Friday, May 05, 2006

Saturday Morning Cartoons - 1981


Saturday morning cartoons were awesome! Back in the day, Saturday morning was the only time you got to see brand new cartoons on television. Nowadays the kids got the Cartoon Network and Nick and Disney running cartoons 24 hours a day plus they got their DVD's and their internets...they can watch cartoons whenever they want. When I was little, we got up early on Saturday mornings and planted ourselves infront of the television set for the rest of the morning. Mom and Dad would sleep in and when they did wake up, they wouldn't dream of taking control of the TV. And remember, that was the only TV in the house too! A big bowl of cold cereal and a chocolate milk were all the other ingredients needed for a perfect Saturday morning.

The new cartoon line up for each year would be unveiled in a two step process. The first would be ads (like the one above) in comic books. Then right before the new lineup would debut, there would be a half-hour special (AT NIGHT) hosted by one of the networks younger stars who would show clips of all the new shows and what time they were going to be on! I remember one of the specials was called "Back to Next Saturday Morning" which was hosted by Michael J. Fox and Christopher Lloyd playing their "Back to the Future" characters. A high-point in both their carrers, I'm sure!

This ad is announcing the 1981 lineup for NBC, my preferred network when it came to Saturday morning cartoons. "The Flintstones" were a staple of my cartoon watching diet from as long as I can remember. While reruns of the original primetime sit-com version played every morning and afternoon, the Saturday morning episodes were brand new and made for kids. There was about 100 different reincarnations of The Flintstones in the late 70's to mid-80's. Wilma and Betty worked for a newspaper with Captain Caveman, Fred & Barney solved mysteries, the Frankenstones lived next door, Pebbles and Bamm-Bamm were teenagers that loved to drag race, and my favorite...Fred and Barney were cops partnered with the Schmoo, a white blob from the Lil' Abner comic strips of the Great Depression! (??? WHAT ???)


Now let's talk about "The Smurfs." The Smurfs WERE Saturday morning cartoons for the majority of the 80's. When I was 8 years old, I couldn't get enough of the Smurfs. I watched that cartoon so religiously I almost turned blue by the end of the 3rd grade. I was a Smurf for Halloween in the 3rd and 4th grade! My 4th grade costume was so much better than my 3rd grade one! Every couple of years "The Smurfs" show would get longer. First it was a half and hour and before long I believe it was up to two hours. It was all smurfy goodness as far as I was concerned!

I've never really been one for superheroes, but I liked Shazam simply because the show was made by the Filmation animation studio, and I would watch anything made by Filmation. Their most famous show was He-Man. Nobody at Filmation had any art training, and all the voices were done by the same two or three people. Nothing in their cartoons really ever moved except for mouths and vehicles. All I remember about "Shazam" is that it was done by Filmation, beyond that it didn't make much of an impression on me.

Next on the line up was "Space Stars" and I must have switched over to another network because I don't remember ever watching it. Among other characters pictured in the ad, you can see the Herculoids. I loved the Herculoids, but they had their own show at some other time. I was probably off at ABC watching Pac-Man or Richie Rich.

Now "Spider-Man and his Amazing Friends" was a great show! Peter Parker and this other guy and some chick all lived in his Aunt's basement and their apartment turned into a cool crime lab. And then they would all turn into their superheroes. The girl was Firestar and she was all fiery and stuff, and the other dork was Ice Man or something like that. I think he was supposed to be the Silver Surfer or somedude from the X-Men but they changed him all up for the cartoon or something like that. And then they would all fly around the town and Firestar would shoot fire at things and say, "Looks like we need to heat things up a bit!" And Ice Dude would be surfing around on his personal ice path and say things like, "Looks like you need to cool down a bit!" And then he'd shoot ice all over them. And Spider-Man would be flying around from his webs and say things like, "Thought I'd drop in!" And then they would all learn the meaning of team work! Man, that was a good show! (I think they play it on Toon Disney now!)

And then whatever other older shows rounded out the network line up, the local station would not air in favor of Soul Train or It's Academic! That's when it was time to go outside and play and reenact all the stuff we saw on TV that morning! Good Times!

1 comment:

brian from california said...

...because I need to leave a comment on every post you make...
The third character on "Spider-Man and his Amazing Friends" is, in fact, Iceman. He is traditionally associated with the X-Men, but if they want to make a cartoon where he lives in Spider-Man's basement, hey! I ain't gonna stop 'em! This cartoon actually inspired the Iceman levels in "X-Men the Official Game".

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