Alternative Saturday Morning Programming of the 90s

Last week, we talked about how Saturday morning cartoons have effectively come to an end. CW was the final network hold out, but on Saturday, September 27th, they aired the last remaining cartoon block, ending a continuous animated run that lasted over 50 years. 50 years!! You can blame live-action shows, reality programs and the fact that people’s TV habits have changed, but in its place, networks have opted to show educational series aimed at teenagers.

If you ask me, I think it’s a good idea. Not only is it a good move to try to lure teens in with informative shows as opposed to whatever they’re showing on MTV these days, but because I, for one, was never really into cartoons. Sure, I watched Rugrats. I enjoyed Doug and Recess, but I never sought out cartoons. Then again, I was the girl who was watching The Real World: London when I was 9, so I mean, that explains a lot about me in the present.

That’s not to say I never watched TV on Saturday mornings – it’s just that I opted for other shows instead. If you switched channels between TMNT and The Smurfs and TNBC, you might recognize some of the following programs I was watching while the rest of y’all were staring at the animated folk.

Saved by the Bell: The New Class

We’ve touched based on SBTB:TNC before – in fact we’ve even done the digging for you and told you where your other fave Bayside students are now – but let’s talk about the show for a sec, shall we? The show was one of two spin-off from the OG SBTB, which ended in 1993. The New Class premiered that September, at the same time as the premiere of The College Years. However, instead of being a spin-off, it was more of producers attempting to create the same magic that they had with the first cast. Each OG SBTB character had a TNC doppelgänger.  And that’s where they went wrong. Spin-offs aren’t supposed to be a re-creation of a hit show – it’s supposed to use an element from the hit show to make a new hit show. See: Frasier (Cheers), The Jeffersons (All in the Family), Angel (Buffy). Needless to say, I stayed loyal to Zack + Co. over in college. So imagine my disappointment when one year for Christmas I got the SBTB: TNC board game instead of the original cast. Ugh, come on Santa.

California Dreams

California Dreams is like the SBTB spin-off that should’ve been. Like if SBTB’s Hot Sundae took and and toured with the California Dreams, that would’ve been perfect. California Dreams was an slight alternative to SBTB, but you know, in a different part of The Golden State. The show was originally intended to be a family sitcom, focusing on the Garrison family, and the two kids, Matt & Jenny who were in a band. However the show was rebooted in season 2, and focused on the teens in said band instead, and it was a much “better” show after that. It surprisingly lasted for five seasons, and in 2010, Jimmy Fallon managed to get the band back together for a reunion on Late Night. Oh Sly.

Hang Time

Please note that all these videos are for the theme songs to the shows, because for some reason, all these songs are still trapped in my brain after all these years. Also trapped in my brain: the fact that this show took place in Deering, Indiana. While I was never much of a sports fan, I appreciated that this show featured a girl on an all-boys basketball team and still had those elements of a teen sitcom. In addition, sometimes when I hear the name Anthony Anderson, to this day, I still associate him with this show.

City Guys

C-I-T-Y YOU CAN SEE WHY. I’m telling you – these songs were pretty damn catchy. SBTB:TNC, Hang Time and City Guys were all part of the TNBC Saturday Morning lineup that is forever etched in my brain. Now that TNBC had covered its bases in California and Middle of Nowhere, America, they came full circle and had a new show set in New York City. Teaching kids that we live in a diverse world, the show centered on a white kid from a wealthy family and a black kid from a working class family and how they can be friends, and sometimes enemies, in school.

One World

Speaking of diversity, this show was the epitome of it. One World was about a couple in Miami who take in six teens of varying ages from various backgrounds and ethnicities. Basically it was The Fosters before ABC Family claimed it. For some reason the one major plot line I remember from this show is that two of the foster kids started to have a romantic relationship and it was obvs a scandal?! Is it weird that I remember that and that alone? Probs. Also Johnny Tsunami’s in it.

Beakman’s World

That’s right, nerds. If you were the type to also spend a lot of your time with Bill Nye (the science guy), you were also familiar with Beakman’s World too. But this show was much more dramatic and outlandish than Bill Nye, as everyone on the show were actors who just played out these scientific experiments. In fact, Beakman himself was played by Paul Zaloom, an actor and puppeteer who has apparently taught his craft at the college I went to. Because yet, I went to a liberal arts college where puppetry was a class. Also he used to be married to a woman and has two kids but has split from her because he’s gay. *the more you know*

Moolah Beach

Remember when Survivor was like THE hottest show on TV? Producers ran with the idea and made a kid’s version called Moolah Beach. Except instead of being kicked off the island, everyone stuck around to win $25,000. It only lasted 6 episodes – but that’s because it was reworked into a show called Endurance, that aired on NBC then switched over to the Discovery Kids network. Did anyone else watch this? Or was it just me and my friend Ryan who secretly were way into it???