Sometime around the early 90s, the craze for cartoons died slightly down, and the programming slot was replaced by live TV episodes for teens, shows like the original Beverly Hills, 90210. Some think that this is because parents grew concerned about the content. While people were used to seeing these animated treats before movies at the theatre, parents were worried about the impact these shows would have on their children every week, for hours at home. That is, Elmer Fudd and his gun, Road Runner’s bombs and high cliff falls, were too violent an influence on young minds. Personally, I think what’s more worrying is the impact these action-packed, 6-minute episodes have had on all our attention spans.
Perhaps the real reason for the “Saturday morning cartoons” era ending, is that it was just beginning. The world of cartoons got too big to contained in a few short hours, under the umbrella of a news network. It got hard for networks and production companies to work together, hence the eventual separation. Nowadays production companies have become their own, fully animated networks. That means cartoons all day, everyday!
This would be the generation I grew up in. My memories of cartoons are actually coming home from school and being allowed to watch a couple cartoon network shows before I started my homework. But I remember that as an 8 year old, knowing this world of mystery-solving gangs, angry cats, and epic superheroes existed one remote button click away was almost too much to handle. At one phase of my elementary school career, 6:30am smurfs were the only way my mom could get me out of bed in the morning. Somehow the conflict of the day in that village of blue dwarfs was more motivation for my sister and I to start the day than breakfast.
So the “ending” of Saturday morning cartoons is really the fact that they’re on all day. I think it is a little less special for kids to not have to catch on them TV. It even makes Saturday mornings a little less special… But what this ever-growing world of animation means for our us, is that there’s lots of cool stuff yet to post and talk about.
While anamaniac, nickelodeon, cartoon network, and more recently sites like youtube have stolen the eyes of kids over the years, these Saturday morning cartoons were the beginning of it all in terms of animated entertainment. I feel that this brief endeavor into the history, evolution, and lasting impacts of them is my little tribute. May the legacy of characters like bugs bunny live on… even with Elmer Fudd on their tails…
I got most of my research from this article http://www.wisegeek.com/what-happened-to-saturday-morning-cartoons.htm, and from talking to people about their childhood memories.