Tuesday, October 07, 2014

Saturday morning cartravesty


Of all the things we keep around due to tradition and inertia — blue laws, not labeling the 13th floor, the Dallas Cowboys being "America's Team" — did we really have to 86 Saturday morning cartoons?

I get that on-demand entertainment and educational requirements had a hand in dispersing what was once a unique and concentrated block of toy commercials. Oh, and that the best shows were mainly toy commercials.

And it's not as if I kept up my viewership. I was an ardent disciple of Saturday morning cartoons (usually the CBS slate) until Christmas of 1988, when our acquisition of a Nintendo brought my loyalty to an abrupt halt. I briefly fell back in during fall 1989, but only because NBC premiered a cartoon about Nintendo.

So should I mourn something that hasn't been on my radar for much of the past 25 years?

You bet. WAAAAHHHH!!!

Saturday morning cartoons (and their live-action counterparts in the same vein) were more than the sum of their parts. They were the introduction to the weekend for kids. We'd spent the previous five days in the kiddie grind, and these shows woke us up to the idea that not only were we free to relax, but we could enjoy these fun, colorful shows. (Yes, there were weekday cartoons, but those were staggered and usually required a sickness/fake sickness to stay home and watch. Saturday morning toons were plentiful and guilt-free.)  Best of all, they were over by noon, which gave us plenty of time to play outside afterward. (Even after I learned how to record on the VCR, playtime was playtime.)

Another thing I dug about Saturday morning was that it was the only time of the week the TV was just for us kids. Adults went off and let us watch, and the networks seemed at those times like they were run by fellow children. For the first time, I felt like the TV wanted to talk to me (and wanted me to want things, which I then did).

On second thought, maybe it's best that the unfettered advertising juggernaut that hooked entire generations on sugary glop and expensive baubles is passing into history. What I will miss, though, is the aesthetics of my Saturday morning memories. It was colorful and fun, a mood-setter for whatever fun activities we planned to do that weekend (or not, which was fun too). My two baby nieces will not have the same experience. Though they're probably too immersed in on-demand educational cartoons to notice.

So, you ask, what was my all-time favorite Saturday morning cartoon? The limits of my OCD prevent me from listing them all. But it was Muppet Babies.

Of course it was.
I have no idea when or why I got so much into Muppet Babies, but it was (and is) what I think of when I think of Saturday morning cartoons. I wanted to be Kermit when I grew up. It was the very first show I ever taped on VHS (I lovingly labeled the videocassette a week ahead of time). I saw the live stage show when it came to town. I had a Fozzie Bear puzzle that I think had 12 pieces to it. One of the first newspapers I ever drew, when I was 8, was titled "The Daily Animal." I drew a picture of Animal reporting on Hurricane Gilbert. Are you shocked? Sure you aren't.

That's one to grow on. Here's another.

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