Saturday Morning Memories
I realized that it feels like it’s been a while since I wrote a more casual blog post here, it’s been all movie reviews, podcasts, and lists. Since it is Saturday morning right now, I thought it would be nostalgic for me to go through some of my Saturday Morning superhero memories of some of the cartoons that I liked to watch when I was younger. And while I am calling this Saturday Morning Memories, I certainly don’t remember the difference between which cartoons actually came on during Saturday morning and which came on during the after school block. I grew up in the 80’s, but I did continue to have a love of cartoons through my teenage years so I will be covering some of those 90’s cartoons as well.
The first cartoon that comes into my head, mainly because it’s been so prevalent these last few weeks is Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. I never did follow the series past the original 80’s roots aside from the movies, though I have been very curious about the new incarnation as it has brought back one of the original voices Rob Paulsen who was the voice of Raphael and is now the voice of Leonardo. Give him another 30 years and maybe he’ll make the full circle. I don’t remember too much of the actual episodes anymore aside from some vague memories of a cajun alligator and the four frogs who were created by a villain but then became their ally. I hesitate to go back to the show because I remember another show that I was fond of at the time, Thundercats, I later revisited when I was in college and even though I would watch the show in reruns on Cartoon Network over and over I just couldn’t get over how awful the show really was.
I also have fond memories of the Spider-Man animated series, and several of the other Marvel cartoons that they would pair with the show like Iron Man, the Fantastic Four, and I believe at least a couple others. I believe that was also my first introduction to Stan “the Man” Lee who would often show up to introduce the cartoon, or do commercials for it, or something along those lines. Of course, I was also a huge fan of the X-Men animated series around the same time, it had that great opening theme like all of these cartoons from this era, and it had a great group of characters that went through in depth story arcs, especially compared to any of the other cartoons of this era. I always loved the characters Rogue and Gambit, as well as the short lived Morph. I also liked how Magneto was one of the most complex villains of the time compared to most of the purely evil villains in the other cartoons.
I know I’m just kind of jumping around from cartoon to cartoon, but that’s just how this post seems to be going, and that’s more of how my memory works as well. I don’t remember any specific arcs or episodes, I mainly just remember the shows in broad strokes and how well I liked them. I also remember a short lived series called Wild C.A.T.S. that also felt quite different from what I had been watching at the time, even though several of the characters felt like copies of other superheroes I already knew, though the only character I remember anything about is Grifter who also made a very brief appearance in Justice League: Flashpoint Paradox. I was also a fan of the S.W.A.T. Katz, at least I think that’s how it was spelled, I know I could just Google it, but that would interrupt my writing flow.
Of course, the big daddy of them all is Batman: The Animated Series, followed up by Superman a few years later I believe. Like many people, this felt like the culmination of where superhero cartoons were headed at the time. While it didn’t really have the longer storylines that X-Men had, within its more episodic nature it was able to explore more mature themes than anything else of its time. I could probably write a whole post just on Batman: The Animated Series, and there are indeed some out there, even a podcast which takes an in depth, critical look at the show with an eye towards the villains and how they represent extremes of actual psychological conditions.
Now that I think more about it, I also remember one of the earlier cartoons that I watched was Mighty Mouse, something that I watched when I was so young that the only thing I remember is how he would sing “Here I come to save the day!” which is in my memory more recently from the Andy Kaufman biopic Man on the Moon. I also fondly remember the Nickolodeon shorts for Bananaman and I was excited when I heard that they were making a Bananaman movie. And while I’m sure there are plenty more that I’m forgetting about, I’m struggling to grasp them from my memory outside of some of the other less-superhero cartoons and more action cartoons like Thundercats, He-Man, G.I. Joe, Transformers, and the like. But I put the question to you now. What is your Saturday Morning Superhero Memories? Whether it’s a fond memory of a popular cartoon like Batman or the Superfriends, or if it’s a more obscure cartoon at the edges of your memory. Until next time, this has been Bubbawheat for Flights, Tights, and Movie Nights.
Posted on September 6, 2014, in Blogs and tagged Blog, cartoons, superheroes, television, tv. Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.
We must have grown up around the same time as I was also a heavy watcher of the TMNT show and Thundercats. And like you, I had a bad time trying to revisit Thundercats! It’s so much better in my memory.
Trying to think of what else I watched… I was obsessed with the ’90s Fantastic Four cartoon. Still have some of my old VHS copies I taped off broadcast. I watched a little of the Iron Man show as well, and some of the X-Men show, but FF was always my fav. Oh, and Darkwing Duck! I looked forward to it every day after school.
I was also a big fan of The Herculoids, which isn’t necessarily superhero, but if I remember right it’s still in the same wheelhouse. There’s probably more I’m forgetting too.
Oh I can’t believe I forgot about Darkwing Duck, and I was just thinking about it last night too. Blathering Blatherschyte! I always loved the episodes with Gizmoduck who I can’t remember if he was a crossover element from Ducktales or something else. Loved Gloop and Gleep from the Herculoids too!
I know I’m responding to an old post, but I think it’s all right, given the topic. 🙂
I didn’t watch as many of the 90s cartoons as you did; Darkwing Duck, Spider-Man and Batman were about it. But the 80s toons, those I absorbed in great quantities. TMNT and ThunderCats, like you; I’ve revisited both, along with He-Man and Transformers, and although I see the flaws, I don’t mind them. I accept the cheesiness. I haven’t revisted Go-Bots yet, but I want to, even though I’m sure it’s just as cheesy.
Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends was a big part of my Saturday morning line-up (and early weekday morning line-up). I can get my head around the fact that Iceman started as a member of the X-Men, but for me Firestar will always first and foremost be a Spider-friend.
The Real Ghostbusters was one I followed for years. It’s also the first time I can remember thinking a show had really gone downhill; once it became Slimer and the Real Ghostbusters, and Slimer was given more prominence and his own solo episodes, it just wasn’t as good.
But the biggest portion of my Saturday morning has got to be all the various Superfriends incarnations. I was just old enough to catch the re-runs of the first version, with Wendy and Marvin and Wonder Dog. Silly, goofy, pro-environment stuff that seldom had a true villain, and never a DC comics supervillain. Then came the version with the Wonder Twins, which at least had bad guys that actually meant to be bad, but they still weren’t the classics. Then, at last, Challenge of the Super Friends. Still kind of hokey, but finally, actual comic book villains! That’s the one most people remember, but it wasn’t the last one, nor the best. It was followed up by Super Friends: The Legendary Super Powers Show (introducing Firestorm!), which was still just a bit hokey, but not half as much. Lot of fighting against Darkseid. And then the final incarnation, one year later, Super Powers: Galactic Guardians. Anybody who thinks quality DC comics animation started with Batman has overlooked this one. The animation quality was stepped up another notch, and holds up fairly well today. And the stories… they were downright daring. They’d use odd characters like Felix Faust and Mirror Master. They had Superman die in one episode (he got better, of course, but still, for a kids show that was something!) And it had the first non-comic-book depiction of the death of Batman’s parents in The Fear; call me crazy, but I think “Batman vs. Scarecrow in Crime Alley” is one of the best high concepts for a Batman episode ever.
Really makes me sad to think that none of the networks have a dedicated Saturday morning cartoon block anymore. That used to be the touchstone for kids, the one thing we could all talk about. The new season was always a big event, with the stations airing specials to debut all the new shows. I still remember Tony Danza, C3-PO and R2-D2 freaking out over the Chest of Demons from The 13 Ghosts of Scooby-Doo; where are kids today going to get crazy memories like that?
I’ve got no problems with seeing comments on older posts, great to have you share your memories here. I remember watching the Real Ghostbusters as well, though I don’t believe I watched any of the Superfriends series at all or the older Spider-Man cartoons.
You should check them out some time. I think they’re all available on DVD now… maybe not Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends, not sure on that one. But I think you’d get a kick out of even the cheesier runs.