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.
Read More »Disney’s One Saturday Morning and why it needs to come back