Saturday morning TV was a big part of my childhood. Getting up far earlier than I would on a school day, I settled in for a full morning of programming. Add to that a bowl or two of Count Chocula or Waffelos, and it's a wonder I was able to dress myself.
Those of you who also woke up early on Saturdays know what I'm talking about; for a few hours, we were in control of the TV (if we were the oldest, of course). It was like being in our own little world. I hesitate to say something schmucky like it being a magical time (especially when I remember some of those shows), but it was a small part of my week I looked forward to.
That said, I thought I'd pore through my meager collection of TV Guides to compile a look at those Saturday mornings of yesteryear. Because it's all about me, I'm starting with the fall of 1974, my first television season of existence. And no, I wasn't watching the cartoons quite yet, but I had to start somewhere, and this seemed like a good start.
With the help of my Sept. 14, 1974, San Francisco Metropolitan area TV Guide, here's the first part of our look at Saturday morning.
I developed an allegiance for ABC early on, as that's the network on which I watched Super Friends, one of my all-time favorites. As such, I'm starting with the ABC Saturday morning lineup, which they called ABC's Funshine Saturday.
ABC's Funshine Saturday
7 a.m. Yogi's Gang
On one level, it makes sense that a forest-dweller would take an interest in the environment. On the other hand, not if it's Yogi Bear, prime pilferer of pic-a-nic baskets. But that's the premise of this well-meaning but dull Hanna-Barbera effort that featured Yogi, Boo-Boo, and the H-B all-stars flying around in an ark on the lookout for somewhere untouched by pollution. They encountered Mr. Smog, Lotta Litter, and other ecology-related villains, most of which are name-checked in the opening credits.
Only 15 episodes were made, and since it started in 1973, these are just repeats. Not exactly a rousing start to a Saturday morning lineup, is it? Judge for yourself:
7:30 a.m. The Bugs Bunny Show
A perennial favorite, though I spent my formative TV-watching years catching the Bugs Bunny-Road Runner Show on CBS. But still, you can't go wrong with Warner Bros. cartoons, especially in the days where they weren't edited to remove violence.
8 a.m. Hong Kong Phooey
There are two things that keep this show about Penrod Pooch, a mild-mannered janitor who is also a martial-arts-wielding canine superhero, from totally sucking: Scatman Crothers, who voiced the title character, and the kickass theme song, also performed by Mr. Crothers. It also tried to introduce the word "fanriffic" into kids' vocabularies, but I never remembered hearing anyone use it.
8:30 a.m. The New Adventures of Gilligan
Even in 1974, everyone had seen Gilligan's Island reruns a bajillion times, so why not make a cartoon of it? Aside from a cartoon version of this particular show being, well, redundant. Jane Webb (a Filmation studios voice staple) provided voices for Mary Ann and Ginger in this incarnation.
The best I could find was this clip of the closing credits, alas.
9 a.m. Devlin
Not only was kung-fu popular in the 70s, but so were motorcycles. Evel Knievel, stuff like that. So naturally, kids were treated to a motorcycle daredevil of our own: Ernie Devlin. Looking at the animation in the intro, I can't say I feel like I really miss seeing it. Eesh. Apparently no one else particularly dug it, as it only ran a few months.
Here's an interesting fact: Devlin's brother was voiced by Micky Dolenz.
9:30 a.m. Super Friends
While I profess a great love for this show, 1974 brought repeats of the first season: the hour-long, incredibly preachy, boring episodes with Wendy, Marvin, and Wonder Dog. But still, without these cartoons (featuring the first and only cartoon appearance of Green Arrow for decades), we wouldn't have had Challenge of the Super Friends a few years later.
Plus, I thought Wendy was cuter than Jayna anyway.
2 p.m. Korg: 70,000 B.C.
Sadly, I don't think I ever caught this live-action show that showed family life circa 70,000 B.C., only a few years after George Burns had hit the vaudeville stages. But hey, it was narrated by Burgess "Time Enough at Last" Meredith, so that gives it a few coolness points with me. And hey, it lasted longer than Cavemen.
2:30 p.m. These Are the Days
You've got your Waltons, you've got your Little House on the Prairie, and the folks at Hanna-Barbera. Put them together, and you've got the old-timey fun of These Are the Days, a show about the adventures of the Day family. I managed to miss this one as well, but I can't imagine the little kid version of me would have dug it too much.
But because I care about you, the reader, here are the opening credits. In Spanish. ¡Muy bueno!
Well, that's what ABC was peddling as of fall 1974. A fairly dismal turnout, really. But I say this as someone who missed the first two months of the season, so your mileage may vary.
Tune in next time for either the 1974 CBS or NBC lineup; whichever tickles my fancy.