Friday, March 26, 2021

Saturday Morning Size Line Up

Today's challenge -- come up with an old school Saturday morning TV lineup using only real Saturday morning fare I could've seen when I was a kid. Stuff I either watched when it debuted some Saturday morning in the 70s/early 80s or caught in reruns later. And it has to include size content.

For those of you not familiar with American television, there was a stretch from the 60s to the 90s where the three networks dedicated Saturday mornings to children's programming. From seven or eight in the morning till noon or one in the afternoon (depending on network and year) you could enjoy some very interesting and sometimes quality cartoons, live action stories, and educational snippets. A number of these shows featured size either as a plot point of a particular episode or as the basis for the shenanigans. 

Enough talking. Let's get this show on the road.

                                                                "Oh, what heights we'll hit."



8:00 : We'll start things off with an episode of Dr. Shrinker. It's live action, poorly written, with crap special effects, but it existed damn it! And influenced me into becoming what I am today for what it's worth. The series lasted one season made up of 15 minute (adjusted for commercials) episodes as part of the Kroft Supershow. Many people (only me) consider this show to be the missing link between 1940s Dr. Cyclops and The Smurfs. 

                                            
                                            The shrink ray was named after Dr. Chuck Shrinker.

8:15: Our next story features the dynamic duo of Superstretch and Microwoman. He's an elastic man; she gets real tiny. The writing is somehow worse than Dr. Shrinker, but the acting's better? This one ran for 11 episodes as part of Tarzan and the Super 7 back in 1978. This particular episode features mirror universe versions of our heroes. A guy who gets super stiff (this is a SFW post, I am NOT making that joke) and a woman who grows. So you get shrunken woman, giant woman, and various shape-shifty things.

Guess which one of these two gets sucked into a vacuum cleaner.
I think you'll be pleasantly surprised.

Fun fact: The actor voicing Micro Woman played young
Mala in The Leech Woman



8:30: I'm not going to call it great, but The Adventures of Gulliver is much less awful than the previous two shows combined. This ran for one season in '68. That was before my time, but it was one of the cartoons that got packaged up and shown on the Banana Splits. Five year old Taedis was obsessed with the Banana Splits. And had a huge (age appropriate) crush on Flirtatia. 



I'm doing a bit of rounding off to take into account commercial breaks. So have a commercial. Don't listen to his lies; Acroyear is not the enemy.

One of my gateway drugs into size.



9:00: I don't remember Inch High Private Eye's original run, but I was pretty young in '73 so I'm not ruling out the possibility. I did catch it later as part of one of the animation packages they ran on WPIX out of New York. Like most of the shows on the schedule it lasted one year. 

It's not on YouTube so you'll have to follow a link to see the episode. Abandon all hope ye who enter; here be dad jokes.

9:30: Far Out Space Nuts isn't inherently size based, but this episode is. I missed this when it first aired in 1975, but I fell in love with the show when it hit syndication a couple years later. This episode in particular. Watching it now I see that it's not good. That doesn't stop me from loving how it made me feel when I was 8.

According to IMDB the costume budget for aliens was $100 an episode. It shows.

The Pippets (and other aliens) return later in the season.


10:00: Super Friends is one of the few show on this schedule to last more than one season. That, and it's continued commercial viability mean it's not readily available on YouTube. It was however one of my favorites as a kid. With many examples of size play along the way. 

I'm going to fill this half hour with two segments. Sorry I can't share them with you. "The Fifty Foot Woman" saw Wonder Woman, Batman, and Robin going against a [spoiler alert] 50 foot woman. It's not good, but it's fun. 

"The Giants of Doom" featured several members of the Legion of Doom growing to 100' tall and hosing the little super friends. The heroes get in on the growth by the third act leading to comeuppance. 


In lieu of those stories let me give you this clip featuring the origins of the two giants of the series. 


50 Feet of Evil


10:30: I'm not sure where to put this on the size scale. On the one hand I've got Wikipedia telling me The Buggaloos were a group of teenagers who just dressed like bugs as part of their act. On the other, they had working wings. And hung out with a firefly who wasn't that much smaller than them. We do see cars and a seemingly normal (if bizarre) woman. But she lives in a jukebox with a (very Nazi) rat. Did she get shrunk? Is the car a toy? Tranquility Forest sure as heck looks like it's ginormous. This is way more thought than this series deserves.


Did I mention they sing?


11:00: And now for a very special episode of The Smurfs. Gargamel learns a lesson about being mean and polluting. Or something. But not really cause then the writers would have to come up with something else and antagonists are hard. 

Here's a link to the episode.

11:30: When I heard about this series through the kid grapevine I was pissed. My informant had told me this was called Micronauts. When I tuned in I was expecting the adventures of one of my favorite comic books (and toys). Only to find this. 

It grew on me. Eventually. I still wish it had been Micronauts. 





12:00: What better way to enjoy lunch than with a little animated Star Trek. Again this is a series that isn't available on YouTube, but in this case you can find it on a few streaming services. Search for "The Terratin Incident" and grab yourself a sandwich.

12:30: And to end our Saturday please enjoy a couple super hero adventures. 




































                                                       

3 comments:

  1. It's no exaggeration to say I've spent thousands of hours monitoring, skimming, and watching television aimed at children trying to detect the slightest element of size differential. A testament to this colossal wast—er, investment of time is an intuitive faculty for discerning what a given show's "rules of reality" are, even if it hasn't produced a giant/tiny episode yet, whether it has the potential to do so in the future. In many ways, this remains a primary lens through which I view every new television series, movie, videogame, or YouTube channel.

    Every summer, the networks would run a primetime special showcasing which Saturday morning cartoons were returning and what new shows were debuting that fall. Like a spawning salmon, I had no choice but to preview all of them. While almost all of these shows had their origins in the Saturday morning lineup, I found a much more reliable chance of catching a size episode during their syndicated runs on one of the independent stations during their weekday mid-morning and mid-afternoon blocs. I had over a dozen VHS tapes in rotation, but I never had a dubbing setup to efficiently isolate and concatenate size clips, so there was often long interstices of dross.

    DR. SHRINKER. A primary influence on my size feels, despite having no full-size women on the show. I imprinted so deeply that over a decade later a brief appearance by Jay Robinson at the start of Bram Stoker's Dracula put me on edge for the rest of the film. Mouthy BJ and her mini-skirt were probably more responsible for my tiny woman fantasies than I realized at the time. Almost no other Krofft shows did anything with shrinking, but their use of bluescreen FX was otherwise ubiquitous and I always had the feeling that shrinking was imminent.

    THE SUPERFRIENDS. Due to its multiple iterations and re-inventions, this was unquestionably the greatest source of size inspiration for me in the lineup. The episode title cards often got cut in syndication, but I still remember the sizey episodes: "Tiny World of Terror," "The Witch's Arcade," "Garden of Doom," "Elevator to Nowhere," "Fairy Tale of Doom."

    THE BANANA SPLITS ADVENTURE HOUR. This was truly vexing because you could never tell which cartoons would be featured. Arabian Nights starred a giant genie who often had some handhelds, but never realized its full potential. I never could catch an episode of Micro Ventures, but I gather the tinies never interacted with full-size people. The Adventures of Gulliver was good for M/f handhelds with Flirtatia, but that was it. The real gem was The New Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, a series with three live-action actors interacting with a cartoon world as if it were normal. "The Little People" features a visit to Lilliput, while "Strange Experiment" involves Huck being hit with a shrink ray.

    When the Disney Channel started producing original content in the late 90s, computer-assisted greenscreen tech was common and it seemed every show had the potential for a sizey moment, however brief. I resisted the temptation to start trawling again with the VCR, but I was saved when size pervs started trading clips online. The internet has liberated us from the tyranny of the broadcast lineup, but I'm afraid I will never be able to rest my weather eye.

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  2. I remember those specials. I think they mostly aired on Friday nights. Sometimes the day before the new lineup debuted, but not always.

    I don't think I ever caught an episode of Micro Ventures either. If I did as a kid it didn't leave much of an impression. I'm going to have to look up the Huckleberry Finn episodes you mention. It was one of my favorite segments on the show, but I don't have strong memories of those eps. Which is weird given my early interest in size.

    The shapeshifter in Arabian Knights did get a little size-y, but it was shapeshifting, not genuine size shifting. He did say "Size of a [insert animal he wanted to shift int]" before each transformation if I remember correctly. I think the biggest thing I ever saw him become was an elephant. I seem to remember him becoming a mouse once, but he might have become an insect.



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  3. I'm still angry about "size of [animal]" when he meant "shape of [animal]."

    ReplyDelete

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