Hour

  • Looney Tunes
  • Tom and Jerry
  • Pretty much all the Hanna Barbera comedy stuff (Flintstones, Yogi Bear, etc.)
  • Early Popeye and Woody Woodpecker
  • Tiny Toons Adventures
  • Spongebob Squarepants

7:00 am: Teen Mystery Hour

  • Scooby Doo, Where Are You?
  • The New Scooby Doo Movies
  • Mystery, Inc.
  • Archie
  • Josie and the Pussycats
  • The Pebbles and Bam-Bam Show
  • Goober and the Ghost Chasers
  • Speed Buggy
  • Funky Phantom
  • Jabberjaw

8:00 am: Adventure Hour

  • Jonny Quest
  • Tarzan, Lord of the Jungle
  • Filmation's Lone Ranger and Zorro series
  • Hong Kong Phooey
  • Valley of the Dinosaurs
  • The Powerpuff Girls
  • Samurai Jack
  • Tutenstein
  • Codename: Kids Next Door
  • The Secret Saturdays

9:00 am: DC Superheroes Hour

  • Fleischer Superman
  • Adam West Batman
  • Super Friends
  • Live action Shazam!
  • The Secrets of Isis
  • Batman: The Animated Series
  • Superman: The Animated Series
  • Justice League Unlimited
  • Static Shock
  • Batman Beyond
  • The Batman
  • Batman: The Brave and the Bold
  • Beware the Batman

10:00 am: Marvel Superheroes Hour

  • '60s Spider-Man
  • Spidey Super Stories (those shorts that used to run on The Electric Company)
  • Live action Spider-Man show
  • Bill Bixby's Incredible Hulk
  • Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends
  • '90s X-Men cartoon
  • X-Men: Evolution
  • The Spectacular Spider-Man
  • Wolverine and the X-Men
  • Marvel Super Hero Squad
  • The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes
  • Ultimate Spider-Man

11:00 am: SciFi Hour

  • Space Ghost
  • The Herculoids
  • Star Trek: The Animated Series
  • The New Adventures of Flash Gordon
  • Ark II
  • Planet of the Apes TV show
  • Land of the Lost
  • Classic Battlestar Galactica
  • Buck Rogers in the 25th Century 
  • Ben 10
  • The Future is Wild
  • Star Wars: The Clone Wars
  • Sym-Bionic Titan

And we're done at noon in time for lunch. I'm sure I missed some great ones in each category - especially more recent stuff - so please tell me what I should've included in the comments.

5 comments:

Caffeinated Joe said...

Amazing stuff! Watched so many of those. Saturday morning cartoons were such a big part of childhood.

Kal said...

I love your idea of no repeats. Once you shown all one series you move onto the other. Over the course of the year you could watch every Spider-Man series made in the 70s. So many great choices also that I forgot.

Secret Saturdsays and

Mikeyboy said...

lol...love the line up Mike...I remember " In the news " fondly! " And that's...one to grow on!"

Erik Johnson Illustrator said...

I'm still amazed that they used to do such colorful promos like this! They seem almost more lively than the shows they're promoting.

Ken O said...

I miss those ads. I also miss the half hour shows they used to have right before the new season started that would talk about all the new cartoons.

Have you seen Motorcity on Disney XD? I know I'm biased since I was born in the Detroit area, but it is a lot of fun.

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