The Lost Bliss of Saturday Morning Cartoons

I was not an early riser. Ever. One of my earliest memories is laying, wide-eyed, in bed after my mother had forced me there, and waiting forever until I heard Johnny Carson’s intro music from the den where my father was watching television. I’d wiggle off the bed, very slowly, toes dangling in mid-air, trying not to wake up my mother who’d fallen asleep next to me. After eons, I’d hit the ground and creep into the den, hoping my dad would let me stay up.

I liked to stay up until midnight or so. And I liked to sleep in. Unless it was Saturday morning, in which case I had to be up at precisely 7:30 a.m. to watch the Super Friends, my absolutely favorite television show. Anybody remember that? Wonder Woman and Superman (who I always thought should get together) and Batman and Aquaman. Sometimes Green Lantern and the now-vanished Apache Chief  and, of course, The Wonder Twins. I would plop myself on the floor with a bowl of cereal, and I’d watch cartoons until noon, but nothing ever approached the perfection of the Super Friends.








My son loves heroes and villains now, and last Saturday we rented the Super Friends on Amazon Prime. It made me think–for the thousandth time–how the bliss of Saturday mornings is lost now that you can watch anything anytime. Super Friends was so much better because it was only that one morning. And it required sacrifice–early rising, no spending the night out, no breakfasts that would require sitting in the kitchen. I had to want it. I earned my Super Friends.

I have not watched it in years, and it does not age particularly well.  It strikes me as occasionally sexist–for some reason, when Wonder Woman gives Aquaman a ride to the ocean to save a floundering ship, she lets him drive her Invisible Jet–and, you know, all the heroes are white people. Except for Apache Chief, who is probably not exactly evidence of racial harmony. But it makes me happy. There is no irony in it, and the superheroes are exceptionally cheerful. They laugh a lot–there is no inner darkness to them. And I can see in my son exactly why they worked for me–he was still laughing an hour later, chuckling, “She called him Wonder Mouth. Because he talks so much!”

High humor.

After the heroes finally captured The Power Pirate, my son asked me if we could watch another one, and I said, well, maybe it could be a special Saturday morning thing. Maybe on every Saturday, we’ll watch one Super Friends. And he was thrilled with my brilliant idea: “A special Saturday thing! Yes, let’s do that!”


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