When I was a kid, Saturday morning kids’ shows somehow seemed a lot better than the choices today’s kids have to select from.
When I was a kid in the 1970s, Saturday morning meant a combination of animated and live-action kids’ shows. The cartoons contained comic violence that is frowned upon these days. The live-action shows were either very campy or had very cheesy special effects.
But compared to what’s on these days, they were so much more entertaining.
So here’s my list of the kids’ shows I always looked forward to.
1. ‘The Bugs Bunny-Road Runner Show’
It has been a long, long time since I’ve seen classic Bugs Bunny cartoons on Saturday mornings. The 1950s and 1960s-era cartoons were the best and are still the best. Here’s the opening to that show that I grew up with: I bet it’s the one many of you grew up with as well:
The show featured animated shorts with Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Yosemite Sam, Sylvester and Tweety, and the Road Runner and Wile E. Coyote.
2. ‘Space Academy’
This show premiered the same year Star Wars made its debut, and it capitalized on the science fiction craze that was going on. Johnathan Harris — Dr. Smith from Lost in Space — starred as the 300+-year-old commander of the Space Academy, where young people came together to save the universe.
3. ‘Land of the Lost’
A father and his two children were on a camping trip when their raft went down a waterfall and into a prehistoric time warp. Instead of ants and flies, their pests were dinosaurs and the lizard-like Sleestack.
It’s amazing how cheesy the special effects look these days: they were far more convincing when I was 6 years old.
4. ‘The Monster Squad’
This show was on NBC and starred Fred Grandy, before his role on The Love Boat, as the keeper of a monster museum. After hours, the monsters came to life to solve crimes. Here’s the opening:
5. ‘The Ghost Busters’
Before the 1984 movie with Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd and Harold Ramis, there was this forgotten NBC live-action gem with Larry Storch as “Spenser,” Bob Burns (in a Gorilla suit) as “Tracy,” and Forest Tucker as “Kong.” The Ghost Busters traveled the world looking for ghosts to dispatch.
6. ‘The Pink Panther’
Like The Bugs Bunny-Road Runner Show, this was mostly a collection of Pink Panther cartoons. This particular one is one of my favorites because of the little man’s reaction to his beloved yellow posies constantly turning pink.
7. ‘Sigmund and the Sea Monsters’
What happens when you’re a sea monster who doesn’t like to scare people? Simple: you’re ostracized from your family.
The story of not fitting in served as the frame for this live-action series that stared Johnny Whitaker as the boy who discovers Sigmund, the sea monster deemed “too nice.” Billy Barty portayed Sigmund.
It would take a lot to make an archeologist a hero to young kids…but this show managed to do it quite well. The archeologist in question found a buried artifact: an amulet that allowed her to transform into the mighty Isis to fight crime.
9. ‘Big John Little John’
Here was another obscure live-action show. Herb Edelman, who you’re more likely to remember as the ex-husband of Dorothy (Beatrice Arthur) on The Golden Girls, played a school teacher who happened to take a drink from the Fountain of Youth. As a result, he would suddenly and with little warning transform into a 12-year-old version of himself (played by Robbie Rist).
10. ‘The Cliffwood Avenue Kids’
Here’s one I can’t offer a clip of, since this little series was so obscure that it hasn’t found its way to YouTube, yet. It featured a group of kids, who presumably lived on Cliffwood Avenue, who worked together to solve crimes and prevent various bad guys from pulling fast ones. The leader of the kids was Poindexter, played by Poindexter Yothers, who is the brother of Family Ties actress Tina Yothers.
Those are the kids’ shows I grew up with.