Speed Reads

RIP

The Saturday morning cartoon is officially dead

Saturday morning, the CW is debuting a new slate of programming, "One Magnificent Morning," aimed at teenagers and their parents — and in the process killing off a 50-year-old American institution, the Saturday morning cartoon. Last Saturday was the final hurrah for Vortexx, a bloc of children-focused animated and live action TV, with cartoons like The Spectacular Spider-Man and Dragon Ball Z.

The CW was the last broadcast network with children's programming on Saturday mornings, ToonZone says. CBS killed of its Saturday morning kids shows last year and ABC pulled the plug in 2011. NBC switched its Saturday morning lineup back in 1992. So what killed the Saturday morning cartoon? "It's obvious what happened," Robert Thompson, director of Syracuse's Bleier Center for Television and Popular Culture, tells WTOP: "Cable TV."

Long after Mighty Mouse Playhouse and The Bugs Bunny Show started airing on Saturday morning in the early 1960s, dedicated cable networks arrived with 24/7 children's programming. Thompson, 55, is nostalgic: "When we got up on the weekend morning, we stayed in our pajamas sometimes till noon. And Saturday morning cartoons were perfect for that." Today's kids are, at best, playing soccer, he adds, "or maybe they're just playing video games." Because that's much worse than watching The Smurfs and Super Friends.