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October 2, 2014

Saturday Morning

Saturday Morning: 1972 (Part 1) - VIDEOS

by Richard Keller, posted Aug 9th 2008 11:02AM

Fat Albert and the Cosby KidsWith a couple of Osmonds, a few Brady kids, an old Chinese detective, a dog and his mystery-solving friends, and Bill Cosby, the second Saturday Morning Revolution began in earnest in 1972. And, it was a long road to hoe to get to this point. That was thanks to the radical changes that needed to be made to the schedule during the late 60s and first few years of the 70s. Changes that were the result of mounting complaints by citizen action committees as well as nervous network executives.

To review: from 1966 until about 1969 things ran fairly smoothly for the networks when it came to Saturday morning programming. With the popularity of superheroes during that time the schedules were full of programs featuring supermen, batmen, space ghosts and super presidents. As hero worship waned during the last years of the 1960s the networks turned their attentions to an older viewing audience, focusing on shows with a number of teenagers and young adults -- many of them in animated rock-and-roll bands.

But, by 1970, all of that changed. As pressures to air more educational and less violent and vapid fare came from all sides, the networks were unsure what to do. They wanted to continue airing cartoons, but they were so watered down (or imitations of what was already airing) that they weren't as entertaining. They presented a number of live-action educational programs to the schedule as well, but very few of them lasted more than a year. By 1971 it looked like the networks had all but given up on Saturday mornings.

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Saturday Morning: 1971 - VIDEOS

by Richard Keller, posted Aug 2nd 2008 8:01AM
The Funky Phantom Like the year 1965 was before the Saturday morning cartoon explosion of 1966, the year 1971 was also the calm before another storm. After years of producing and airing show after show, the networks took a breather during the 1971-72 season to look around and see where their industry was at the time. Looking back at it from present day it wasn't looking too bright.

With pressure coming from inside the networks (thanks to the censors) and from outside activist organizations, Saturday morning television began to fracture. Out of the 14 shows to premiere in 1971 only 5 of them were brand new offerings. The rest were rehashes or revivals of older cartoons and live-action series. And out of those a majority featured an education bent...something that kids revved-up by chocolatey, sugar-coated cereal did not have the patience to watch.

The experiment would fail by 1972 as another surge of animated programs made their appearance. Until then, viewers had to deal with a lack of new programming and repeats of shows that had been repeated a few times already. So went the Saturday morning schedule in 1971-72. Let's journey back, shall we?

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Stump the King: Histeria - VIDEO

by Paul Goebel, posted Jul 21st 2008 10:52AM

Some of the cast of HisteriaI finally got a question I can answer this week.

Monica writes...
"My friend used to watch this cartoon, but all he remembers is this one character. He says he was a small small guy with a really tall hat. He wore a black robe. He was some kind of emperor..Hm..He was somewhat Asian looking. He thought the name of the show might be hysteria, but i can't find anything on that. anything you can think of will be greatly appreciated. It's one of those i have to figure it out or it'll kill me things. Haha. Thank you."

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Saturday Morning: U.S. of Archie - VIDEOS

by Richard Keller, posted Jul 5th 2008 10:43AM

U.S. of Archie -- an Archie cartoon focusing on U.S. historyAs we are in the midst of a long July 4th weekend, I thought it would be a good time to talk about a cartoon that combined an animated singing group with a bit of American history. I speak about The U.S. of Archie. Premiering during the 1974-75 season, this Saturday morning cartoon not only continued the long-running Archie franchise on television, but it also grabbed onto the coattails of the upcoming American Bicentennial.

U.S. of Archie featured Archie Andrews, Reggie, Jughead, Betty Veronica, and the rest of the kids from Riverdale High as they re-enacted many famous events from American history. Some of the topics covered during the series were the Underground Railroad, the Gold Rush, the writing of the Star-Spangled Banner, and the invention of the telephone, Plenty of historical figures were featured, including Benjamin Franklin, George Washington Carver, Thomas Edison, Alexander Graham Bell, and Teddy Roosevelt.

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Saturday Morning: 1970 - VIDEOS

by Richard Keller, posted Jun 28th 2008 10:01AM

The Groovie GooliesOn a cursory glance at the 1970-71 Saturday morning schedule, one would think it was another year of classic children's fare. Yet, on closer examination, one would notice something else about the schedule. It was a bit dull. Oh, there were certainly some classics that premiered during this time -- many of them remembered to this day -- but the rest of the shows were somewhat forgettable.

It was almost like the networks and production studios had run out of steam when it came to Saturday mornings and weren't sure what to do. Understandable, since strict network standards as well as lobby groups like Action for Children's Television (ACT) put a stranglehold on what could and could not be shown. The result was a mix of animated spin-offs and live-action series that were a bit on the bland side. It would be a trend that continued through the first few years of the 1970s.

So, if you have your bowl of Cap'n Crunch on-hand, let's journey back to 1970.

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Saturday Morning: The Super Friends - VIDEOS

by Richard Keller, posted Jun 21st 2008 10:33AM

The Super Powers Team -- The last incarnation of the Super FriendsDespite being one among hundreds of other cartoons that graced the Saturday morning schedule, Super Friends, as well as its various incarnations, has a unique place of honor. Not only was it one of the longest-running animated superhero cartoons, but it also transversed a number of Saturday morning trends. From the teenage-heavy, mystery-solving early 70s, to the more action oriented mid-70's, then the incredibly boring early 80's, and finally the resurrection of superhero cartoons in the mid-80's. Super Friends was there during all of these eras.

There's no doubt as to the reason for this. Animated superheroes were a big thing ever since the mid-60s. With so little in the way of other animated superhero fare on Saturday mornings, especially in the early 70s, the viewers just ate it all up. Plus, it gave life to so many superheroes that we only saw in the six-panel pages of a comic book.

So there wasn't any actual fighting between the heroes and villains. And, some of the plots and dialogue were incredibly hokey. And, they stayed VERY far away from comic book continuity. It didn't matter to to the pajama-clad, cereal-eating crowd who tuned in week after week to watch episodes that they had seen only a few months ago. They were ready for their superheroes.

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Where Are They Now: The Super Friends

by Richard Keller, posted Jun 20th 2008 8:22AM

Where did all of these folks go once they left the Hall of Justice?Do not adjust your web browser. You are now entering the Retro Squad, where we are reviewing past episodes of classic TV shows.

Welcome Back to TVSBTTHB (TV Squad Behind the True Hollywood Biography). For over a decade the team known as the Super Friends traveled the world, and the galaxy, to right the wrongs wrought by such villains as the Legion of Doom and Darkseid. But, by the mid-1980s, their services were no longer needed by the public, who watched many of their adventures on television. It was then that these heroes faded away.

So, what happened to them? Being the show that looks under every rock and inside every dumpster, TVSBTTHB was able to obtain information on all of the Super Friends: major, minor and 'what the hell are they doing on the team?'. Some of their stories are heartbreaking, others heartwarming, and the rest are just "meh." Yet, they are all fascinating and provide an extra layer of complexity to the already complicated lives of these superhumans.

Now, let's turn our attention to Superman, Batman, El Dorado, and the rest of the Super Friends.

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Before or After: The Super Friends and the Wonder Twins

by Richard Keller, posted Jun 19th 2008 10:58AM

Were the Super Freinds better before or after the Wonder TwinsDo not adjust your web browser. You are now entering the Retro Squad, where we are reviewing past episodes of classic TV shows.

In the annals of humankind there have been many debates that have crossed generations without one clear winner on one side or the other. Some of the more famous debates have been: what came first, the chicken or the egg; creationism vs. evolution; Cubs vs. White Sox; and what was the better Pauly Shore movie -- Encino Man or Bio-Dome. Yet, no other debate has shown such passionate division, such anger, such incomprehensible argument than one about a certain 70s Saturday morning cartoon featuring a scantily clad woman with a lasso and a man who lurked the alleyways at night to purposely scare people.

I speak about the Hanna-Barbera series Super Friends and the on-going debate about if the show was better before or after the Wonder Twins appeared.

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Is it Super Friends, or Superfriends? (Or even SuperFriends) - VIDEOS

by Richard Keller, posted Jun 17th 2008 10:06AM

Is it Superfriends or Super Friends. The world needs to know.Do not adjust your web browser. You are now entering the Retro Squad, where we are reviewing past episodes of classic TV shows.

Here is one of those questions that doesn't come up too much in normal conversation. Yet, it's one of those things that, once you think about it, does make you go 'hmmm'. It's about the Super Friends. Well, actually, the Superfriends. Or, is it the SuperFriends?

I've seen it written so many ways over the last 35 years(!) that it is a bit confusing. And, while it probably isn't the most earth-shattering question, it is something to take into consideration when you are writing a post about the Saturday morning show. Especially when there are fans of the show reading the post who are ready and willing to point out the mis-spelling in fine detail.

So, for the purposes of accuracy, I present the following evidence to you, the TV Squad readers, to help me determine the proper spelling.

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Saturday Morning: 1969 - VIDEOS

by Richard Keller, posted May 24th 2008 10:02AM

Scooby, Shaggy and the gang premiered in 1969A strange thing happened between the 1968 and 1969 Saturday morning schedules -- the superheroes disappeared. After three straight seasons of Space Ghosts, Birdmans, Super Presidents, and Herculoids only The New Adventures of Superman remained. And, that show was pushed back into the 1:00 PM slot, practically eliminating it from the viewing times of children who, after four straight hours of cartoons, needed generous doses of sunlight.

To fill all of the vacant spaces left by the departed heroes and villains, the networks added twelve new series to their respective schedules. Most had one thing in common: comedy, an ingredient that had been absent from the schedule for a number of years. Needless to say, it returned with full force during this season. Another comeback was made by live-action programs that featured a mix of humans and not-so-human characters. In addition, one show premiered that was based on a popular series of toys, while two more premiered that featured the newest trend of animated musical groups brought on by last season's premiere of The Archie Show. Amist all of that came a program featuring a talking, mystery-solving dog and his slightly toasted friend.

So, if you have your Hot Wheels parked around your feet, let's go back to 1969.

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Saturday Morning: Speed Racer - VIDEOS

by Richard Keller, posted May 10th 2008 11:59AM

The cast of Speed Racer"Here he comes, here comes Speed Racer. He's a demon on wheels." -- The beginning lyrics to the theme song of Speed Racer.

In this week's installment of 'Saturday Morning' we take a break from our regularly scheduled coverage to talk about a cartoon near and dear to many readers' hearts. A cartoon that, while not the first anime to reach the shores of America of the 60s, it was certainly the most influential.

Even though it was never part on any official network schedule, Speed Racer was on somewhere at sometime during the era of Saturday morning cartoons. And, why wouldn't it be? It had everything that a child hopped up on sugar-coated, chocolate-filled cereal could want: action, drama, comedy, mysterious heroes, villains, gadgets, cars, and a boy and his chimp. It also featured animated characters with more natural characteristics than those previously seen on American television. Plus, it had a kick-ass theme song that dug into your brain.

Much has been written on the history of Speed Racer since it premiered over four decades ago. However, with the new Speed Racer live-action film now in theaters, it's a good time to revisit the origins of Speed, Trixie, Pops, Racer X, and the rest of the players. So, if you have your Mach 5 model kit in front of you, let's Go, Go, Go!

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Saturday Morning: 1968 - VIDEOS

by Richard Keller, posted May 3rd 2008 10:02AM

The Archies set a number of trends in 1968The operative word to describe the 1968-69 Saturday morning schedule was 'change'. After two years of superhero and action/adventure cartoons the networks and the animation studios decided to shake things up a bit. When you take a look at the world-altering events that occurred forty years ago, moving away from action and into some more amusing and less dangerous fare was not a surprising move.

That doesn't mean that Saturday mornings were totally void of any type of heroic action in 1968. In addition to shows like Spider-Man, The Herculoids, and Journey to the Center of the Earth, all entering their second seasons, three of the seven new series premiered that featured a hard-action bent. The rest focused more on humor and slapstick then on flying beings who could shoot beams out of their hands. And, out of the seven, five of the shows were the cornerstones of trends that would continue well into the 1970s.

So, if you have your Thing Maker in front of you, let's journey back in time to 1968.

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Saturday Morning: 1967 - VIDEOS

by Richard Keller, posted Apr 19th 2008 11:04AM

The Herculoids -- Just one of 11 cartoon series to premiere in 1967Saturday mornings in 1967 were super. And I mean that literally. All eleven shows that premiered during this time featured one form of superhero or another. Be it heroes from the comic books, heroes of the jungle, prehistoric heroes, or alien animal heroes that shot hot lava balls from their horns. It was the heyday for these cartoons, and one that would be short-lived, thanks to outside sources who wished to limit the violence on the Saturday morning schedule. But, more on that in a later post.

Hanna-Barbera led the pack in animated fare with an amazing SIX hours of programming; three of those hours comprised of original material. Filmation was on their heels (and would gain even more next year) with 90-minutes of new shows. Broken down by network, both CBS and ABC, who had finally woken up and gotten into the Saturday morning game, offered four new shows each. NBC wasn't far behind with three new offerings.

Needless to say, the 1967-68 season was an exciting one for a child. So, if you were a child back then, and are interested in remembering what you watched, then grab you box of Quisp & Quake cereal and let's begin the journey.

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Saturday Morning: Hanna-Barbera - VIDEOS

by Richard Keller, posted Apr 13th 2008 2:05PM

Hanna BarberaWhen you look at the history of television you can usually connect names to certain eras of programming. For instance, producer Aaron Spelling can be connected with many of the dramas and primetime soap operas of the 70s and 80s; Garry Marshall can be matched to many of the great ABC comedies of the 70s; Mark Goodson and Bill Toddman can be hooked up with the daytime game shows that pocked the television landscape for three decades.

When the names William Hanna and Joseph Barbera are mentioned two words come to mind: Saturday mornings. Without the creations that the Hanna-Barbera studios put out year after year Saturday mornings would have looked much different. Oh, other studios like Rankin-Bass and Filmation would have probably picked up the slack, but then we wouldn't have known about Space Ghost, Scooby-Doo, Mutley, Jabberjaw, or the Wonder Twins.

From the late 50s until the early 90's Hanna-Barbera was a major presence on television. Their shows produced countless imitations (some coming from Hanna-Barbera itself), thousands of characters, and memories that will last our lifetime.

And, it all started with a cat and a mouse.

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Saturday Morning: 1966 - VIDEOS

by Richard Keller, posted Apr 5th 2008 9:06AM

Alex Toth's Space Ghost premiered in 1966.Road Runner, that Coyote's after you. Road Runner, if he catches you your through. -- Theme to The Road Runner Show, which premiered in the fall of 1966.

Showtime! After years of playing around on Saturday mornings to find the right mixture to bring in the young viewers, the networks took the bull by the horns in the fall of 1966 and ushered in the Golden Age of Saturday morning cartoons. No less than 11 new cartoon series appeared during the 1966-67 season. Many of them were action and superhero-oriented thanks to the popularity of ABC's live-action Batman series.

The 1966 season also began the domination of Saturday mornings by two animation studios -- Hanna-Barbera and Filmation. For Hanna-Barbera this would be the second year of original Saturday morning programming. For Filmation this would be the first of many years producing fairly entertaining and slightly better animated fare that featured more action and adventure and less in the way of talking animals.

So, if you have your bowl of Cocoa Puffs in front of you, let's see what you were watching back in 1966.

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