Saturday, September 25, 2010

The Cartoon Historian Lesson 22: Saturday Morning Cartoons

Welcome to another Cartoon Historian. I'm your instructor,Stefan and this is my assistant,Mina.

Mina: In this episode we're gonna be talking about the Saturday Morning Cartoons. It's all About Saturday Morning Cartoons on the Cartoon Historian.

[Cartoon Historian Theme Plays]

Mina: If you grew up in the 70's,80's,and 90's than you probably watched cartoons on Saturday Mornings,and thus,know about them. But for those who don't here's a little info: A Saturday morning cartoon is the term for the animated television programming which was scheduled on Saturday mornings on the major American television networks from the Late 1960s to the Late 1990s.

In the United States,Saturday mornings start from 8 am. to 12 pm. Starting in the late 60's,American networks,starting with NBC,created Program Blocks for Saturday Mornings. Though most of the shows aired on these early blocks were reruns of older shows.

Mina: Starting in the late-1970s,Network excecutives started to air shows that doubled as Toy advertisements. This was part of a special deal they made with the Toy and Game companies. Cartoons being used to sell Toys and Games was a very common practice in the 80's.

Mina: Because they had shows that contained limited animation,Filmation and Hanna-Barbera were able to produce a decent quantity of cartoons to fill the four hour time slot,without blowing too much money.

Mina: In addition to these cartoons,some Saturday morning blocks aired old Warner Bros cartoons,as well as the Pink Panther and Popeye. These Cartoons,along with live-action programming,made Saturday Morning TV a great hit.

Mina: But not everyone liked what they say. Some nutjob groups had a problem with wat was being put on Saturday Mornings. Stefan will explain this one.

In the Early 70's,Parents lobby groups voiced concerns about the presentation of violence,anti-social attitudes,and stereotypes in Saturday morning cartoons.

By the mid-1970s, these groups exercised enough influence that the TV networks felt compelled to lay down content rules for the animation houses that were a tad "restrictive"

In a more constructive direction,the networks were encouraged to create educational spots for their Blocks. Far and away the most successful effort was the Schoolhouse Rock series on ABC,which became a television classic.

Just as notable were CBS's news segments for children, In the News and NBC's Ask NBC News and One to Grow On, which featured skits of everyday problems with advice from the stars of NBC primetime programs.

Mina: According to some,the decline of Saturday Morning Cartoons began in the late 1980's,though I disagree completely. In reality,it began declining in the early-2000's. However these people have a variety of reasons on why it was declining in the '80's. Here are their reasons:

Reason 1: The rise of first run syndication animated programs,which had a greater artistic freedom and looser standards (not mandated by a network).

Reason 2: Increasing regulation of children's programming content,including educational requirements and advertising restrictions, which limited the creative options for the shows.

Reason 3: The increasing popularity of home video; this made quality animated productions easily accessible, which encouraged unfavourable comparisons with typical television animation.

Reason 4: The rise of cable TV channels like Nickelodeon and Cartoon Network which provided appealing kids entertainment throughout the week at nearly all hours, making Saturday morning blocks less important to viewers and advertisers. This reason is Bullshit!

Reason 5: Cable channels also have the additional advantage of being beyond FCC content regulations, meaning they do not have to abide by educational or advertising regulations. Now,This one I Believe!

Reason 6: Increased popularity of video game consoles and, by the late 1990s,the internet.

Reason 7: Many of the same networks who often showed Saturday morning cartoons began airing similar programs in the afternoons during the weekdays, usually when most children were out of school already. This practice has been discontinued as of late, but it was common throughout the 1990s.

Mina: Fox Kids Anyone.

Reason 8: An increase in children playing outside.

Reason 9: The success of live action Saturday morning programming for kids and teens (such as NBC's Saved by the Bell) which led to the development of more live action shows and teen programming, squeezing out cartoons. This block was called Teen NBC.

Reason 10:The gradual loss of most of the American companies which were at one time, iconic producers of kids shows. These companies include: Filmation,Ruby-Spears,Sunbow,DiC,and Rankin/Bass.

Mina: I'll admit,some of these reasons have merit,but Saturday Morning Cartoons (and cartoons in general) would continue to thrive until 2002.

Beginning in the late 1990s,Networks started airing Anime and in the early 2000's,Canadian Shows. This was a mistake...a mistake that helped killed Saturday Morning entertainment.

Mina: While animated shows still air on CBS,NBC,and ABC Saturday mornings,it's been reduced. Because of FCC regulations that began in the mid-1990s, broadcast stations were required to program a minimum of three hours of children's educational/informational ("E/I") programming per week. boy,that sucks,don't it.

Yes it does. NBC,the network that produced the first SatAM Block,abandoned its Saturday morning cartoon lineup in 1992,replacing it with a Saturday morning edition of The Today Show and adding an all live-action teen-oriented block called TeenNBC. this Small block featured Saved by the Bell,California Dreams,Hang Time,and other teen comedies. And Even though the educational content was minimal to nonexistent,NBC labeled the live-action shows with an E/I rating.

Mina: In Late 1994,NBC gave up on it's Saturday Morning Line-Up and replaced it with a mediocre Program Block that isn't considered to be a True Saturday Morning Block. Today,NBC's Saturday block is pathetic and insignificant.

CBS followed NBC's example by producing a Saturday edition of The Early Show before airing their Saturday Morning block of live-action semi-educational kids programming.

Mina: The experiment lasted a few months,and CBS brought back their animated CBS Storybreak series. In 1999,CBS's Saturday Morning Block became Pathetic,So Pathetic that it wasn't considered a True Saturday Morning Block anymore. Today,CBS's Saturday Morning Block is totally insignificant....Just Like NBC's.

Mina: But Who the hell cares what happened to NBC and CBS,because we had Fox Kids and Kids WB to fall back on.

Right. In 2004, ABC was the last of the broadcast networks to add a Saturday morning edition of their morning news program,Good Morning America,before airing their Block. In 2006,ABC's Saturday Morning Block officialy became pathetic. And Like CBS and NBC,It too lost it ligitness as a Saturday Morning Block.

Mina: Fox carried little or no E/I programming, leaving the responsibility of scheduling the E/I shows to the affiliates themselves. The WB was far more accommodating. For several years,they've aired the history-themed cartoon Histeria! five days a week,leaving only a half-hour of E/I programs up to the local program block producers.

After The Walt Ditzney Corperation bought Fox Family and Fox Kids in 2002,the Fox Kids block was canned and replaced by 4Kids Entertainment's Fox Box. In 2004,The Fox Box became 4Kids TV. This block ended in 2008.

Mina: Also in 2008,4Kids Entertainment fused with Kids WB creating the CW 4Kids. And Today,this block is known as Toonzai.

Well that was interesting. Now we are gonna give you a small timeline,chronicling the Birth and Death of Saturday Mornings.

Mina: You guys are gonna enjoy this.

1968?: The Saturday Morning TV is born; NBC creates the First Incarnation of its Saturday Morning Block,followed by CBS and ABC.
1976: Saturday Morning TV gains Popularity.
1987: Fox Enters the Saturday Morning "Race"
1990: Saturday Mornings become Sacred.
1991: Fox Kids debuts.
1992: NBC shortens it's block and rids it of Cartoons
1993: CBS shortens it's block.
1994: NBC gives up on it's Saturday Morning Block; NBC Saturday Morning Line-up becomes so pathetic,that it's no longer concidered a True Saturday Morning Block.
1995: The WB's Kids WB debuts.
1996: The USA Network's Action Extreme Team Weekend Block debuts.
1997: ABC's One Saturday Morning debuts.
1998: The USA Network's Action Extreme Team Weekend Block ends.
1999: CBS looses the ligitness of it's Saturday Morning Block; Cartoon Network's Toonami The Rising Sun debuts.
2000: Toonami The Rising Sun ends.
2002: Fox Family debuts it's Weekend Kids Block; One Saturday Morning becomes ABC Kids; Disney buys Fox Kids and Fox Family. Fox Kids ends;Fox Box debuts.
2005: The Fox Box becomes 4Kids TV; ABC shortens it's block...but not much.;Jetix invades ABC Family
2006: ABC Family ends its Weekend Kids Block; ABC Kids loses it's ligitness as a True Saturday Morning Block;Kids WB starts to get pathetic;Saturday Morning TV dies late in the year.
2008: 4Kids merges with the ailing [ratings wise] Kids WB to become CW 4Kids;4Kids TV ends.
2010: CW 4Kids becomes Toonzai.

Mina: Tragic,I know.

Saturday Morning TV may be dead,but It'll never be Forgoten. Let us have a moment of silence for Saturday Morning TV.

*Moment of Silence Begins*

*Moment of Silence Ends*

That's gonna do it for this edition of the Cartoon Historian. Stay Gold,guys.

Mina: Later.

[fade to black. credits roll as the cartoon historian closing theme plays]


KingsSideCastle said...

Awesome...this is a great post. Saturday morning cartoons rule. I really miss the period when they were at their peak too.

Jasmine said...

how bout 4kids go back 2 channel 5 & have cartoons from da 90's go on channel 11.cartoons such as ironman,batman,the incredible hulk,fantastic 4,sonic the hedgehog,mighty max,mummies alive,etc.

who do i talk 2 bout dis?