I think we all need at least one really nice positive thing about the entertainment business every single day of the year, including weekends. Sometimes it may be something simple, like a video that showcases something fun and sometimes it may be a movie poster that embraces the aesthetic we all want Hollywood to aspire to. Sometimes it may be a long-winded diatribe. Sometimes it’ll be from the staff and extended family of CHUD.com. Maybe even you readers can get in on it. So, take this to the bank. Every day, you will get a little bit of positivity from one column a day here. Take it with you. Maybe it’ll help you through a bad day or give folks some fun things to hunt down in their busy celluloid digesting day.
By Joshua Miller: Author Page
What I’m Thankful For
USA Cartoon Express
Last Saturday I dipped into our “Saturday Morning Cartoon Spotlight” column with Dynomutt, Dog Wonder. In the piece, I mentioned in passing that I became familiar with the series not during its original run in 1976 (when I wasn’t alive), but during the 80’s when it ran as part of USA Network’s block of animated programming, USA Cartoon Express. That got me thinking about all the amazing cartoons that block introduced me to.
Cartoon Express premiered in 1982, making it the first cartoon programming block to appear on cable TV (predating even Nickelodeon). It aired daily for 2-6 hours, and was initially a dumping ground for Hanna-Barbera’s truly mammoth library of 60’s/70’s animated series, from the major players like Scooby-Doo and Yogi Bear to fallen-through-the-cracks off-beat shit like Dynomutt or Wheelie and the Chopper Bunch. By the end of the 80’s, shows from other companies began to appear, like G.I. Joe and Transformers, but it was the weird Hanna-Barbera flotsam and jetsam that really stayed with me. And in those shadowy, archaic days before niche cable channels like Boomerang and helpful websites like CHUD (running series like Saturday Morning Cartoon Spotlight), there is absolutely no way I would’ve been exposed to 75% of those cartoons. No sane broadcast network would’ve wasted its airtime in 1987 showing The Funky Phantom instead Thundercats or something.
Cartoon Express was effectively killed in 1991 when Turner Broadcasting bought up Hanna-Barbera’s library to populate the newly created Cartoon Network. It kept limping along until 1996, by which time there was simply too much competitions from the rapidly expanding cable television super-space. I myself had long since abandoned it for Cartoon Network, like a true traitor (ironically enough, I don’t know how I could have enjoyed all the in-jokes and references on Space Ghost Coast to Coast or Harvey Birdman, Attorney at Law without all those years of Cartoon Express).
But the sweet memories linger on. Boy do they linger. The characters from The Herculoids are probably taking up space in my brain where Algebra could have stayed. But I can’t recall ever needing to do Algebra in my daily life. So I think it all worked out okay.
For all those good times, I am still thankful for USA Cartoon Express.