Monday, May 10, 2010

Saturday Morning, 1974

Thanks to Facebook and some shared childhood memories, it's been a bit of a nostalgic sort of day.

I've been reliving my childhood through theme songs and YouTube clips all day.  Snapshots of Rice Crispies and Saturday morning television.  Of dictatorial control of the TV for those hours.  Of sunshine ignored until I was bodily removed in a bloodless coup.

Back in the pre-cable days, kid’s television came in very specific windows.  You could usually find a something before and after school, but it was all about Saturday morning.  That was when the three (that's right, three) big networks got in the game.  That's when I'd catch up with Scooby, and Bugs, and Fat Albert, and just about anything that someone took the time to draw.

Most of this was safe enough, harmless.  But empty.  These shows promised to do nothing more than to pass 30 minutes with me (eight of them in commercials), but they made no demands either.  They may not have been good, but they were easy.  They paved the way for the family friendly sitcoms that would follow.  The kinds of shows that made me flabby inside and out. 

Every once in a while, though, I'd strike gold.  Not because I'd found something especially good.  Dear God, no.  Most of them were no different from the rest of my junk food television diet.  They were just as vacant, just as empty as everything else out there.  But they would have me riveted, studying every word, every line.  There would be a few over the years, but Superfriends came first.

I remember seeing it for the first time.  Mom flicked on the TV to keep me busy, and there was Aquaman.  He wasn't the first superhero I'd seen, and no, he's not typically the most impressive (he talks to fish!), but in that moment, he was a giant.  Every hero since has had to endure Aquaman's shadow.

Superfriends was ridiculously squeaky clean and, no, it doesn't hold up well.  Superheroes defending the world, not against supervillains, but against well meaning geniuses.  There were no epic battles, just investigation, cooperation, and wholesome understanding.  But there was something there that spoke to me, something about being a hero, about saving the day, something elemental.  It would set me on the road that would shape my imagination for decades, my love of the impossible and the epic, my love of the heroic.

For decades, influences have jockeyed for position to take charge of my imagination, to flick that switch that makes me grin like a junkie about to shoot up.

I pulled up that opening sequence today, heard Ted Knight's over the top narration, and for just a second, I was 6 again.

Original Superfriends Intro