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 TV Bites With Neena Louise

It's Saturday Morning. Do You Know Where Your Kids Are?

by Neena Louise

I love cartons. LOVE THEM. Or, more truthfully, I used to love them. Recently, I tuned into Saturday morning TV that used to be (not so very long ago) riddled with a dazzling array of cartoons and kids shows. I kept looking at the calendar to make sure it was, indeed, Saturday because what I saw on TV didn't come close to reflecting what used to be typical for a Saturday morning.

Prim, proper, politically correct, message-laden and BORRRRIIING cartoons clutter the dial (well, more like sprinkle the dial). Do kids actually watch this junk? Or, as I suspect, do they just watch it because there's nothing else to choose from? What happened to cartoons like Looney Tunes, The Flintstones, The Jetsons and Scooby Doo? And where did the typical Saturday morning classic TV shows like Batman, Tarzan, Get Smart and Lassie go? Sure, you can pretty much have what used to be a typically kid-oriented Saturday morning if you have cable, but why should you NEED cable?

And, my, isn't the morning short? By 9 a.m., most networks are airing news and home improvement shows. 9 A.M.!? Hello!??! Don't they know a lot of people (both kids and adults) sleep in on Saturdays? I don't know a single adult who switches on the TV at 9 a.m. on a Saturday to watch the news or to get info on how to build a house addition in 30 minutes or less. Nor do I know a single bleary-eyed kid that stumbles to the TV eating cereal out of the box to be enthralled by Bob Vila or be fascinated by the latest world catastrophe.

Where did Saturday morning go? There are enough home improvement shows during the week that they're not needed on Saturday mornings. And the news? You can't get away from the news, so it really isn't needed on Saturday mornings. Did the networks tire of trying to compete with cable and simply gave up? Or is it just that the ratings for cartoons were so dismal that they figure they might just as well run the (cheaper) news? Considering the low quality of cartoons, the latter wouldn't surprise me, but, as I've always said: show quality shows and the audience will follow. Show junk and people will switch to cable and satellite. Obviously, that's not a concern for the Big Three networks.

I always thought that the Saturday morning Kidfest existed to keep kids occupied so the adults could sleep in a bit. If I was a kid and had only this junk to choose from, I'd be so bored I'd be jumping on Mommy and Daddy's bed at the crack of dawn, insisting they get up and DO something. Then again, if this is TV's idea of appropriate fare for kids, perhaps I'd rather the little tykes learned to grout tile and keep the peace in the middle-east instead.
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