were lots of 'new' shows for kids to choose from in 1977, but they failed
to click and most of them were gone by February. After almost a decade
of the same-old, same-old from the big three electronic sausage factories,
seventies' kids were growing restless on Saturday mornings. That restlessness
translated into a record number of Saturday AM shows being cancelled mid-season.
host Sonny Fox was made head of Saturday morning programming for NBC in
1977. Fox wanted to change the tone of Saturday programming, "Children's
attitudes are influenced by television," he stated at the time.
"As often as possible,
we have people saying humane things to one another."
He added positive
messages to the mix, like Junior Hall of Fame, a morning insert
between the shows, ala ABC's Schoolhouse Rock. Instead of grammar
or arithmetic, these short films profiled exceptional kids and reinforced
positive values. Despite some genuinely good programs, NBC's line-up was
a flop and Sonny Fox was out before the next year.
are the network schedules for 1977-78, along with unnecessary commentary
by that guy Billy Ingram.
can't be the only person who remembers the segments between Saturday morning
cartoons in the 70s where this character in massive cowboy boots talked
about healthy snack ideas.
One was a "Wagon Wheel"... two crackers and a hunk of cheese. Another
was "Sunshine on a Stick" made by pouring orange juice into ice cube trays,
spearing them with toothpicks, and making little popsicles. It is a very
fond memory." - Luvacupo
The show expanded to 90 minutes
midseason. By 1985, the series bloated to fill two and a half hours.
Bugs debuted on TV in 1955 when
Warner Bros released their theatrical cartoons to the new medium.
Local stations and the networks discovered what became arguably
television's most valuable asset - certainly the most durable!
Midseason, the Three Robonic
Stooges moved into the 8:00 slot.
Mr. Magoo? / CBS
Jim Backus returned as the voice of dear old Mr. Magoo. This time
the nosighted Magoo had a nearsighted dog, McBaker.
This cartoon failed
to catch on and was replaced midseason by 'Speed
Buggy' reruns (there was no shortage of humanized
cars on Saturday mornings in 1977).
Backus ('Gilligan's Island') gave
voice to the nearly blind bumbler in theatrical shorts and TV specials
for over thirty years, but this was one of the last times. He died
in 1989, somewhat bitter that his long years in the business netted
him so little money and respect.
Skatebirds / CBS
Three themepark bird characters (ala The Banana Splits)
skate around to randomized Hanna-Barbera sound effects while they
introduce cartoon and live action segments. Scatman Crothers provided
the voice of Scat Cat.
'The Robonic Stooges' cast the Three
Stooges as animated robots. An all-star cast delivers the voices
- Paul Winchell as Moe, Joe Baker as Larry, Frank Welker as Curly
and Ross Martin as their perpetually frustrated boss, Agent 000.
Also seen: 'Wonder Wheels' (a rip
off of the Krofft Supershow's 'Wonder Bug') and another haphazardly
produced cartoon series, 'Woofer and Wimper' (actually re titledClue
'Mystery Island' was a live action
continuing serial with cliffhanger endings that revolved around
a group of people that have crash landed on an uncharted island.
Pieces of the robot from 'Lost in Space' were used to construct
this show's robot.
'The Skatebirds' was cancelled in
January after moving to the 8:00 hour, then replaced by 'The Three
Space Academy / CBS
Jonathan Harris, Dr. Smith on 'Lost in Space,' starred as Professor
Gampu in this gentle sci-fi series set in the 25th century.
The Space Academy
was located on an asteroid and its members included Loki, Paul,
Tee Gar, Chris, Adrian and Laura.
On the first episode, the cadets
looked for life forms on a planet about to explode.
Future episodes included: A creature
from Loki's home planet tries to trick him, Gampu's brother wants
everyone to get back to nature, the Academy enters a mysterious
space void, a warrior in suspended animation comes with a ticking
bomb and Gampu's lady friend is trapped on a far-off planet threatened
by a supernova.
One of the only truly new programs
on the 1977-78 schedule that was successful, the program moved to
12:30 midseason and ran for two years in and around the noontime
Batman / Tarzan
Adventure Hour / CBS
Another year for Batman on Saturday
mornings, this time with some changes - most notably the added 'Batmite'
Batmite was a magical elf-like creature
who couldn't control his powers or his appetite for mischief. His
resulting pranks caused the dynamic duo all sorts of problems and
provided opportunities for conflict without violence, a requirement
for Saturday morning's strict standards.
Batmite was actually created in
the fifties for the comic books, and was clearly a role model for
The Great Kazoo from 'The Flintstones.'
Batman and Robin were voiced by
Adam West and Burt Ward, stars of the campy prime time 'Batman'
Tarzan adventures from last season
rounded out the hour.
Variety show with semi-regular Rip Taylor (seen below). Hosted by
Bo Kaprall and Julie McWhirter.
Guest stars included
Dick Martin and Dwight Twilley Band. Gone in a few weeks.
The Secrets of Isis took
over this time period in October and 'Wacko' moved to Sunday mornings
replacing 'Ark II' reruns. (CBS programmed a small block of time
on Sunday mornings to display the corpses of their recently deceased
12:30 Fat Albert and
the Cosby Kids / CBS
Episodes this season adopt a darker tone: Cool Roy vandalizes a
road sign and causes an accident, the gang is tricked into helping
a drug pusher, a neighborhood hero blames Fat Albert for something
he didn't do, and the gang all discover what a true friend is all
8:00 The All-New
Superfriends Hour / ABC
The Wonder Twins are introduced, along with Black Vulcan, Rima the
Jungle Queen, Samurai, and The Indian Chief, joining the old reliable
Superfriends Superman, Batman, Robin and Wonder Woman.
Oh yes, and their
monkey Gleek was along as well.
The Superfriends debuted in 1973, this
was the second version of the series. This
Hanna-Barbera production ran until 1985 in one form or another.
Bill Woodson was the announcer.
Based on their long-running Justice
League publications, DC Comics released the first issue of
the Super Friends comic book in 1977.
Laff-A-Lympics / ABC
A full two hours long - if the show never ends the kids will stay
Scooby had been
tops on Saturday mornings for eight years by this point. In this
variation, three cartoon teams comprised of 45 Hanna-Barbera characters
compete in contests held around the hand-drawn world.
Captain Caveman and the
Teen Angels ("the world's first superheroes") were seen
in separate segments. The voice of Captain Caveman was Mel Blanc;
this cartoon caught on so new episodes were
ordered for 1978 and 1980.
Scooby and Dynamutt segments also
appeared in this marathon two-hour show.
Another live action comedy segment
featured the Magic Mongo, a misanthropic Genie.
Wonderbug segments were
also repeated from the previous year. Three teens rebuild a junked
dune buggy - somehow a magic horn gives it the power of flight and
Like so many other Saturday shows, Wonderbug
was all about kids fighting crime.
12:00 Weekend Special ABC
ABC Weekend specials were represented in 1977-78 with some excellent,
new filmed dramas.
"The Winged Colt" was on the series
premier, a three-part series starring Slim Pickens, Keenan Wynn,
Jane Withers and Frank Cady. It was about a horse named Comet who
sprouts wings and the young boy who chases after him and into danger.
"Sarah's Summer of the Swan"
was about a girl's awkward adolescence.
Butterfly McQueen, Prissy from 'Gone
With The Wind' ("I don't know nothin' about birthin' no babies!"),
starred in "The Seven Wishes of Joanna Peabody." She played
a hip fairy godmother that appeared to a little girl on the TV screen.
"Portrait of Grandpa Doc"
Similar to ABC Afterschool
Specials which aired irregularly on weekday afternoons
on DVD! Afterschool Special reruns often turned up
on the Saturday show.
Bandstand / ABC
Smokey Robinson was on the 1977 season opener, along with Kaptain
Kool and the Kongs making another of their desperate appearances.
Also on Bandstand this season: Andrew
Stevens, David Gates, Yvonne Elliman, Tuxedo Junction, Sha Na Na
and the Brothers Johnson.
Dick Clark hosted, duh!
C.B. Bears / NBC
C.B. radios were the big thing in 1976, kind of like cell phones
are today. But CBs were rapidly becoming passe by 1977.
This cartoon had three bears (bears
always came in threes in the seventies) who communicated by CB and
introduced Hanna-Barbera cartoon 'treats' - it was cancelled in
January, replaced by 'Hong Kong Fooey' reruns and the start
of a two-hour 'Go Go Globetrotters'.
Young Sentinels / NBC
Cartoon series about three teenagers (and their robot) trained on
another planet to battle villains here on earth. (Isn't that our
are based from their spaceship hidden inside a volcano; the trio
take on the qualities of Hercules, Astraea and Mercury to fight
crime with help from to their mighty alien boss, Sentinel One.
The show was re titled 'Space Sentinels'
midseason, there were thirteen episodes.
The New Archie
Sabrina Hour / NBC
New episodes are mixed with old stuff from past seasons.
Started out as as an hour show,
but got reduced to 30 minutes in October and re titled Bang-Shang
Lalapalooza, with Super Witch taking over the other half-hour.
Both shows were dumped a few months later.
I am the Greatest:
The Adventures of
Muhammad Ali / NBC
The World Champion boxer provided his own voice for what was basically
the animated adventures of a modern-day, continent hopping Robin
In the series, Muhammad Ali travels
the world helping others who are battling evildoers.
This series didn't even make it
through one round, Ali was on the mat in January when NBC revamped
their entire kidvid line-up.
Muhammad Ali was replaced by 'Pink
Panther' reruns. Oh yeah, cancel the black man and replace him with
the WHAT panther?!? I do not make this stuff up!
Thunder / NBC
Adventures of the black stallion 'Thunder' and his two young companions
Cindy and Willie Williams who, "get into tight spots caused
by others' misdeeds and thoughtlessness."
The opening show found
the three facing a forest fire started
by a prankster.
Over the next few weeks
the kids and their amazingly intelligent horse were held hostage
by escaped criminals, meet a kindly prospector who poisoned Cindy's
dog, tangled with a rodeo stage mom, made friends with an angry
lioness and Willie
got hit with a stray bullet.
Also featured 'Cupcake' the mule.
Moved to 12:30 midseason.
11:30 Search and Rescue: The Alpha Team / NBC
Animals like a hawk and a bear are trained to perform rescues by
a man and his two teenage sons calling themselves the Alpha Team.
Together they rescue hikers trapped in quicksand, a motorcyclist
trapped in a ravine, and apprehend a ruthless poacher.
Produced in tandem with Canada's
CTV which aired the show in prime time, thirteen episodes were shown
in the US before NBC's Saturday mid-year purge.
and the Nitwits / NBC
In The Nitwits, Arte Johnson and Ruth Buzzi reprised their
Laugh-in characters, the Dirty Old Man and Gladys. Only
in this animated series, the old man's
not so dirty and they are crime fighters.
A cartoon cat named
Baggy Pants that resembled Charlie Chaplin also took up space here.
Replaced mid-season by reruns of
'Land of the Lost' which debuted in 1974 for a three year run of
Gang / NBC
Starring Mathew Laborteaux. Frankie, JR, Doc, Joanne and L'il Bill
are amateur preteen sleuths in these serialized live-action adventures
with each episode ending in a cliff-hanger.
Produced by William P. D'Angelo ('Batman').
kids were called the "Red Hand Gang" because they left
red hand prints to direct the gang to clues.
first five episodes saw the amateur detectives up against a kidnapper
played by Anthony Zerbe.
the next story arc the youngsters foiled a jewelry thief, after
that they solved the mystery of a museum robbery after being trapped
with a monkey in a cage
- then found themselves canceled
Apparently no one thought a show
about a gang that leaves graffiti in its wake would be a bad role
model for kids.