In Praise of Saturday Morning Cartoons

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Now THOSE were effective dramatizations of multiculturalism, folks! Thanks for ruining this one for me Will Ferrell…you suck…

Way back when…way before Richard Hatch ever flashed a butt cheek on the first Survivor, even before Ross and Rachel took a break (or not) on Friends, cartoons existed between the hours of 8 and 12 on a Saturday morning, and they were special because of it. For many, many years now, kids have been spoiled with several cable cartoon channels, running all the cartoons anyone could handle, 24/7. I guess this is considered progress and improvement for kids, but cartoons’ ho-hum availability has also robbed my children of the excitement of Saturday morning that I remember so well…

Where the criminals ALWAYS would have gotten away with it too, if it wasn’t for you kids!

When I was growing up, I waited all week for Saturday morning. It was comforting to get up and eat my breakfast in front of the television, staying in my pajamas till noon for just that one special day. There, I communed with my favs….HR Pufnstuf, Isis, The Land of the Lost, The Jetsons, Lidsville, Scooby Doo, Josie and the Pussycats, and more. Now, most of these aren’t considered “cartoons”, I guess, due to their lack of animation, and use of actors, puppets, etc. I still think of them as cartoons, because these were the quintessential 70’s cartoons to me. This also seems to be somewhat of a lost art in children’s programming today, as the pendulum has swung back to all animation.

I don’t know what Sid and Marty were smoking in the 70’s, but the manifestations of their acid trips made for some great t.v.!

And every Saturday, my weekly cartoon event always wrapped up with The Bill Cosby Show, the perfect hybrid of real people and animation, with entertainment provided by Fat Albert and the gang, followed by life lessons from the eternally cool Bill Cosby. And throughout Saturday morning cartoon viewing, we kids were treated to mini animated educational spots in between our cartoons, courtesy of SchoolHouse Rock. Those were the BEST! How do kids learn how a Bill becomes a Law nowadays, anyway?

We should put up a big screen on the Beltway and make them all watch this one looping while they are sitting in gridlock. They seem to have forgotten how it’s all supposed to work…

Oh, and a trip down cartoon memory lane would not be complete without a mention of the annual Superbowl of my childhood—the Fall Sneak Peek that each of the networks did on a Friday night, about the time school started. This always preceded premiere Saturday of the new Saturday Morning Cartoon season, with all the new and exciting shows the networks had in store for us kids. I remember this being a huge deal for me every year…rather like my current yearly Oscar Red Carpet fashion snark-fest, held each and every February on my Facebook Wall for me and all my snarky Friends.

Back when cartoons were special, it also seemed that kids spent more time watching “family programming” with their parents…shows like The Waltons, Little House on the Prairie, and the like. These types of shows were designed to appeal to a wide audience, and gave kids and adults talking points as well, in a 70’s touchy feely, socially progressive sort of way. And really, if you were a kid back then, you had no other choices in television viewing during primetime, because with the exception of the aforementioned Fall Sneak Peek Special once a year, these shows were all she wrote during the week. Now the one exception to that rule was, of course, the infamous After School Specials, which melodramatically chronicled the kid and teen social disaster du jour, and were also designed to get parents and kids talking.

I guess it’s probably not PC to call Albert by his full given name anymore–Fat Albert…Na, Na, Na, gonna have a good time…Hey, Hey, HEY

Time marches on…fads come and go….and trends like the one I’ve described here, come along and change everything permanently. I embrace that, because hanging on to outdated ways of doing things, or clinging to bygone days is generally not good for people. But that being said, I miss the days when Saturday Morning–and Cartoons, were special. No apologies.

Until Next Time…

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