Monday, October 06, 2014

The End Of A Saturday Morning Tradition.

I remember when I was young, living at the Lake of the Ozarks, every Saturday morning I would get up really early, sometimes before the parents were out of bed, and I would plop down in front of the television and watch Saturday morning cartoons.

I would switch from one channel to another trying to absorb the best mix of cartoons I could.  It wasn't that hard back then since there were only three channels to choose from.  I would watch the roadrunner escape, Tom get humiliated by Jerry, have no fear because Underdog was there, and I would wonder what mystery those meddling kids would solve this week.  It would last until Johnny Quest saved the day and my brother would kick me off the TV because American Bandstand was coming on.

I continued the tradition in college.  I didn't always get up early on Saturday mornings but when I did it was often to sit in bed and watch cartoons.  I stopped watching them once I got a job.  I still watched cartoons but they were late afternoon or evening shows, not Saturday morning ones.

Over the last twenty-something years the Saturday morning cartoon block has slowly died.  I didn't realize it.  NBC stopped doing it in 1992.  The last of the big three to have a cartoon block was ABC who ended it in 2004.  Just a week ago, the last broadcaster (the CW) ended their block of Saturday morning cartoons.  This last weekend was the first time in over fifty years ... the first time since I was born ... that there weren't any Saturday morning cartoons. (Read more about it here on Gizmodo.)

Cartoons are still there.  You find them on the Cartoon Network, Disney, Nickelodeon, and even Comedy Central.  Cable is what killed the Saturday morning cartoon.  That and the FCC mandating more educational television.  The cartoons have been replaced with live action educational shows.

When I heard about all this I was a bit sad.  No other children will be able to experience those lazy Saturday mornings watching animation anymore.  The fact you can watch it all day on cable just cheapens the experience I think.  That's the thing about abundance.  When things are scarce, they become valuable but when things are abundant and easy to find they loose their value and loose their importance in our lives.  The only thing left over is nostalgia and a sense of loss and that ... is sad.


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