Monday, March 06, 2017

Channel Zero Returns, Friday Night March 10th...

With a Show that Could Only Be Called: "Saturday Morning, On Friday Night!" Back in 1965, CBS TV's VP for Daytime Programming, Fred Silverman, had a dream....turn his backwater assignment into a seriously profit making center for the Tiffany Network. He concentrated his attention to CBS' ramshackle Saturday Morning KidVid Schedule, which was then taking a drubbing from ABC who had the "Beatles" cartoon. According Silverman decided to option some big guns, brokering a deal between Filmation Studios and DC Comics to bring Superman to Saturday Morning for the Very First Time. Granted it was a crude and cheap adaptation, reliant on tons of stock footage, but the comics in those days were literally selling in the millions & Kal El was Money in the Bank with a gigantic fanbase. Providentially "The New Adventures of Superman" hit the Saturday Morning Schedule in the Fall of 1966 just at the absolute Imperial High Noon of Batmania, in the space of a year Saturday Morning went from being a reserve for Heckle & Jeckle or Top Cat and became a virtual free fire zone presided over by The Lone Ranger, Superman & "Frankenstein Jr". In short action, adventure and yes, violence had taken over the entire Saturday Morning Schedule. But it was a controversial trend especially in an environment overlooked by serious criticism and in a country wracked by the Viet Nam War, rioting and countless other crisis & issues. Controversy indeed, a bare two years after the debut of "Space Ghost" on CBS the "National Commission on Civil Disorders" was calling children's TV and its violent content a "dangerous babysitter". The Christian Science Monitor was counted 162 acts of violence on the 1968 Saturday Morning Schedule between the hours of 7:30am to 9:30am.... In short, the backlash was on, Batmania peaked and out in the wings humor driven fare like "Archie" and "Scooby Do" were awaiting their cues. The Big Three Networks were getting nervous and in truth they had a lot to be nervous about...after all their schedules were built around "Mightor" a superhero who literally fought crime among hominids, a character called "Super President" and even "Moby Dick" Ahab's White Whale somehow became scourge to EvilDoers. Things were plainly getting a little crazy in a crazy time in US History...none of this could last even if Saturday Morning had become very profitable territory for all three networks. Meanwhile in Newton Ma., Peggy Charren was hosting viewing parties for Saturday Morning TV in all it's chaotic violent sugar coated cereal glory while laying the groundwork for a new lobbying group "Action for Children's Television". ACT was dead set against violent children's TV but also had a larger mission to break up the alliance between toy manufacturers, candy bar distributors and "mindless"Saturday Morning TV. An era was coming to end, comedy & inoffensive music would soon rule the schedule, typically Superman hung in there along with Aquaman (of all people) thru 1970, Space Ghost had long since hung on his cape, literally you wouldn't see two cartoon characters throw punches at one another again until the early 1990s. The Watergate Scandals quite literally brought about a backlash within a backlash. Thanks to Dick Nixon's thin skin and audio taped vulgarity, by 1973 sociologists and other alleged experts will filling up Saturday Morning Cartoons with ernest lectures about personal honesty and small group dynamics, what was inane was now utterly inert & stultifying. Channel Zero though, does not judge, our philosophy is "Screen and Be Damned", so on Friday Night we plan to screen a good representative and more importantly diverse selection of cartoons from that weird, eccentric & violent era of Saturday Morning Television, the obscure and the bombastic, everything from Tom Sawyer to The Lone Ranger (a cartoon so blatantly violent as to give Peggy Charren the righteous bed spins) and a lot more plainly goofy stuff in between...there was a lot more going on than mere brawls and shootouts, we can prove it on Friday Night! So c'mon by.... The Somerville Theatre (Micro Cinema) 55 Davis Square Somerville Ma Friday March 10th 8pm Admission: $7.50 (cash only) 617-625-5700

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