Saturday Morning Fever #5 – Saturday Morning Ads!

Grab a bowl of your favorite sugary cereal and enjoy as The Irredeemable Shag and Rob discuss some of their favorite (and not-so-favorite) comic book Saturday Morning Cartoon ads from the 1970s and 1980s!

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29 responses to “Saturday Morning Fever #5 – Saturday Morning Ads!

  1. What a fun and nostalgic episode. Maybe you guys can do an episode on those fall preview specials. A few are on youtube – including this 1973 show featuring the 1st live action meeting of Superman and Batman!

  2. Listened to this on the way to an evening shift on Sunday. So at least I got some laughs in! But, as always, that means I have to try and remember all the things I wanted to say.

    I remember so many of these ads. And I remember so many of these themes. And yes, I said ‘And God-zukey’ at the same time as Rob. I can’t remember what I had for breakfast sometimes. But I remember this stuff.

    Now onto some shows.

    I was all over the filmation Flash Gordon loved it.

    I also think they did the Zorro/Tarzan/Lone Ranger shows I watched the hell out of them. I still say ‘bold mongani’ when I see gorillas in a zoo. I vividly remember an episode of Lone Ranger where he lost his memory and in that show he tossed a deck of cards in the air and shot the center suit marker out of all 4 aces as they fell. Amazing!

    How could Rob not have watched Dungeons and Dragons? I swear my reluctance to play a Paladin stems from Donnie Most’s performance as the squeamish Paladin on the show. And the redheaded thief? Early cartoon crush. So hot. And like all this stuff why do I remember the dumb spell ‘Abra Cadabra, abra cad-ooney, give that horn back to Uni!’ in the episode where the unicorn had its horn stolen?

    I don’t know why I liked a lot of these shows which seem like terrible ideas now. Snorks? Shirt Tales? Why did I have such a devotion?

    And, of course, Spider-Man and his Amazing Friends still holds up. First off, Firestar. Yassss! But also, I loved when it dipped its toes into the larger marvel universe like when we met Namor, the Xmen, etc.

    Thanks for this. A much needed laugh!

  3. This was a fun one! Thanks guys! I have lots of trivia to share:

    Meatballs and Spaghetti and Pandamonium were the first shows to come from Marvel Productions, back when Marvel owned their first animation studio. Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends and even shows like G.I. Joe and Transformers came soon after.

    Ron Palillo (Arnold Horshack himself) voiced both Sgt. Squealy (that pig sergeant) on Laverne & Shirley in the Army as well as Rubik the Amazing Cube.

    Filmation’s live action kids’ show The Ghost Busters of course came years before the popular Ghostbusters movies, and they had to work out a deal to use the name. Of course this didn’t prevent Filmation from making their own cartoon version of the show (complete with a ghost in a circle logo) once they heard Ghostbusters was also getting a cartoon.

    The Return to the Planet of the Apes cartoon was directed by the great Doug Wildey who was also the man behind Jonny Quest. He designed characters for the Apes cartoon as well.

  4. regarding Scooby and Scrappy, this was the season where it was just them with Shaggy and Daphne. Interesting that it’s the geeky beatnik who has the hot girl all to himself while Mr. All American is strangely absent!.
    DRAK PACK!!!!
    This was the series that got me into the Classic Universal Monster movies of the 30’s, 40’s and 50’s.
    I remember In the News and One to Grow On but I don’t for the life of me recall 30 minutes
    The Human Guy in Astro and the Space Mutts always reminded me of Burt Reynolds in Smoky and the Bandit
    TOON TIME!!!
    Lone Ranger and Zorro both had feature Films coming out around that time. (Zorro the Gay Blade and the Legend of the Lone Ranger) As with Shaggy, these series are the genesis of my fandom for both of these characters!
    That’s actually a reference to Mr. T’s role on the A-Team. Often, when Hannibal Smith got into the mission of the week with one of his plans B.A. would say “He’s on the Jazz Man!”
    I actually thought Hulk Hogan was drawn by Carmine Infantino. (This was around the Time of the Trial of Barry Allen (or shortly thereafter)
    I actually didn’t start watching Gummi Bears until they joined with Chip and Dale, Duck Tales and TaleSpin as part of the Disney Afternoon block in the early 1990’s.

  5. What an amazing episode: so much fun discussion on these comic-ad snapshots of long-ago Saturday programming! Great job, you two.

    While “The Secret Life of Waldo Kitty” clearly didn’t achieve mainstream hit status, it wouldn’t be the only time that these very shows you discussed did the deep cuts into cultural references, that kids weren’t likely to get:
    – Fred and Barney are the Honeymooners
    – Bugs Bunny in the content made in this era might have been less of a Groucho Marx representation, but the old theatrical cartoons were still in circulation, where he was more explicitly Groucho-y.
    – Foghorn Leghorn was exactly lifted from the occasional guest character on the radio show hosted by comedian Fred Allen, named Senator Claghorn. Not just the name, but also the Southern bombast and the whole speech style. Claghorn spun off from that show into his own 1940s movie titled, “It’s a Joke, Son!” Even today, we all know Foghorn while the character he references is super-obscure.
    – Fat Albert didn’t come from the cartoon, as you can hear Cosby’s 1960s stand-up material still being sold now, where many of the stories he tells are childhood anecdotes with Fat Albert among them.
    – “Strangers in the Night” by Frank Sinatra begat Scooby Doo, for good or ill.
    – The Puppy’s New Adventures is of course Odysseus. OK, I can’t prove that and didn’t watch the show, but it sure sounds from Shag’s synopsis fairly Homeric for a cartoon.

    1. I did some research on Foghorn Leghorn and Senator Claghorn recently. While some of Leghorn’s vocal mannerisms are heavily borrowed from Kenny Delmar’s portrayal of Claghorn, they are both originally based on another character who appeared in local (New York?) commercials, called the Sheriff. If memory serves, Foghorn first appeared in a cartoon some months before Claghorn made his debut in Allen’s Alley.

        1. Scooby Doo was adapted from an earlier pitch for a Dobie Gillis animated series. They decided to add a dog, with the name from Sinatra’s scatting gibberish, and then figured “Hey, we don’t need to license this!”, so they just came up with their own versions of the Gillis cast. The characters are pretty obviously based on Dobie, Manard, Zelda and Thalia, if you know it going in.

  6. Every once in a while, someone will do a show on the network that I REALLY wish I could have sat in on, and this is one of them! I loved this guys. A few thoughts:

    – I don’t think the Freedom Force was ever called anything but. I bet Marvel said “You can’t call them the Fantastics!”. Marvel also pushed Spider-Woman into existence due to Web Woman getting there first.

    – While I agree Shag that Filmation meant a certain level of quality, ABC didn’t think so. Notice no Filmation shows are on ABC after a certain point? The network BANNED the studio after they based a whole year’s Saturday Morning Lineup on a Filmation show called Uncle Croc’s Block in 1975, which starred Charles Nelson Reilly. The show was such a bomb ABC vowed to never order another Filmation show.

    – I think The Puppy’s New Adventures was based on a one-off episode of ABC’s Weekend Special, which was an anthology show ran at the end of the cartoon block, before American Bandstand. It was hosted for several seasons by an animated cat named O.J. Readmore.

    – I think the reason Bo and Luke are called out, was that the first seasons of The Dukes DID feature those scabs Coy and Vance! Bo and Luke returned to the live-action show and the cartoon this season. If memory serves. And a nation of children rejoiced.

    – That’s definitely a Gil Kane Hulk Hogan. But I believe that show was produced by Rubby Spears, and Kane worked for them, so it makes sense. He would go on to be the art director on their Superman series in 1988.

    Again, great show guys!!!


  7. Great episode, gentlemen. I could go on and on about so many of these beloved cartoon shows, but I’ll restrain myself. I will say that this episode reminded me of several shows that I watched regularly as a kid, but had completely forgotten as an adult. The primary examples being Fang Face, Monchhichis, Rubik, and Shirt Tales. I can’t imagine how I could have forgotten any of them.

    Thank you for plugging some of the holes in my Swiss cheese memory.

  8. What is this? No mention of the Hudson Brother Razzle Dazzle Hour? I want my money back!
    That was a pretty cool discussion. Being just a little older than you punks, I didn’t watch very many of these shows. But I sure remember every ad that was in the comics of the time! Oh, how the quality of the illustrations declined. From Neal Adams, to whoever knocked off that NBC round-table with the lousy lettering. The older I got, the more disenchanted I got with the concepts for the cartoons. I didn’t realize at the time the FCC rules had been utterly decimated and it was essentially nothing but product placement. The toys and other advertising ephemera were already annoying to me (me, too, Shag, that Monchichi song embedded itself into my cerebrum sometime in 1978 and it’s been there ever fricking since!), so I wasn’t about to watch a damn cartoon about them.
    I was always a Bugs Bunny guy. When those cartoons commanded a 90 minute block of time on Saturdays, was when I was watching. There was no need to change the channel! Some of the other cartoons, though I did sample. Clue Club featured the two dog detectives, Woofer and Whimper, and my sister I watched just enough of those that we would say a the catch phrase in the voice of the dog, “A clue, a clooooo!” I watched a little of the Batman show, and the Fantastic Four shows, as a loyal comics reader, but the inclusion of Bat-Mite and H.E.R.B.I.E. was a deal-breaker for me.
    The other thing about my Saturday morning viewing predilections was that I wanted to watch cartoons! Not “live action.” I could see that anywhere else on TV! I had no interest in the Land of the Lost, or Dr. Shrinker, or even Captain Marvel, or any of the other myriad offerings. Although I did give the Bob Denver shows a peek, as I was a fan of Gilligan at the time. And Electra Woman, of course, but that didn’t last too long.
    Thanks for the fun trip back in time!

  9. Hey Guys great show! I remember almost all of these ads and the Saturday morning cartoons they stood for. Couple of things…
    &am too early for kids cartoons?!?! I for one HAD to get up at 6am on Saturday morning in order to catch Superfriends living in Twin Falls, Idaho in the mid 80’s. That’s when it aired. Getting up early was also part of the price to gain control of the TV on a Saturday. It was either that or suffer through my sister with Monchichi & Shirt Tails or my Dad wanting to watch Bowling.

    Also if you haven’t seen the live action version of the Dungeons and Dragons cartoon that is circulating on the internet lately you really should if you are at all familiar with the cartoon. It’s ends the series, getting those poor kids home to the amusement park in their own world. It’s a Brazilian car ad that is AMAZING and a must see!

    1. Skate Birds was a Live action show (3 costumed birds on roller skates) with cartoon segments similar to the Banana Splits. It produced a Board Game that I had, but sadly the show only lasted a year (if that). It included the voice talent of Scatman Crothers as Scat Cat, the 3 Skate Birds arch nemesis.

  10. What a fantastic episode. Rarely has a podcast mashed down on my nostalgia buttons with more brutal force. I lost count of the number of theme songs and audio stings you referenced that I can still clearly hear in my head. Some notes…

    — I don’t think you showed proper reverence to the great Sid and Marty Krofft, two of the most underrated artists in the history of American television, and the linchpin of 1970s Saturday mornings. They were eons ahead of their time in terms of production design and creativity. (It sounded like you didn’t realize that “Land of the Lost” was one of their productions; so was “Pryor’s Place,” come to think of it.) Shagg, you mentioned that episode of Wonderbug as providing nightmare fuel, and the Kroffts were superb at that—there shows featured so many bizarre and fascinating characters and images (Chaka in “The Land of the Lost,” the hats in “Lidsville,” Witchypoo in “H.R. Pufnstuf”), and I think some dose of scariness is inimical to the best kids’ entertainment (think of classic fairy tales). The Kroffts were inches away from a major comeback in the ’00s: Sony had the rights to a new Pufnstuf movie, but it never materialized.

    — What, praise for H.E.R.B.I.E. the Fantastic Four robot without mention of the awesome urban legend about his genesis? (Producers were afraid kids would emulate the Human Torch by setting themselves on fire; the truth is Johnny Storm’s animated rights were tied up elsewhere.)

    — I clearly remember that Saturday-morning preview show hosted by Weird Al. As I recall, he made a pretty big deal about Firestorm being the major change to “Super Friends” that season.

    — I never thought the Shmoo was too similar to Gloop and Gleep of “The Herculoids.” (The Shmoo had legs, after all.) Did you know the Shmoo dates back to Li’l Abner comics of the 1940s? It’s worth reading the Shmoo Wikipedia page; he was once a pretty major pop-culture icon.

    — I clearly remember “Goldie Gold and Action Jack.” Rather than a female Richie Rich, it was more an adventure series with a female heroine and male sidekick, perhaps ahead of its time for the early ’80s.

    — I LOVED “The Kid Super Power Hour.” Perhaps no theme song was more of an earworm for me; I still never every word. The year it was on, I remember lying in bed, six years old, unable to sleep; I would sing the song to myself over and over to ward off scary things lurking in the dark.

    — Perhaps I’m misremembering, but that “POW!” ad that introduced “The Kid Super Power Hour” and “The Smurfs” also had a “Where’s Waldo?”–type variant in which readers were challenged to find tiny Smurf faces hidden throughout the drawings.

    — My main memory of the “The Littles”: They starred in a PSA (viewable on YouTube) telling kids to encourage their parents to vote. Who thought that would be an effective GOTV strategy?

    — Several “Kidd Video” songs are lodged in my brain. Trivia fact: The keyboard player on that show also played Cousin Oliver on “The Brady Bunch.”

    — The theme song to the “Mr. T” cartoon is easily among the the ten greatest TV themes in history. That show was so awesome: T travels the country with a team of gymnasts; they outwit crooks and slimeballs, while T beats up alligators and lifts cars above his head. And the animation was awesomely garbage.

    — I agree “Pryor’s Place” sounds bananas, but it was a fairly innovative show, expanding upon the revolutionary “Sesame Street” idea of relating to kids on a more realistic, and occasionally darker, level. (There were episodes about poverty and divorce, among other topics.) Ray Parker Jr. sang the theme song, and “Chappelle Show” star Paul Mooney (a longtime Pryor collaborator) led the writing staff.

    — When we were 14, a friend and I wrote parody lyrics for the “Gummi Bears” theme: “Pubic hairs/Growing here and there and everywhere/High adventure in your underwear/You’re growing pubic hairs.”

    Thanks again, gents…

  11. This episode was like a trip back to someplace you visited often as a child and hadn’t been back to in years. You have fond memories of it, but they are blurry half-remembered fragments. Then, visiting as an adult and seeing the place again, the memories come rushing back. Faces and names you thought long forgotten come rushing back to the forefront of your mind. Thanks for taking me back to that childhood setting again.
    Somewhat like how I spent hours finding old friends when I first joined Facebook, I can foresee many hours in my future spent combing YouTube videos for my old Saturday morning friends.

  12. I also have to mention, I am surprised Rob didn’t point out the M*A*S*H connection from this episode. The Shmoo made a guest appearance in the season 11 episode, ‘Who Knew.’ 😉

  13. Wow, what a show. I can see that it had the same effect on many others as it did on me, i.e., brought back tons of memories. And the ads in the gallery page also brought back their own set of memories.

    I very specifically recall the one from 1975 with the art by Neal Adams. I always thought the costume he drew for Isis was better than the one that actually appeared in the TV show, and I wished that in the show she had done stuff like crash through a speeding locomotive as pictured in the ad.
    Speaking of discrepancies in the ads and the actual cartoons, Web Woman’s costume looked nothing like the one pictured in the ad – in fact, it looked a lot like the purple costume Medusa of the Inhumans often wore, and she also had red hair. And Manta and Moray (that’s the proper name) looked nothing like the characters in the ‘Moray and Manta’ ad: instead of looking like a pair of New Age So-Cal swingers on their way to a pool party, Manta was a green-skinned merman from some lost undersea civilization, while Moray was a girl raised by dolphins who wore a one-piece pro swimmer-type bathing suit. A bit of trivia: the voice actress for Moray was Joan van Ark, who then went on to do the voice acting for Spiderwoman in that cartoon.

    It’s also interesting that – given that In the News is always featured – the ads in the comics, and TV guide for that matter, never mention what I think were staples of the Saturday morning experience: Schoolhouse Rock, and then the later educational content like Time for Timers or Dr. Henry’s Emergency Lessons for People (HELP).
    Otherwise, like Wardhill Terry, I’m a little older than you guys, so I have memories going back a little farther, and I also mostly checked out a little earlier – around 1983, when I started high school. Also like Terry, for me the Bugs Bunny/Warner Bros. cartoons were always the centerpiece of Saturday morning, as I *always* watched those no matter what.
    Some more random observations:
    – I used to absolutely love the live-action Ghost Busters with Larry Storch, Forest Tucker and Bob Burns (playing Tracy the gorilla). I think they’re all up on YouTube now.
    – I remember watching Westwind occasionally, although I can’t remember any specific episodes. It was about a family who lived on a yacht and had adventures in the South Pacific. The father was played by the Green Hornet himself, Van Williams.
    – Similarly, I also vaguely remember watching Lost Saucer, which starred Ruth Buzzi and Jim Nabors as a pair of time-traveling robots (it was a Krofft production, of course).
    – Definitely agree that the Filmation cartoons were top-notch – I absolutely loved Batman, Tarzan and, especially, Flash Gordon. The latter was really cool because it was done like an actual serial, with a continuing story-line throughout the season.
    – Drak Pack was cool if for no other reason than the bad guys had the best acronym ever: OGRE – the Organization for Generally Rotten Enterprises.
    I’m gonna stop here because this comment is already way too long…

  14. Thanks for the memory. When discussion has turned to some early-’80s cartoon or other, I have been assuming -from my lack of familiarity- that by then I had gotten too old for Saturday morning. But your format going over the whole schedule, I hear swaths of shows I know, followed by a long list with no hits, then another group of familiar shows, and I put it together: we’d moved, and were only receiving one local station -an NBC affiliate- for a year or so until we got cable. It was circumstances, not maturity, that tapered off my cartoon watching!

    Another Filmation fan, here. Flash Gordon made me a fan of that character. Jason of Star Command did have James Doohan as his commander, stepping into the shoe of. . . Jonathan Harris, Dr. Smith from Lost in Space! Well, maybe not literally stepping into his shoes, but into the rest of his costume, recycled from Space Academy. It was on this set, with this crew, that he celebrated the news of Star Trek: The Motion Picture. That did mean Jason needed another commander the next year, a taller actor who got a new outfit made, but who got his face painted blue; win some, lose some.

  15. This was a lot of fun to listen to. So many memories being unearthed here, I can’t hope to catch them all (maybe I’ll have more to say in response to the other posts), but I thought I’d share this since you commented on the oddity that is the Gary Coleman Show.

    Leaving aside the theological point that angels aren’t actually recycled dead people (at least, I’m not aware of a faith that actually teaches this, certainly not within the Judeo-Christian tradition. It’s at least a common misconception, and in fact I don’t actually know whether Coleman’s works suggest it one way or the other), this show was in fact a sort-of spin-off of a movie Coleman did called “The Kid with the Broken Halo,” which also featured Coleman’s angel character (named “Andy LeBeau” in both), but which otherwise seems to borrow little.

    P.S.: Yes, that was indeed Wolfman Jack doing the “Fonz and the Happy Days Gang” opening.

  16. Oh, “return of the Shirt Tales”? You guys haven’t been in a Hallmark store recently, I take it. They had character plushes (and I think a book) as recently as this past Christmas. (FYI, Shirt Tales was always owned by Hallmark)

  17. Oh, about “Muppets, Babies, and Monsters”… that didn’t last long at ALL. The “Monsters” refers to a segment called “Little Muppet Monsters” that aired after “Muppet Babies,” but apparently (as I learned only now from Wikipedia) the animation for LMM wasn’t ready, so after only three episodes, CBS decided to air reruns of Muppet Babies in that slot. These did so well that even though the remaining 10 episodes (of the 13 episodes ordered) were finally completed, CBS opted to continue just airing Muppet Babies reruns.

    The three aired episodes of Little Muppet Monsters have never been rerun, and so far as I know the other 10 have never been seen anywhere. Surely there’s a market for a DVD or Blu-Ray of this stuff!

    More info:

  18. Fellas,

    LOVED this episode. A few observations/notes:
    – Spaghetti and Meatballs was a series about a band. It wasn’t very good.
    – Pandemonium was a series about three pandas that could combine to form papa Panda or some nonsense. Also terrible.
    – I quickly noticed Rob didn’t say anything about the idea that Casper is the ghost of a child. Possibly because he might have contributed to that murder like he did to the murder of one Jason Todd!?! Some Casper stories posit he’s the child of two ghosts. BUt this kind of flies in the face of an episode where Casper’s living pet, a fox, dies. They’re then reunited when the fox’s spirit rises from its corpse and hugs Casper. Also he may be the ghost of Richie Rich.
    – Oh Might Isis! There’s a property nobody’s gonna touch for a while.

    Do something like this again, fellas.

  19. Oh! Goldie Gold and Action Jack was a series that revolved around Gold’s adventures. Jack was her friend. Goldie was essentially Paris Hilton. Or a lady version of a young Robert Fitzgerald Kelly.

  20. Jana of the jungle! Saw a lot of those episodes, because of some weird agreement with local Philippine cable.

    Good memories, if a bit surreal — listening to a U.S. Podcast about several cartoons we watched second-hand (early Philippine cable and lots of pirate VHS tapes), triggering nostalgia about my Philippine youth while on a train from Florence to Rome.

  21. Still listening to this episode, interrupted by a self-imposed need to finish off the remaining #JLMay2019 episodes. I missed a lot of these shows, and more surprisingly most of the earlier print ads . It isn’t until 1978 that I firm up on both fronts.

  22. Great show. just catching up on some shows now. I think if you do a future show about this topic, it would be cool to post the ads from each channel to see the entire picture of show choices for each year. Then people can see why maybe they never saw one show, because they were changing the channel to watch another show. I know i always had that painful decision some years in the time before the vcr emerged.

  23. In the UK we never saw this stuff on TV but we did get comics. I used to sit there looking at these adverts in awe, wondering what it would be like to watch Bugs Bunny for hours on end – to me, this was America! Land of incredible TV shows! Luckily now a lot of these shows are on YouTube, although they don’t have the same effect on me as they would have done as a ten year old!

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