Saturday Mornings - A Retrospective Series

It is with a heart filled with warm nostalgia that I think back to the Saturday mornings of my childhood. I remember having an amazing time, feeling as if out of all of the craziness of the real world that was governed by adults, there was a short few hours that were specially made just for me. Once the infomercials and station ID checks were over, once the space-filler sitcoms and sleep inducing home repair shows had concluded, it was time for something fun! Now came the bright lights, flashing colors, wacky noises, and fun adventures of the Saturday morning cartoons!

My sister and I would wake up extra early and sneak around the house so as not to wake our slumbering parents. If I got up before her, I would let her sleep a little while longer unless I knew one of her favorite cartoons was coming on. We would literally click on the television set, wrap ourselves in cozy blankets, and lean in closely so as not to miss a second of the action.

In the winter time, we would take turns laying on the floor with our legs slid under the recliner. Our toes would poke out the back, just in front of the heating vent, keeping us extra toasty. We would lay on our bellies, with our head in our hands, roasting our tootsies and soaking in the technicolor marvels. Sometimes we would argue over which cartoon to watch next, but we usually agreed or took turns watching our top choices.

We would get up only during the commercials, and even those were can't-miss TV half of the time. Bikes and toys, snacks and dolls, slime and squirt guns; all of the coolest things a kid could ask for were being advertised. Once we felt a longer commercial break coming on, we would zip over into the kitchen, dump out a bowlful of sugar-frosted cocoa chucks or marshmallow shapes and fruity shards, splash in the perfect amount of milk, and walk as steadily as we could back to the living room so as not to spill a drop.

I remember that after a couple of years, each channel began to have its own identity, with cartoons that appealed to tighter and tighter demographics. One channel would feature cross-eyed talking animals looking for their lost socks... and the next might be action-adventure staring mutated animal-people who fought a giant sock monster. Even as a kid I often thought, Geez, there are lots of talking animal and animal-men cartoons.

We would plot out ahead of time what we wanted to watch, and if we saw that it was a repeat episode that we had already seen a dozen times, we would take a chance on another network for a while and see what they had to offer. If that was a bust, we would fire up a game console and play a few rounds of whatever cartridge was most handy. Now we were in control of our adventures, killing bats and snakes, picking up money bags, exploding space bases, drop-kicking ninja faces, and saving all of the princesses.

This was how a legendary weekend began. On some Friday nights we might get treated to Pizza Hut pizza, Coca-Cola, followed by ice cream and cookies, all while watching T.G.I.F. and then maybe a PG-13 movie. Maybe I got to play outside in the dark for a while, or maybe I got to spend some time with my cousins. Maybe I listened to the chatter of my family in the next room as I busily built robots and spaceships out of Lego. Nonetheless, it was as I was laying my head on my pillow that I would think for a moment, remembering that I was promised a whole new world of possibilities, when the Saturday morning cartoons came on!

This series will explore some of these memories in greater detail. I would love it if you would share some of your unique stories about Saturday mornings, and the cartoons and games that inspired your childhood.