There was a time when cartoons were innocent, and children obeyed them more than they obeyed their parents. The glory days, if you will, before problems associated with being an adult were even an issue. This was a time of beauty, and innocence was a dime a dozen. We learned from Turtles, Dinosaurs, Dogs, Ghosts, and Pro Athletes. But in 1994, when program infiltrated Saturday morning cartoon programing, and subsequently brought down the whole ship. Reboot, how I loathe thee. The year was 1994, and ABC had decided to bump the Crypt Keeper cartoon, and cut ties with the Addams Family cartoon. Reboot came on to the scene, boasting itself as the first half hour totally CGI animated cartoon. At first, I was a little leery to see the bump in time slot to Crypt Keeper, but the Canadian based Virtual Reality show meant a lot more damage than just bumping the time slots. Check out the 1994 time slots. It wasn’t so much that the show ushered in a new style of animation, as Robotech had already started the Anime inflitration in the 80s. Reboot did, however, start a slow slope of CGI replacing hand drawn animation. Saturday morning cartoons were filled with Eek! the Cat, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Darkwing Duck, Garfield…the list goes on. And, while it is also true that Saturday mornings were also overrun with campy movies turned into cartoons as well (Bill and Ted, Back 2 the Future, Karate Kid, Teen Wolf..the list goes on). Take a look at the Saturday morning cartoon lineups for 1991-92, courtesy of inthe90s.com.
But all of those cartoons had a common thread, a type of unrelenting innocence back with both kid power and a moral message. It’s true, Power Rangers was also already on the scene when Reboot hit the small screen, but Reboot took the unabashed morals and innocent nature of Saturday mornings and crushed them under its computer generated boot. Themes of all future shows would lose their moral and encouraging nature. Some blame can go to the increase of after school programming, as well as the rise of Cartoon Network, and Nickleodeon, but those channels are also overrun by an influx of CGI toons. The line has to be drawn somewhere, and it starts in 1994. The trend contiued through the 90s with shows like Beast Machines, Power Rangers, Hypernauts, Masked Rider, Rancher Digimon:Digital Monsters, Living Better with Carrie Wiatt…the list goes on. By 1999, cartoons were just about a thing of the past.
Turn on the TV any Saturday morning and you will find the majority of all shows to be CGI in nature, war themed, or in no way encouraging. Kids today have to have content delivered in a new way, but why question the deliberate spike in manners and common sense when there is a clear link between those delinquent actions and the cartoons they watch. Even more, why blame the cartoons when the responsibility comes down to 1994, and one CGI show…Reboot.