For the first time in 50 years, there were no Saturday morning cartoons on this weekend. The CW cancelled its Vortexx programing block, which was the last bastion for broadcast network cartoons not including the NBC Kids programming block for preschoolers. Vortexx showed reruns of cartoons like Justice League Unlimited and old anime like Yu-Gi-Oh! and Sonic X. It’s been replaced with the One Magnificent Morning block consisting of live-action educational programs featuring animal, cooking and travel shows.
The downfall of Saturday morning cartoons is credited not only to competition from cable networks but also a requirement for broadcasters to feature 3 hours of educational programming per week under the Children’s Television Act (CTA), which is enforced by the FCC. While over regulation may have contributed to the downfall, the declining quality surely didn’t help. As previously mentioned, the CW has shown reruns and generic anime in recent years. Even cable cartoons are inundated with uninspired cartoons about precocious kids saving dimwitted adults in colorful worlds that look like an anime rainbow threw up. Part of what made Saturday morning cartoons so great was they more gritty and violent yet somehow we had less school violence. The main characters were adults and occasionally teenagers but that didn’t mean kids couldn’t relate to them. The storylines and dialogue were immeasurably more educational then today’s cartoons.
If there’s one thing Saturday morning cartoons taught us it’s that they’ll be right back after these messages and what else is educational programming if not messages. This should be seen as an opportunity for another network like Fox, the only other network not already invested in early morning news programs on the weekend. They could dominate and they don’t even need a weather dominator to do it. Just as the death of Saturday morning cartoons was widely reported so would the their revival. That’s free advertising. Superheroes are huge right now so start with that. A Deadpool cartoon would will kill in the ratings. They could even claim it was educational by parodying a G.I. Joe PSA.
“Remember kids, hitting others is wrong,” explains the Merc with a Mouth. “Pay a mercenary like me to do it for you so you have plausible dependability.”
“Now you know… too much,” Deadpool says glaring at the camera as it fades to black with a classic cartoon iris out transition.
Check out these great and obscure 80s cartoons and early 90s cartoons to see what future generations are missing out on.