January 15th, 1974. It was on this cold winter day (cold, because it was pre-global warming) 35 years ago that the American public was introduced to Richie Cunningham, Fonzie, Potsie, and the rest of the gang of Happy Days. A simple family sitcom, the Gary Marshall-created program would change the face of ABC, as well as television, for the ten years it was on the air, as well as beyond.Happy Days came at a time when the family comedy was going through an upheaval. Gone were the days of simple shows like Leave it to Beaver and The Dick Van Dyke Show. In its place were shows like All in the Family which turned the typical family comedy on its heels. With Vietnam, a poor economy, and Watergate all weighing down on Americans at that time, the introduction of Happy Days gave viewers a chance to remember and laugh at some simpler times.
Last time on "Saturday Morning" we reviewed the busy 1974-75 schedule of CBS. In this installment we take a look at the lineups for ABC and NBC.
When looking at the respective schedules you can see a few patterns that were prevalent in Saturday morning programming of the 1970s. As mentioned last time, one of these themes was the increasing amount of live-action shows on the air. Six new live-action programs came out during this year, with three premiering on ABC and NBC combined. Another pattern was the use of prehistoric locations for shows. Each network had at least one show that took place during the time of the dinosaurs. The third pattern was the continuing decrease in quality of the Saturday morning animated fare. Nothing much could be done on that front since the networks were asking for more of this material faster than the studios could produce it and for less money than they needed.
Still and all, 1974 was a good time for Saturday morning programming as it produced a number of programs viewers remember even today. Two such programs are featured in this installment. Now, if the Way-Back Machine is ready, step on in and let's journey back 34 years in the past.
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