Credit: bcostin/photo on flickrPicture if you will, a floor model television, engulfed in a thick, heavy wooden frame. On its face are two giant wheels used for manually changing thirteen channels. A secret panel conceals foreign dials with names like Vertical and Horizontal-Hold. Its remote control is a bulky, archaic device with a grill like a Cadillac and its buttons are worn smooth, after all, there are only two of them. It is 7:00am. In my lap is a bowl of Fruit Loops and I am wearing a two-piece, light blue, plaid pajama set from Zellers. My hair is a mess. I have been patiently waiting for this moment all week. It is Saturday morning, 1984.
The anticipation of an entire morning of cartoons may seem trivial by todays’ standards. Currently, the average household has over 300 cable stations to choose from; combine that with Netflix, Apple T.V and infinite access to downloads and there’s nothing you can’t find to satisfy your visual cravings. It’s hard to imagine being happy with only thirteen channels and come to think of it...I wasn’t…I was ecstatic. Here are a few of the reasons why.
I Got 99 problems and Smurfs Ain’t One
I would like to officially thank the Smurfs for my early introduction to classical music, alchemy and fear of mushrooms. To this day I cannot eat a mushroom without thoroughly searching for small, blue arms and legs. I know this thought is irrational; everyone knows Smurfs are three apples tall and would never fit into my salad.
Violence and th-th-th-that's, all folks
Vintage Looney Tunes makes the UFC look like dance class. Filled with flying anvils, dynamite and rapist skunks, the average ten-year old couldn’t keep track of the carnage. It was cruel and sadistic but more importantly it was funny; a perfect blend of shotguns, violence and giggles.
A Talking Dog and His Hippie
So many mysteries to solve; was Thelma a lesbian, were Fred and Daphne just friends, how much for a gram of Scooby snacks? The wheels of the Mystery Machine were always turning and with special guests like Don Knots, Batman and Robin and that scary mummy, Scooby Doo was better than Oprah.
The Dark Knight Rises had a budget of 250 million. The Super Friends cost about as much as a large pizza. No glamor, no glitz just in-depth story lines like the time Superman and Wonder Woman were abducted by a race of alien beings and forced to play intergalactic football.
A Celebration of Political Incorrectness
In the true spirit of censorship, Jonny Quest became a target of parental watchdog group Action for Children's Television (ACT) for its multiple onscreen deaths, murder attempts, use of firearms and deadly weapons, depictions of monsters, and tense moments. Perfection.
Something is Tingling
No matter how many times they used the same scene of Spidey swinging through downtown, it never gets old. The opening theme song also made me briefly want to become a jazz musician.
Best Commercials Ever...
No Saturday morning would be complete without the catchy tunes of School House Rock. More useful than a university degree, those sixty-second spots taught you everything from the creation of a bill to the use of adverbs. It brainwashed millions of us with useful information. What were they thinking?
Whatever your favorite line up, the ritual of Saturday morning cartoons is one shared by generations. Sometimes when I look down at the eighty-four buttons that make up my remote control, I smile and think back to that old floor model television and its thick, heavy wooden frame. Only thirteen channels and I couldn't have been happier.