In 1997, Michael Eisner issued a request to the team at ABC: create a Saturday morning block that is unique to all of its competitors. Peter Hastings, who had just left working for Animaniacs and Pinky and the Brain, pitched an idea that all the days of the week were represented by gloomy looking buildings, with Saturday being a grand and colorful skyscraper in the shape of a 1. The pitch was ok’ed, and more brainstorming started. Peter also brought up the idea of using virtual sets, which he was very unfamiliar with. After some test runs, they decided that the virtual sets were a great idea and were thus added to the show and its format.
The block premiered in September of 1997 and consisted of 4 shows in 2 hours. Between the shows and during commercials would be hosting interstitials coming from “inside” the Saturday building. In 1999, the block itself got a spin-off with Disney’s One Too premiering on UPN. This 2 hour block reran episodes from popular shows from the normal ABC block.
The shows that were featured on both channels covered a wide array of different topics, and in some cases, a wide array of controversy. In 1996, Jumbo Pictures was purchased by The Walt Disney Pictures, thus Nickelodeon’s hit show Doug became part of the Disney company. After a 3 year hiatus from Nick, Disney started making new episodes for One Saturday Morning. Though many people were against the idea of the “New Doug”, it quickly became the most popular show of the block and spawned tons of merchandise, video games, a full-length movie in theaters, and a musical show at the then MGM Studios. Another controversial tidbit came from the block airing the final season of Gargoyles, which many felt was too adult for a kids TV block.
Other shows included the short lived Hercules and Tarzan animated series, the hit Jungle Cubs, the surprise hit Lloyd In Space, Pepper Ann, Sabrina: The Animated Series, and the awesome The Weekenders. The most popular overall though was Recess. This show is still shown occasionally on Disney Channel, it will never go away…its just that popular! 4 films were made for the show, as well as the characters having a guest appearance on the Lilo and Stitch series.
Due to poor ratings, the interstitials were cancelled in 2000. In 2002, the block was cancelled and replaced with ABC Kids. It originally aired original shows, but eventually became the place for Disney Channel sitcom reruns. This past year, the block was cancelled and replaced with a series of educational and environmental programming.
Now, I can understand why people would say “Kids have Disney Channel, they don’t need another programming block on ABC”, and in some respect, I agree. If you can have all members of the family watching one channel (in this case, ABC), they brand love would be astounding. The problem would be trying to pitch getting more kids programming on ABC when there is already 2 Disney owned channels dedicated to it. So, here is my idea. You bring back One Saturday Morning, with interstitials, to Disney Channel. You get an unknown to do the funny things in between shows, not a current Disney Channel star. You make it a 4 hour block, the first 2 hours being new original series just for the block (at least for the first year, then it can go into syndication or whatever), then next hour and a half being current stuff (Phineas and Ferb, Gravity Falls, etc.), then have the last half hour be a classic pick (Doug, Recess, Pepper Ann, etc.). The added bonus of the classic pick is that if it becomes SUPER popular, you have a stock pile of episodes ready to be shown at any time, and if you really wanted to, you could put the show back into production (I’m talking to you The Weekenders…).
Do you like my idea? Can you help me pitch it to the Disney Channel team? Can you believe Wayne Brady sang the theme song to The Weekenders? Let me know in the comments below. I’m am serious about trying to get this back on TV, so tweet the heck out of this article! I leave you with the addicting theme song to the original One Saturday Morning. Until next time, Have a Magical Day!