Before the tradition was killed off by cable and the internet, TV networks used to create special Saturday morning lineups just for kids, filled with animated and live-action shows aimed at a young audience. And it was standard practice to promote those lineups each year with elaborate, often downright bizarre specials. Such a specimen is 1989’s Who Shrunk Saturday Morning?, a bit of ephemera now immortalized on YouTube. The title makes it sound like a combination of Honey, I Shrunk The Kids and Who Framed Roger Rabbit?, but it’s really just an excuse for the kids from Saved By The Bell to introduce NBC’s 1989-90 Saturday morning schedule, featuring their own show as well as ALF Tales and Camp Candy. The latter warrants an appearance from John Candy himself, his arms full of sporting equipment.
It would be easy enough to do this kind of thing as a straight-to-camera testimonial, but Who Shrunk Saturday Morning? goes for a full-on surrealist narrative in the Alice In Wonderland/Wizard Of Oz vein instead. The kids from Bayside High get zapped by Screech’s shrink ray and wind up inside a TV-themed universe where ALF (voiced by Paul Fusco himself) tells them to seek out “The Master Programmer.” Fast talker John Moschitta Jr. and Night Court bailiff Marsha Warfield make cameos as a Mad Hatter/White Rabbit-type guy and a no-nonsense truant officer, respectively. And when the identity of the programmer is revealed, it’s anything but a disappointment.
Some of the shows being promoted here have completely vanished from the collective memory. Who even knew there was an animated version of The Karate Kid for 13 glorious weeks? But better-remembered shows like The Smurfs, Alvin And The Chipmunks, and Captain N all put in appearances, too. If that’s not enough nostalgia, the YouTube video includes original 1989 commercials, reminding viewers that there was a time when Bill Cosby was the most trusted man in America.