[identity profile] captain-slinky.livejournal.com

I try not to go back to shows that ran for multiple seasons, preferring to focus only on the shows that premiered each year. But this... this deserves special mention. For this, the 985 season of The Smurfs, was the season that the Smurfs Jumped The Shark; the show started it's downward spiral here and never recovered.

The culprits, as is often the case with shows that Jump The Shark, was the inclusion of children and animals.

"The Smurflings" were a group of adult Smurfs who had been de-aged by Father Time's clock running backwards, and a little girl Smurf created the same way Smurfette had been made, only using less magical clay. Long story short - The Smurfs was now a show about dealing with these young Smurfs, rather than a show about the Smurfs themselves.

Also joining the cast this season was "Puppy", a thousand-year-old dog who remained young due to the magic locket he wears on his dog collar.
[identity profile] captain-slinky.livejournal.com

At 9:00 on Saturday morning in 1985 was a cartoon that lasted only 2 seasons but went by up to 4 different names and had no less than 2 different theme songs, "Ewoks" (which also aired as "Star Wars: Ewoks), "The All-New Ewoks Adventures" and "The Ewoks & Droids Adventure Hour"). Depending on your geographic location, you may have seen an opening for the show that looked more like this:

(This is the one I always saw, and I think it has something to do with having watched on a Canadian TV station).

Produced by Canadian animation studio Nelvana, there were 35 different half-hour episodes produced that were meant as a continuation/sequel to the wildly popular made-for-TV live-action movies "Caravan Of Courage" and "Battle For Endor". The first season seems to have been written for actual Star Wars fans with intricate relationships, cross-over storylines and recurring characters that actually added to the mythology and history of the Ewoks and their little moon of Endor. The second season, supposedly at the request of the network and against the wishes of Lucasfilm, was aimed more at younger kids.

Ewoks had three things going for it that really elevated it from the gutters of having been the "Jar Jar" of the pre-prequels Star Wars universe* - it had continuity, it had no laugh-track, and it had an actual Series Finale.

The final episode, "Battle For The Sun Star", was actually aired out-of-order on Saturday mornings and was then later re-aired as a stand-alone special that officially marked the end of the series. The plot, which depicts the Empire discovering the moon of Endor and deciding to build the new Death Star in the same orbit around Endor, firmly places the Ewoks cartoon in official Star Wars cannon right between Empire Strikes Back and Return Of The Jedi (which is pretty darned cool if you ask me).

So what do you think? Any memories regarding the Ewoks? Leave 'em in the comments below :)

*(I had always wondered if Jar-Jar Binks could have somehow been redeemed with a single season of a "The Gungans" cartoon series...)
[identity profile] captain-slinky.livejournal.com

Saturday morning at 8:30 on NBC in 1985, Disney's Adventures of The Gummi Bears sparked a HUGE CHANGE in the way that Saturday Mornings and Television Cartoons would operate from this point on. But first, a summary:

Medieval bears cook Meth in the forest outside a kingdom, have to avoid being captured by the evil Duke Igthorn. It's basically a cartoon version of "Breaking Bad".

SO! The importance of this show! Last week I discussed the importance of The Wuzzles and how Disney was jumping in to television animation like never before. Whereas The Wuzzles was a standard Saturday Morning cartoon with standard 11-minute conflict-and-moral story lines, The Gummi Bears (pitched at the last minute by Michael Eisener because his kid asked for the candy and it made him think "Hey, THEY could be a cartoon character") was a semi-episodic, progressive story with character development.

This cartoon served as an example that was copied all through the rest of the 80's and in to the 90's. Ongoing story lines, plot threads that would weave through multiple episodes... other companies followed that mold from here on out.

After 3 years on NBC Saturday Morning, the show moved to ABC for one final season before becoming the established elder statesman of The Disney Afternoon, a collection of Disney animated half-hour shows that all followed the same template of character development and long, weaving plot threads.
[identity profile] captain-slinky.livejournal.com

The 1985 season of The ABC Weekend Special brought us another 9 new half-hour episodes, including the experimental live-action "The Adventures Of Teddy Ruxpin" (embedded above). WHAT?!?! LIVE-ACTION TEDDY RUXPIN? That's CRAZY!

Ken Forsse was the man who created Teddy Ruxpin, the first domesticated animatronic produce for childhood companionship. Ken had gotten his start at The Walt Disney Company and with Sid & Marty Krofft, and had helped to create a new kind of kids show that combined puppetry, animatronics and green-screen animation in to something completely new and different. See "Welcome To Pooh Corner" from the earliest days of The Disney Channel for a prime example.

Now that mister Forsse was striking out and making a name for himself with Teddy Ruxpin, he went ahead and made a "pilot episode" of sorts for a show featuring his creation, using the new show format that he had helped develop. It was AWESOME, but it quickly became apparent that without the deep pockets of a corporation like Disney behind it, a show like this was just too cost-prohibitive.

Lucky for us, too, because they scrapped the whole thing and gave us one of the most epic episodic animated programs of all time with the animated "Adventures of Teddy Ruxpin" that went directly in o syndication (but more on that another day, when I'm writing about non-network Saturday morning stuff).

Days Of Wonder (the company selling Teddy Ruxpin) recouped their losses by taking the live-action footage they had and selling it to ABC for use in their ABC Weekend Special.

The full line-up of new episodes included:
  • The Adventures of Con Sawyer and Hucklemary Finn (Part 1 and 2)
  • Jeeter Mason and the Magic Headset
  • Cap'n O.G. Readmore's Jack and the Beanstalk
  • Pippi Longstocking (Part 1 and 2)
  • Columbus Circle
  • The Adventures of Teddy Ruxpin (Part 1 and 2)
[identity profile] captain-slinky.livejournal.com

In 1985, Disney was desperate to get back in to the Television Animation business. A series of underperforming animated movies since the death of Walt Disney in 1966 had left the once powerful House Of Mouse a slowly rotting corpse of a company being picked apart by corporate scavengers.

Then came Michael Eisner who said "Screw that, we're DISNEY!" and with that they pumped new money, new talent and, unfortunately, new 1980's greed-fueled corporate policies in to what had once been a tight-knit "Family" corporation of sorts.

Regardless of the greed-fueled motivations, though, Michael Eisner got the company back up and running for a whole new generation of kids, starting with Saturday Mornings in 1985 because Saturday Morning cartoons were cheap, easy to make, and could be turned out FAST to get the Disney name back in to homes that weren't tuning in to the Disney Sunday Night Movie every week out of habit for family-friendly viewing.

The first cartoon that was made ready was "The Wuzzles", with a concept that was created by Michael Eisner himself for his new Disney Television Animation Studio to create. Because Michael was such a good 80's businessman, he had the toy rights sold to Hasbro before they even had a storyline, full name, concept sketch or really anything beyond "It's a show about mixed-up animals, like part giraffe and part elephant". It had the Disney name behind it, so they bought it and BOOM! An 80's classic was born!

The Wuzzles only lasted one season (13 episodes), making it the shortest lived Disney Television Animated show ever, but the following year ABC bought the reruns of that first season as a part of an experiment which we will discuss next week when I tell you all about Disney's Adventures of The Gummi Bears :)
[identity profile] captain-slinky.livejournal.com

(No matter how often i hear it and KNOW that he's saying "Horace J. Honeypot", to me it always sounded like the mayor was saying "Horace J. Onion-F*cker". Listen and see if you agree!)

By 1985, The Berenstain Bears had been featured in a gazillion "Easy Reader" books and even a few prime-time animated specials, so why not bring them to Saturday Morning television? CBS, who was always looking for new cartoons that could potentially fill that ever growing "Educational And Informative" mandate, took the chance and put The Berenstain Bears at the head of their Saturday Morning line-up in the 8:00 slot.

Never seen it? One-line summary: Little House On The Prairie, with bears instead of people, but the kids are thoroughly modern 80's kids.
[identity profile] captain-slinky.livejournal.com

It is generally accepted and agreed upon that THIS SHOW was "The Beginning Of The End" for Saturday Mornings. Up till this point the Parental Watchdog Groups, Marketing Executives and Overzealous Censors had only had an effect on NEW cartoons being produced... but at 8:00 Saturday morning in 1985 on ABC, a precedent was set that changed the entire dynamic of Saturday Morning Cartoons FOREVER.

After numerous years of volleying the Looney Tunes cartoons back and forth between CBS and ABC (resulting in a few seasons where there were Looney Tunes cartoons on both channels under different names), CBS finally backed out of the bidding and let ABC snatch up the exclusive network broadcast rights - but at a cost. Marketing, Censors and Watchdogs had just a few simple requests...

No Speedy Gonzales (because he was racist), and no Tweety Bird (because he was GAY).

Speedy was racist because he spoke with an accent, and Tweety was Gay because he spoke was pretty and spoke in a high voice.

Despite the ludicrous accusations, ABC went ahead and pulled the Speedy and Tweety cartoons that had been running for the past 15 years without question or hesitation. The Censors had their foothold - NOTHING was safe from this point forward. They could now retro-actively censor, edit and otherwise ban whatever they liked for any old reason, knowing that there would be no questioning of The Great And Powerful Standards & Practices Board.

Saturday Morning, was doomed :(
[identity profile] captain-slinky.livejournal.com

"Pink Panther And Sons" was a cartoon that aired on NBC Saturday Mornings at 8:30 starting in 1984 for two seasons, then was traded to ABC for the final season in 1986. Who produced this cartoon? It's complicated, but in the end it was Hannah-Barbera that did all the work - The original Pink Panther cartoons (theatrical and Television) were produced by DePatie-Freleng Enterprises, but in 1981 that studio was sold to Marvel Comics and renamed Marvel Productions. To further complicate things, the actual CHARACTER of The Pink Panther was owned by The Mirisch Company, producers of the Pink Panther (Inspector Clouseau) movies. David DePatie and Friz Freleng served as producers for this series, circumventing Marvel Productions completely, and creating some limited partnership *specifically* for this project with The Mirisch Company, then farmed the grunt-work out to Hannah-Barbera as a (alleged) "Screw You" to the new owners at Marvel Productions.

There is bitterness there.

The show features the adventures of The Pink Panther's two sons: Pinky (the older one) and his brother Panky (toddler), and their Cosby-Kids-esque friends in the Rainbow Panthers Crew (Chatta, Rocko, Murfel, Annie and Punkin, who can all be seen Moonwalking in the opening credits). Each episode was all about the Rainbow Panthers Crew coming together for friendship and fun as they learned all about growing up and caring each other as they take on the a group of lions called the Howl Angels.

(At the risk of getting more hate mail, I'd dare say that this show suffered from Get-Along-Gang Syndrome)


The date of the next all-new watch-along, due to complications beyond our control, has been postponed till Saturday, September 21st! Mark your calendars accordingly, sorry for any inconvenience!
[identity profile] captain-slinky.livejournal.com

Where do you begin with this? In 1983 at 11:00, the folks at NBC brought us the adventures of Mister T as animated by the Ruby-Spears studio.

If you don't know who Mister T was/is, I have nothing but pity for you and think you somewhat akin to a Foole.

The premise of this show was the Mister T was the trainer/coach of a teenage gymnastics troupe who for some reason drove around the country solving mysteries. They also had a dog with a mohawk and a red-headed white boy who wanted to be Mister T.

Unlike other celebrities who got their own cartoon series (Chuck Norris, Hulk Hogan, Muhammad Ali, etc) Mister T was pretty heavily involved with the creative end of this cartoon series. Each episode opened with Mister T explaining the set-up of the episode, and ended with him explaining the moral of the story in a live-action segment. There was a big struggle between the story writers and T, where the story writers wanted Mister T to perform some super-human feat of strength each episode (the entire reason behind making a cartoon about a muscle-bound hero, after all), but T insisted that his role be more of a mentor and not doing things that kids would try to imitate at home. This is why many episodes end with The Bad Guy just SEEING Mister T and deciding to give up rather than fight.

The show ran for 30 episodes over the course of three seasons, but because of contractual negotiations that fell through at the last minute Season 3 ended up being 100% re-runs of episodes from the first two seasons; they never even made it to the plotting stage of Season 3 because at that time, Mister T was trying to develop his standing in the WWF Professional Wrestling Federation - distancing himself from his established "Good Guy" persona.
[identity profile] captain-slinky.livejournal.com

I'd have to do too much googling to confirm or deny this so I'll just let all y'all correct me if I'm wrong; 1983, 10:30 on NBC brought us the first ever Saturday Morning "Reboot" of a cartoon*, Alvin & The Chipmunks.

Back in 1961, Alvin & The Chipmunks looked like this (please feel free to ignore the Nickelodeon branding):

Produced for prime-time television, this version of The Chipmunks was a fast-paced half-hour "Gag" show, with 2 musical segments, a "Clyde Crashcup" cartoon and a single, quick joke featuring The Chipmunks.

But here in 1983, the show was refined. The musical segments were gone, replaced by actual storylines and character development. The character of Dave Seville was finally established as an adoptive father rather than an ambiguously disassociated record producer with anger management issues. The artistic style of the 1983 show was smoothed out and standardized to fit in with all the other cartoons of 1980's Saturday Morning thanks to the involvement of Ruby-Spears, as opposed to the highly stylized 1961 version that had been crafted solely by Bagdasarian Productions.

This was a completely different cartoon.

From the very first episode of the 1983 version, they distanced themselves by having a guest appearance by Mister T and also by introducing "The Chippettes". Even the theme song (one of the best ever on Saturday Mornings) implied that this was an all-new, all different approach to the Chipmunks and it REALLY WORKED!

*(You may point out various Hanna-Barbera shows of the 70's such as "Yogi's Space-Race", "The New Scooby-Doo Movies", "Yogi's Ark" and/or "Laugh-A-Lympics" as previous reboots of cartoons, but those weren't reboots so much as sequels that just used the same characters in new situations. It's like the difference between "Star Trek III: The Search For Spock" and the more recent JJ Abrahms "Star Trek" movies)
[identity profile] captain-slinky.livejournal.com

The Littles, the first cartoon to be produced by the legendary DIC Entertainment for American Network Television, premiered in 1983 at 10:30 on ABC. The story centers around a civilization of little people with mouse-like features who live in our walls and under our homes. They are discovered by a human boy named Henry Bigg, who helps protect them and keep their secret from the Men-In-Black-esque Dr. Hunter and his assistant, Peterson.

This show was/is one of my obsessions. The year I discovered The Littles, I spent all my free time building miniature furniture from toothpicks and popsicle sticks, hiding them around the house and then "finding" them, recording my findings on my portable cassette tape player/recorder (you know the kind, with the one giant speaker). I wanted The Littles to come out and reveal themselves to me SO BAD, I was willing to frame them and then blackmail them in to it!

So here's a mystery that I've never been able to confirm or deny... according to Dick Clark on the 1983 ABC Weekend Preview Special, The Littles made their debut as an episode of the ABC Weekend Special. Check it out:

Evidence that I didn't just imagine it!

Dick is referring to The ABC Weekend Special episode #55 from 1982, "The Joke's on Mr. Little" - WHICH HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH THE LITTLES!!! To quote the IMDB summary,
"Two boys decide they don't like a teacher, Mr. Little (the grossly underused and under-appreciated Richard Sanders), so they set out to play little pranks on him, but Mr. Little always manages to rise above each joke. In the end, the jokes backfire, endangering the boys and Guess Who! - has to come to their rescue."

You will never know or appreciate just how much of my pre-internet life was wasted in pursuit of this mythical "First Episode" that never existed!!!

The Littles *technically* lasted for 3 seasons, though there were only 29 episodes (13 for the first season, 8 each for the remaining 2) as well as a few specials such as the theatrically release "Here Come The Littles (which is an excellent jumping-on point that explains the origins of The Littles relationship with Henry Bigg) and the made-for tv movie "Liberty & The Littles" which was split in to three episodes and packaged together with te rest of the run for syndication.
[identity profile] captain-slinky.livejournal.com

At 10:30 in the morning on CBS in 1983, you got something pretty darned special - The Charlie Brown And Snoopy Show! These characters had been around since 1950 and been the subject of several movies and seasonal television specials, but never before - not even during the HEIGHT of popularity in the 1960's - had there ever been a weekly cartoon!

The show was pretty straightforward and easy to produce, as they had over 30 years of "storyboards" to pull from - and that's exactly what they did. Direct adaptations of the comic strips. It was quite brilliant! Produced by Bill Melendez, whose animation studio generally specialized in specials, these episodes fit seamlessly with all the existing movies and specials that had already been produced!
[identity profile] captain-slinky.livejournal.com

The Dungeons & Dragons Cartoon that debuted at 9:30 on CBS in 1983 was a historically significant milestone for Saturday Mornings on many levels, and I hope I can keep my thoughts collected/organized enough to convey the importance of this cartoon to you.

First of all, it was a milestone for the team at Marvel Productions. Since their inception just over a year ago, their cartoons fell in to two categories - Marvel Super Heroes, and Hanna-Barbera Rejects. When they made animation for established Marvel super-hero properties it was a huge hit, but when they tried to make original stuff like the other big names of Saturday Mornings we got forgettable stuff like "Pandamonium" and "Spaghetti & Meatballs". Dungeons & Dragons was their first non-comics property to become a HIT, consistently winning in the ratings for it's time slot for its first two seasons against shows such as Pac-Man and The Smurfs!

Second, it was a milestone in Voice Acting. This show had a star-studded cast full of folks who were actually on prime-time television shows at the time! Willy Ames from "Charles In Charge" (as well as movies and other TV shows at the time), Donny Most ("Ralph Mouf" from Happy Days) and Adam Rich (from "Eight Is Enough"), all considered to be "real actors", provided lead character voices for this show (Hank, Eric and Presto). Unlike other celebrity voice acting in cartoons, this was a real novelty to have professional actors providing voices for characters that they didn't already play on another show - the cast from Happy Days, Laverne & Shirley and Mork & Mindy provided the voices for their animated counterparts, but never for original characters like this.

Third, it was the first (and as far as I have been able to tell, the ONLY) cartoon that the National Coalition on Television Violence (BOOO! HISS!) demanded that the FTC run a warning during each broadcast stating that "Dungeons & Dragons had been linked to real-life violent deaths". Their demand was ignored, but it had the effect of many scripts never even making it to the storyboard stage. As a result, the orders for new episodes each season kept dwindling - 13 episodes the first season, 8 for the second season, 6 for the third season. Basically, they starved the audience away :(

Fourth, this show had one of the best legends of all the Saturday Morning Cartoons, namely a fabled FINAL EPISODE that never aired but many kids SWORE they had seen it. The final un-produced episode would have revealed that the latter is Dungeon Master's corrupted son, and would have explained that the children were brought into the realm to help redeem Venger and restore balance. Want to read it? It's right here AND they even made an audio play of it for the deluxe DVD release of the full series so go pick that up if you're interested!
[identity profile] captain-slinky.livejournal.com

In the wake of 1982's very profitable Pac-Man Cartoon advertising shenanigans, the folks at Ruby-Spears started snapping up the rights to pretty much every and any video game they could get. They didn't have a network, they didn't have a promise... they just realized that this was how it's going to work and so they did it knowing that the advertisers and the networks would come.

And so at 8:30 on saturday morning in 1983, CBS premiered "Saturday Supercade", a conglomeration of 11-minute videogame-based cartoon segments that weren't strong enough to carry their own half-hour series yet somehow, when lumped together, proved to be quite a ratings powerhouse!

The first season included segments on Donkey Kong, Donkey Kong Jr., Pitfall Harry, Frogger and Qbert. Summaries:

DONKEY KONG escaped from the zoo and is chased around by Mario and Pauline (seems legit).
DONKEY KONG JR is looking for his dad and teams up with a teenager on a motorcycle to find him (Aww sweet).
PITFALL HARRY, his niece Rhonda, and a cowardly Mountain Lion(!?!) search for treasure
FROGGER is an investigative reporter(?!?)
QBERT is a 1950's teenager(???)

The second season dropped Pitfall Harry, Donkey Kong Jr and Frogger so they could ad "Kangaroo" and "Space Ace", which were both SO MUCH more like what they sound like than any of the previous season's cartoons had been.

Also aired at 9:30 and 11:30 in the 1984/1985 season
[identity profile] captain-slinky.livejournal.com

In 1983, CBS started their official broadcast offering at 8:00 with the Hanna-Barbera show THE BISKITTS. The Biskitts are a group of tiny anthropomorphic Robinhood-esque dogs who live on Biskitt Island and guard the crown jewels of Biskitt Castle while also performing good deeds for the underprivileged inhabitants of their tiny island. The villain of the series is the king's mean-spirited, wasteful, younger brother King Max who rules the neighboring Lower Suburbia. In lieu of a proper coronation, Max constantly schemes to steal the royal treasure with the help of his hench-hounds Fang & Snarl and his jester Shecky. The Biskitts are also in danger of being captured and eaten by a large wildcat named Scratch.

And then they were almost killed by ANOTHER group of anthropomorphic animals, The Shirt Tales

See, when The Biskitts was first ordered and presented to advertisers, they all thought they had a genuine hit on their hands. LITTLE ROBIN HOOD PUPPIES!!! It looked like The Smurfs, only with TALKING PUPPIES! How can you go wrong with PUPPIES???


Provided that the show could pull in the ratings, The Biskitts were poised to be the next Smurfs, with toys, comics, posters, books, sheets, tissues, school supplies - you name it! Provided that the kids would tune in...

The mid-season rating came in and it seemed that children everywhere agreed - The Biskitts ranked somewhere between "The Morning Farm Report" and "Just turning off the TV so we can go outside and play". They tried for a FULL SEASON ROTATION (Fall and Spring) to make this show click with the kids, but it just didn't happen.

Meanwhile, some magical shenanigans were underway behind the scenes! The fickle finger of fate was stirring things up in several place at once to make sure that this show reached the proper audience! All at once, these seemingly unconnected thing happened:
  • CBS was pestering Hanna-Barbera over misrepresentation of this show, insisting that H-B "Fix it".
  • NBC, realizing that they couldn't win the Saturday Morning Ratings Game with re-packaged reruns, were looking to streamline and modernize their Saturday Morning line-up.
  • Patriotism in America was on the rise thanks to The Cold War.

SO! CBS cancelled the second season of Biskitts at the last possible moment. NBC Cancelled Shirt Tales to make room for stuff like Kidd Video. Hanna-Barbera pledged to provide the Armed Forces Network with more "fresh" programming than ever before, "for the troops".

Hanna-Barbera said "Hey CBS! We've got a proven performer for you, SHIRT TALES!"

Hanna-Barbera said "Hey Armed Forces Network! We've got a super-fresh cartoon for you, THE BISKITTS!"

So come Fall of 1984, The Biskitts were replaced by The Shirt Tales AND The Armed Forces Network started showing The Biskitts to the children of our troops stationed abroad, primarily Europe and Asia. That SHOULD be the end of the story, but...

The Biskitts achieved a level of popularity on the Armed Forces Network that they had hoped for here in the States! CRAZY! CBS was supposedly FURIOUS and said something akin to "How DARE YOU take away our wonderful show and replace it with this mediocre cast-off from NBC? GIVE US BACK OUR BISKITTS!"

And so in the Spring of 1985, The Shirt Tales went away and were replaced with re-runs of The Biskitts. Theory was that The Biskitts had just been "before it's time" in the US, but once again it tanked in the ratings and was gone by Fall of 1985.

HOWEVER, as a happy footnote for all you Biskitts fans? The Armed Forces Network continued to rerun the 13 episodes (26 11-minute segments) all the way through the 80's, giving them an international notoriety rarely seen by a single-season cartoon :)
[identity profile] captain-slinky.livejournal.com

Starting at 10:30 Saturday morning on NBC in 1981, Spider-Man and his Amazing Friends debuted. It followed the adventures of Spider-Man, Iceman and Firestar as they fought crime in New York while also occasionally I don't think I've ever met a person over the age of 30 who hasn't seen this show and has at least one favorite episode :) What most people *don't* know is that it was the animated world's first (and possibly only?) *sequel*.

It all started in 1978, with the DePatie-Freleng Studios (founded by two Warner Bros. Cartoons alumni, director/producer Friz Freleng and executive David H. DePatie) producing a few higher-quality Marvel Comics cartoons such as The New Fantastic Four and Spider-Woman (previous incarnations of Marvel characters in cartoon form had been somewhat pathetic in their animation). In 1980 they made a single season of a new Spider-Man cartoon for syndication that was VERY well received. SO WELL RECEIVED, in fact, that it inspired the buy-out of the animation department of DePatie-Freleng and renaming it to MARVEL PRODUCTIONS (the folks who were behind dang near every beloved cartoon of the 80's.

Recognize any of these?
  • Muppet Babies
  • Transformers
  • GI Joe
  • Jem
  • My Little Pony
  • Inhumanoids
  • Fraggle Rock (animated)
  • Dungeons & Dragons
  • RoboCop: The Animated Series
  • Dino Riders
  • Defenders Of The Earth

It all started right here, with Spider-Man And His Amazing Friends :) Often teaming with Sunbow Entertainment, these guys pretty much defined 1980's action/adventure animation!

So anywho, about it being a sequel. Unlike other cartoons that change the model sheets from season to season or from series to series in order to keep things unique (see the artistic and design evolution through animated Batman, Justice League, modern Spider-Man shows, etc) and copy-rightable as distinctly different properties, Marvel Productions used the existing model sheets and backgrounds from their syndicated Spider-Man cartoon and added just a few new characters.

This paid off BIG for Marvel Productions in 1984 when they decided to repackage the previous three seasons with the syndicated Spider-Man episodes, instead of making new episodes.

This show had many different incarnations over the course of the 80's, and each on will get their own entry in this community because they had a distinctly different opening title sequence for each one. In one way or another, Spider-Man And His Amazing Friends was on Saturday Morning TV all the way through 1986.
[identity profile] captain-slinky.livejournal.com

(Sorry for the poor sound quality, it was the only ORIGINAL 1981 OPENING with the voice-over that I could find)

Saturday morning at 8:30 in 1981, NBC and Hanna-Barbera made history with the debut of The Smurfs. What can I tell you that isn't already common knowledge (to people like us) about this show? Fred Silverman (President of NBC at the time) had bought a Smurf doll while on vacation in Colorado (the toys started hitting US shelves as early as 1976) and Fred thought "Hey, I'll bet that would make a good cartoon".

Anybody else know any good stories about The Smurfs?
[identity profile] captain-slinky.livejournal.com

The ABC Weekend Special was a weekly 30-minute anthology TV series for children that aired Saturday mornings on ABC from 1977 to 1997. It featured a wide variety of stories that were both live-action and animated, so it totally counts as a Saturday Morning Cartoon in my opinion.

Many people confuse The ABC Weekend Specials with the ABC Afterschool Specials, so let's get this straight right now - Similar to the ABC Afterschool Special that had started five years previous, the ABC Weekend Special differed in that it was primarily aimed at younger viewers following ABC's Saturday Morning cartoon lineup, whereas the ABC Afterschool Special was known for its somewhat more serious, and often dramatic storylines dealing with issues concerning a slightly older teen and pre-teen audience.

Basically, if it felt like you were supposed to learn something about life and/or adolescents from it? It was an ABC Afterschool Special.

Unfortunately, to further complicate matters, they took a bunch of the ABC Afterschool Specials that had been aimed at slightly younger audiences and re-packaged them into episodes of The ABC Weekend Specials.

The ABC Weekend Specials were a huge downer to me, as they signified the End Of The Cartoons. Oh sure, I could probably flip around the dial a bit and find some syndicated cartoons, or over on ABC they always had re-runs of Jonny Quest and The Jetsons if there wasn't a sporting event of any kind that they could air. The ABC Weekend Special meant I had to go get dressed :(
[identity profile] captain-slinky.livejournal.com

The Legendary Super Powers show was the first BIG CHANGE that The Super Friends had seen since the introduction fo The Wonder Twins back in 1977. Two great big changes, in fact; first of all, the introduction of new team member FIRESTORM (aka "The Guy In The Creamsicle-Colored Band Uniform With His Head On Fire"), the other being the introduction of a main Super Villain (DARKSIED). An epic change in direction and tone for what would become the shows penultimate season.

Leave your own personal memories or reflections regarding this version of The Super Friends in the comments below, and if you haven't already taken the time to do so, be sure to go and vote for this cartoon in our Best of 1985 Poll!
[identity profile] captain-slinky.livejournal.com

The Ewoks cartoon is the Chumba Wumba of 1980's Saturday Mornings - A guilty pleasure that few are willing to admit was as good or loved as much as it actually was.

Go ahead, try watching a few episodes today, now that The Ewoks are no longer the most hated part of the Star Wars universe (Thanks, Jar-Jar)! The Ewoks are living in a fully realized, well-thought-out world of their own with no ties to the regular Star Wars storyline. Just a great cartoon about a tribe of teddy bears living in tree houses!

C'mon, you know you love this cartoon. Show some love in the comments below and then go vote for The Ewoks in our Best Of 1985 Poll!


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