In 1968, CBS began broadcasting
their kiddie fare at 8:00am, a full hour ahead of NBC and ABC. This
gave CBS an advantage, so everyone started at 8:00 this year.
'Archie' was a big hit in '68 for CBS
so the Riverdale gang was rewarded with a full hour of music and 'fun'
in 1969. 'Wacky Races' also scored big for the network that season,
so two spin-off series were scheduled in 1969. CBS won the ratings race
for a second straight year, thanks to 'Scooby Doo.'
'Hot Wheels' became the first cartoon
series based on a current line of toys, and the FCC complained loudly
about it - ultimately passing a law against the practice (that was overturned
in 1983). The airwaves were flooded with cartoon/toy tie-ins by that
big 3 nets offered more gentle fare in 1969 than in previous years -
no more flaming teenagers and ghostly superheroes.
If parents complained about cartoon
violence, surely they couldn't object to characters just running around
- the 'chase' cartoon was born.
will be an overnight star. And after the kids see a dog named Scooby-Doo
in his own series, I guarantee you there will be a million pups named
Scooby-Doo next year."
- Fred Silverman
Head of CBS Saturday Mornings in 1969
The Jetsons / CBS
Now on at an earlier hour. Reruns
of the 1963-64 primetime cartoon - debuted on Saturday mornings
Programming to entertain kids on Saturday mornings
before the networks kicked in at 8:00 consisted mostly of reruns
- primetime shows like Sea Hunt, Cisco Kid, Skippy, The Bush
Kangaroo, Dennis the Menace and others.
The Three Stooges, Little Rascals, Fleisher Popeye
cartoons, and 1950s-era Horror & Sci-fi movies were common
as well, with most local stations going on the air around 5:00am.
Bugs Bunny /
Road Runner Hour / CBS
Chuck Jones' inspired theatrical shorts strung together with snippets
of new material. This series lasted until 1973.
Bugs began on ABC Saturday mornings
in 1962, airing in the noon hour for five years before moving
to CBS in 1968 and earning consistently solid ratings.
Jones produced a series of commercials for Raid insecticides for
many years - here's one from 1969.
Dastardly & Mutley in
their Flying Machines / CBS
Enormously popular 'Wacky Races' had two spin-offs this season.
This one featured the aerial adventures
of villainous World War Two 'ace' Dastardly and his snickering
dog Muttley. They were trying to capture a pigeon.
Penelope Pitstop / CBS
The Wacky Races gang in a
Max Sennett Keystone Kops motif. Sylvester Sneakly (Paul Lynde)
aka "The Hooded Claw" tries to get a hold of young, nubile race
car driver Penelope Pitstop.
If Peter Perfect couldn't save her,
the Ant Hill Mob would be close behind. Lots of fun.
"The reason Mr. Meakley always
wanted to get Penelope Pitstop was greed - she was heir to a big
fortune. He would turn into the evil "Hooded Claw." The Ant Hill
Gang, pint-sized, 1930s gangster looking guys, seemingly should
have been on the Claw's side, but they instead were Miss Pitstop's
- Victoria Mielke
Where Are You? / CBS
Hanna-Barbera strikes again.
Scooby would last well into the
Eighties on Saturday mornings, while the average cartoon only
ran for two years.
Generations of kids tuned into the
cowardly great Dane who only responds favorably to Scooby Snacks.
Comedy Hour / CBS
Last year's hit expands to one hour
and adds the adventures of Sabrina, the Teenaged Witch and her
An animated show cost around $48,000 an episode
to produce in 1969.
Monkees / CBS
The pre-fab four returned to Saturday
mornings after a year lay-off, with some new songs added over
A mad scientist hired the Monkees
to teach his monster how to 'rock-and-roll' on the first Saturday
rerun. Michael Nesmith, Peter Tork, Davey Jones and Micky Dolenz
formed the group.
Mickey Dolenz also starred in an
early Saturday morning series in the Fifties called 'Circus Boy'.
'The Monkees' ran on CBS until
1972, then moved to ABC for a year.
The Monkees was occasionally pre-empted for the CBS Children's
Hour, a highly acclaimed hour-long series of 3 specials beginning
with Jane Wagner's poignant teleplay J.T., the story of
a shy Harlem youth's tough Christmas with an injured stray cat
that he can't bring home because of his grouchy dad.
Mostly reruns from the year before.
Didn't matter, it was all just a run around the track anyway.
Replaced by Penelope
Pitstop reruns mid-season.
CBS continued programming with Superman cartoon
reruns at 1:00 and Johnny Quest reruns at 1:30.
Friendly Ghost / ABC
Kicks off ABC's "Saturday Morning
Club," a brand loyalty scheme with premiums mailed out to
thousands of kids who returned coupons found in comic books.
Casper was cancelled midseason, ending a run that began in 1963,
replaced by 'Adventures of Gulliver' reruns.
Smokey the Bear / ABC
Smokey starred in what seemed like public service messages stretched
out to fill a half-hour; a Rankin/Bass cartoon that started with
a primetime special starring the voice of James Cagney.
Smokey's reruns played out on Sunday
mornings in 1970. "Remember, only you can prevent forest fires."
Cattanooga Cats / ABC
Hour long Hanna-Barbera musical/cartoon about a rock group made
up of cats. Features the adventures of Motor Mouse in separate
Very much like an animated
Hot Wheels / ABC
First of two years for the animated series that took its name
and logo from a popular miniature car line that debuted the year
before. This caused CBS problems as the FCC considered Hot
Wheels to be a half-hour commercial.
Mattel sold 16 different Hot Wheels in 1968 with
hip names like "Hot Heap" and the "Custom Cougar" - and models
like the 1931 Ford Woody and the '57 T-Bird.
There was also an excellent comic book series
in 1969 that lasted 6 issues from DC comics, drawn by Alex Toth
and Neal Adams.
The cartoon (and comic) was about
a group of young racers, their mentor Mike Wheeler and their devious
opponents. Featured the voices of future filmmaker Albert Brooks
and radio legend Casey Kasem.
Also seen: safe driving tips -
as if ten year-olds were driving.
Hardy Boys / ABC
Anemic cartoon mysteries starring this venerable children's lit
family - that were created over a hundred years ago. In this incarnation,
the Hardys were rock stars who travel the world to solve crimes,
this allowed for the requisite bubble gum numbers.
There was a Hardy Boys album with
tunes from the cartoon series on sale in 1969; it was somewhat
less successful than The Archies' hit album from 1968.
Another Filmation offering, 'Hardy
Boys' ran until 1971.
Sky Hawks / ABC
ABC was getting creamed in the ratings with their flaccid entries,
but 'Sky Hawks' - aerial daredevils for hire - lasted two years.
of Gulliver / ABC
Hanna-Barbera again, warmed over fare from the previous year.
Replaced midseason by 'George of
the Jungle' repeats. Now THAT was a good cartoon!
Fantastic Voyage ABC
Reruns from last year; yet another cartoon very loosely based
on classic literature - there were several this season - the network
thought this constituted educational fare, I guess.
12:00 Get It Together
Midseason (January 3, 1970), a terrific new music show moved into
the noon slot before 'American Bandstand.' The series featured top
acts performing live.
Clark produced this hip Saturday morning music show airing from
This energetic dance / concert
program was hosted by Sam Riddle and the great Cass Elliot (or
a guest host). On the first episode, Cass and Sam welcomed Three
Dog Night and Creedance Clearwater Revival.
Mark Lindsay was an early guest
singing "Arizona" - The Spiral Staircase were on tap as well.
"Let's face it," Dick Clark said
of the show's failure. "Kids have turned to movies."
American Bandstand ABC
Smokey Robinson and the Miracles and Stevie Wonder were guests
on the season opener.
on the show this season: The Grass Roots, Steam, Bobby Vee, Arkade,
Beau Sybins, Three Dog Night, 1910 Fruitgum Company, Ohio Express
and the top ten songs of the Sixties were saluted on December
Hosted by Dick Clark, more famous
today for his New Year's Eve extravaganzas and Blooper shows.
and Jeckle / NBC
An hour of Terrytoon's battling Magpies,
a Saturday morning staple for the entire decade.
While 2-5 year olds controlled the dial from 8:00-9:00 on Saturday
mornings (hence the cheaper reruns in that time slot), Neilsen
numbers indicated that 6-11 year-olds came in at 9:00 to hang
out all morning.
The 12 and over set joined in around 10:00, resulting in programming
that was just a bit more 'mature' as the morning wore on.
One fifth of all households were tuned in to Saturday morning
programming in 1969 - an estimated 6.6 million kids between the
ages 2-5, and 9 million kids age 6-11.
the Grump / NBC
Princess Dawn, her dog Bip and her friend Terry Dexter are in
the clutches of the evil Grump in this animated series from DePatie-Freleng.
Paul Winchell provided voices.
Industry practice was to buy 17 episodes of a cartoon series
and run teach episode six times in a two-year period. The kids
didn't seem to mind, audience numbers dropped hardly at all during
the rerun months.
Pink Panther / NBC
Another huge hit, this one from DePatie-Freleng.
At one time, the producers of this
cartoon experimented with having the Pink Panther talk, but the
results were disastrous. The show also featured 'The Ant and the
Aardvark' and 'The Texas Toads'.
The Pink Panther lasted almost ten
years on NBC Saturday mornings.
(on DVD now!)
H.R. Pufnstuf / NBC
Witchiepoo is obsessed with getting her hands on Freddie the talking
Flute. Mayor Pufnstuf and Jimmy (Jack Wild) do their best to save
the humanized musical instrument from her clutches.
In this live action half-hour from
new producers Sid and Marty Kroft, former MGM character actress
Billie Hayes stars as Witchiepoo - and her histrionic scenery
chewing makes the whole thing worthwhile.
Hasbro was the show's single sponsor. This was NBC's only big
winner this year besides the 'Pink Panther'.
Episode synopsis from TV Guide: "It's Dr. Blinky
to the rescue when Ludicrous Lion's horse swallows Freddy Flute."
- calling Dr. Phil!
Kelloggs' presents the
Adventure Hour / NBC
Costumed theme park rejects bounced
around and raced Dune Buggies through Knotts Berry Farm in Southern
California, introducing musical numbers that weren't half bad
- along with cartoons that were all the way bad. This was NBC's
biggest show on Saturday mornings in 1968.
The 1969-70 was the second and last
year; with the voices of Daws Butler (Bingo), Allan Melvin (Drooper/Announcer)
and Paul Winchell (Fleegle/Cuckoo/Goofy Gopher).
The Arabian Nights, The Hillbilly
Bears and The Three Musketeers were regular cartoon segments.
Produced by Hanna-Barbera, several
new episodes aired this season.
Jambo / NBC
Marshall Thompson and Judy the chimp from Daktari presented
fables told with the help of wildlife footage.
This was the first of two years,
the opening episode dealt with an ostrich that was too lovesick
Other stories included a pygmy donkey
that asks a wise owl for the secret to growing tall, a countess
looks for a magic leopard, a baboon befriends an injured game
warden, and a lion raised by humans faces rejection from his own
kind - but acceptance from a tortoise family.
The Flintstones / NBC
This is the third year of reruns
from the 1960-1966 primetime run - now on Saturday mornings.
Underdog / NBC
"There's no need to fear, Underdog is here!"
Underdog was created by Joe Harris,
creator of the Trix Rabbit.