There was nothing like being a kid when Saturday mornings rolled around. The “stressful” week of school was behind us and we could finally kick back, relax with that bowl of sugary cereal and watch our favorite Saturday morning cartoons. Here is a look back on some all-time favorite cartoons for all generations.
First up is the kids show H.R. Pufnstuf, which debuted on NBC in 1969. Although only 17 episodes were produced, they were successful enough that NBC kept it on the Saturday morning schedule until August 1972. The show centered on a shipwrecked boy named Jimmy who, along with his talking flute named Freddy, takes a ride on a mysterious boat to Living Island. Unfortunately for them, the boat was controlled by the witch Wilhelmina Witchiepoo, who used the boat to lure Jimmy and Freddy to her castle on Living Island, so she could hold Jimmy prisoner and steal Freddy for her own purposes. Once on the island, Jimmy was rescued by H.R. Pufnstuf, the friendly and helpful (odd looking) dragon who was also the mayor of Living Island. H.R. Pufnstuf, along with his friends, protected Jimmy and Freddy from Witchiepoo’s evil plots.
Jumping into the early ‘80s, there was He-Man and the Masters of the Universe, which until this day has a cult following. The show took place on the planet Eternia where Prince Adam, the young son of Eternia’s rulers, King Randor and Queen Marlena, would transform into He-Man, the most powerful man in the universe once he held up the Sword of Power. Together with his close allies—Battle Cat, The Sorceress, Teela, Man-At-Arms and Orko, He-Man uses his powers to defend Eternia from the evil forces of Skeletor. And good news for all you Millennials who might be interested in catching an episode, He-Man and the Masters of the Universe is streaming on Netflix.
Continuing in the ‘80s is the Muppet Babies which ran for eight seasons on CBS. The show portrays childhood versions of the famous Muppets living together in a nursery under the care of a woman named Nanny. Although viewers never actually see what Nanny looks like—only Nanny’s pink skirt, purple sweater and distinctive green and white striped socks were shown in the show. Just last month, Disney Junior launched a reboot of Muppet Babies which is now CGI-animated.
Closing out the ‘80s is a group of street-fighting reptiles who lived in the sewers of New York City—the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. The show centered around ninjas Leonardo, Michelangelo, Donatello, Raphael and their rat sensei Splinter’s continuous battle against the evil villain Shredder from the Foot Clan. The pilot was shown during the week of Dec. 28, 1987 on CBS as a five-part miniseries. The show began its official run on Oct. 1, 1988 and ended in 1996. Since then, the show and franchise has become a worldwide phenomenon, becoming one of the most popular animated series in television history. The turtles have been featured in numerous movies, did a short stint on the TV show Power Rangers, and will be coming back with a new show called Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles on Nickelodeon in September 2018.
Entering the ‘90s, we have Recess which followed the lives of six fourth graders—T.J. Detweiler, Vince LaSalle, Ashley Spinelli, Mikey Blumberg Gretchen Grundler and Gus Griswald—as they go about their daily lives in a highly cliché school environment at Third Street Elementary School. Plus, who can forget the “enforcer” Miss Finster, the strict disciplinarian who was feared by all the students in the playground. Recess premiered on ABC on Aug. 31, 1997, as part of the ABC Kids Saturday morning lineup and even had a theatrical released movie Recess: School’s Out in 2001 as well as some direct to video movie releases.
Lastly, who can forget the yellow sponge who lives in a pineapple under the sea in the fictional town of Bikini Bottom? Spongebob Squarepants has become a media franchise, as well as the highest rated series to ever air on Nickelodeon. The series officially premiered on July 17, 1999 and is still going strong on the network till this day. The show follows the adventures of Spongebob and the many inhabitants of Bikini Bottom like Patrick Starr who is Spongebob’s best friend, the depressing Squidward Tentacles, money hungry and owner of the Krusty Krab, Eugene Krabs, the evil Plankton, and Texas transplant Sandy Cheeks. Spongebob Squarepants has gone on to have theatrical movie releases and now has its own Broadway show, SpongeBob SquarePants: The Broadway Musical, which launched at the Palace Theatre in Manhattan last December.