Flashback Friday: Saturday Morning programming in the 80s

[flashbacklogo.jpg] Last I checked, Saturday Morning programming nowadays is nearly non-existent - just take a look at the lineup - between "little kid shows" and ABC's Disney Channel syndication there really isn't much to offer kids these days! Even looking back to the late 90s, early 2000's when my sister was the target demographic of Saturday Morning shows, they at least had some shows worth watching.

Back in the 80s and early 90s, Saturday Morning programming was a staple in our lives. We hated getting up early for school during the week or church on Sundays, but man, we'd get up at the crack of dawn on Saturday mornings just to watch hour after hour of kids shows!

Now like I said previously, I don't remember much of anything until around 1986, but I definitely remember some of these shows!

Saturday morning programming back in '86 gave us such memorable shows such as The Wuzzles, Muppet Babies, Punky Brewster (the animated series), Pee-Wee's Playhouse, The Flintstones Kids and of course ABC consistently aired Bugs Bunny and friends throughout our childhood!

BugsBunnyShow.jpgNo matter what year it was, we ALWAYS had Bugs Bunny and friends to fall back on when it came to Saturday Morning programming. This was like the one consistent show that aired all throughout our childhood - if all the other shows sucked, we still had this one. Because of that though, this one was usually hit or miss - if CBS, NBC and later Fox had a more interesting show on during this timeslot, well, we'd watch that one. If the other shows we watched had reruns on and we wanted something different, then we'd watch Bugs Bunny and friends. Another neat thing about this show, was that ABC would interject Schoolhouse Rock videos throughout the timeslot as well, so that was one way we all got exposed to "I'm Just a Bill..." and "Conjunction Junction."

http://mrtoyzz.files.wordpress.com/2009/03/goodman03_muppetbabies.jpgNow I didn't always catch the shows that started at 7am (CST), but I do remember being up by 8am most mornings just to catch the Muppet Babies, which was definitely one of my favorites! Aside from Seasame Street, these were the Muppets I grew up with. The Muppet Babies was how I knew Miss Piggy, Kermit, Fozzie, Gonzo, Animal and Rolf. Needless to say, when I saw the live action Muppet movies, I was a little confused! I remember I was soooo excited in my later years, when Nickelodeon began playing reruns of the show in the late 90s. I always did wonder what Nanny looked like though, as we only ever saw her green and white stripped socks and the bottom of her skirt and purplish sweater jacket. I remember discussing this with friends at one point, as we all claimed at one point to have seen her face in an episode!

http://screenrant.com/wp-content/uploads/pee-wee-playhouse-movie.jpgAfter the Muppet Babies, at 9am (CST) Pee-Wee's Playhouse would come on. O... M... G... this was another one of my favorites! I don't know what it was exactly, but I LOVED this show. My dad would wake up and come join me by this point and I looked forward every Saturday to visiting with Pee-Wee, Cowboy Curtis, Miss Yvonne and all the puppet toys in the Playhouse. Cyndi Lauper sang the theme song too fast and the only lyrics I could actually sing along with were "...in Pee-Wee's Playhouse!!!!" I remember screaming along when the "secret phrase" was said, and using the catching phrases of "I know you are, but what am I?" and "If you love it so much, why don't you marry it?" in everyday conversation. I also (unsuccessfully) tried to make a rubberband ball because Pee-Wee had one. I *hated* when the King of Cartoons would come to visit - despite his best efforts, the old classic cartoons he'd bring to show us every week, compared to what was currently on, were just boring. I would get so sad at the end of each episode when Pee-Wee would give his final "thoughts" for the week as he put on his helmet and mounted his scooter before taking off out of the playhouse - I didn't want the fun to end!

Another cartoon I used to enjoy was Punky Brewster. Growing up, I don't recall seeing the actual show until the early 90s when it was in syndication on The Family Channel, but I was familiar with the series and the cast thanks to this animated series. I remember I had the doll that was made with the likeness of the animated Punky Brewster (I would often stuff her in the basket on the front of my tricycle and ride around the house with her!).

Another animated series we had in '86 was The Flintstones Kids. Now I didn't watch this one too often, as it was usually during the same time block as Muppet Babies, however if Muppet Babies had on a rerun, I would often flip the channel over to The Flintstones Kids. The premise of this show was simple - take America's most famous family from the Stoneage and make them kids, doing things and having adventures kids would. Now granted, in the realm of the Flintstones, this show seriously messed up the main story of the actual Flintstones, as Fred and Barney didn't meet Betty and Wilma until later, but who cares - we didn't!

In 1987, we were given The Real Ghostbusters, which was an animated spin-off of the movies. In this version though, Slimer played a more starring role than he did in the movies and wasn't nearly as scary - he was the lovable mascot of the show. For the most part, this show was kid friendly, however I do remember one episode I saw with Egon turning into some creature that scared the bejebus out of me and I stopped watching the show.

In 1988 we had a few more shows added to our lineup - Garfield and Friends, Dennis the Menace, and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/7/74/GandF.gifGarfield and Fields was one of those shows that confused little kids like me. The reason being, it was originally a half hour show that got stretched to an hour. We were usually given a Garfield cartoon, and then a US Acres/Orson's Farm cartoon, followed by another Garfield cartoon with 2 Garfield shorts based off the comic strips thrown in. What confused me and my friends, was that US Acres/Orson's Farm never had Garfield in it, so how were these loveable barn animals his friends? We still watched it none the less, but it was confusing!

Growing up in the late 80s and early 90s, who can forget the animated Dennis the Menace? For us, these guys became the spokescharacters for Dairy Queen during this time also. Much like the old classic TV show, this animated version followed Dennis and his friends getting into trouble and causing problems for old Mr. Wilson.

Probably one of my favorites of later years was the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. I remember getting up early before school started on the weekdays just to catch this one, and then when it was on Saturday mornings I was so excited! My favorite turtle was Michelangelo who wore orange and used nun chucks. Growing up, I remember collecting as many of the action figures as I could (I remember mom and dad calling various toy stores each week to find out which figures they had and when they would be receiving more). These were like the Beanie Babies of the late 80s, as there were certain figures that were near impossible to find! I remember often acting out the TV show with my action figures most Saturday mornings as well. While it seemed more of a "boy" show, for some strange reason I LOVED the Turtles.

In 1989 we were given the awesome California Raisins. Now in the 80s, we were familiar with these guys through the claymation ads to get us to eat more raisins, so making an animated TV show only seemed like a logical idea. And as kids, we enjoyed singing and dancing along with these guys! And who could forget the fastfood tie-in with Hardees? I remember collecting the Raisins and displaying them on a shelf in my playroom (I still have mine too!).

We also were introduced to Beetlejuice during 1989, when ABC aired the animated series. Now, like most kids, I didn't see the movie until years later, so I just assumed the TV show I grew up with a direct spinoff - imagine my confusion to learn that Beetlejuice and Lydia were not best friends in the movie and trying to figure out who these Barbara and Allen ghosts were! Regardless, I still watched this show and enjoyed it during it's original run and later in syndication on Nickelodeon.

What were some of your favorite Saturday Morning shows that you grew up watching in the 80s?


  1. Muppet Babies was probably my favorite as a kid. When the opening title came on, my sister and I would yell, "Read the words! Read the words!", and hopefully a parent would come running to tell us the the title. If they didn't get there in time, we were just utterly crushed for about 10 seconds.

    Other ones I remember were Smurfs, Snorks, Herculoids, Transformers, He-Man, and Space Ghost.

    I remember we always had to ask permission to watch TV, so about 6:45 (shows started at 7) I'd go into my parents' room and get their sleepy permission, then get my little chair and sit in front of the color test screen until 7:00. Wow, I was a strange little kid!

  2. haha yeah, I remember seeing the color test screen if I woke up too early!

  3. I loved Beetlejuice and Pee Wee!


What's your thoughts?