Forgotten Favorites: CBS’ Saturday Supercade
In 1983 CBS began airing a show called Saturday Supercade. The show consisted of five cartoon segments featuring several characters from popular video games of the time. Saturday Supercade’s format was that of a cartoon variety show much like The Groovie Goolies or The Banana Splits, however there were no live action or animated skits in between the cartoon segments. The cartoon program was produced by Ruby-Spears Productions who is famous for creating Scooby-Doo, Thundarr the Barbarian, Fangface, The Plastic-Man Comedy/Adventure Show, Mr T, Turbo Teen as well as a popular 1988 Superman cartoon.
Ruby-Spears also produced an animated Pac-Man cartoon. Because of this, many people mistakenly remember Pac-Man as being a part of Saturday Supercade but, it was not. Pac-Man aired on CBS’ rival, ABC, and later moved to USA’s Cartoon Express.
In it’s first season, Saturday Supercade featured 3 regular weekly cartoons as well as 1 rotating spot. The cartoon segments’ plots were very simple and essentially followed the very basics of the video game they were based on.
The regular weekly cartoon segments were Donkey Kong, Donkey Kong Junior and Frogger.
In Donkey Kong, Donkey escapes from the circus (where you presume he was beaten and mis-treated) and is chased every episode by Mario (in his first television appearance) and Pauline. Donkey manages to trip the bumbling duo up at every opportunity while yelling his irritating catch phrase, “DON-KEY KONG!” The Donkey Kong Jr cartoon actually ties into the Donkey Kong cartoon. In the opening sequence DK Jr sees the empty cage and circus poster from the Donkey Kong opening sequence and sets out to find his daddy with the help of what looks like Fonzi. DK Jr has his own irritating catch phrase he yells at the top of his lungs, “MONKEY MU-SCLE!” Donkey Kong and Donkey Kong Jr featured such voice talents as Frank Welker, Peter Cullen and Soupy Sales.
In his cartoon, Frogger is a reporter for the Swamp Gazette and he goes around town solving crimes. The Frogger opening theme is a bit bizarre. It’s one of the themes with lyrics and it has a very 1920s vibe to it. It reminds me of the Mr Belvedere theme song.
The 1 rotating spot in Season 1 featured either Pitfall! or Q-bert.
In Pitfall!, the main character Pitfall Harry was essentially a treasure hunter. He would travel to exotic locales looking for hidden loot. He was accompanied by his niece Rhonda and his pet mountain lion Quickclaw. Q-bert had a very similar premise to Galaxy High. It took place in high school where Q-bert and his look-a-like girlfriend was bullied by the local gang (the monsters from the video game). Q-bert’s opening theme also featured lyrics like Frogger but had a more decidedly 80s vibe to it.
For Season 2 Frogger, Donkey Kong Jr and Pitfall! were dropped from the lineup and replaced with Kangaroo and Space Ace.
Kangaroo featured the main character Kangaroo and her son Joey. They live in a zoo. There are a group of monkeys that continually try to escape. Kangaroo and Joey spend each segment keeping the monkeys from escaping the zoo. Every once in a while Kangaroo has to bust out the boxing gloves (like in the video game) and bust some monkey asses. Kangaroo’s opening theme also had lyrics. Space Ace very much followed the game. Ace is transformed by Borf into an adolescent version of himself and then kidnaps his girlfriend Kimberly. Ace must rescue Kimberly and stop Borf’s plans for enslaving humanity. The opening for Space Ace was very similar to Space Ghost with a narrator telling you what’s currently happening. Space Ace featured the voice talents of Nancy Cartwright as Kimberly.
None of these cartoons are currently on DVD due to several rights issues. However, according to TV Shows on DVD, Warner Archive Collections will be making certain parts of Saturday Supercade available for order as part of their Movies on Demand program. No specifics yet as to dates or what could be included. It is nice to know that at least some of this content may be archived on DVD soon.
To close out this week’s Forgotten Favorites, here’s a nice video featuring an extended remix of the Saturday Supercade opening sequence. It is a combination of both the Season 1 and Season 2 openings and features characters from both seasons. Click here if you’re having trouble viewing the above.