Trust the Gene Genie

Saturday, November 13, 2010

All hail Saturday morning

Somewhere between the time I was kid and when I grew up, Saturday mornings changed. I'm not sure when it happened, but, as you can guess, I started noticing when I had kids.

The way it used to be: You'd wake up at 5, grab a big blanket or quilt, a bowl of cereal and turn on the tube. You usually had four choices, NBC, CBS, ABC or the local syndication station. But at 5 in the morning it didn't really matter. All that was on were really old reruns of stuff like "Rocky and Bullwinkle" and "Pink Panther," or the Farm Report, if you landed on the syndicated channel. To make sure you didn't get busted by parents who I'm sure had only gone to bed a few short hours before, you had to keep the television down to levels so low sometimes you weren't sure if you were actually hearing the sound or just imagining it.

Usually by 6 or so, the real cartoon block started. In between the shows there were little message spots like "School House Rocks" and the one with that guy that looked like a walking yellow blob with a top hat and cane that strolled around your stomach telling you to eat healthy snacks. It was awesome. You sat back and watched everything from "SilverHawks" to "Superfriends." (Meanwhile, back at the Hall of Justice....) And then there was "Dungeons and Dragons." That show was in a class all by itself. So, so good.

The way it is now: You're kids get up and you rush them off to Leigh's soccer game. It's just not the same.

Well, that's not entirely true. Soccer's over now. So the girls get up, usually sometime after 7. Which is great for Becky and I. As a kid, waking up at 5, I'm guessing I melted into some sobbing emotional mess at the first request from my parents to do anything productive on Saturday morning.

And even though the girls get up around 7, there's still no cartoons on the Big Three until 8. They run morning news shows on Saturday mornings. It's almost heresy. Except all the kids are at soccer games, so they don't notice. Well, they're either at soccer games or tuning into Nick, Disney or Cartoon Network, which is, obviously, the real reason the Saturday morning cartoon culture is dead. There's no reason to get up at 5 on a Saturday to watch cartoons when you can tune into them whenever you want any day of the week on basic cable.

It will blacken your soul and destroy your mind

Lucky for my girls, we don't have cable (that's another post for another day). So they get up on Saturday morning, grab a box of cereal and watch stuff like "Sabrina" and "The Replacements." There's some new terrible "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" cartoon that runs now. They'll watch that from time to time. PBS has a channel that runs kids programming all the time, so sometimes they catch the occasional "Curious George" or "SuperWhy." You know, to keep Elsa placated.

But it's interesting. Even with the girls and their basic cable-less living conditions, there's no real reverence for the Saturday morning ritual we had as kids. And they seem relatively indifferent about the cartoons they watch. There's no one single show they spend the entire week waiting to watch. When I was really young, "Superfriends" only came on Saturday morning and it was one of the first cartoons on, so you had to make sure you were up good and early to catch it. I started counting down the hours until it aired on Wednesday. I couldn't wait for it to come on. My girls don't look forward to anything with that same kind of anticipation.

Which is probably for the best. They read at their age more than I ever did. And they're more active. Still. I can't help but think some of the whimsy, some of the innocence of my childhood will be something they never experience. On the other hand, when they reach 15 or 16 they'll never have to experience that gaping disappoint of realizing the Wonder Twins were the stupidest cartoon superhero duo ever to grace television screens. Form of an ice unicycle? Are you kidding me?


Ryan Sabalow said...

As a guy who can morph into an ice unicycle, I'm highly offended.

TheRobRogers said...

Just don't let an octopus ride you. It's so demeaning.

Stephanie B said...

Wow, I'm glad I missed out on that in the 80s. I preferred to watch bowling or golf on Saturday mornings. :)

Spencer said...

Very insightful Rob. Saturday morning isn't what it used to be. moreover, our kids turn into brats after 30 min of TV. they had no where near our endurance.

one neo-classic is Disney's Recess. I would still get up at 5am on Saturday for that one.

Scott's Blog said...

You and I must be on the same wavelength. A few days ago I was thinking about how lame the Wondertwins were. I can't remember why I was thinking that, but I was.

Saturday morning cartoons were a special time for me as well. It was the only morning that I had no problem getting up early.

I can also remember taking the corn flakes or toasted oats, filling my bowl, adding milk and putting about 8 teaspoons of sugar on them. My parents didn't believe in sugar cereals so we had to make up the difference somehow.

"Conjunction junction, what's your function"? or "How a bill becomes law"? or "They call me Mushmouth, because I don't brush". Classics, all of them.

Superfriends was good. But I think my favorite, for whatever reason, was Alvin and the Chipmunks. said...

Superfriends was amazing. That show pioneered the art of the spacey-graphic scene transition. Never been bested on that front.

But Dungeons and Dragons truly captured my imagination like few things have since. That creepy wizard and his individualized gifts were exactly what I needed, I guess. Saturday mornings were the best.

Candice said...

I remember the yellow blob in the top hat telling me what to eat! Thank you for that, I had forgotten about him! Saturday morning cartoons made me feel safe. I mean, with the Superfriends around what could really go wrong? How I wish there was something in my life now that made me feel that safe again. Speed Racer was the coolest in my book.

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