Monday, December 01, 2014

Saturday Morning Cartoons - Shows that Jumped from Saturdays to Weekdays After School

Sometimes, after launching a new cartoon on Saturday mornings, a network would, at some later point, drop it into a weekday after school position. Once in a while, a show would keep running in both slots at the same time, but usually it was a hand-off from one to the other for good.

Why? I don't know. I don't think it had anything to do with the quality of the show, because some that were moved rocked, while others were utterly forgettable. Maybe it had to do with jockeying for ratings, though I don't know how much kid viewership outside of the coveted Saturday morning lineup really mattered. Maybe it had something to do with ideal times to promote shows which acted as marketing vehicles for toys. Or it could have been for some other reason.

In any case, here are a couple of good Saturday morning shows that made the jump to weekday afternoons:

First up, Robotix, the story of a group of humans stranded on an alien planet, who fall-in with giant robots controlled by AIs based on the personalities of that world's original inhabitants, who remain in stasis deep beneath the surface. While the robots were supposed to be rebuilding the infrastructure of their destroyed civilization, they ended up fighting with each other, and the newly-arrived humans split into two factions who take sides, with their help greatly augmenting the abilities of the robots. Aside from being a thoroughly kick-ass show, Robotix was also a marketing vehicle for the toy line of the same name, which was also pretty cool (you could use the large, Lego-esque pieces and electric motors in each set to build robots with a wide range of configurations). I got the Argus set (based on the character who lead the good guys in the series) for Christmas one year, and aside from having to replace it on boxing day due to a faulty part, it was one of my favourites for a while. (full pilot episode)

Released as part of the same mega line-up promotion as Robotix (along with the forgettable Big Foot and the Muscle Machines and Jem and the Holograms) is our next series: Inhumanoids. This show was about a team of scientists in league with various races of secretive monsters (a race of plant people, a race of rock people, and a couple of magnetic dudes at the Earth's core) battling a trio of demonic creatures called, you guessed it, the Inhumanoids. The show was also about marketing toys. In the show, vicious-Muppet-looking Metlar, who likes to hork-up fireballs and throw them at people, is backed by the viney, brainless titan Tendril (imagine the bastard child of Cthulhu and Swamp Thing), and D'Compose — think a hairless yellow gorilla for the body, with an exposed rib cage, and rat's skull for the head — who stashes prisoners in his chest cavity like coats in a wardrobe and turns people into zombies by biting them. After ages trapped in custom magical prisons, the Inhumanoids escape and then try various schemes to alternately conquer and destroy the world — everything from stealing nuclear weapons to unleashing stumpy cyclopses with appetites that would put the starting lineup of an American football team to shame. Episodes would occasionally take a turn for the disturbing (and of questionable appropriateness for a Saturday morning audience) when D'Compose got front and centre, temporarily turning characters into mutant-zombie things, unleashing huge zombie armies, and once raising a mad scientist from the dead in a manner that even the yellow demon himself found unsettling. But the good guys always won and there were toys to be bought. So, you know, there's that to keep in mind when you're a kid and trying to get to sleep later that night staring across the room at D'Compose and his open sternum prison. (opening intro)

And taking things back into space, in an Old West-superhero mashup kinda way, there's BraveStarr. It's the story of Space Martial BraveStarr, a man of First Nations ancestry with super powers (eyes of a hawk, ears of a wolf, strength of a bear, and speed of a puma) who keeps the peace on a mining planet in the future. Assisted by his trigger-happy, cybernetically-enhanced, intelligent, talking horse, Mr Ed, er, no, that wasn't it... uh, Francis? 30-30, yeah, that's it! — along with a couple of other deputies — BraveStarr arrests run-of-the-mill criminals when he's not battling the evil entity known as Stampede. If you take out the super powers and universe-threatening-evil-entity angle, the show's kind of like a kid-friendly precursor to Firefly — as told from the cop's point of view (now wouldn't that be a cool crossover to see?). (full episode)

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