Super Saturday on ABC TV (1969)
The New Adventures of Casper the Friendly Ghost, The Smokey Bear Show, The Cattanooga Cats
CBS Saturday morning TV (1969)
Scooby Doo, The Perils of Penelope Pitstop, The Monkees, The Archie Comedy Hour, Dastardly & Muttley
Why cereal companies love Saturday morning TV (1967)
Fortune (December 1967)
Every Saturday morning, at least one out of every three commercial minutes available on the three television networks is used to extol the virtues of ready-to-eat cereals.
Breakfast-food companies spend about 90 percent of their total advertising budgets on TV and, says one network executive, “You might say they invented Saturday morning.”
The demand for time is now so heavy that more and more sponsored programming is spilling over into Sunday morning, once almost exclusively devoted to religious programs, documentaries on soil conservation, and other such profitless affairs.
The needs of advertisers, for better or worse, have shaped not only the commercial messages, but the program content as well.
The influence of the cereal companies, however, actually seems to have raised the level of programming on occasion; a case can be made to support the view that The Bullwinkle Show, on which General Mills has relied heavily and successfully for the past eight years to sell Cheerios, has been one of the funniest and most creative series in the history of the medium. (Bullwinkle is that moose [below].)
Producer Jay Ward and his principal accomplice, Bill Scott, have rewarded pun collectors with episodes entitled “The show must go on, or give ’em the acts,” “All in fever say aye, or the emotion is carried,” and “Transatlantic chicken, or hens across the sea.”
For warmth, wit, and imaginative nonsense, the carryings-on of Yogi Bear (long identified with Kellogg’s) cannot be far behind.
General Mills controls 350 half-hours of Bullwinkle in the US and has been rerunning them in the belief that new crops of children keep coming into the market even as the older crop turns away from it. Instead of a turnover in material, that is, General Mills has capitalized on the audience turnover.
This tactic worked for many years, but there seems to be a limit. These days, Bullwinkle is relegated to Sunday morning, and Yogi Bear has been dropped from network schedules. Humor, it turns out, is out. Such shows have not held up against the likes of Aquaman and a rash of other adventure cartoons.
ABC and NBC started the trend away from classic animal humor two seasons ago when they came out with The Beatles and Atom Ant, respectively. Then, last year, CBS introduced seven new shows on Saturday morning, four of them “realistic” adventure shows, and quickly ran away with the ratings.
Those kids and their parents who might regret the loss of Yogi and the weakening of Bullwinkle cannot hold the cereal companies alone accountable. So great is the demand for time and so central in the networks’ thinking are the ratings that sponsors have nowhere near the power they once had to influence program content.
Indeed, the cereal companies cannot even insist on the protection they were once granted almost automatically. “ABC and NBC will advertise two competing cereals per half hour,” says one agency media man, “and CBS is willing to put three cereals into a half hour, promising only that the very next spot won’t be a competing product.”
The production team of Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera, who created Yogi Bear, have adjusted to the change. Hanna-Barbera Productions, bought by Taft Broadcasting Co. last year for $12 million, now has almost half the cartoon shows on the networks on Saturday morning. Six are new this season, none of these straight humor.
Jay Ward has just three, and only one of them is new: George of the Jungle, a dopey Tarzan-type who swings on vines and unerringly collides with large trees. Says Ward: “If we were just coming out with Bullwinkle today, we couldn’t get it on the air.”
What’s on Saturday mornings for kids (1974)
An effective learning series, in which popular Yogi Bear takes his friends Huckleberry Hound, Snagglepuss, Top Cat, Magilla Gorilla, and Boo Boo, on a weekly comedy adventure to fight the enemies of nature and man.
A series of animated films designed to teach through action and original music and lively lyrics.
The most beloved character in animation, Bugs Bunny, stars in this cartoon, carrots and all, with some of his greatest comedy capers. Joining Bugs are his old friends, such as Yosemite Sam and Elmer Fudd. Each week, the most famous rabbit in history manages to escape the most elaborate traps ever laid.
HONG KONG PHOOEY
A weekly romp by Penrod Pooch, known to the world only as a meek janitor in a police station, who in reality is the fearless King Phooey, scourge of wrongdoers everywhere.
Phooey, however, is as hapless as he is fearless, depending as he does upon a correspondence course in the martial arts. Other characters in this animated pure-fun entry include Spot, Pooch’s loyal, and often helpful, pet cat; and his trusting friend, Rosemary.
An animated show with characters derived from the popular TV comedy, “Gilligan’s Island,” but with a strong emphasis on positive social values. The program depicts seven people of very diverse personalities marooned together on a desert island.
The traditional zaniness of Gilligan and his friends will still be there — woven into stories which relate to prejudice, peer pressure, the balance of nature, and other themes.
An animated dramatic adventure series about three orphaned youngsters, who have one overriding aim — staying together as a family. To help accomplish this, Ernie Devlin, a 20-year old college student, supports the family with his extraordinary skills as a motorcycle stunt rider.
His brother, 18-year-old Todd, whose amusing personality blends a genius for math and mechanics with a peculiar indulgence in superstitions, keeps Ernie’s cycling equipment in top shape. And his 11- year-old sister, Sandy, helps stabilize the trip by imposing a continuity of home life.
Their problems, their quarrels, and especially their interest in each other’s welfare, form the basis of this series.
Live-action drama depicting the struggle of survival of a family in the Neanderthal era. The show will share the primitive experiences and discoveries of Korg and his family of five as they make their way in a world where the unknown was never more than a few hundred feet away.
Whether they’re learning how to protect their life-giving fire, encountering strange animals who share their land, or coping with the hardships of changing seasons, Korg and his family will be a weekly source of fascination.
An animated comedy adventure program that involves four famous heroes Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman and Aquaman — who get involved in various imaginative adventures with two personable teenagers, Wendy and Marvin.
Each week our “Super Friends” will be involved in a situation that, through comedy and adventure, culminates in a resolution of the story with a pro-social effect.
All right, kids – Ready for Saturday morning TV? (1976)
By James Doussard, The Courier-Journal (Louisville, Kentucky) Sept 10, 1976
Grownups have to wait more than a week for their new shows, kids, but your new Saturday lineup starts tomorrow. Indeed, a bunch of new stuff is due, but don’t forget that Saturday morning lasts only so long, so a few of your current favorites might be missing. I’ll tell you about them a bit later.
The folks who bring you the new shows once again are bragging about how imaginative, entertaining and informative they are, but those folks are adults. They are teachers, parents, sociologists and TV people. They mean well, but it will be better if you simply dial around for a while and see what you like. Let them worry about pro-social messages and the like.
Okay, here then is a rundown, network by network, of Saturday mornings this season. First, let’s look at NBC…
THE WOODY WOODPECKER SHOW
This is a series of the original Woody Woodpecker, Andy Panda and Chilly Willy cartoons. The earliest one in the show will feature Andy and is called “Fun House.” It was made in 1940, which is before many of your moms and dads were born: the newest was produced in 1965. It is “Three Little Woodpeckers,” who are Woody, Knothead and Splinter.
These are old cartoons, but they are better in some ways than the new ones, because the old ones use what is called “full animation.” That means 10 drawings are used to a foot of 35mm film. Most of the new cartoons use only four drawings to a foot. To you, it means Woody and his friends have more natural movements.
THE PINK PANTHER
In 30-minute form, this one has been around since 1969. The new full title is “The Pink Panther Laugh and a Half Hour and a Half,” which means it is three times as long as before. Pink Panther will be joined this year by several new animated characters, including Misterjaw, the Texas Toads and Inspector Clouseau.
During each week’s show, you will get three Pink Panther cartoons. Misterjaw, a shark who, with his sidekick Catfish the Hunter, likes to frighten folks, will be on two cartoons. Two others will feature Inspector Clouseau, who is a spoof of a movie role that Peter Sellers plays. Clouseau and his sidekick, Du-Du, are always being outsmarted by crooks.
The Texas Toads are two green bullfrogs who are in the Laurel and Hardy tradition (ask Mom or Dad about them if you haven’t seen them on old movies)
This is a comedy with real people and an English sheepdog that is supposed to be 100 years old and can be seen only by Dr. Calvin Campbell, a veterinarian. Walter Willison plays the absent-minded veterinarian, whose office is an old Victorian house where McDuff lived. Naturally, folks who hear the doctor talking to McDuff think his mind has gone to the dogs.
THE MONSTER SQUAD
Dracula, Frankenstein and Bruce Wolfman are a crimefighting trio who work under the direction of a young criminologist, Walt, who is working his way through college as night watchman at a wax museum. Brainy Walt (Fred Grandy) has worked out a device that brings the monsters to life.
Among the adversaries of the Monster Squad will be a witch who puts spells on the world’s cows to dry up the milk supply, and a bad weatherman who threatens all kinds of nasty weather if the government doesn’t give him his way. Henry Piloc II, Michael Lane and Buck Kartalian respectively play Dracula, Frankenstein and Bruce Wolfman.
LAND OF THE LOST
This live-action, science-fiction show starts its third season with a big shakeup — an earthquake. The quake is even bigger than the one that caught teenagers Will and Holly Marshall while on a river trip with their dad. That time, they were plunged down a waterfall, through a time vortex and onto a prehistoric, lost continent.
The new quake will swallow up one of the Marshalls and, at the same time, allow Uncle Jack, an engineer who has been tracking his kin, to drop into the lost land.
BIG JOHN, LITTLE JOHN
Herb Edelman plays Big John and Robbie Rist is Little John. Big John led a perfectly normal life until on a Florida vacation he drank from the fabled Fountain of Youth. We pick things up as he encounters many adventures while going back and forth from being a 45-year-old man and a 12-year-old boy.
THE KIDS FROM C.A.P.E.R.
Who? Four young boys who work through their local police department as the Civilian Authority for the Protection of Everyone — Regardless! Doc (John Lansing) is the leader. The others are Bugs (Cosie Costa), Doomsday (Biff Warren) and P.T. (Steve Bonito). The action/comedy show will be filmed in Southern California. Each episode will feature a hit song of the week by top contemporary writers.
This is an action drama in the inner city. It features Muggsy, a 13-year-old girl who lives with her brother, Nick, 24, in a trailer parked behind a garage.
Nick has been her guardian since her parents were killed in an accident. Action will revolve about life in a ghetto and include robberies, arson, mysteries and animal rescues, all integrated with problems children face, including jealousy, heavy parental control, sportsmanship, even boys meeting girls. The entire show is being filmed in Bridgeport, Conn. Sarah MacDonnell plays Muggsy; Ben Master is Nick.
Gone from the NBC lineup will be “Emergency 4,” “Josie and the Pussy Cats,” “Waldo Kitty,” “Run, Joe, Run,” “Planet of the Apes,” “Westwind,” “The Jetsons” and “Go/U.S.A.”
Now, let’s look at the lineup on CBS:
SYLVESTER AND TWEETY
All of the cartoons here are from Warner Bros., which has a vast library of animated shows. In addition to the characters in the title, you’ll see the celebrated Porgy Pig, Sylvester Jr., Granny, Hippity-Hopper, Elmer Fudd and others.
THE BUGS BUNNY/ROAD RUNNER HOUR
In this form, the show starts its second year. The two were on six seasons as separate features.
Comedy and suspense are the key things in these animated stories about a lively hunch of teen-agers with one thing in common — their love of mysteries. The mysteries unfold and the clues abound so that you can participate in solving cases yourself.
TARZAN: LORD OF THE JUNGLE
Our jungle hero is a cartoon character. It will be man versus beasts, unfriendly people and natural disasters, just as in the Edgar Rice Burroughs hooks.
THE SHAZAM/ISIS HOUR
This a returnee, and not all the episodes will be new. Also, in this second season, the shows with Isis will precede those with Shazam, despite the order in the title. In these comic-strip related, live-action shows, the heroes are very preachy. At the end, in case you didn’t get the tale’s “moral,” it is spelled out loud and clear.
The year is roughly 2476 in this live-action adventure. Things that no longer exist include nations and organized societies. A group of young people go on an expedition in ARK II hoping to rekindle a civilization and improve the world.
This one, too, has plenty of “message,” dealing with such things as fear, famine, ignorance, intolerance, peace and love.
FAT ALBERT AND THE COSBY KIDS
This highly successful show enters its fifth season. Again, entertainment is laced with pro-social messages. And again, old shows will be laced with new ones.
WAY OUT GAMES
This is a kids’ version of an adult, athletic game show called “Almost Anything Goes.” Here teams of contestants ages 12 through 15 compete. More “sports” things and few-er “stunts” are on tap than in the big kids’ version.
Now for the show that are missing from the Saturday lineup on CBS. They are “Pebbles and Bamm Bam,” “Ghost Busters” and “Space Nuts.”
THE TOM & JERRY/GRAPE APE/MUMBLY SHOW
These are cartoons from Hanna-Barbera, an hour’s worth in which Tom and Jerry are joined by the 30-foot purple gorilla affectionately called the Great Grape Ape, and by Mumbly, a sleuthing, snickering dog that in looks and actions perhaps is something of a canine Columbo.
THE SCOOBY-DOO DYNOMUTT HOUR
Yep, kids, Hanna-Barbera again. This starts with Scooby working his eighth season, this one with four youngsters who try to solve crimes. Up to 24 new shows will be used as the show comes to ABC for the first, time; they will be used with selections from the 48 existing programs.
The second half of the hour will feature Dynomutt, a robot wonder dog and faithful companion to the Blue Falcon, yet another champion of law and order.
Another Hanna-Barbera cartoon. This is set in the future when civilization might be existing underwater. Jabberjaw, a Sad Sack shark, is the pet and mascot of four teenagers and their rock hand. Jabber is feared by none and is most lovable.
THE KROFFTS SUPERSHOW
We play the pro-social theme here once again. It comes from Sid and Marty Krofft, who produce the prime-timer, “Donny & Marie.” Four elements in this one:
Wonderbug, a comedy adventure about three youngsters and a magical car.
Dr Shrinker, about four youngsters stranded on a strange island. They are miniaturized by a likable villain, Dr. Shrinker.
Electra Woman, a serialized story about Mara and Lori, magazine writers who become Electra Woman and Dynagirl to fight bad persons.
The Lost Saucer, selected episodes from the past season’s comedy/science fiction series with Jim Nabors and Ruth Buzzi as humbling androids from an advanced civilization someplace else.
JR. ALMOST ANYTHING GOES
Yes, CBS’ “Way Out Games” is just one take-off on the adult sports game show, “Almost Anything Goes.” It is like a cousin; this is like a brother. Soupy Sales is host here.
What goes away? “The Adventures of Gilligan,” “Super Friends,” “Speed-Buggy,” “The Lone Ranger” and any new outings of “The Lost Saucer.”Morning Fever – NBC shows from 1978
The New Fantasic Four, Jana of the Jungle, Yogi’s Space Race
Tarzan and the Super Seven (1978)
Vintage Saturday morning cartoons (1979)
The All-New Popeye Hour, The New Fat Albert Show, Jason of Star Command, Tarzan and the Super Seven
Jason of Star Command (1979)
NBC Saturday morning cartoons (1979)
The Daffy Duck Show, Fred & Barney Meet The Thing, The Super Globetrotters, The New Shmoo, Flash Gordon, Godzilla
NBC Saturday morning TV show lineup with cartoons (1980)
The Godzilla/Dynomutt Hour, The Flintstone Comedy Show, The Space Stars – Space Ghost, Astro and the Space Dogs, Teen Force, The Herculoids, The Jetsons
Saturday morning cartoons on ABC (1980)
Super Friends, Happy Days Gang, Richie RIch, Scooby & Scrappy Doo, Heathcliff & Dingbat, Plastic Man, Thundarr the Barbarian
Tale spinners from out of the sky (1980)
Includes Mighty Mouse, Heckle & Jeckle, Popeye Hour, Drak Pack
CBS vintage Saturday morning cartoon TV lineup (1981)
The Kwicky Koala, Trollkins, Bugs Bunny/Road Runner Show, The Popeye and Olive Comedy Show, Black Star, Tarzan/Lone Ranger/Zorro Adventure hour, Tom & Jerry Comedy Show, The New Fat Albert Show, In the News/30 Minutes
Saturday morning cartoons (1981)
Superfriends, Heathcliff & Marmaduke, Fonz and the Happy Days Gang, Scooby Doo Classics, Richie Rich, Goldie Gold & Action Jack
Saturday Mornings on CBS TV – Cartoon schedule (1981)
ABC TV Saturday Jamboree – Cartoons for kids (1981)
Kids Love Saturdays on ABC TV (1983)
TV Special: Saturday Morning Stars shine bright tonight (1984)
With Richard Pryor, Joyce DeWitt & Ted Knight
The Real Ghostbusters cartoon (1985)
Kids just want to have fun! Saturdays (1985)
Vintage Berenstain Bears cartoons, Wuzzles, Hulk Hogan, Dungeons & Dragons, Charlie Brown & Snoopy, Young Astronauts, Muppets Babies and Monsters & more
Hey, kids – what time is it? A baby boomer recalls Saturday morning TV (1989)
From an article by Bob Swift in the Muncie Evening Press (Muncie, Indiana) September 23, 1989
“Hello, Secret Squadron members. We’ll get right to our thrilling story in a moment, but first let me tell you how Ovaltine builds strength and health.
“Get out your Captain Midnight decoder badge, Secret Squadron members. First word: 2, 25, 3, 13, 19. Second word: 11, 18, 8, 17, 22, 3, 13, 26.”
Well, boys and girls, in case you haven’t kept your decoder in a safe place for 35 years — they’re worth more than $40 these days — I’ll tell you what that message said: It said: Drink Ovaltine.
If you were one of the kids who watched “Captain Midnight” on Saturday TV in the early days of 1953 (it later moved to Monday night), you’ll know what I mean. If you were one of the moms and dads who slept late on Saturdays in those days, you’ll recall that you could do it because you knew exactly where your kids were — on the living room floor watching TV.
Ah, Saturday morning TV! It has been a childhood thrill ever since 1948, and baby boomers who are rapidly approaching their mid-life crises will argue that those thrilling days of yesteryear were better by far than the Saturday morning tube fare of today.
If you’re a certain age and hear Buffalo Bob Smith holler “Hey, kids, what time is it?” you’ll automatically roar: “It’s Howdy Doody time!”
I’m talking baby boom nostalgia, kids. Of course, in 30 years or so you’ll have a bunch of graying folks who have the same reaction to a mention of today’s “Pee Wee’s Playhouse.”
But any baby boomer will argue that there really was something special about kids’ shows in the golden age of television. You had not only “Captain Midnight,” but “Captain Video”; “Tom Corbett, Space Cadet” (a young actor named Jack Lemmon was turned down for the part); “Rod Brown of the Rocket Rangers” (Cliff Robertson); “Rocky Jones, Space Ranger” and “Commando Cody.”
In his 1981 book, “Saturday Morning TV” (Dell Trade Paperback, $12.95), television historian Gary H. Grossman includes a little quiz. He lists TV spaceships (A. Galaxy; B. Enterprise; C. Terra V; D. the Orbit Jet; E. Beta; F. Polaris) and asks if you can match them with the right program (1. “Rocky Jones”; 2. “Rod Brown”; 3. “Captain Video”; 4. “Tom Corbett”; 5. “Star Trek” and 6. “Space Patrol”).
Even I can link “Star Trek” with the Enterprise, but I flunked the other matchups: A3, C6, D1, E2 and F4.
But the rocket guys are only a part of a baby boomer’s golden memories of classic kids’ TV. “Where did all our heroes go?” asked a boomer friend when he lent me Grossman’s book. “Captain Gallant of the Foreign Legion, Sergeant Preston, Sky King? Are our kids left with nothing more than Transformers and Gummi Bears?”
My boomer friend admits that his favorite 1953 Saturday morning memory is of “Winky Dink and You.” It used the Winky Dink Magic TV Kit (you sent in 50 cents), which was a sheet of clear acetate.
Kids would see the crudely animated Winky Dink and his dog Woofer come to a river. Host Jack Barry would tell the kids “get your crayons and draw a little boat” on the acetate, which was placed over the TV screen. Animation made it appear that Winky Dink would get in the kid-drawn boat and go across.
There was a wonderful world of adventure shows. A very few: “Hopalong Cassidy,” “Jungle Jim,” “Kit Carson,” “The Lone Ranger,” “Ramar of the Jungle,” “The Cisco Kid,” “Annie Oakley,” “Wild Bill Hickok” and “Sheena, Queen of the Jungle” (played by sultry blonde bombshell Irish McCalla in a skimpy leopard skin, who no doubt had a following among 1955’s daddies as well as among children).
And, for animal lovers, “Rin Tin Tin,” “Lassie,” “My Friend Flicka” and “Fury” (TV’s horse star of 1955 shared billing with Peter Graves, who later took up impossible missions).
Does anyone remember Sinbad the camel? He starred in “Circus Boy,” 1956, with a kid named Mickey Dolenz, who later become one of the Monkees. There were “Rootie Kazootie”; “Kukla, Fran & Ollie”; “Mister Wizard”; “Captain Kangaroo”; “Romper Room.”
There were the avuncular hosts: Uncle Johnny Coons, Pinky Lee, Paul Winchell, Soupy Sales, Captain Kangaroo. And every yuppie remembers Shari Lewis and Lamb Chop (“Good morning Lamb Chop, how are you?” “I don’t know.”).
But how many, reading this, can go rummage in a closet and come up with a Rin Tin Tin membership kit, a Small Fry Club beanie (1949), A Howdy Doody Shake-up Mug, a Hopalong Cassidy radio, Tom Corbett goggles, a Captain Video helmet, Space Patrol’s cardboard rocket cockpit, or a Ramar of the Jungle game in which players tried to find their way to (ahem) the Temple of the Love Goddess?
Well, you’ve still got the memories, kids. All together now: “Bob Smith and Howdy, too, now say goodbye to you. “