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Thursday, 16 October 2014

The Death of Classic Saturday Mo(u)rning Cartoons On Mainstream Channels Lives On On YouTube



I am a sucker for tradition - well, anything from the 80s and 90s in the world of pop culture and entertainment. From music, television shows, movies, video games to sitcoms and Saturday morning children's cartoons, those times were arguably the best years for it whilst growing up as a child and teenager. That's for me personally speaking. 

But as times change, so does the entertainment and TV industry. The recent news I read online though made me disappointed, but at the same time it made me reminisce about the good ol' times. 

Last month spelled the end of an era for the Saturday morning cartoon, with the CW network airing the last batch of episodes of Vortexx on September 27 2014 in the US. The CW was also the last and sole mainstream US network to televise these cartoons. 

During the 80s-early 00s in Britain, we had a kids programming block then titled 'Childrens BBC' by BBC and Children's ITV (now called CITV) on rival channel ITV. Both aired cartoons from the UK, US and some from abroad in English, in addition to teen dramas and factual shows.

Today, both the UK and US television stations have virtually no animated kids cartoons to speak of on national TV. By this we mean stations such as BBC, ITV, Channel 4, NBC, Fox, ABC, CBS and CW. It wasn't until late 2012 that BBC1 stopped showing kids shows including cartoons for good, with ITV1 following suit afterwards. Alas, It is hard and sad to comprehend that it has been over 30 years ago that animated cartoons became a staple in mainstream television. 

And that now, they hardly exist anymore. 

The television landscape is so much different now to what was before, and yet most of it isn't for the better. Sure we have the technology, more options, more ways to watch our favourite programmes. But other than that, it just doesn't feel the same, anymore. It is so fragmented with genres such as cartoons and sitcoms ditched in favour of more 'serious' ones like reality, drama and live-action. Genres of which, for me, are overexposed and over-saturating the TV market. It wouldn't be much of an issue for me, if Saturday morning kids cartoons, as well as multi-camera sitcoms were as prominent and were given the same amount of coverage and treatment as reality and drama shows. But they are not. 

The FCC in the US, pretty much ruined what was left of Saturday morning cartoons with their consistent monitoring and nanny-state laws, regulating and controlling what needs to be aired and by how many hours. Also, I'd lay the blame towards mainstream national networks - not the specialised ones such as Cartoon Network, Boomerang, for neglecting children and focusing all of their attention at elders. The likes of CN and Boomerang, like BET and Black viewers, are providing (younger) audiences content, NBC, ABC etc have all but given up on. 

Current Boomerang channel right now needs to revert back to its original remit and air more cartoons from the 60s to late 90s -early 00s. Not mid-00s cartoons, which it is doing. 

I know some people may say and think that not having these types of shows on Saturday mornings is not that much of a big loss, because we can always relive them on YouTube, Cartoon Network and other cartoon channels. It is knowing that this tradition of watching them on a station where you don't need to have cable or satellite to do so, is long gone. 
This particular programming block has been decimated by those in power in the TV industry, which saddens many of us. 

You just don't mess with tradition. 

And speaking of which, I hereby offer one example of a cartoon that underwent a reboot of some sort - Thundercats. It was launched on CN a few years back, then after 1 season, it was cancelled. It had its moments, and in most parts was less corny compared to the 1985 original. But it lacked the sparkle the 80s Thundercats series had, which made fans fall in love with it in the first place.  


Mourning the death of the Saturday morning kids cartoon segment

Another thing worth pointing out, is the demise and closure of studios such as Rankin Bass, Filmation and Hanna Barbera. These people were key to the success of Saturday morning cartoons and its impact that is still felt throughout today. Without their creative input, without these studios, we wouldn't have known of or heard of He-Man, Thundercats, Flintstones and Scooby Doo to name. 

What us the millennials and generation X-ers and Y-ers will miss most about it is the nostalgia, the tradition of watching these shows on television. That, as well as the memorable characters - both good and evil - that have entered our screens and resonated with our childhood. 

The 80s especially may have had only main 4 channels on television in each country, but what it lacked it in quantity, it made up with quality with so many great programmes. We don't have that luxury, any more. It sucks but nevertheless we have more choices in channels. 

Of course there will be others who will argue the quality of the animation wasn't that great in the 80s and there were a couple of really crappy cartoons. That is them, but for the most part, I digress. I pretty much enjoyed most of the cartoons when I was growing up then, in addition to the ones in the 90s when the animation and art style improved. & that the success of Thundercats, He-Man and many others happened because they had a toy-line to back up the cartoons themselves. So what if they did? Anything to help promote the show and propel it to new heights and raise awareness and interest, is a good thing. 

The quality of children's cartoons today can't be matched with those of yesteryear's. Sorry, but that is how I feel. 

The Saturday morning cartoon block is more of an American TV tradition more-so than a UK or global one. We had an after school kids schedule in the UK like CITV and BBC1 at 3pm- 5.30pm where cartoons would air. However, there were many cartoons which aired in the US that also aired in Britain, such as Thundercats, He-Man, Dungeons and Dragons. 

It's funny how so many of those cartoons had echoed lessons of sentimental and family and educational value, yet the US congress and  major TV networks wanted to put a stop to all of that. 

It feels like a part of you is gone. The sentimental value is what people born in the 1950s, 60s, 70s and 80s remember most and will take away from. And that is something that can never, ever be eroded.... thanks to online and YouTube. 

You can still be young and older and young at heart enjoying Scooby Doo, Flintstones, Top Cat, He-Man, Alvin and the Chipmunks and other animated shows. 

If that is perceived as a bad thing, then I don't want to live on this planet, anymore. 

Saturday morning cartoons may be dead on national TV, but their nostalgia, the moments that bring happiness and joy to us all, will live on and on, and forever. 





*source: Powerbox 

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