I’ve blogged about Saturday morning cartoons before. Many times, actually. If you had the opportunity on a Saturday morning to get up early, fix yourself a bowl of Sugar Smacks and plop your 7-year-old tuchus in front of the television for 5 1/2 hours until your folks got out of bed and told you to stop sitting so close to the TV or your eyes would melt … yeah.
Well, for those 5 1/2 hours, there were plenty of Saturday morning cartoons and live-action shows to enjoy. And many of them were entertaining and enjoyable. And some of them were just … for lack of a better term … cringy. And they’ve aged as well as milk in a heat wave.
I shall show some right now. Be warned. We’re talking serious cringe factor here.
THE AMAZING CHAN AND THE CHAN CLAN
The only redeeming value for this Hanna-Barbera formulaic “teens solving mysteries and singing in a band” 1970’s show may have been that for the first time in broadcast history, Charlie Chan was actually played by an Asian actor (Keye Luke). That’s it. Even the first two episodes of this series – which at the time DID feature other Asian voice actors – were re-dubbed with Caucasian actors. And can we for once get past the godawful Pidkin English in shows like this? Yeesh.
This was one of the only segments to survive what was at the time one of the worst Saturday morning shows of its era, a live-action program called Uncle Croc’s Block. These short cartoons would later appear as their own series, which follows the 1970’s Filmation creed of “if you need to use six drawings to create animation, it’s five drawings too many.” The concept of Fraidy Cat was that he already died eight times, and those eight past lives now haunt him whenever he says any sort of number – with the mysterious ninth life trying to kill him as well. You know … a nice uplifting Saturday morning TV series.
YOUNG SAMSON / SAMSON AND GOLIATH
Another formulaic Hanna-Barbera “action show” where our titular hero – based on the Biblical strongman of old – uses his super-powered bracelets to convert into a superhuman. After that, he uses his bracelets to turn his pet dog into a laser-beam-eyed lion. That’s some serious transfiguration, if you ask me. The show was popular enough on its own, but then it ran for an entire season in a pairing with these guys …
GO GO GOPHERS
And now, folks, a good six minutes of straight-up Native American racism. With jokes and storylines that would have made F Troop look like Yellowstone. Even watching these today … it’s just super-painful to even consider. Yeesh.
I’ve blogged about this before. The leader of the free world is also a masked superhero with Mystique-like powers. And the clip I found actually has original cartoon ads in it … so you can see what kind of subliminal “buy me” stuff we were receiving during each broadcast. Yeah, this show was about as subtle as a sack of hammers.
RUN, JOE, RUN
Imagine The Fugitive for kids. Yep. Instead of Dr. Richard Kimble, falsely accused of killing his wife, we have a German Shepherd dog falsely accused of biting his master. So for two seasons, the dog went on the lam, visiting new families and solving their problems before running away again. And did they actually hire the narrator for The Fugitive, William Conrad, to do the narration for this series? I almost expected to hear the words “A Quinn Martin Production” after the intro, and “Act 1” to start the episode. Yeah, no.
BAGGY PANTS AND THE NITWITS
I don’t know which of these is worse. The “Baggy Pants” setup that tries to emulate the greatest Charlie Chaplin shorts (and fails MISERABLY), or the use of the Arte Johnson’s 30-second park bench characters from Laugh-In as superheroes. I watched this as a kid. I apparently did NOT know better. My bad. Ugh.
THE HUDSON BROTHERS RAZZLE DAZZLE SHOW
What the world needs is another variety show with a 1 1/2-hit wonder trio, featuring a comedy troupu that included the Gong Show’s future “Unknown Comic” (Murray Langston) and Dance Fever‘s resident DJ (Freeman King). Probably the second-worst Saturday morning variety show to grace my 70’s TV … and that’s only because I really don’t want to post The Harlem Globetrotters Popcorn Machine unless there’s a gun to my head.
So yeah. If you could get past some of the most painful aspects of 70’s Saturday morning television … things would work out well for you.
Or maybe these shows were designed to get you to turn off your TV set and go outside and get some fresh air.
I … guess.