The purpose of this blog is to shine a light on overlooked genre adventure shows from the 70s, 80s, and 90s that never really got their chance to shine; shows that only lasted a single season or less. We'll focus on one series at a time and review/recap our way through each episode, one a week, with posts going up every Saturday morning. We acknowledge up front that many shows we'll cover did not actually play on Saturday mornings during their initial runs, but as long as they capture the same spirit of imagination and adventure, that's all that really matters to us.
I never got to sleep in as a kid. For one thing, my Mom had this annoying habit of making me go to school. Can you believe they actually expect you to show up five days a week? Five straight days a week. What is this, the Soviet Union?
On Sunday, it was my Grandma’s turn. No matter how much I protested that “Even Jesus is still asleep,” she would drag me, sometimes literally, off to Sunday school.
That pretty much left Saturdays. No obligation to the State. No obligation to the Almighty. I could just sleep in all day long. Only I never did. Why? Enter: the Saturday morning cartoon.
A not so long time ago, in a place not so far, far away, the “Big Three” networks actually ran cartoons on Saturday mornings. To those of you born after 1990, I know this may seem pretty far fetched, but I assure you it’s true.
Today, Saturday morning television means morning news shows, infomercials, and the occasional “edutainment”. Like medicine hidden within a piece of candy, edutainment is simply more school wrapped in the guise of fun. It’s an abomination in the eyes of God. And how do I know this? Because I went to Sunday school (thank you, Grandma).
Monday through Friday, I got out of bed with all of the enthusiasm of a cold turtle. But on Saturdays, I sprung out of bed a few minutes early so that I could go make myself a GIANT bowl of cereal (usually Captain Crunch, but I was known to sneak some Fruity Pebbles in there too). I would plop down on the floor and set my bowl up on the coffee table and soon I was transported to outlandish worlds populated by heroes, villains, sidekicks, and henchman. It was a magical era and, being sincere for a second, I’m sad that today’s kids by and large don’t get to experience it.
As you can see from our “mission statement”, this blog is an attempt on our part to bring some of the short-lived and overlooked genre shows of years gone by to light. Many of these will be live-action, prime time shows, but I approach them with the same attitude that I do Saturday morning cartoons. Their like has sadly faded from our airwaves, replaced by reality TV and grim police procedurals.
But here, in our tiny corner of cyberspace, we’re trotting them back out in hopes that you will discover them, or re-discover them, along with us.
And now I pass the remote to my partner in crime, Noel.
I'm only 7 years younger than my friend Tony, yet my TV awareness came into being just as Saturday Morning adventure blocks were beginning their decline. Sure, there were shows I enjoyed, but my viewing of them was sporadic as I was distracted by the rise of cable channels like Disney and Nickelodeon and (later) Cartoon Network, which catered to my age group 24/7.
And being an early fan of anime, I didn't mind so much when it was learned it was cheaper to dub shows like Pokemon and Digimon instead of creating original content. But their sudden popularity on the already crowded Saturday Morning schedule pushed aside the action figure-based adventures of daring-do and laser explosions to the point where such entertainment became an endangered species.
Back in the day, you'd get 20 or more shows of this type per year, but now you get so few you can count them on your fingers. Granted, one has to admit the under-saturation leads to increased quality (Ben 10 is amazing, and anyone who says otherwise will get a kick in the shin), but there was a charm to the holographic heroics of old, where it was all about saving the day and delivering a moral message at the end as everyone freezes on a laugh after a mildly amusing joke.
Is it wrong that we've moved beyond such an era? Not really. Times have to be allowed to change as each generation seeks its own identity. But those old days shouldn't be entirely forgotten, so I'm curious to see what we'll find as we explore that era of fantasy adventure through this blog. As we mentioned above, we're focusing on the underdogs here. No Transformers or G.I. Joe or Thundercats or any other series that succeeded at leaving its mark. We'll be watching the shows that came and went and left little more than a blip on the radar, many of which neither myself nor Tony have ever seen, or, if we have, it's a distant memory we hope to reawaken.
We hope you all tune in each Saturday Morning to see what we dig out. And please chime in with your own thoughts and memories. We'd love to hear what you have to share.
Tune in this Saturday when we get the ball rolling with the pilot episode of Automan.