My family and I aren’t really the most religious type, if at all really. My mother, for the past ten years or so has been attending church casually and while me and my brothers all attended church of England schools little of the religion side stuck with us. As for my dad he simply melts when he sets foot on consecrated ground, don’t ask why he just does. However come Saturday morning my younger brother and I had a religion all our own.
Saturday mornings were a god send in my household. Consisting of those precious few hours before my parents arose in which we could watch unfiltered kids entertainment endlessly from a crafted schedule of The Amazing Spider-Man, X-Men, Kim Possible, Power Rangers, The Masked Rider, Ben 10, The Jackie Chan Adventures, Kick Buttowski, Biker Mice from Mars, Arthur, TMNT, The Batman, Kenan & Kel, Recess, Hey Arnold!, Pinky and the Brain, Phineas and Ferb, Pokemon to name but a few of the shows that enthralled us every Saturday for nearly twelve years.
Now I am a product of TV. Beginning with my hours before pre-school in my toddler years I would sit before the dancing tubby toast gobbling Teletubbies, whom I adored. They were then followed by the brilliant El Nombre which starred an anthropomorphic gerbil dressed as Zorro who would save the residents of a small, local Mexican village by teaching them to count. It was incredible. That was what I was allowed to watch but while my mother busied herself about the house, El Nombre would turn over to a beautiful black and white western filled with lone rangers and men with no names battling outlaws and having showdowns with hordes of angry (and rightfully so) Native Americans. It was bloody and adult and brilliant and I would sit there enraptured in a state of pure ectasy with my thumb wedged in my mouth and my stuffed toy bunny at my side. That is until my mother would discover what I was watching and lead me out by my pinched ear. As I grew older TV watching turned into a wrought after school battle of trying to indulg in my favourite past time rather than doing my homework. Of which my mother undeniably won out every time, in a fashion should we say, as I never really gave any of my school work much, if any effort, minimum effort was my catch phrase, sadly. But all forms of TV paled in comparison to that of Saturday morning.
Saturday mornings were a whole other beast. There was no school, no rush, no parents. In my formative years we had only the bare minimum of channels, we didn’t have the delights of Disney or Cartoon Network to entertain us. Instead we were left with the wonders of the BBC, ITV and Channel 5. Channel 4 only had some forms of sport on with it more often then not being horse racing or they had ‘adult’ sitcoms on that in those tender years I had little to no interest in. This also meant that the shows we watched outside of a handful were either seasons old or reruns of classics. We had none of the new, we never tasted the delights of Dexters Labotory or Jonny Bravo in its hayday. We would only later discover these delights through friends or y going across the pond to their native lands of America. It didn’t matter to us though we were enthralled with anything we could get our eyes around, switching between channels, dodging the shows we didn’t like, crafting our own perfect schedule of television. Trying to sneak in quick breakfasts in front of the TV before our parents awoke so we wouldn’t miss a thing. Everything we did was in aid of perfecting our viewing experience. Over sleeping was a death sentence for you see the best cartoons aired early before the masses awoke to tune in to the latest episode of Ben 10 or Spy High. Lying in wasn’t an option if you wanted to catch the adventures of the wall crawler or of Xavier and his uncanny X-Men. Of course none of these shows were aired in any sort of cohesive order they were just filler before the morning prime time so trying to follow a storyline was an impossibility but this never seemed to phase us. We were in our own little Twilight Zone of flashy colours, epic theme tunes, incredible action, fast quips and wondrous characters.
Only on the odd occasion did our desire for solitude backfire; competition time. We always knew the answers or at least liked to think we did and we would sit there dying to ring in and answer and win but all the while knowing we needed our dozing parents permission. Of every minute and of every second they remained asleep in their beds our chances were dwindling. That PlayStation 2 complete with Spider-Man 2 the game of the movie was slipping through our fingers. If only we could just call… but of course we weren’t that stupid, no prize was worth risking the scorn of our parents and losing our precious Saturday mornings. When our parents would eventually rise we would rush to them exclaiming in unintelligible gibberish of the prize, the question, how we knew the answer, how we could win it, how desperately we needed, how time was ticking on, how someone else might win it if we didn’t act now, fate was in their hands, all we had to do was call this number and pay three pounds entry and it could be ours. It was a typical TV competition of course designed to make the channel money in order to cover the initial cost of the prize and then some but that fell past our young naive minds and so our parents would have to deligently explain why we couldn’t enter. Except for on one glorious occasion where some how our silver tongues had managed to convince them, we rang in and we watched and we waited and we waited and waited and then nothing. Yet oddly it didn’t matter we had called in, we had answered, we had spoken to people “of the show”, it was all part of the glorious madness, all part of our beautiful ritual.
We worshipped our time in front of the TV and it has given my brother and I some of greatest loves from the likes of Kim Possible to Spider-Man to Phineas and Ferb to many others and even now the collection never seems to end as we latch onto modern classics such as Steven Universe, Gravity Falls, Gumball and the Regular Show. For thankfully while we’ve grown our love and appreciation for the child minded chaos of the cartoon has only grown with us as well. To this day I still love the feeling of putting a cartoon on in the morning or settling in for a session in front of Cartoon Network, it is an absolute joy. Is there anything better then that reminder of childhood wrapped up in the bright brilliant madness of a new cartoon episode?