Saturday morning cartoons were once a staple, and then they kinda just stopped as far as I can tell. Of course I also stopped paying much attention to TV once I got fully immersed in the likes of things such as the internet and video games, and also spending most of college with the inability to properly pick up TV signals. However, during that time when the idea of watching cartoons on a Saturday morning was demographically relevant, I certainly did so. And I spent most of my Saturday morning on the Fox network, unless baseball preempted everything. And it sure did frequently. Unless it was NASCAR.
They had a lot of shows, some of which were more likely remembered than most others. Generally, they had a lot of dubbed anime, mainly aimed at kids, regardless of who the anime was actually aimed at. Naturally, 4Kids, a pretty infamous company as far as dubs go, likely second only to that Agapio Racing Team (somehow the name of a company that has nothing to do with racing) that Finland had to endure, handled most of those, and made a hell of a lot of edits, especially visually. As well, they’re notable for the One Piece rap, because pirates and rapping somehow mix…? Digimon was at least handled elsewhere, though, seeing as that show can take some dark turns that the “shadow world” thing might just mess with. However, the movie that was actually three movies was a weird thing in itself.
However, I’m not focusing on whatever anime got on there, or even the Power Rangers stuff, or the major shows that people probably actually remember, at least from what I can tell. I’m looking at strange stuff I hardly or never hear about anywhere and possibly didn’t last long and may have been canceled. Like regular Fox, Fox Kids, later the Fox Box, and eventually just 4Kids TV would throw whatever they could up there as an attempt to get viewers and sell toys, whoever it came from. The history does go quite far back, but I’m only covering things I at least vaguely remember seeing a few episodes of back then.
The Silver Surfer: I think more people might know of this from the time that King of the Hill was promoted on Fox Kids, since that clip surfaced online and comes up occasionally in discussions. I was certainly a fan of King of the Hill since its premiere, maybe this weird promo helped. However, the Silver Surfer did have a short-lived cartoon that was apparently canceled due to legal disputes. It was a pretty hardcore cartoon, this metal-looking guy has to travel the universe to fight the planet-eating Galactus, as the comics tend to go. I know people might remember the Silver Surfer, and possibly Joe Satriani’s Surfing with the Alien, yet the whole thing hasn’t made any sign of showing up in that MCU thing that’s been going on for some time now.
The Secret Files of the Spy Dogs: The premise is the typical “cats vs. dogs, but they’re also spies somehow, and they can’t let the humans know” thing, also with additional animals as typically antagonists. I more remember watching this show than the show itself, but it had a fair number of notable actors in the voice cast who have been in several things prior or after this show, including the late great Adam West as the leader of the organization, whose dog face is always in shadow.
Godzilla: The Series: Based on that weird 90s Godzilla movie from the US, and actually a sequel to it, somehow this show might have more in common with the original Japanese series. Namely, a team of scientists follows this Godzilla around and is the usual force to combat the monster of the week. The team also has this robot that always gets destroyed in each episode, but isn’t named Kenny. That’s about all I remember from it.
Big Guy and Rusty the Boy Robot: A show that’s actually adapted from a Dark Horse-published comic, this one had a weird history it seems, where it was short-lived on Saturday, but then ended up on the weekday blocks that once existed. The general plot is in some kind of futuristic city, this pilot steers a giant mech, originally intended to be a full-on robot but they couldn’t figure out the AI, and is paired up with an actual robot kid who looks like an odd version of Astro Boy and doesn’t know that the giant mech has a person inside, so they try to keep this secret. The giant mech, Big Guy, also has a lot of patriotic sayings, bringing the image of Liberty Prime from the 3D Fallout games to light. What actually might connect this to Fallout, though, is that Inon Zur composed the soundtrack, the very same involved with several Fallout soundtracks. I do remember a weird episode where they somehow go back in time and leave the Big Guy mech in the American Revolutionary War, which makes everyone in the present speak with a British accent because the British used that mech to win the war, and that’s a bad thing in the show, and I forget the specifics of why, but probably something dystopic.
Sherlock Holmes in the 22nd Century: The premise, somehow partly shared in idea and even title to a set of episodes of the 80s cartoon Bravestarr, is that Sherlock Holmes and Moriarty had a fight to the death, which may be in the books, but it turns out somehow Moriarty was frozen in a cave and Holmes survived and was buried in some honey-filled coffin (which means he has a Sweet Bod), so they use future technology to revive him to battle a Moriarty who was cloned from the frozen body. As far as Watson, they have this robot who’s obsessed with Sherlock Holmes become Watson to the point where he gets a humanoid makeover, yet is still a robot. In summary, honey-dipped Holmes and cyborg-looking Watson chase after clone Moriarty. But that’s not all, the stories are generally adapted from the books, but in the future, including a moon base at some point. And the theme song is literally just someone singing the title repeatedly. If you thought this was just a fever dream, you’d be forgiven.
NASCAR Racers: What if NASCAR was exciting and had loops and rocket cars and people had powerups they could just trigger in the middle of the race? I don’t mean Speed Racer, this is NASCAR somehow. I don’t really know how this show could work as far as getting kids interested in actual NASCAR, which is a thing that might actually annoy kids because not only is it interrupting the Saturday block sometimes, it’s also cars usually driving in a loop for hours on end and sometimes someone crashes, at which people have to act horrified but they were secretly looking forward to it. So the cartoon in question involves a multicultural hero cast and a villainous team battling it out on a crazy future track, while the cars have things like wings or turbo boosts or whatever other powers seem practical in this thing that’s definitely not typical NASCAR.
The Avengers: United They Stand: Another short-lived Marvel cartoon, mostly composed of who people might consider side characters, even to the point where this group is actually led by Ant-Man, specifically the version who’s Hank Pym, with other heroes of the mainstay group including Wasp, Falcon, Hawkeye, Scarlet Witch, and even Vision. The likes of Captain America, Iron Man, and Thor are generally just cameos. However, they’re mostly fighting Ultron. That’s pretty much all I remember, Ant-Man becomes big and fights and evil robot and Vision does mind stuff.
Los Luchadores: There’s some live-action shows on this list, too. This is apparently masked wrestlers fighting the evil forces led by a chihuahua because… Mexican wrestling? This one also didn’t last too long.
Alienators: Evolution Continues: First, you have to recall the movie Evolution from 2001, and how they tried to make Ghostbusters but this time about aliens. Then consider how Ghostbusters had an animated spinoff. Naturally, this show followed. It follows people who are either from the movie or aren’t quite the same people, plus whatever random adaptational differences they felt necessary for a show aimed at kids probably. Namely, now there’s some weird alien pet mascot and one of the people drank some mystery fluid so he just randomly mutates, also the aliens have an evil humanoid leader. It’s very much in the vein of an old kids cartoon in that concept.
Galidor: A live-action show that might have an even longer name, it’s about some teen who ends up in an alternate dimension or some other space event and teams up with random characters, such as a robot that seems to have hair antennae. Also, the teen gets some weird power where he can change his limbs into different forms, and his name is Bluetooth, somehow not a reference to the wireless protocol.
The Ripping Friends: A show from people who worked on Ren and Stimpy, including the creator with questionable reputation. It’s very much in the same style and largely gross-out humor involving extremely buff superheroes that rip things other than just farts and a bizarre selection of villains. The show’s disturbed nature led it to eventually be shown on Adult Swim at some point, including scenes and episodes that Fox Kids wouldn’t dare showing.
WMAC Masters: I wasn’t sure what this live-action show was as a kid, if it was supposed to be like a game show or sports competition, but it’s apparently scripted and choreographed fights that also somehow relate to a life lesson. That sort of reminds me of the original Power Rangers and the ties to martial arts that had. The show focuses around winning this special trophy which may be magical for all I know, and you have the good guys and bad guys. The weird thing about this was how it got canceled on a cliffhanger, where the bad guys just went and stole the trophy because they’re bad guys, and then I guess they just go do money laundering or something, I don’t know, the show ended.
Funky Cops: Would you think a show heavy in 1970s references would work great with a target audience of kids who were probably born in the 1990s? Maybe because That 70s Show was airing around the same time, but this is a strange cartoon that also came from France. It’s pretty much a parody of the buddy cop movies and shows that also aired in the actual 1970s. The show features aspects such as the titular cops being obsessed with disco, to the point where they have to battle some opera cult, and that 8-tracks are the future. It’s a strange concept to lay down on kids possibly unfamiliar with the era. Maybe there was an intent to have parents watch alongside and find all the 70s references, which the show mostly seems to be, amusing to some degree. But I think they mostly watched That 70s Show instead.
Cubix: Robots for Everyone: Robots for everyone sounds cool, but this is a strange show. I thought it was Canadian before, but it turns out it’s South Korean. The premise is about a city of robots and people in roughly equal numbers (thus the “robots for everyone”) and a boy’s bond with a special robot made of cubes that can also change shapes. The robots are also considered sentient thanks to special technology that allows emotions and personalities to develop. Of course the boy’s father generally dislikes robots so whatever reason he had to move the family over to the city of robots had to have been pretty important. Mostly I’m pulling this, among other random details, from Wikipedia pages, because I don’t exactly have a fully photographic memory for obscure shows.
Stargate Infinity: I was familiar with Stargate when this showed up on the block, given the syndicated episodes SG-1 I saw on occasion. It’s placed well after SG-1 and some guy convicted of a crime he didn’t commit goes renegade with a group of characters hopping between planets, in search of a way to clear the one guy’s name and eventually find Earth again. It’s a pretty typical plotline. Apparently it’s also non-canon according to everyone else involved with Stargate.
The Cramp Twins: A show mainly about a pair of different twin boys, namely one is aggressive and blue and the other is conscious of a lot of causes and also knits a lot. This is a show where people sometimes have random skin colors such as green or others not typically seen within the human spectrum. So a bit like Doug in that aspect. That’s about all I remember on it.
Back to the Future: The Animated Series: This 80s movie series also got an animated adaptation. This show is actually from the early 90s but somehow ended up on the block. Ignoring the one rule of the movies where time is the only axis traveled and Earth-relative coordinates are kept between times, they go all over the place and time. Of course there’s an episode where they go to the dinosaur ages, somehow prevent their extinction, and cause future Earth to be ruled by intelligent super-dinosaurs. Something interesting about this show is that it featured Christopher Lloyd and Bill Nye in live-action segments that actually demonstrate much more scientific concepts, thus allowing this show to be considered for the “educational and informational” category. Furthermore, this eventually led to the Bill Nye the Science Guy show.
So if you wonder about the random variety of shows that networks would air until they stopped paying out or some legal thing happened, that might be a slice of that kind of thing, in this time when people more just look up whatever new thing showed up on Netflix. Even though PBS still shows kids shows on weekdays, parents might just pull up some random on-demand cartoon or the like to try to keep the kids occupied for all I know. Not being a parent, I don’t really know what modern parents do, it’s kinda just hearsay. There’s also the YouTube thing where haunted videos show up or whatever goes on there. All I know is I also watched a lot of PBS as a kid.