RTV’s Saturday Morning cartoon lineup

We all did this on Saturday mornings.  We woke up, ran downstairs, turned on the television – maybe at around 6:30 a.m. for starters – and we sat there, glued to at least four or five hours of good quality Saturday morning cartoons and adventure shows.  You did it.  I did it.  We all did it.

A few weeks ago, while I was puttering around the dial one frosty Saturday morning, I found a very pleasant – unexpected – and chilling surprise.

Retro Television (Time Warner Cable Channel 1897), one of the digital subchannels for WTEN, has three hours of classic Saturday morning cartoons.

And you say to me, “Jeez, Chuck, you are aware there’s a channel called Cartoon Network, right?  And another channel called Nickelodeon, right?”

Yeah, well flip over to RTV on a Saturday morning and you’ll see what I’m talking about.

From 8:00 a.m. and for the next three hours, RTV airs classic Filmation cartoons – shows like Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids, The Archies, BraveStarr and that one-two-punch of She Ra: Princess of Power and He Man and the Masters of the Universe.  Fun stuff, and it brings back a lot of memories to watch these classic shows again.

Come on, when are you ever going to see Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids in this day and age?  And BraveStarr, the show that mixed science fiction and the Old West better than Firefly ever did?  And you know at some point they’re going to air that Archies episode where they’re all singing “Sugar, Sugar”, right?

But if you watch these classic cartoons, be aware that you’re also going to get some commercials.  No, I’m not talking about 1970’s commercials for Franken Berry cereal or for Hot Wheels cars – no, you’re going to get commercials that are tailored to RTV’s elderly audience.  Commercials for the same people that would normally tune in to watch episodes of Naked City or The Rifleman, shows that normally populate RTV’s broadcast day.

Yep – right in the middle of a He-Man and the Masters of the Universe episode, you’re getting commercials for diabetes meters – and for credit card refinancing – and for CPAP breathing masks for sleep apnea – and for senior citizen insurance.  Yep, nothing blends together better than hearing “By the Power of Greyskull – I have the power!!” and “Are you worried about an inaccurate diabetes glucose meter?”

Another thing to be aware of about Retro TV’s Saturday morning programming is that because there aren’t a ton of commercials for sugared cereal or for toys, each of the regular cartoon programs runs approximately 20-23 minutes in their time slot.  So what does RTV do with those extra few minutes of broadcast time?

Well, folks, that’s where the real magic begins.

Because for those five minutes, we get some long-lost animated shows like Gumby.  Like UPA’s Mr. Magoo and Dick Tracy. Like some of the Rankin-Bass / Videocraft animated cartoons like The New Adventures of Pinocchio and Tales of the Wizard of Oz.  These are the kinds of cartoons that you never see – not on DVD, not on late night television, not anywhere.

Okay, these mini-episodes are also trimmed as well – they don’t have their original opening or closing credits, and you’re lucky that the shows contain at least the opening episode title.  But still, it’s a nice diversion to see a classic early 1960’s stop-motion cartoon series about Pinocchio, or watch as Dick Tracy sends his assistants Joe Jitsu or Go Go Gomez to capture Pruneface or Flattop.

Through it all, it’s still a fun way to spend Saturday morning, and it should bring back a ton of memories.

Until you realize that, by watching these 30 to 40 year old cartoons… maybe you are more age-appropriate for the show’s commercials.

Man, I feel old.