September 27, 2014 was the last airing of the CW’s Saturday morning cartoon line-up, known in its final iteration as “Vortexx.” It featured a roster of animated adventure shows that included The Spectacular Spider-Man, Dragon Ball Z Kai, and Yu-Gi-Oh! They replaced it today with “One Magnificent Morning,” a collection of Educational/Information programs, such as Calling Dr. Pol, The Brady Barr Experience and Expedition Wild. This means there are no longer any national broadcast networks airing cartoons on Saturday mornings.
Although cable, home video, and streaming services offer 24-hour access to numerous cartoons of past and present, a dream many Gen X-er kids never thought possible, it’s unfortunate that some children can no longer start their weekends watching them.
Below is a list of some of the shows that made Saturday mornings so special for me. I watched and enjoyed many more than this.
Though I saw it years later on Canadian television while visiting my grandparents in Buffalo, New York, this was my first introduction to an animated Marvel Universe and I loved it. It recreated the comic well, used a great amount of super villains, and had a memorable opening song.
The Banana Splits (1968)
Another show I came to after its initial run, The Banana Splits was a wild show. The live segments with the animal-suit-wearing band was a comedic mix of The Monkees and Laugh-In. Between their bits were a number of B-tier Hanna Barbera cartoons and the adventure serial Danger Island.
Lancelot Link, Secret Chimp (1970)
It might be the craziest show I ever grew up with. Lancelot Link was a live-action spy spoof in the mold of Get Smart where all the characters were played by monkeys. They would also have musical segments performed by the Evolution Revolution, which naturally also featured monkeys. If I had a time machine, I would love to go to the meeting where they pitched this.
Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids (1972)
Probably the best Saturday show that delivered positive messages to kids, Bill Cosby used the characters from his youth and stand-up act to create a thoughtful series about issues children faced. It doesn’t get the credit it deserves for breaking down racial barriers.
Challenge of the Super Friends (1978)
This third version of the Super Friends was the best one up to that point because the heroes finally fought against their super villains rather than the unknown aliens, scientists, and polluters the heroes had to deal with in the first two series. Can’t believe they only made 16 of them.
During the ’80s, I went from 13-23 and didn’t watch many cartoons. They were too geared towards kids’ toys I didn’t play with and I began having other interests, quite a few that kept me up late on Fridays. Somehow, I returned in the ’90s and found the following on FOX Kids.
Nearly a decade before they hit the silver screen, Professor Xavier’s students gathered for a collection of well-written stories about Marvel merry mutants.
Life with Louie (1994)
Comedian Louie Anderson co-created a show that was funny and heartfelt. After two primetime specials, it became a Saturday morning series. The highlight was his dad (voiced by Louie), whose gruff but lovable disposition always had me laughing.
The Tick (1994)
This was my introduction to Ben Edlund’s hysterical and clever superhero spoof, which captured what made his comic book such a cult hit. While it later became a live-action series, I’ll take this version every time.
[Davy was kind enough to share his thoughts on the subject:]
Every Saturday morning, after chores, I would always watch an hour of Looney Tunes with Bugs Bunny, Tweety Pie, Foghorn Leghorn, Granny, Pepe le Pew. and Wile E. Coyote. It was always a pivotal part of my childhood. I also watched episodes of Sonic the Hedgehog, because I loved playing Sonic on Sega, another part of childhood.
Please let us know your favorites in the comments below.