The 1960s were the birth of Saturday morning cartoons for kids. In the early days of TV, the networks reran old primetime shows aimed at kids and theatrical cartoons. In the mid-’60s, this pattern changed with the introduction of an animated Beatles cartoon. The original production at the height Beatlemania had a huge viewership. The networks got serious about childrens programming. Hanna-Barbera quickly became a monster when it came to providing series that ran between 9 a.m and noon on Saturday mornings. Saturday Morning Cartoons 1960s Volume 1 is packed heavy with the Hanna-Barbera characters that dominated the Age of Aquarius.
At the start of the 60s, Hanna-Barbera created animated shows for primetime. After theyd finished their run, they quickly shuffled them into the Saturday morning line up. Such is the case with Top Cat, The Jetsons and The Flinstones. Top Cat was a feline reworking of Sgt. Bilko with Top Cat being Phil Silvers with pack of cat conmen. Theyre always scamming the locals and staying one paw ahead of the law. “Tycoon” has a billionaire giving Benny a check for a million dollars. However Top Cat doesnt think its real. The Jetsons also only lasted a season, but their 24 episodes kept popping up on Saturday mornings for decades. “Rosey the Robot” has Jane wanting a maid, but George cant afford the latest model. Jane gets a free trial on a slightly used Rosey model since she cant look bad when Georges boss is coming over for dinner. However the old model has an attitude. Will she end up in the scrapyard? The Flinstones lasted six seasons in primetime. It adapted The Honeymooners to dinosaur days. “The Happy Household” is from the second season. Wilma gets a job as the hostess of The Happy Housewife show. Fred gets bitter being stuck home without his wife and becomes a sensation as the neglected husband. All three of these series are available as complete sets on DVD.
Marine Boy was a Japanese import from the same folks who made Speed Racer. This underwater adventure was dubbed by the same people so the voice will sound familiar to fans of the Mach 5. Hes an underwater kid who has to be heroic. “Battle to Save the World” sums up the episode. This seems to have more action than Filmations Aquaman episodes. The Porky Pig Show was a half hour package of Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies cartoons. The three we get in this package are “Often an Orphan,” “Mice Follies,” and “The Super Snooper.” These cartoons are uncut with the mayhem intact unlike the butchered shorts that aired on network TV in the 90s. “Often an Orphan” gives a quick way to get rid of your dog. The Porky Pig Show has the original opening and closing songs with Porky and the other animal driving up in a bus to a barn. They even dug up the original closing credits that werent on the syndicated version of the show from the 70s.
Hanna-Barbera also created their own cartoons and packaged them together as shows. These comic critters looked good on the front of Kelloggs boxes. The Atom Ant Show consists of Atom Ants “Up & Atom,” Precious Pupps “Precious Jewels” and the Hillbilly Bears “Woodpecked.” The Peter Potamus Show has Peter Potamus “Fe Fi Fo Fun,” Breezly & Sneezlys “All Riot on the Northern Front” and Yippee, Yappee & Yahooey in “The Volunteers.” The end credits on this episode is from when they swapped Breezly & Sneezly for Ricochet Rabbit. The Secret Squirrel Show has Secret Squirrels “Sub Swiper,” Squiddly Diddlys “Way Out Squiddly” and Winsome Witchs “Prince of a Pup.” Fans of Howard Stern will recognize a familiar name being repeated on The Quick Draw McGraw Show. The trio on this episode include Quick Draw McGraws “Dynamite Fright,” Snooper & Blabbers “Outer Space Case” and Auggie Doggies “Growing Growing Gone.” The big relief is that the opening and closing credits are included on The Magilla Gorilla Show. When the complete series boxset came out a few years back, they mysteriously forgot to include the catchy song. The shorts on this complete episode are Magilla Gorillas “Gridiron Gorilla,” Punkin Puss & Mushmouses “Small Change” and Ricochet Rabbit & Droop-a-long in “Atchinson Topeka & Sam Jose.”
â€¨Beside the cute animal shows, Hanna-Barbera brought action to Saturday mornings. The Herculoids were as violent as a kiddie cartoon can get. Each week another pack of aliens attempted to take control of the planet ruled by the Herculoids. This group consisted of a father, mother, son and a half dozen monsters that did major damage to uninvited guests. Its never quite understood why everyone want their hunk of rock. The two episodes include “The Beaked People” and “The Raiders.” Space Ghost would have a major career makeover thanks to Adult Swim. But in his original incarnation hes defending the universe with two kids and a space monkey. The episodes chosen are “The Heat Thing” and “Zorak.” Get to see where the keyboardist got his start. Also part of the show is Dino Boys “The Worm People. Hes a kid who ended up in a land that time forgot. His best pal is a caveman. The Impossibles are a trio of rock stars with super powers. Theyre like the Beatles as superheroes. “The Bubbler” and “The Spinner” show they can keep the beat while battling super villains. Frankenstein Jr. has a kid and his huge monster robot battling crime or in the case “The Shocking Electric Monster.”
Saturday Morning Cartoons 1960s Volume 1 is a nice first sampler of the action that treated kids over four decades ago. There are probably child education experts that will warn you about exposing your children to the more violent cartoons, but theyre not that bad. These are two DVD filled with nostalgic joy for those who enjoyed waking up when you didnt have to rush off to school.
The video is 1.33:1 full frame. The quality does shift between the various cartoons. Some like Space Ghost are rock solid while a few of the short cartoons appear to have been mastered off the broadcast videotapes. The intros and outros are rather rough with dirt and scratches. They havent been seen in decades so the picture quality doesnt matter. The audio is Dolby Digital mono in English and Portuguese. The levels are good for soundtracks created in the friendly confines of a recording studio. The subtitles are in English and Portuguese.
Saturday Morning Wake-Up Call! gives us a preview of the cartoons on each DVD set.
The Good, The Bad and the El Kabong (5:58) has animation folks talking about Quick Draw McGraw. They expose how the horsey sheriff was a play on Red Skelton.
Bonus Episode (22:32) is another complete Quick Draw McGraw Show. Augie Doggie “Dough Nutty” has the puppy son get into the business of counterfeiting. However Lefty Louie want his printer back from the dogs. Quick Draw McGraws “El Kabong Was Wrong” has has a tiny bank robber doing his best to hold up a teller. Nobody takes him seriously as an outlaw. Snooper & Blabbers “Gem Jam” has the cat and mouse detectives hired to protect a priceless gem collection. Who has been stealing a rock a day? Its a shrinkage affair.
The Herculoids: First Family of Planet Quasar (4:35) has Jerry Beck talking about how this is the ultimate saturday morning cartoons. This was Hanna-Barberas first attempt at action without comedy. Theres tons of stuff blowing up on the average episode.
Monster Rock: The Adventures of Frankenstein Jr. and the Impossibles (5:25) talks about how the musical band was a spoof of the Beatles. Theres also talk of how the Frankenstein Jr. was changed up at the last minute.
Saturday Morning Cartoons 1960s Volume 1 is a flashback to those who remember the Sixties when they wore footie pajamas and ate bowls of sugar coated goodness. Theres a good mix of the cute characters and the violent heroes that marked this era of kiddie entertainment. This is a fine sampler for anyone who wants a little time capsule entertainment.
Warner Home Entertainment presents Saturday Morning Cartoons 1960s Volume 1. Space Ghost, Porky Pig, and Quick Draw McGraw. Boxset Contents: 12 episodes on 2 DVDs. Released on DVD: May 26, 2009. Available at Amazon.com
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