[identity profile] captain-slinky.livejournal.com

1984 seemed to have a theme of some sort... can you spot it? 10:30am on CBS was one of the several new Video Game cartoons that had been rushed in to production in the wake of Pac-Man's success and departure from Saturday Morning Television. The (unconfirmed, not from a confirmed source) story of this show and it's creation are kind of neat...

Former Hannah-Barbera writer and story-editor Andy Heyward had this idea floating around in his head for several years, a story about a traveling stock car stunt show circus that was a front for some secret agents and their high-tech computerized James Bond cars. When Andy finally left Hannah-Barbera to help form DIC, he pushed the idea through to get fully developed. When the writers were polishing and refining the idea (adding a little sister to the mix along the way), they were pitching ideas for an actual NAME to the show, which had been stuck under the title "Secret Agent Cars" for far too long. Various names were shouted out, stuff like "C.A.R.Z.", "Fast Track", "Pit Stop"... and then when somebody stated listing automotive/racing terms ("Checkered Flag", "NASCAR", "Race Track", etc) and hit "Pole Position", somebody said "What... like the Video Game?"

The room went quiet as everyone looked at everyone else.

"Yes" it was agreed. "Just like the video game!" And so that's how they sold it.

Mind you, the cartoon has literally NOTHING to do with the video game AT ALL beyond the title but who would have tuned in after the Saturday Supercade to watch a single car driving around a track for 22 minutes?

The theme song for this show was *perfect*, reminiscent of both "Airwolf" and "Knight Rider", hooked me from the get-go:

[identity profile] captain-slinky.livejournal.com

CLICK HERE TO JOIN US LIVE RIGHT NOW!!! Remember, this is our first time using the LiveStream service, so be sure to give us plenty of feedback! You'll probably have to sign up for a LiveStream account, so be prepared. I did the "Log In Using Facebook" option and had no problems, so HOORAY there's a use for Facebook!

If you're having problems of any kind and can't get through to us on the LiveStream chat, feel free to leave a comment here or on any of today's watch-along posts, I'll be checking on a regular basis throughout the day.

See you there :)
[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

(This video includes both versions of the opening credits, watch to see the differences and similarities - it's fun!)

Most of what needs to be said about The Dukes (the cartoon based on the popular "Dukes Of Hazzard" tv show) has already been said in the Speed Buggy post from 1982, but in summary...

Cartoon was nearly complete thanks to Hanna-Barbera, actors went on strike, replacement cartoon was late, Speed Buggy was aired instead, The Dukes debuted in the Spring of 1983 with "Coy and Vance" instead of "Bo and Luke".

Now, further fun stuff :)

This cartoon was doomed from the moment CBS decided to use it as a bargaining chip in their negotiations with the actors. Putting it on the air with two guys who WEREN'T the Duke Boys that everybody knew and loved drove away the viewers, and by the second season (once the real Duke Boys had returned) nobody was willing to give it a chance, probably because no one actually KNEW that the real Dukes were back on the show.

And speaking of that second season... the entire two-season run worth of 20 episodes ran in one year - Spring of 1983 till Spring 1984. Since H-B already had most of the second season (which had been intended to be the first season) completed, turnaround for getting these episodes on TV was no problem. Poor ratings were blamed for the quick cancellation.
[identity profile] captain-slinky.livejournal.com

ABC Television brought us this, the SIXTH incarnation of Scooby-Doo, at 8:00 Saturday morning in 1983 courtesy of Hanna-Barbera. For those of you keeping score, THIS is the version that featured Scooby, Scrappy, Shaggy and the triumphant return of DAPHNE BLAKE, who hadn't been in an episode since 1979! They drove around the country solving supernatural mysteries (usually lasting only 11 minutes but occasionally being a two-part story that took the entire half-hour to complete).

It's my opinion that the newer "Mystery Incorporated" cartoon from Cartoon Network (which was absolutely BRILLIANT and you should go watch season 1 RIGHT NOW) borrowed heavily from this particular incarnation, with a bit more serious approach to the mysteries than before while also being slightly self-aware of just how silly this stuff could be. Moved to the 9am time slot in the Spring of 1984.

For the official 1984 Fall Season, they renamed the show to "The New Scooby-Doo Mysteries" and made no other changes to the show, just producing 13 more episodes. Moved to 10:30.
[identity profile] captain-slinky.livejournal.com

In 1982, the world belonged to Gary Coleman, which is why he had his own cartoon every saturday morning at 10:30 on NBC. The fine folks at Hanna-Barbera made 13 episodes of this show, which featured Gary Coleman as the voice of apprentice angel Andy LeBeau, who was sent back to Earth to earn his wings by helping others. The half-hour series was based on Coleman's 1982 made-for-TV movie The Kid with the Broken Halo. Each episode, Andy helped some kid in need and fix his problem. The villain trying to stop Andy for some reason (I forget why) was Hornswoggle, who tried to make Andy's mission more difficult, usually by getting him to make the wrong choice or by otherwise complicating the mission. It was up to Andy to correct whatever mistakes he made and foil Hornswoggle's plans.
[identity profile] captain-slinky.livejournal.com

Gilligan's Planet was on your local CBS affiliate at 10:30 in 1982 (and at Noon in the Spring of 1983) that featured nearly the entire cast of the original 1964 sit-com "Gilligan's Island", the only exception being Tina "Ginger" Louise, who even after nearly 20 year was still upset at having been "tricked" in to taking the roll on the original show (luckily, Dawn "Mary-Ann" Wells was able to fill in and provide the voices for both roles).

Much like the original Gilligan' Island theme song had done, the intro to this cartoon summed up the entire back-story and plot in one compact snippet. They're castaways on an island, they build a rocket, they're now stranded in space.

Produced by Filmation (in conjunction with MGM/United Artists), Gilligan's Planet was the last cartoon series that Filmation produced for Saturday mornings. After this point, it's all syndicated stuff. It was also the first Filmation series to feature the Lou Scheimer "signature" credit (as opposed to the rotating Lou Scheimer/Norm Prescott "wheel" credit which had been used since 1969).

And of course, it was directed by my close personal friend, Hal Sutherland (and by "Close Personal Friend", I mean "I bought an animation cell of Orco from him at a comic book convention and had him sign it for me")
[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

So here's something interesting - Oh, not the cartoon mind you... The All-New Popeye Hour (Saturday Morning at 10:30 on CBS in 1980) was your average hour-long animated series produced by Hanna-Barbera Productions that had been on the air since 1978. This show tried its best to retain the style of the original Thimble Theatre comic strip (Popeye returned to his original costume and "Brutus" to his original name of Bluto), while complying with the prevailing content restrictions on violence. Because of those helpful parental watchdog groups and their restrictions on violence in TV cartoons for children at the time, in this version Popeye did not throw punches to get back at Bluto; he often lifted him, with his own hands or with machinery, and hurled him away. This series marked the last time that Jack Mercer would voice the spinach-eating sailor. Mercer died in 1984, one year after the show was cancelled by CBS.

...But that's not the part that I find interesting.

No, what's REALLY interesting (to me, at least) is that all three networks - ABC, NBC and CBS - programmed their Saturday morning of 1980 so that NO CARTOONS WOULD START AT 10AM!!! They all programmed 90-minute blocks for 9am, or a half-hour block followed by a full hour block so that NO SHOW would start at 10am!

That's WEIRD!

In 1981, this show kept the 10:30 time slot but was cut down to 30 minutes and renamed "The Popeye & Olive Comedy Show". Oddly enough, I can't confirm or deny that they ever actually made a new opening title sequence for "The Popeye & Olive Comedy Show" and I distinctly remember being confused when I would tune in on Saturday morning only to see the "The All-New Popeye Hour" opening and thinking I had a full hour till the next cartoons started on this channel. Imagine my HORROR when I flipped back to this channel during the first commercial break of the 11:00 hour only to find that the cartoon had changed at 11 and I missed the first 5 minute of the new show!
[identity profile] captain-slinky.livejournal.com

(Cross-Posted to Tumblr)

The Daffy Duck Show (10:30 Saturday morning on NBC in 1980) started in 1978 and slowly petered out over the course of the early 80's. Much like the rivalry between Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck, the battle between The Bugs Bunny / Road Runner Show and The Daffy Duck Show was decidedly lopsided. Bugs Bunny was given 90 minutes each morning; Daffy was given a measly half-hour. Bugs had the entire catalog of Warner Brothers Merrie Melodies and Looney Tunes; Daffy was limited to the "On The Cheap" made-for-TV WB cartoons of the late 60's.

Also aired in 1981 and 1982 at noon as "The Daffy/Speedy Show", which had an excellent opening title sequence where Daffy and Speedy Gonzales fought over who's name would be on the show, but for the life of me I can't find ANYWHERE on the internet.

During the final 1982/1983 season it was moved to CBS and brought to a full hour at 8:30, renamed "The Sylvester & Tweety, Daffy and Speedy Show" before finally leaving the air in 1984.
[identity profile] captain-slinky.livejournal.com

Tune in to your local ABC affiliate at 10:30 on Saturday morning in 1980 and you'll see the HOLY GRAIL OF COMIC GEEKDOM, "Thundarr The Barbarian". That video embedded above is en espanol because all the US versions I could find have had embedding disabled... but the voice-over is perfect at setting the tone for the show:
The year: 1994. From out of space comes a runaway planet, hurtling between the Earth and the Moon, unleashing cosmic destruction! Man's civilization is cast in ruin!
Two thousand years later, Earth is reborn...

A strange new world rises from the old: a world of savagery, super science, and sorcery. But one man bursts his bonds to fight for justice! With his companions Ookla the Mok and Princess Ariel, he pits his strength, his courage, and his fabulous Sunsword against the forces of evil.

He is Thundarr, the Barbarian!

This cartoon has a pretty impressive comic book background! Created by Steve Gerber (the guy who created "Howard The Duck" which is SO MUCH BETTER than the movie would have you believe) with character design and story concepts from Alex Toth (Space Ghost, Super Friends) and Jack "King" Kirby (Fantastic Four, Captain America, Thor, Nearly Every Marvel Comics Character)!

Ruby-Spears Productions would go on to make two full seasons of Thundarr before it went off the air in 1981, and if you've never watched it you really owe yourself a favor. Swords-n-sorcery-n-apocalyptic-dystopia has never looked better!

(Also aired at 10:30 in 1981)


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