The Great Saturday Morning Experience

What might you have been watching on Saturday morning in 1980?

The 1979-1980 season was right about in the middle of the Great Saturday morning experience of network programming for kids. As usual I’ll give a brief description of what was on but you can count on more in depth discussions in future blogs.  If a show has been on for a few seasons you can find a lengthier description when that show’s premier year is covered.

Note: Due to overlapping information on some shows as well as possible differences between affiliate programming, and mid-season lineup changes, your exact schedule may differ in some ways. I try to make them as accurate as possible for the general national audiences.

Keeping it alphabetical, we’ll start with ABC:

Superfriends/Fonz and the Happy Days Gang/Richie Rich and Scooby-Doo/Thundarr the Barbarian/Heathcliff and Dingbat

8:00 – Super Friends
In this fifth incarnation of the series it went back to its original 1973 title after having been The All-New Super Friends Hour, Challenge of the Super Friends, and then The World’s Greatest Super Friends the previous year. This season the episodes comprised one half hour rerun from one of the earlier programs and then three seven minute shorts.

9:00 – The Fonz and the Happy Days Gang
This brand new show featured Henry Winkler, Ron Howard, and Donny Most reprising their prime time roles as Fonzie, Richie Cunningham, and Ralph Malph, respectively. In this show, Fonzie gets a dog named Mr. Cool. A girl from the future called Cupcake comes to them with her wonky time machine. The entire crew goes missing throughout time trying to find their way back.

9:30 – The Richie Rich/Scooby-Doo Show
Another brand new show, this one premiered the famous Harvey character’s animated debut 27 years after his comic book debut. Each show would feature three Richie Rich segments and three Scooby-Doo and Scrappy-Doo segments. The Scooby gang was scrapped to focus on the popularity of Scrappy-Doo who debuted one year earlier. This show marked the only time Scooby-Doo ever got second billing on a show.

10:30 – Scooby-Doo Classics
Reruns from earlier Scooby-Doo shows.

11:00 – Thundarr the Barbarian
From the mind of comic book writer Steve Gerber (creator of Howard the Duck) comes this post-apocalyptic series. In 1994 a runaway planet comes between the earth and moon, causing the moon to split into two and brings global chaos to the earth. Many years later after the world has settled down Thundarr the barbarian (Robert Ridgely) comes forth with his sunsword, wookie like companion, Ookla the Mok (Henry Corden), and sorceress Ariel (Nellie Bellflower) to  ride around and protect the innocent by fighting off werewolves, cosmic vampires, crocodile people and other assorted wizards and monsters. This show had plenty of comic book pros working on it as Jack Kirby took over production design after Alex Toth laid out the three main characters, and writers such as Roy Thomas, Gerry Conway, and Marty Pasko contributed scripts. This show has become somewhat of a cult classic, even inspiring the name of the nerd rock band, Ookla the Mok.

11:30 – TheHeathcliff and Dingbat Show
This new show from Ruby-Spears brings to TV the comic strip cat Heathcliff and his cohorts in the first segment. The second segment featured Dingbat, a vampire dog, Nobody, a jack-o-lantern, and Sparerib, a chubby shape shifting skeleton and their pursuit of finding odd jobs.

12:00 – Plastic Man and Baby Plas
This show primarily featured the Plastic Man and Baby Plas cartoons from the Plastic Man Comedy/Adventure Show that had premiered a year earlier.

And now CBS:

The Tom and Jerry Comedy Show/The All New Popeye Hour/Drak Pack/The Tarzan Lone Ranger Adventure Hour

8:00 – The New Adventures of Mighty Mouse and Heckle & Jeckle
A shortened version of the previous year’s show which played Mighty Mouse and Heckle & Jeckle cartoons.

8:30 – The Tom and Jerry Comedy Show
This is the fifth iteration of the famous cat and mouse team. Originally created by Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera when they worked at MGM, they were first brought to TV by Joe and Bill in 1975. In that version Tom and Jerry were friends but in this version made by Filmation, they go back to being adversaries as they were originally. Filmation also brought back some of the other MGM characters like Barney Bear, Droopy, and Tyke and Nibbles (now known as Tuffy).

9:00 – The Bugs Bunny/Road Runner Show
The continuing anthology series showing old Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies cartoons from the late 40s to the late 60s.

10:30 – The All New Popeye Hour
The third season of Hanna Barbera’s version of the popular King Feature Syndicate character and his supporting cast. Unlike most Saturday morning cartoons, this would feature new episodes each season.

11:30 – Drak Pack
A new show from Hanna-Barbera where distant relatives of the original Dracula, Frankenstein’s monster, and wolfman, are teenagers who look like normal humans but turn into teenage counterparts of their ancestors and use their powers and abilities to fight the sinister forces of O.G.R.E. (The Organization for Generally Rotten Enterprises). O.G.R.E. is led by a blue skinned villain called Dr. Dred with his bad guy friends, Toad, Mummyman, Vampira, and Fly. The show also has the original count Dracula, the great-granduncle of Drak who mentors them in times of crisis.

12:00 – Fat Albert
The ninth season of the long running series based on Bill Cosby and his childhood friends.

12:30 – The Tarzan/Lone Ranger Adventure Hour
This show had reruns of Filmation’s classic “Tarzan. Lord of the Jungle” program along with new Lone Ranger cartoons. Following this season they would add Zorro cartoons to the mix.

1:30 – 30 Minutes
The third season of this news program for kids which loosely followed the format of the prime time 60 minutes program, only you know, shorter.

And finally, NBC:

8:00 – The Godzilla/Dynomutt Hour
This Hanna-Barbera show featured repeats of their 1978 Godzilla show along with reruns of Dynomutt and Funky Phantom as well.

9:00 – The Flintstone Comedy Show
This new show pulled characters from all across previous Flinstone shows as well as Captain Caveman and put them together in new cartoons. The show consisted of six main segments. There was The Flintstone Family Adventures; Bedrock Cops, which featured Fred and Barney as police officers along with Al Capp’s Schmoo character; Pebbles, with a slightly younger looking  Pebbles and Bamm-Bamm from their early 70s show; Dino and Bamm-Bamm; Captain Caveman; Dino and the Cavemouse; and The Frankenstones.  There were shorter gags and educational cartoons sprinkled throughout those segments as well.

10:30 – Daffy Duck
The third season of a half hour show featuring mainly Daffy cartoons from the 60s.

11:00 – Batman and the Super 7
This was basically Tarzan and the Super 7 repackaged for a different network. It aired reruns of The New Adventures of Batman, The Freedom Force (Isis, Super-Samurai, Sinbad, Merlin, and Hercules), Manta and Moray, Superstretch and Microwoman, and Web Woman.

11:30 – Star Trek
Reruns of Filmation’s animated version of the iconic science fiction series.

12:00 – Jonny Quest
Reruns of the classic prime time adventure series.

12:30 – The Jetsons
Reruns of Hanna Barbera’s futuristic family.

The new cereals in 1980 were not many but they were interesting.

General Mills gave us both Chocolate Flavored Donutz cereal and Powdered Donutz cereal. Crispy cereals that look and taste like real donuts! You knew it had to happen sooner or later.

From Malt-O-Meal we got Golden Puffs or as children of thrifty parents know, the cheaper versions of Sugar Smacks and Super Sugar Crisp.

Ralston, who had come out with Waffelos the previous year added Waffelos Blueberry to the mix. They also introduced Wheat and Raisin Chex which was basically a fusion of the popular Chex cereal with Raisin Bran. These little wheat pillows had the raisins stuffed inside! If you think these weren’t marketed toward kids, well you’d be sort of right. They did have kids in the commercials but they were aimed at parents to buy them for their kids. No fun mascot here. 🙁

Quaker brought forth Corn Bran!  You may remember the commercial with Chuck McCann and the scarecrow in the cupboard handing him a box, or not.

Good old Kellogs wasn’t resting on its laurels in 1980. They introduced Honey & Nut Corn Flakes which was basically corn flakes with honey and nuts. Of course! They also added Raisins, Rice, & Rye to their collection. I hadn’t thought of this one in years but as I checked it out I definitely remember having this one and must have had enough of it that I can still recollect the taste. I don’t think this was too much of a kid friendly cereal despite the commercial with the three Scots in a boat with the Loch Ness Monster behind but I enjoyed it as a teenager. Imagine replacing the bran in Raisin Bran with rye, and then mixing it with Rice Krispies. It really was better than it sounds.


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