Saturday morning American broadcast TV was once animation’s home field. Filling a cereal bowl with artificially colored sugar pebbles and staring at the tube was every kid’s weekend plan. Not any more: For the first time in 50-plus years, you won’t find a block of animation on broadcast this morning. It’s the end of an era.
This groovy theme from the 60’s Batman series always conjures up a specific image in my mind: one of eating breakfast on the “back porch” of the Yellow House (really the extended kitchen/dining room area leading to the actual back porch), an unfinished solarium where we had a small aluminum and plastic dining table. There was a small Sears color television sitting on the corner of the table that I was watching Saturday Morning Cartoons on. It was late into the block, and the last shows to air were on WXIA (Channel 11, the local NBC affiliate): Batman and Superboy. It was hard to get a decent picture, so I was constantly getting up to adjust the rabbit ear antenna to catch the broadcast signal as it meandered around the shadow of Kennesaw Mountain and bounced against nearby Lost Mountain.
WXIA stopped showing Batman reruns not long after that, replacing them with a block by producer Peter Engel that included Saved By The Bell and the knock-off California Dreams. I don’t recall what happened to that TV set, either. We may have given it to a relative in need or it may have just died altogether; it was the 1980s.
Also to be noted was the little family in-joke when my dad and I would get into his old 66 Chevrolet truck wherein one of us would start the familiar checklist and the other would finish: