Saturday, November 23, 2013

Saturday Morning Fantasy Schedules: ABC

Saturday morning cartoons has been a dead institution for years.  However broadcast stations are required by the FCC to air three hours of educational/instructional (E/I) programming every week.  Currently ABC and CBS both meet this law by purchasing programs from Litton Entertainment and NBC has a block of programming from the PBS Kids digital channel.  Even though Saturday morning children's programming is essentially a formality I think that it is one of television's grandest traditions and the three big networks can have blocks that are both educational and entertaining, made up of nostalgic programs that can play to older and younger audiences.

My concept for ABC saturday mornings would be different from my ones for CBS and NBC.  Since this network would have access to Disney's library they should have three-hour long marathons of Disney series.  These would be shows that are not easily found anywhere else, yet have fan bases and are educational.  So much fun that the audience wouldn't realize that they are learning.  Here are the twelve shows I would start a rotation of.  There are plenty more that could be used, but I think that these would reach the largest audience and get the marathon block attention online.

Bill Nye, the Science Guy
Bill Nye has increased in popularity, thanks to the internet.  Many remember this series fondly and it is still being shown in schools.  This would get a large audience for people who loved this show and would be a great cornerstone for the block.  Also it is undeniably educational in the best ways.

Schoolhouse Rock
This was ABC's initial attempt at educational programming and it was absolutely successful.  Many of the songs are firmly part of pop culture and still used to teach basic concepts.  Marathons of these 64 shorts would be a lot of fun.

Classic Disney Shorts
Disney has created enough educational shorts themselves to fill up a three hour block.  Toot, Whistle Plunk and Boom, Donald in Mathmagic Land, Scrooge McDuck and Money, Winnie the Pooh Discovers the Seasons and many others.  Getting classic Disney animation back in the public's eye is always a good thing.

New Adventures of Winnie the Pooh
This aired on ABC consistently from 1988-1993 and then again from 1996-2002.  It is a fun show that is how many children were introduced to the Silly Ol' Bear.  Basic lessons that fit E/I's requirements.  This show deserves to reair somewhere.

True-Life Adventures
Disney created many Academy Award winning nature documentary short subjects.  Seal Island, In Beaver Valley, Nature's Half Acre and many others.  Definitely not cartoons, but quality education that is also cute and fun.

Adventures of the Gummi Bears
I am pretty sure that this would qualify as E/I, based on its demographic and simple stories.  This is pleasant entertainment that is also bright and colorful and has a sense of adventure.  This was Disney's first major TV hit and a game changer in television animation.  Has not been seen on television in a decade, would garner attention from its fans.

Little Mermaid
This was fairly successful as far as adaptations of movies go.  Ariel's undersea world is fun and Ariel herself is a great adventurous, lead for a TV show.  The Little Mermaid brand remains a popular one and Disney should keep it strong by reairing this.

The Disneyland anthology series had a series of Tomorrowland episodes: Man in Space, Man and the Moon, Mars and Beyond and Our Friend the Atom.  At the time these were accurate predictions of how space travel may come to be.  The science still holds up, but now these also serve as a good look at the history of space travel and the cold war era.  Can't imagine these would not qualify as E/I, would be extremely fun to see again.

Adventures in Wonderland
This was an award winning series on Disney Channel.  It is has great production values and is extremely theatrical.  It finds the right balance between entertainment and education.  With as strong as the Wonderland brand continues to be, Disney should reintroduce this quality show to new audiences as well as old ones.

The most popular Disney cartoon to ever premiere on ABC.  It ran from 1996-2003 as their top show.  This has a huge fan base and the humor still holds up.  Nothing was better than Recess on ABC saturday mornings.

Mickey Mouse Clubhouse
This would be the one show that would air that can be found elsewhere (Disney Channel and Disney Junior).  This is still a popular show that kids love and parents trust.  Would be good to have something modern on this block.

Muppet Babies
This is the show that would get the block attention and ratings.  The internet would take notice if  Muppet Babies is airing on ABC.  This was one of the most popular cartoons of its time and reran for years.  However it has not been seen on television in a decade and is not available anywhere on DVD.  Since the show would be airing in three hour blocks they would not have to show the episodes that have rights issues (although now that Disney owns Star Wars, they should be able to air that).  Between this, Bill Nye and the lack of these series' availability, people would definitely watch Saturday mornings again.

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