TelevisionDetroit has a couple dozen great Detroit clips and ads from the 80s and 90s. It’s pretty easy to spend your lunch break checking out the MTV-style WDTX Jim Harper ad or a few news promos that would make Ron Burgundy proud. (Plus, you don’t want to miss the Kwame Kilpatrick video… in hindsight, it’s a riot.)
I’m not much of a morning person these days. I would much rather stay up late and write odd bits of code than get up early and start my day. When I was younger, that was not the case. My brother, Christian, and I would wake up early… especially on Saturday morning, build a fort and prepare for hours of (mostly) animated entertainment. I’ve written about Saturday morning cartoons before, but no Saturday would be complete without a proper start: educational programming.
If I’m not mistaken, the major TV networks had to provide a certain amount of educational programming content (which is why G.I. Joe had their “knowing is half the battle” segment at the end of each episode). Metro Detroit’s Channel 4 (WDIV) began their Saturday morning programming with Kidbits which was filmed at the Detroit Science Center and hosted by Gary Ed Mach
Kidbits detailed science experiments that most kids could do at home with the help of their parents. I credit my early interest in science to this show. Gary Ed Mach was a great host that didn’t dumb down the content but still made it easy to understand. He appeared genuinely excited about simulating muscles with straws and balloons. Instead of commercials, public service announcements ran between segments. They explained the difference between TV and reality, what you should eat to be healthy, and why drugs are bad. The catch was, some weird white guy with a ‘fro starred in these service announcements. If I learned anything during the 80’s it’s “never trust a white guy with a ‘fro.”
What’s the point of all the rambling? Simple: where is Gary Ed Mach?! Why can’t I find any clips of Kidbits online. I know it has to be out there somewhere. So here’s a challenge to everyone reading this: find Gary Ed Mach or Kidbits. If there’s a tape or DVD to buy or a petition to put episodes back on TV, tell me! Something this great cannot disappear forever!
I get it. A lot of cartoons in the 80’s were pretty bad. A recent article on Cracked.com points out a few stellar examples. (I disagree on a few… especially The Real Ghostbusters.) Lou Scheimer is the executive producer on quite a few of them… coincidence? I think not. Enjoy the clips!
Like most kids in the 80s, Saturday morning cartoons were an integral part of our weekly social routine. The commercials between these shows (and sometimes the shows themselves) drove the trends in toys as well as what we would be playing out in the neighborhood. Many days were spent playing GI Joe and Transformers not only with action figures, but ourselves.
The bumpers (intros and outros that occured between the shows and commercials) were a pretty good indicator of the style and tastes of the era. Video games were big in the early 80’s, so the bumpers reflected that. When the bumpers changed, it indicated that the new television season has started. These days, most networks keep a lop-sided flow of new episodes sputtering forward throughout the year. When I was growing up, the season began in the early fall and finished up right around spring. This conveniently left the re-runs for the summer, when we didn’t want to be inside, anyway.
Last weekend, I really wanted to watch Saturday morning cartoons. The catch is… there aren’t any! The networks have replaced Saturday morning cartoons with sports updates, the occasional “educational” program (wild kingdom for 2-year-olds), and live action “adolescent/tweenager” dramas (think “Saved by the Bell, but even more sappy). It broke my heart to know that kids without cable will never know the joys of looking forward to each season of cartoons. Where can they find classics like Looney Toons?
I’m not really sure when this happened. Nonetheless, I am sad about this. There are a few resources out there on the internet for my fellow retro-addicts and I: