Category: Saturday Mornings

Mister T Cartoon

Mr. T Cartoon

“I pity the fool…”

A catchphrase as instantly recognizable as the man behind it. Big, tough, Mohawk-sporting (the haircut was technically a Mandinkan, to the purists), and decked out in over $300,000 worth of gold chains and earrings, Mr. T entered the ring as the unstoppable Clubber Lang in Rocky III, then shot to instant stardom as mechanic/tough guy B.A. Barracus on NBC’s wildly popular The A-Team.

Eager to expand Mr. T‘s already huge fan following among youngsters, the network commissioned Ruby-Spears to create a Saturday morning series around their golden boy, with the former Laurence Tureaud (he changed his name so everyone would have to call him “Mister”) himself to star. After a guest-starring launch on the premiere of Ruby-Spears’ Alvin and the Chipmunks, Mr. T got his own, self-titled program, an animated half-hour framed by live-action inserts.  Continue reading “Mister T Cartoon”

Alvin and the Chipmunks Cartoon

Alvin and the Chipmunks

“Aaaalviiiin!!”

Ross Bagdasarian created an unlikely smash when he changed his name to David Seville, multitracked his own voice, and recorded the novelty single “The Chipmunk Song.” That led to 1961’s The Alvin Show, which gave chipmunks Alvin, Simon, and Theodore animated likenesses, along with their father figure, David Seville.

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The Smurfs Cartoon

Smurfs

Proving that we indeed are a one-world community, NBC president Fred Silverman bought the rights to the Flemish created characters known as the Smurfs and turned them into one of the most successful and smurfiest cartoons ever to hit the air. Created by cartoonist Peyo Culliford in 1957, the Smurfs (called Schtroumpfs in their homeland) had already become popular as American toys when Silverman got the idea of turning the little blue guys into a bunch of big green.

The Smurfs were a group of over 100 dark blue, three-apple tall humanoids who lived in the mushroom homes of Smurf Village. They were led by 543-year-old Papa Smurf (who didn’t look a day over 530). Their lives would have been perfect were it not for the villainous Gargamel, a wizard who spent his days trying to capture the wee creatures. Gargamel’s cat Azrael added to the menace, always looking for a smurfalicious snack.

The single-emotioned Smurfs—including Brainy, Jokey, Vanity, Grouchy and Clumsy—were later joined by Grandpa Smurf and five Smurflings, who went back in time to become youngsters. Gargamel, too, got a friend in the form of the unscrupulous Scruple. Continue reading “The Smurfs Cartoon”

Shirt Tales Cartoon

Shirt Tales

Based on a popular line of greeting cards, The Shirt Tales were a group of adorable animals whose shirts would randomly proclaim things such as “Hug me” or “Let’s go!,” usually hinting at the current mood of the various “Tales.”

The group consisted of leader Tyg the tiger, Rick the raccoon, a girl panda named Pammy, Digger the mole, and a monkey called Bogey, so named because he called everyone “shweetheart” a la Humphrey Bogart. In the second season, another female character was added, young Kip the kangaroo. Continue reading “Shirt Tales Cartoon”

The Mysterious Cities of Gold

Mysterious Cities of Gold

History and fantasy combined in The Mysterious Cities of Gold, a 39-episode adventure chronicling the search for fortune in the New World. A French and Japanese co-production, the animated series was presented with all the care and extravagance of a big-screen epic, featuring dazzling animation, a continuous storyline and an unforgettable theme song.

The story began in Barcelona, Spain, in 1532 A.D. A young orphan boy named Esteban—who, legend had it, could harness the power of the sun—met a ship’s navigator named Mendoza, who claimed to have rescued him from a shipwreck as a baby. Both Esteban and Mendoza held portions of an ancient medallion, which Mendoza believed was a key to finding the legendary cities of gold. After a series of mishaps, the boy joined Mendoza and comic relief crewmates Sancho and Pedro for a voyage to the New World aboard the ship Esperanza.

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Saved by the Bell

Saved by the Bell

On July 11, 1987, a prime-time special entitled Good Morning, Miss Bliss aired on NBC. Soon after, it became a series on the Disney Channel, starring The Parent Trap’s Hayley Mills as the teacher, Miss Bliss. Among her students were a young Zack, Screech, and Lisa. Their principal was Mr. Belding, who could switch from best pal to stern disciplinarian at a moment’s notice.

The show moved to NBC in 1989, soon to become the network’s first live-action hit since Land of the Lost in 1977. Playing with the big boys now, the show got rid of its title character as well as its title. Now known as Saved by the Bell, the new show featured Zack, the “preppie” stud, Screech, the nerd, and Lisa, the aspiring dress designer, as well as their new friends Slater, the handsome jock, Kelly, the boys’ object of desire, and Jessie, the intelligent girl (who was just as pretty and well-dressed as the other two girls, but no one seemed to notice). Continue reading “Saved by the Bell”

Looking Back on American Gladiators

American Gladiators

TV was never really fair to jocks. If you were a nerd, there were any number of game shows you could try out for, but if you were a muscle bound fitness guru, your game show pickings were slim. But a little program called American Gladiators set out to right that wrong, taking revenge back from the nerds and putting it back in the brawny hands of workout kings and queens. Once more, might made right, and the rest of us got to sit back and watch the mayhem unfold on syndicated television.

The hour-long spectacle pitted four contestants (two he-men, two she-women) against a lineup of menacing Gladiators with names like Nitro, Zap, Gemini, Ice, Lace and Laser. The contestants were actually competing against each other (man vs. man, woman vs. woman), trying to outscore each other in a variety of events. The Gladiators were just there to make sure everybody scored as few points as possible. Continue reading “Looking Back on American Gladiators”