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The Death of Saturday Morning Cartoons

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The Death of Saturday Morning Cartoons

Old 05-19-03, 05:37 PM
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The Death of Saturday Morning Cartoons

I dont quite agree with everything the author says, but he's got a pretty good angle:

http://mag.awn.com/index.php3?ltype=...rticle_no=1751


My take is that sure I'll freely admit that Transformers and GI Joe were really half an hour long informercials - but there was an underlying bed of quality - as far as children's TV goes. The shows of the late 70's and 80's had a certain charm about them.

Much to my surprise when I was watching the newest boxed set of the Transformers, I found a certain level of depth to the story - at least as much as one could reasonably expect given the restraints. The second season was especially well done for a kids show.

(Of course don't get me started on Land of the Lost - a show with writing most adult TV would be proud to have.)

One point that the author did miss was that we rush kids through childhood these says. We push them them too hard, too soon. It's becoming increasingly common for parents to enroll their kids in after-school activities (music, ballet, sports) instead of letting them lounge in front of the TV for a couple of hours.

Kids dont have childhoods, they have curriculums.
Old 05-19-03, 06:03 PM
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Let me get this straight, you think kids today don't spend enough time in front of the TV?

I think that's the first time I have ever read anyone say that, ever.
Old 05-20-03, 01:53 AM
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Interesting. I agree with alot of the points, especially concerning cable. The Fox Kids thing is also very true, as is the Internet/video game connection. I disagree slightly on the other points a bit. More recreational sports? It seems to me that kids in large spend less time outside playing sports than they used to. Greater emphasis on family time? Maybe that would affect afternoon tv viewing, but I would say it has very little effect on Saturday mornings. What parent schedules family time events at 8:30 am on a Saturday??? The animation quality issue is also debatable as a factor... regardless of whether of not you believe the quality has lessened, I don't think its a factor in this specific argument.

I'd also say that the author missed the biggest factor of them all... the rise of home video and VCRs (and now DVD). When I was a kid, we didn't have a VCR. I couldn't watch cartoons on demand. No Disney tapes to pop in, no recording shows to watch later. Afternoons had a few okay shows, but after awhile you'd see them all and they'd be repeated. So Saturday was special... it was our prime time, and we only got it once a week. Now if kids want to watch something, they have not only cable but a library of their favorite shows and movies on video. Why get excited about Saturday?
Old 05-20-03, 08:13 AM
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So, am I the only one who thinks the problem with Saturday morning shows is that they simply started turning to crap about 15 years ago? They just weren't fun anymore because trying too hard to sell something and not hard enough to entertain.
Old 05-20-03, 08:36 AM
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Old 05-20-03, 09:17 AM
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I remember Saturday being the only day of the week where I was excited to wake up before my parents. All the best cartoons were on really, really early. And I'd also be thrilled to learn the new cartoon lineups when they had a new ad in the comicbooks.

I'm unsure how much of a factor "family time" and the increase in the divorce rates is. Or even how much of a factor extra curricular activities are (I mean, I expect that kids watch a lot more tv now, and excercise a lot less then they did back then). There is the "maturity" factor, where kids in their early teens no longer see cartoons as "cool." Though I look at my TIVO, and 50% of all my recordings are cartoons... and they're all for me.

The FCC regulations did play a huge part. I believe that even now, you can't advertise your product on the show the product is based on. So you can't have Transformers commercials during the Transformers cartoon. That my competitors with similar products can advertise on my show, but not me. Also, there was some kind of regulation passed down that all network channels had to have some minimum amount of hours of "educational" programming a week, and so a lot of networks took out their "action" cartoons for "educational" ones.

Videogames and cable also have to play a huge part in the decline of network cartoons. That's pretty obvious.

About the quality of cartoons: the article makes a great point that even in it's heyday, cartoons make a fraction of the revenue that primetime shows do for networks. I believe this is why the majority of cartoons are now licensed from Japanese series... it's gotta be cheaper to license and dub than to create something new. And the "new" style of American cartoons is very basic and easy to animate. I think the content of cartoons has matured for the most part, though, because I think they realize that the adult market for cartoons is pretty sizeable. So you have stuff like Dexter's Lab, Justice League, even continuity laden stuff like X-Men Evolution or humorous stuff like Animaniacs which appeal to both adults and kids. Sure, Transformers Armada is a colossal waste of time, especially compared to the older Transformers cartoons, but I think a lot of times we can look at the cartoons of our youth with rose colored glasses.
Old 05-20-03, 03:32 PM
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umm....I'm under 25 and distinctly remember the Saturday morning cartoon "phenomenon"

There are a couple of good programs still on and my brother still gets up to watch them.

Jackie Chan
X-Men Evolution

Recent years:
Batman Beyond
Superman
Animaniacs

But in large it is over. I do miss it though. There was more to watch on Sat morning then primetime thurs. of course my tastes have changed since then.
Old 05-20-03, 03:42 PM
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I think some of you are looking at the world through rose-colored glasses. Those old cartoons were as crappy as the ones now. They just seemed better because you were a kid at the time and less discriminating.
Old 05-20-03, 03:49 PM
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Originally posted by Groucho
I think some of you are looking at the world through rose-colored glasses. Those old cartoons were as crappy as the ones now. They just seemed better because you were a kid at the time and less discriminating.
That wuz the way it wuz and WE LIKED IT!
Old 05-20-03, 03:50 PM
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Shape of a... um, water bridge...
Old 05-20-03, 04:04 PM
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Originally posted by Groucho
I think some of you are looking at the world through rose-colored glasses. Those old cartoons were as crappy as the ones now. They just seemed better because you were a kid at the time and less discriminating.
No way, man! The Pac-Man/Rubik the Amazing Cube Hour was brilliant television. Brilliant!

Old 05-20-03, 05:34 PM
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Originally posted by Groucho
I think some of you are looking at the world through rose-colored glasses. Those old cartoons were as crappy as the ones now. They just seemed better because you were a kid at the time and less discriminating.
Now I'll admit that there were some sucky cartoons in the 70's and the 80's. I rented the Superfriends disc just a couple of weeks ago, and man that was painful. He-Man is probably the most unintensionaly funny show I've seen in a long time, but time has not been kind to it.

However, there were quite a few good shows: Joe and Transformers of course, The Real Ghostbusters, most of the big Sid and Marty Kroftt shows, Danger Island and Schoolhouse Rock.

Compare that to today. Of the ones for kids, only Jackie Chan and Justice Leauge really stand out as superior titles. Everything else is Poke`mon, Yu-gi-oh and Power Rangers - mostly warmed over japanese crapola. (Not that I have anything against anime in general, just the bad localization of anime. Star Blazers, Speed Racer and Robotech were just fine because they were handled with a measure of care).

It might look better, but todays shows don't have the heart that the old school stuff did.
Old 05-20-03, 06:43 PM
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Originally posted by Groucho
I think some of you are looking at the world through rose-colored glasses.
When I sat down and watched some Transformers episodes for this first time in 15 years and change, I was horrified by how awful I thought it was. Some of them still offer some kitsch value, and every once in a while there'll be a genuinely good episode (Masters of the Universe's"The Problem with Power", to name one), but for the most part...
Old 05-21-03, 08:42 AM
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I don't know if these shows are for kids, but some of the imported Toonami stuff like Yu Yu Hakusho and Rurouni Kenshin is pretty good. It's also MUCH less hacked up than either Robotech or Star Blazers.

Although the new Transformers show is probably the worst show I've seen in a long time, the new Heman show is pretty popular, even with fans of the old show. The big question is... what do our kids like to watch? We liked to watch the 30 minute toy commercials for Transformers and Joe and Heman, and they seem to like to watch the 30 minute card commercial called Yugioh.
Old 05-21-03, 11:30 AM
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Originally posted by tanman
umm....I'm under 25 and distinctly remember the Saturday morning cartoon "phenomenon"

There are a couple of good programs still on and my brother still gets up to watch them.

Jackie Chan
X-Men Evolution

Recent years:
Batman Beyond
Superman
Animaniacs

But in large it is over. I do miss it though. There was more to watch on Sat morning then primetime thurs. of course my tastes have changed since then.
I agree with your above statements.

X-Men is the only Saturday Morning show I will watch. The new Teen Titan show could be good also.
Old 05-21-03, 12:06 PM
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This is why I have the channel "Boomerang"--so my kids can experience the same high-quality Saturday morning experiences that I did. It's the least I can do...
Old 05-21-03, 12:35 PM
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Originally posted by MartyMcSuperfly
Star Blazers, Speed Racer and Robotech were just fine because they were handled with a measure of care
AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA
Old 05-21-03, 12:39 PM
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Originally posted by uteotw
This is why I have the channel "Boomerang"--so my kids can experience the same high-quality Saturday morning experiences that I did. It's the least I can do...
I'm sorry, but Hanna-Barbara cartoons are the worst. I remember the intense feeling of disgust as a kid when Wacky Olympics or whatever came on, and today I can't bear to watch them. I don't think high-quality could describe anything that was churned out of that studio.

Edit: This refers to their '70s and '80s crap. I hate the vast majority of Cartoon Network's original cartoons, too (Hanna-Barbara, right?), except Powerpuff Girls and Dexter's Lab (well, the last season was horrible).

Last edited by Breakfast with Girls; 05-21-03 at 12:44 PM.
Old 05-21-03, 01:28 PM
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My all time favorite classic cartoon quote:

"You know what? That makes me mad."

Droopy
Old 05-21-03, 02:48 PM
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Originally posted by Breakfast with Girls
AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA
Wow. How can I respond to such a witty retort. I guess your superior argument has shut me down completly. I bow to your excellent debating skills.
Old 05-21-03, 03:08 PM
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Originally posted by tanman
umm....I'm under 25 and distinctly remember the Saturday morning cartoon "phenomenon"

There are a couple of good programs still on and my brother still gets up to watch them.

Jackie Chan
X-Men Evolution

Recent years:
Batman Beyond
Superman
Animaniacs
I believe only the first 2 were Saturday toons. The other 3 may have eventually shown up there, but were mostly on in the afternoons and weekday mornings, right?

Back in the day, the greatest show of the year was the annual Saturday Morning Preview thing the major networks would air on a Friday night to pimp out their new lineup. I think Weird Al hosted it on one channel once upon a time. Good times...
Old 05-21-03, 03:08 PM
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Of course, he means that Star Blazers, Robotech, and Speed Racer were all hacked up in the translation process, Robotech being three totally unrelated series combined into one. So they weren't necessarily "handled with care." What they did bring to American animation was a serialization of episodes, where the episodes had a continuity instead of a "plot of the week". There was also a more adult feel to the story, as characters were able to evolve and even die. Even Speed Racer had a continuing story. That meant that the episodes had to all be shown in order. Of course, one could argue that shows like Rocky and Bullwinkle had this too, but most cartoons were designed to be shown in any order, with maybe minor changes between seasons or a few episodes strung together for an overall plot.
Old 05-21-03, 04:12 PM
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GI Joe, Transformers, He-Man....

NONE of them were "Saturday Morning TV" on networks.

They were all daily sindicated shows, usually on in the afternoons.
Old 05-21-03, 04:17 PM
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Originally posted by Breakfast with Girls
I'm sorry, but Hanna-Barbara cartoons are the worst. I remember the intense feeling of disgust as a kid when Wacky Olympics or whatever came on, and today I can't bear to watch them. I don't think high-quality could describe anything that was churned out of that studio.

Edit: This refers to their '70s and '80s crap. I hate the vast majority of Cartoon Network's original cartoons, too (Hanna-Barbara, right?), except Powerpuff Girls and Dexter's Lab (well, the last season was horrible).
I was referring to such classics as Superfriends, Smurfs, Hong Kong Phooey, Tom & Jerry, etc.--all cartoons I loved and now my kids love 'em too.
Old 05-21-03, 04:30 PM
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Of course there were good and bad cartoons and kids shows then as well as now. I do think that when it became all about selling toys first and creating the shows second, things went further downhill.

When I was a kid, I liked SUPERFRIENDS, LAND OF THE LOST, THE MONSTER SQUAD (not the movie from years later), ISIS, SCOOBY-DOO, H.R PUFNSTUFF and SIGMOND AND THE SEA MONSTERS.

Most of those shows would seem pretty bad to kids today; (SCOOBY seems to still be cool) but at the time; they were it!

Still, watching bits and pieces of some of the stuff kids like today, I can't help but cringe.

It's all relative to what generation you were a part of. I know people 10 years or so younger than me that think SAVED BY THE BELL is a classic, and I can't for the life of me understand why. I couldn't make it through one show when watching with them. Awful writing, terrible acting, horrible production values, not a single funny or inventive moment....but yet the same could be said about lots of the shows I mentioned above.

Still, What IS the deal with SBTB?

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