If the 1960s was a decade of birth for Filmation, the 1970s was a time where it skipped childhood and moved straight into the role of responsible adult. With somewhere in the area of 30 programs airing during that decade, the team of Lou Scheimer, Hal Sutherland and Norm Prescott became big players on Saturday mornings. Not only that, but the trio helped usher in a number of genres that would become staples for both their own productions and those of the other studios as well.
If that weren't enough, the 1970s saw Filmation dabble into something that had come and gone on the Saturday morning schedule since the 1960s: live-action series. Combining comedy, drama and special effects, the studio produced an number of shows that provided a lot less cheese than the live-action series of, say, Sid & Marty Kroftt.
Children's television is the ultimate pacifier. Where else in the world can a terrible, horrific monster that destroys both life and property with nary a whiff of sympathy be turned into a soft, cuddly character who has his own line of soft, cuddly dolls being sold at the local Wal-Mart? It's only later in life, after they've adjusted to these de-fanged monsters, do they realize that their beliefs were so wrong. Aaaannnddd, that's where the therapy comes in.
But, we're not here to talk about the emotional problems that are paralyzing you today. We're here to talk about those vampires, ghosts and mummies that were stripped down and made to be funny, clumsy and even musically oriented. After the jump you'll see a few examples of what I mean. Don't worry, they won't scare you...they've been homogenized for your nightmare-free pleasure.
On 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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