Saturday Morning’s Top 5 Greatest Kids’ Shows

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Most homes in the ’70s had one TV and four channels—PC—that’s pre-cable, not politically correct. There were no remotes. We had rabbit ears tinged in foil, antennas and channel dials. We lived for Saturday mornings when we could’ve slept in, but got up early to fight over Saturday morning cartoons. Until noon we sat plastered on the floor in front of the tube, with Mom warning that we’d hurt our eyes sitting so close, but never making us get up. In the ’80s, the fight for cartoon control began to include the remote. We sat across the room and “Land of the Lost” gave way to “The Smurfs” and some funky looking ninja turtles.

5 “Land of the Lost” (1974-1976)

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They were on a routine expedition. A great earthquake sunk their raft into a great chasm. Before we could say T-Rex, Rick, Will and Holly Marshall found refuge in a cave at eye level with all sorts of prehistoric dinosaurs. Soon they were fighting reptilian Sleestack, befriending a family of Chewbacca-like people with language issues and keeping away from glowing rocks in pylons. Not quite a traditional cartoon—it combined actors and claymation dinosaurs, and the special effects were quite cheesy—the show nevertheless kept your attention and teenage Will, played by Wesley Eure, was curly-haired and dreamy.

4 “The Smurfs” (1981-1989)

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What girl didn’t want to be Smurfette? Not only was she the only girl smurf, she had long, blonde hair, a snappy attitude and never seemed blue. Papa Smurf, Clumsy, Vanity, Dreamy, Handy, Brainy and the gang went shirtless in every episode, fighting and always outwitting the evil Gargamel, and his wicked cat, Azrael. Not bad for 100 halflings about three apples high. No one ever died, having Smurf enthusiasts scratch their heads wondering how Baby Smurf and the Smurflings came about, when there were only supposed to be 100 little blue Smurfs living in the mushroom kingdom.

3 “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” (1984 to present)

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The pizza loving masked crime-fighters Leonardo, Donatello, Raphael and Michelangelo fought just as much against each other as they did crime. Only coming out at night, these mutant heroes in a half-shell lived deep within the city sewers. The franchise spawned a few animatronic movies over the years, but it’s the billion-dollar merchandising that continues to skyrocket. Even 50-year-olds enjoys their juvenile banter, giving the entire family quality time with popcorn and laughs. How’s that for turtle power?

2 “Bugs Bunny/Road Runner Hour” (1968-1978)

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The “Bugs Bunny/Road Runner Hour” was the ultimate variety show for kids of all ages that never got stale. You never knew who was going to be featured every Saturday morning. Bugs Bunny, Wile E. Coyote, Road Runner, Foghorn Leghorn, Daffy Duck, Porky Pig, Sylvester, Tweety Bird and all your favorite Looney Tunes/Merrie Melodies shorts and special segments of singing, dancing and merry mayhem made Saturday mornings especially great for those of us with short attention spans.

1 “Scooby Doo” (1969-1971) (1976-1978)

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“Scooby Doo” premiered in 1969 at the height of the Vietnam war. It’s highly doubtful that members of the Scooby gang were draft dodgers, but they did spend an inordinate amount of time hanging out in haunted houses and unmasking ghostly townsfolk. Blond, dapper Fred was the unofficial leader who seemed to have eyes for redheaded Daphne. Bespectacled Velma was short and studious. Always hungry Shaggy seemed a bit of a stoner, while (mostly) faithful Scoob would do anything for a Scooby snack. Between them, criminals never stood a chance, and that, at the end of each episode, lamented, “I’d have gotten away with it, too, if it hadn’t been for you meddling kids!”

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