The Fox network has just announced that they'll be dropping their Saturday morning block of children's programming in favor of infomercials. With this act, the concept of "Saturday Morning" as I knew it growing up, is officially gone.
Thanks primarily to 24-hour cable channels devoted exclusively to children's shows, there will never be another generation of children to know the sublime pleasure of the classic Saturday morning experience.
When I was a kid, it was a big thing. The networks used to buy ads in the comic books promoting their Saturday AM line-ups, and in the 70's they would usually have a prime time preview of all the new shows the Friday night before the new season began. Monday morning playground discussions would frequently include spirited analysis of the previous weekend's offerings.
Me, I'd get up early and stumble downstairs in my Mr. Spock PJs, turning the television set on en route to the kitchen, where I'd fix myself a bowl of Cocoa Puffs or Count Chocula, before sitting on the floor in front of the set. I had the schedule of my favorite shows memorized, and knew which of the three channels(!) I needed to turn to in order to see them. Personally, I really dug the live-action stuff from Sid & Marty Krofft and Filmation, and the adventure cartoons: The Land of the Lost, Sigmund and the Sea Monsters, The Super Friends, The New Adventures of Batman, the animated Star Trek, the animated Godzilla and Tarzan. Shazam! and Isis. The Bugaloos and Electrawoman & Dynagirl. The Kids from C.A.P.E.R. The Lost Saucer. Space Ghost. Lidsville. Blue Falcon & Dynomutt. Space Academy and Jason of Star Command. Thundarr the Barbarian. The Bugs Bunny/Road Runner Show. The Groovie Goolies. Ark II. Return to the Planet of the Apes...
But now, thanks to those aforementioned cable television networks and home video, the institution has faded away. It's a shame. Saturday mornings were something to be eagerly anticipated when I was a kid, something that belonged to me and not to my parents. For those four hours or so, I controlled the TV... and that was special, back then.
Oh well. Network television itself is a dinosaur lumbering towards inevitable extinction, and home entertainment is rapidly evolving into something radically different. We're no longer slaves to rigid network schedules; TV Guide is no longer our bible. We have hundreds of cable channels at our fingertips; video games, the internet (and it'll all be internet soon)... but I still wanted to take a moment to note the passing of an institution – and be grateful that the same home video revolution that helped killed it off has enabled me to collect and own a fair number of the childhood favorites listed above.