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It's Saturday Morning. Watch Some Half-Century Old Cartoons

by El Destino

2021-10-23 15:51:57

"Grandpa, tell us what TV was like half a century ago?"

"Well, sometimes things got really weird...."

It has stars! And a synthesizer! And 49 years later you can still watch it on YouTube! Of course I'm talking about the opening credits for the "Saturday Superstar Movie" -- one of the strangest programs ever broadcast over America's airwaves.

Grandpa Destino: "See, back in my day, you couldn't watch cartoons 24/7, 'cuz there weren't no such thing as the Cartoon Network. Nope, they only showed cartoons on one day. Saturday! Oh, how we kids loved Saturday mornin'... One glorious morning, on one day a week, all the networks would pile up all their cartoons like a big mess o' toys, and compete to see who could dazzle us children the most..."

So in 1972 ABC concocted an extravagant series of one-off cartoons they'd broadcast as hour-long "movies" starring a different character each week. And they'd billed the whole messy melange as "The Saturday Superstar Movies." Yes, that is Willie Mays. In a cartoon. The week before, it was Popeye.

In "Willie Mays and the Say-Hey Kid" -- which, again, is an hour-long cartoon -- a guardian angel agrees to help center fielder Willie Mays win the National League Pennant, but only if he agrees to be the godfather of an orphaned girl named Veronica.

And the season ended with animated adventures of Marlo Thomas's That Girl. "The Brady Kids on Mysterious Island" explained how Marcia and Greg met that inexplicable magic talking bird. There's a movie where Yogi Bear and his eco-terrorist pals flee a declining civilization in a flying ark. And, for some reason: Oliver Twist. (Because you know how much children love Dickensenian tales about impoverished orphans living in 19th-century pre-industrial England...)

But each week tried to offer its own answer to the question: who exactly qualifies as a "Saturday Superstar"? (The Banana Splits! Daffy Duck! Gidget! Lassie....) There was even an animated version of Lost in Space. And they must've known something, because more than one of these hour-long "movies" spawned an entire TV series.

But what's even weirder is someone's created a web page for the entire series on Wikipedia, so you can marvel at all the gratuitous cartoon-y goodness.

Grandpa Destino: Yep. They don't make 'em like that any more...

A cartoon version of Willie Mays. Yep....

Over.  End of Story.  Go home now.

iambic@pigdog.org

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