There is no need to deny it, we were all raised by that glorious idiot box. We marched down the stairs on Saturday mornings to eat cereal and watch endless hours of TV. There was no need for childhood imagination because there were cartoons. These cartoons raised us, they created us, and they still influence us today. Our childhood fascinations have made movies like the Dark Knight monstrous hits. Here is an homage to our parents, our mentors, our life coaches. These are the ten greatest Saturday morning cartoons in history.
10. The SuperFriends
Only one group of people could have ever defeated the Legion of Doom. Lucky for us, they were all close friends. Every Saturday morning from 1973 to 1986 the Justice League of America saved our planet from Supervillains. But the Superfriends wasn’t all about well known superheroes like Superman and Wonder Woman, there were also the superhero trainees, Wendy, Marvin, and their pet dog named, yep, super dog.
What it taught us - You can do anything if you have the right friends….just as long as none of them are minorities (Apache Chief, Samurai and Black Bolt came late to the party as a result of complaints.)
9. Sigmund and the Sea Monsters
Sea weed is scary. It doesn’t matter how tough you think you are. When sea weed creeps up your leg you’re going to scream like a little girl. This was the inspiration for Sigmund and the Sea Monsters. But Sigmund the sea monster didn’t want to scare people, so he was banished from his sea monster home and washes up on the beach where he meets Johnny and Scott Stuart. The rest of the series is spent hiding Sigmund from his family and other humans.
What it taught us - A few poignant things about racism. Mainly, that it is OK to be friends with people of other races, as long as you don’t tell anyone about it, and keep your relationship with them hidden.
8. Land of the Lost
If you want to know how the series Lost ends, re-watch Land of the Lost. A group of people fall through a portal into a time that land forgot (the island), they battle with giant ancient insect man things called sleestaks (the others), and they even befriend one of them (the ugly girl.) The series is full of items that only make sense on a Saturday morning with a joint and a bowl of a cereal.
What it taught us – Time travel will never make sense… and never go camping.
7. H.R. PufnStuf
H.R. Pufnstuf was a show of funny words like Pufnstuf, witchiepoo, and the vroom broom. It was also filled with multiple drug references. H.R. Pufnstuf stood for hand rolled marijuana, the lyrics, “he can’t do a little, cause he can’t do enough,” refers to the addictive nature of drugs, and Pufnstuf’s catch phrase, was “whoa dude.” The shows creators have denied any drug references but just read the shows synopsis and decide for yourself. Jimmy and his magic talking flute take a boat owned by the wicked witch witchiepoo to Living Island where H.R. Pufnstuf and his deputies Kling and Klang defend him. If that doesn’t convince you, this will.
What it taught us - If you smoke pot, you can be equally successful at making tv shows as you can be at watching TV shows.
6. Hong Kong Phooey
Hong Kong Phooey may not have invented the super hero alter ego, but he definitely perfected it. He wasn’t a douche like Clark Kent, a prick like Bruce Wayne, or a geek like Peter Parker. Everybody would be just as honored to hang with Penrod Pooch as they would have been to hang with Hong Kong Phooey.
What it taught us - Never, ever, get into a fight without your Hong Kong Book of Kung Fu.
5. Spider-Man and his Amazing Friends
Superman, Batman, Aquaman and Wonder Woman were the World’s Greatest Superheroes “Assembled” (oops sorry Avengers.) That is, until 1981, when a dejected and unpopular Spider-Man proudly proclaimed that he too had friends. Yes, Spider-Man was not always the lone ranger that he is thought of as today. He used to need help from Firestar (an original character created because the Human Torch was unavailable due to licensing rights), Ice Man and his kid half sister Lightwave to defeat the evil Videoman (well, he got nicer, but for a while he was quite evil.)
What it taught us – With spider bites comes great power, and with great power comes great responsibility and an ass load of hanger on-er never will bes biting on your celebrity. In this series Marvel degrades Spidey to the MC Hammer of the Marvel Universe . . .though after what they di to him years later he probably longs for the Spider-Friends Days. Can’t Touch This.
4. Dungeons and Dragons
In 1983, a group of children were pulled into the realm of Dungeons and Dragons, and some of them never made it back out because of a midget that always talks in riddles and shows up 3 seconds after everyone almost gets killed. The level of violence was controversial for children’s television at the time, and the script of one episode, “The Dragon’s Graveyard”, was almost shelved because the characters contemplated killing their nemesis, Venger (in fairness, he was a Dick.) In 1985, the freak christian yahoo group the National Coalition on Television Violence claimed it was the most violent show on network television.
The series spawned more than 100 different licenses, and the show led its time slot for two years. It was also known for it’s celebrity voices including Willy Aames, Donny Most, and Adam Rich…What? No Leif Garret?
What it taught us – Magic Weapons are always awesome, and midgets can’t be trusted as far as you can throw them, which actually makes them moderately trustworthy. Here, catch!
3. Far Out Space Nuts
This short lived Saturday morning show has been forgotten by most. Mainly because it aired in 1975. But for all you Bob Denver Fans, Far Out Space Nuts is a comedy classic. Gilligan gets into the same whacky trouble that he is known for. This time Junior (Bob Denver) mistakes the lunch button for the launch button and the wacky adventures begin. SAdly there is no hot actress to fantasize about during commercials.
What it taught us – Getting LOST is always a good show concept.
The World of Fraggle Rock was created in seven days by puppet God Jim Henson. It was a mix between Henson’s Dark Crystal and his more family orientated, The Muppets, with a little bit of a musical flare. It was edgy for it’s time and was HBO’s first original series.
What it taught us – No matter what happens, you can dance your cares away…even cancer.
1. Wacky Races (Stop the Pigeon)
Wacky Races was the original race around the world. On Saturday morning, Dick Dastardly, possibly the most evil and phallic named villain of all time, set out in his Mean Machine to cheat his way to victory. When the race ended, Dastardly was winless, and took up a career chasing a messenger pigeon in a Wacky Races spin off, Dick Dastardly and Mutley in Their Flying Machines. Episode after episode, Dastardly pulled out all of his contraptions to catch that pigeon (he did briefly in the episode, Catch Which Pigeon,) but drat, drat, double drat, he never did catch that flying rat.
What it taught us – Dude, you will NEVER ever catch a pigeon, the roadrunner, Jerry Mouse, whatever that rat thing that Speedy Gonzolez was or Bugs Bunny . . .even if you’re the most evil prick in a bi-plane.