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I guess I just like liking things

 Today’s guest writer is Daniel Pelfrey, who got me my start in videogame reviewing, currently writes and runs Post Post Modern Dad, and is a good friend. 

I grew up in the 70s when Saturday mornings were almost sacred. This was a time before the FCC allowed the marketing departments of toy companies to run amuck. The general quality of cartoons has gone downhill ever since then, and while there are gems to be found as well as improvements in animation, I still think cartoons were better “back in the day” because they were entertainment first and foremost.

My favorite cartoon of all time, Animaniacs, doesn’t make the list for two reasons. The first is it was initially a weekday cartoon and second, it came out when I was an adult. Eventually it would air on Saturday mornings, but that’s not what this list is about. Not included in this list are live action shows such as Jason Of Star Command or Land Of The Lost. Maybe that’s for another list.

Here are my top 10 Saturday morning cartoons from when I was growing up. These are presented in no particular order.

10. Hong Kong Phooey – An inept crime fighting kung fu dog. Watching it now it seems painfully slow paced. I just remember loving it as a kid. I’d like to see a movie made.

9. Thundarr The Barbarian – This was a weird show. Sort of post-apocalyptic fantasy, and with a main character that could best be described as “inspired” by Chewbacca. With real world locations and a setting that was in the future but reached far into the past this program was a mish-mash of genres that was silly, but worked in the post Star Wars era of science fiction with plenty of imagination. It caught mine.

8. New Adventures Of Flash Gordon – The original animated series was faithful to the franchise’s origins and storylines, before the character got lumped in with several others in Defenders Of The Earth. No, this was Flash Gordon properly done. I had been familiar with the old serials and loved how this series captured that same spirit of adventure.

 7. Star Trek: The Animated Series – If I remember correctly, this would be the first Star Trek series I watched. It was around this time I started watching the original series in syndication, most likely shortly after I started watching this. I loved the grand adventures in space. This series, in many ways, is perhaps one of the best examples of (Star Trek creator) Gene Roddenberry’s storytelling. While it was constrained by budget and stock animated footage, the imagination presented was light years ahead of pretty much everything else.

 6. The Bugs Bunny/Road Runner Show – This ran in various incarnations under different titles for decades, but this is the title I remember best. It’s just a bunch of Warner Brothers cartoons. What more can I say. Highly influential on my sense of humor. It wasn’t until my adult years that I learned how censored these shorts were. Classic stuff.

 5. The Herculoids/Space Ghost – I lump these two together as they were part of a package show. According to Wikipedia it was titled Space Stars and features a few other segments, but I don’t remember them. I do remember Space Ghost and The Herculoids though. More weird science fiction stuff.

 4. The Super Friends – As lame as it was, this is the show that was responsible for my interest in super heroes. Wendy and Marvin were, for some reason, relatable and a far sight more enjoyable than their replacements, The Wonder Twins (who were storytelling crutches, and I could tell at a young age). As more heroes got introduced and the format changed, eventually bringing on the Legion Of Doom the show got “better” but I always will have affection for the original hour long version of the series, but all variants are alright in my book.

 3. Fat Albert And The Cosby Kids – Hey, hey, hey! This was both a positive show, and funny. It ran for over 10 years under a couple of different titles, but this was the one that I remember. At times it got a little heavy-handed with the social lessons. What I find interesting was I didn’t really “see” the color of the characters’ skin until later in life.

 2. Batman/Tarzan Adventure Hour – This is cheating a bit, but I don’t care. Batman originally had his own half hour show, as did Tarzan. Then, after a year or so of having their own shows combined, it would be expanded into Tarzan And The Super Seven or something like that which added in a number of other segments. Adam West and Burt Ward were the vocal stars, reprising their roles from the previous live action television show. It was still goofy fun, but less so, marking a slight shift in tone for the franchise. Then Tarzan, a pretty faithful adaptation of the books. My mother would watch this series with me. Through this series I was introduced to the older Tarzan films, then the novels of Edgar Rice Burroughs.

 1. Schoolhouse Rock – Whatever paltry command of the English language I have, whatever small amount of math I understand, it is due to Schoolhouse Rock. My interest in history stems from this series of short interstitials. This is perhaps the greatest thing ever produced for Saturday morning.

 Some honorable mentions:

  •  Mission Magic
  • Speed Buggy
  • Blackstar
  • Emergency +4
  • Josie And The Pussycats
  • The Harlem Globetrotters


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