Best. Saturday. Cartoons. Ever.
This week’s assignment from The League – Create the ultimate Saturday morning cartoon lineup. This is definitely up my alley. As a kid, I lived for Saturday morning cartoons. I mean, sure, there were lots of cartoons on school day mornings, and the after-school cartoons were fantastic, but there was something about Saturday mornings that just beat everything. Maybe it was the fact that the best of the best cartoons were on (hello, X-Men!) or maybe it was because every major network had their own cartoon line-up, so there was always something on, or maybe it was simply that, to a 10-year-old hopped up on Pop-Tarts and Fruity Pebbles, even The Super Pros could be entertaining. Regardless, this week’s assignment proved a little more challenging than I expected it to. Of all the awesome, life-changing, cancer-curing (allegedly) cartoons from the days before Cartoon Network and DVR boxes came along and ruined things, which cartoons were the greatest? Which would make the cut?
6:00 – 6:30 a.m. Challenge of the Superfriends
I have vague recollections of this show from my childhood. I remember how much I loved the toy line from that era, Kenner’s Super Powers line, but my memories of the show itself are dim, with the exception of Apache Chief and an episode where Superman and Batman were somehow merged together. That’s about it.
I have, however, had the…fortune to see this show as an adult, and let me say – there’s no way this show would do well if it wasn’t on at the crack of dawn. Eyes blurry, still yawning, not yet on a sugar high – this is the only way to watch this show. Otherwise, it won’t make any sense at all.
6:30 – 7:00 a.m. Rainbow Bright
Because girls have to wake up, too, and because this is another example of 1980s “I will never be awake enough for this” cartoonage.
7:00 – 7:30 a.m. Scooby-Doo, Where are You?
A far as my 5-30 year old self is concerned, the day hasn’t officially begun until I get to watch Scooby Doo. True, this cartoon was made in the 60s and 70s, but that didn’t make it any less terrific. One of my favorite childhood toys was a stuffed Scooby Doo that I won at Paramount’s King’s Island in Cincinnati, Ohio. Scooby Doo was my homeboy. I need a bumper sticker that says that.
7:30 – 8:00 a.m. She-Ra, Princess of Power
Because we have to get all the “girly” shows out of the way as early as possible, because She-Ra had some surprisingly sweet villains (Hordak), and because her appearance would inevitably lead us to…
8:00 – 8:30 a.m. Masters of the Universe
Let the morning begin! The ultimate ’80s cartoon, MofU (or He-Man, if you were ever a little boy) is the show I define my childhood by. I had all of the toys, watched every episode, knew every character, and ran around with plastic swords yelling “I have the power!” I credit this show for my outstanding fashion sense, unflinching devotion to Dolph Lungren, obsession with furry underwear, and complete lack of gaydar. Thanks, He-Man!
8:30 – 9:00 a.m. Transformers
Yet another cartoon that helped to bankrupt my parents. Fun cartoon, but AMAZING toys. I mean, come on – a robot that transforms into a robot dinosaur? The guys who created Transformer should really be working to solve the problems of world peace and third-world hunger, because they’re all, quite obviously, geniuses.
9:00 – 9:30 a.m. Thundercats
“Thundercats are on the move / Thundercats are loose…” If I’m completely honest with myself, this wa most likely my favorite grade school cartoon. Everything about it was amazing. Vibrant colors, larger-than-life villains, cat-people with nunchuks, and a Snaarf. This is exactly how I would describe my adult life, too. Except instead of villains, I have coworkers, instead of Snaarfs, I have children, and instead of nunchuks, I have AWESOME nunchuks.
9:30 – 10:00 a.m. Silverhawks
“Silver what?” I hear you ask? “Silverhawks,” I reply, shaking my head dsappointedly. Yes, it wasn’t the biggest, most popular cartoon of the decade, but it was one of the most exciting and fun. Take Robocop, put him in space, give him wings and a guitar-playing buddy, have him fight a hairy beast-robot who rides a space squid, and you’ve got Silverhawks. Partly metal, partly real, and they hung out with a mute kid who spoke through mime and beeps. This is the cartoon to show your children to prepare them for middle school.
10:00 – 10:30 a.m. X-Men
As a boy growing up in the 1990s, this cartoon was inescapable. It was the height of the comic book collector’s boom. We had multiple covers of every comic issue, comic book trading cards, comic book action figures…hell, the Charleston Chew candy company even gave away X-Men comic books if you sent in three wrappers. I tried to get this comic, but failed, because Charleston Chew was awful and I was too dumb to just throw the candy away and send the wrappers in.
X.Men was the king of cartoons, though. It anchored Fox’s Saturday morning line-up. and I never ever missed it. It had fully realized characters, deep, complex storylines, and the show itself started off with the death of a character, which was pretty heavy for a kid’s cartoon. Not the best cartoon ever, but definitely close.
10:30 – 11:00 a.m. Batman: The Animated Series
I don’t even feel the need to explain B:TAS‘s inclusion on this list. It’s a thoughtful, dark, surprisingly adult cartoon that burns its way into your memory, no matter what age you are. Bruce Timm truly built his career off of this show, and one viewing shows you why. Where the 90’s Batman films had been slowly headed down a very campy path, the cartoon drew inspiration from the Gothic stylings of Tim Burton’s first two films to create a gritty, dangerous Gotham city protected by a grim, dark, Year One style Batman. If you’ve never seen this cartoon, you’re doing yourself a disservice. Check it out this week on The Hub television network.
While that’s a pretty full line-up, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the Toonami portion of the morning, broadcast on Cartoon Network for the late risers and older kids. I miss Toonami, at least in its original form, and an hour a day of anime keeps the…well it probably makes you kind of weird, so it keeps the girls away.
11:00 a.m. – 11:30 a.m. Voltron – Defender of the Universe
I loved this show, although I’m not sure why my parents let me watch it. Giant robot lions combining to become a gianter robot warrior? Safe for kids. The fact that every episode ended with Voltron’s enemy being sliced in half? Not safe for kids. Although I’m pretty sure this is where my opinions on conflict resolution come from.
11:30 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. Dragonball Z
KAME… We don’t have much time. What’s better than superheroes? Superheroes who beat everyone and their brothers into bloody pulp. DBZ is what we imagine Superman to be like on a bad day, after going on a drug-fueled bender with Batman and coming home to find Lex Luthor left a bag of flaming dog crap on the Fortress of Solitude’s doorstep. HAME… The Z warriors obliterate everything in their paths, only pausing to spend two episodes taunting their enemies or, in Krillin’s case, cowering in fear. For many, this was the gateway show into an anime obsession, and the only reason you could find me in the college common room every night watching cartoons. DBZ was pure action excitement, and the perfect show to get you pumped for the day. HAAAAAAAAAAA!!!!
So that’s the list. The perfect Saturday morning. I had to cut some real contenders, but if you sat youthful Nate (Nate 1.0) in front of the t.v. with this line-up, you could definitely ensure the most hyper, talkative, cartoon-fueled kid on the planet. And who wouldn’t love a kid who is that excited about life? Aside from his parents, that is.
For an added bonus, check out some of my fellow Leaguers line-ups…
There are a bunch of shows I never watched on Aeiou and Sometimes Why’s blog.
Rediscover the 80s has some cool theme hours on his list, featuring a few of my almost-picks.
Shezcrafti compiled a list with striking similarities to my own.
And Geekcultural remembers Count Duckula!