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Five Childhood Programming Line Ups I Loved

The best thing about the eighties and nineties is there was always some kind of fun programming line up for various audiences. From “Must See TV,” and “Shocktober,” to the Sunday Night TV movie, to November Sweeps, TGIF, and Nick at Nite, before the internet, TV stations focused on luring different kinds of audiences with programming line ups, and as a bonafide TV junkie I was lucky enough to experience a lot of them. These are five of my favorite childhood programming line ups.

5. ABC Saturday Morning
“ABC Saturday Morning” was a varied Saturday morning cartoon block, but a darn good one that garnered some really unique and entertaining animated series from the early nineties until 1997. As a horror buff I couldn’t help but love “Tales from the Cryptkeeper,” and I adored “Sonic the Hedgehog,” and “Cro.” To a lesser extent there was also “Free Willy” and “Land of the Lost.” Who could forget “The Bugs and Daffy Show”? Eventually the block was taken down and reformatted to make it even more Disney-centric, except with a dash of Nickelodeon for good measure. Seriously, if you ever get the chance, read the book “Slimed!” the story of how Nickelodeon killed itself, and Disney became a success by—well--ripping them off.

I was watching TGIF for such a long time and fondly remember sitting down every single Friday with my brother to visit some of my favorite shows. I didn’t enjoy them all. “Step by Step” was always so painfully bland, and I basically checked out of the TGIF fan club around the time “Sabrina” and “Clueless” showed up on the line up. Before that though, TGIF was a popular line up of family programming with great shows like “Full House,” “Boy Meets World,” and “Perfect Strangers,” along with ridiculously popular nonsense like “Family Matters,” and the occasional experimental and fun series like “Dinosaurs” and “Aliens in the Family.” And who can forget “Two of a Kind,” or “You Wish”? Again, by 1996 I was done with TGIF, but I always have those memories of innocent fun with the family.

SNICK was such a fun line up of creative shows from the people at Nickelodeon that every Saturday night was magic. There was something seriously exciting about sitting down to watch the orange couch, and take part in an event that was just for us kids. My family didn’t get cable television until 1994, but my grandparents had cable in their home, so whenever we visited them, every Saturday night me and my brother would sit down and watch the whole line up. Back then there was (the nearly unwatchable now) “Roundhouse,” “Clarissa Explains It All,” “Ren and Stimpy” and it was all capped off with “Are You Afraid of the Dark?” which led in to Nick at Nite for the adults. Later, there was stuff like “All That,” “Pete and Pete,” and “The Secret World of Alex Mack.” I can’t explain it but there was always something peculiar about what Nickelodeon did to the sound on their channel that I loved. It was tinny without being annoying, and it added to the element of SNICK being an event you were let in on. Am I imagining things?

2. Disney Afternoon
They cancelled “Gargoyles” for “101 Dalmations.” I still can’t grasp that fact. In either case, once upon a time cartoons didn’t just air on cable television. You could find cartoons on Saturday mornings, weekday mornings, occasionally on Sunday mornings, and yes, weekday afternoons. For seven years, “Disney Afternoon” ran a two hour block of some fine children’s animated entertainment. I tuned in to all seven seasons, even enduring junk like “Aladdin” and “Timon and Puumba.” But that’s a mere con in what was a line up filled with excellent series like “Talespin,” “Darkwing Duck,” “Ducktales,” “Rescue Rangers,” “Gargoyles,” “Mighty Ducks,” and… well... “Schnookums and Meat.” I honestly don’t remember that show. Twas a magical time, though.

1. Fox Kids
Fox Kids was something absolutely special. It was rivaled only by Nickelodeon, as the very popular line up of children’s series has become absolutely legendary. The Fox Kids line up didn’t just launch popular shows, but shows that were critically acclaimed and are still celebrated. Fox Kids which was launched in 1990, was so popular it even garnered its own fan club, offering viewers an entertaining magazine, as well as a series of trading cards (I proudly own the whole series, unopened). Like every line up it had the occasional dud, but it was also filled with a ton of interesting and creative series that I still love to this day. I loved stuff like “Bobby’s World,” “Peter Pan and the Pirates,” “Beetlejuice,” “Pirates of Dark Water,” and of course “Batman: The Animated Series,” “Spider-Man,” “X-Men” and “Mighty Morphin Power Rangers.”

Fox Kids also gave me and my brother a glimmer in to one of our favorite shows as a kid: “Ghostwriter.” We followed the show when it began airing every Sunday night on PBS and never looked back. I pretty much quit tuning in on Saturdays in 1997 when I turned fourteen, but I always remember how much variety there was in their constantly rotating line up of animated series and kids shows.
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Rabbitearsblog Posted on Aug 18, 2019 at 05:20 AM

Awesome article! I remembered all of these blocks, especially Fox Kids and Disney Afternoon! I always loved watching shows like "Batman," "Gummi Bears," "Chip n' Dale Rescue Rangers," "Animaniacs," and many more and I miss watching these blocks.

Hoju Koolander Posted on Sep 20, 2017 at 05:23 PM

FOX Kids was definitely the king of kids programming. Anything they put on at least got my viewership for 3 episodes. I watched ABC's lineup briefly with Cro and Land of the Lost as you mentioned, but also The Addams Family and Cowboys of Moo Mesa. SNICK was also special and I was really into Roundhouse at the time (what was I thinking?)

comic_book_fan Posted on Sep 05, 2017 at 07:15 PM

i liked step by step and these are all great lineups i will probably make a list like this later

pikachulover Posted on Sep 03, 2017 at 10:57 PM

I watched all those blocks except the Snick one because I didn't have cable growing up. I watched Fox Kids until it's demise in the fall of 2002.

Superman Posted on Sep 03, 2017 at 09:40 PM

I was a huge fan of Fox Kids. The various incarnations of Power Rangers, Batman: The Animated Series, and Spider-Man: The Animated Series were some of my favorite shows on their lineup. I didn't often get to watch Fox Kids on Saturday mornings, but watching the block's afternoon lineup during the weekdays was my daily ritual after getting home from school.

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