I was informed of lamentable news this weekend. ("Lament" is one of my Freshmen's vocabulary words -- glad I chose it -- it's quite useful.) Apparently this past Saturday morning was the first Saturday morning in fifty years where a network television station did not broadcast Saturday morning cartoons.
Saturday morning cartoons are dead. Let us all observe a moment of silence for the end of an era.
Watching cartoons on Saturday morning was a defining characteristic of my childhood years. Every other day of the week, my mother would have to come in and wake me up. But for some reason, on Saturday morning, my body consistently knew when it was almost 7am and woke me up of its own accord. I never overslept.
As I recall, the first show I watched at 7am was the "Laff-a-Lympics" -- a show that had all the various Hanna Barbera cartoon characters divided into three teams (the Scooby Doobies, the Yogi Yahooeys, and the Really Rottens) who competed in Olympic-style events. It was corny, and I loved it.
Another favorite was the Bugs Bunny show (sometimes the Bugs and Daffy show, sometimes the Bugs and Tweety show . . . ) with its catchy theme song: "Overture . . . cut the lights . . . ." Scooby-Doo, of course, and its later variations with Scrappy Doo and with celebrity guest stars. I still hear the voices of the gang when they recognized this week's celebrity: "[gasp] It's Mama Cass!" (Yes, Mama Cass was a guest star on a Scooby Doo cartoon. My introduction to the Mamas and the Papas.)
Bill Cosby did Fat Albert, which wasn't one of my favorites, but I still watched it. Another unforgettable theme song, which my husband pulls out and sings once in a while. "Na, na, na -- gonna have a good ti-i-i-ime . . . "
Super Friends, with Superman, Wonder Woman, Batman and Robin, and Aquaman at the Justice League Headquarters. Oh yeah.
Captain Caveman. Jabberjaw. Speed Buggy. Hong Kung Phooey. Grape Ape. Oh, my -- GRAPE APE, people.
And, of course, the greatest Saturday morning invention of all time: Schoolhouse Rock. Brilliance. I still can't say the Preamble to the Constitution -- I have to sing it. Somebody made Schoolhouse Rock into a stage show, and I heard that when they began, "We the People . . . ," the audience stood and sang along with patriotic tears rolling down their face. I would have done that, too.
Saturday morning was an escape. By the late elementary years, my school weeks were difficult. Successful as I was academically, I felt like a social outcast in school. I didn't feel liked, and I didn't like myself much either. I dragged myself through the week, waiting for the few hours on Saturday morning that I could lose myself in being a kid and forget the pains of growing up.
No more Saturday morning cartoons. My kids feel no loss. Yet I grieve.