|Launched||September 13, 1997|
|Closed||August 27, 2011|
|Country of origin||United States|
|Owner||The Walt Disney Company|
|Formerly known as||Disney's One Saturday Morning (1997-2002)|
|Format||Defunct Saturday morning children's program block|
ABC Kids (also known as Disney's ABC Kids, and originally titled Disney's One Saturday Morning until September 7, 2002) was a Saturday morning American children's programming block that aired on ABC from September 13, 1997, to August 27, 2011. It featured a mixture of animated and live-action series from Walt Disney Television Animation and (starting in 2001) Disney Channel, aimed at children between the ages of 6 and 15.
The block regularly aired on Saturday mornings, though certain programs within the lineup aired on Sundays in some parts of the country due to station preferences for non-educational programming or scheduling issues with regional or network sports broadcasts.
After five years of mainly repeats of programs introduced onto the block prior to the 2007-08 season, ABC decided it would cease to provide children's programming during the Saturday morning timeslot, and entered into an agreement with Litton Entertainment to program that period; the block that resulted from this deal - Litton's Weekend Adventure, which is structured as a syndication package distributed with virtual exclusivity to ABC's owned-and-operated stations and affiliates - replaced ABC Kids on September 3, 2011.
In the years immediately prior to The Walt Disney Company's purchase of ABC corporate parent Capital Cities/ABC Inc. in 1995, the network's children's program block at the time, ABC Saturday Morning, aired such Disney-produced series as The Mighty Ducks, Quack Pack, DuckTales and Gargoyles. It was also known for its iconic jingle "After these messages we'll be right back!" that existed from 1987 until Disney's takeover of the network. However, many other Disney-produced animated series (such as The Little Mermaid, Timon & Pumbaa and Aladdin) aired at the time as part of CBS' competing Saturday morning lineup. After Disney formally took over ABC's operations in 1996, Disney head Michael Eisner sought to create a Saturday morning block that was different from those carried by its competitors at the time.
In February 1997, Peter Hastings left Warner Bros. Animation in a heated dispute over the direction of two massive hit Warner Bros. animated series he had written for, Animaniacs and Pinky and the Brain, and joined Disney, where was tasked with overhauling ABC's Saturday morning lineup. He pitched an idea around the concept that Saturday is different from every other day of the week, and the representation of weekdays as buildings. Hastings also proposed the use of virtual set technology; although he knew a bit about it at the time and the technology used was just starting to be developed, Disney and ABC liked the idea. He hired Prudence Fenton as consultant manager and co-executive producer. Together, they sampled virtual set technology at the 1997 NAB Show and chose technology developed by Accom and ELSET. Rutherford Bench Productions, which had previously worked with Disney on other projects, hired Pacific Ocean Post (now POP Sound) to produce the virtual set. The building was initially a drawing of Grand Central Terminal with a roller coaster added, but evolved into a towering mechanical structure. Even the interior has similarities such as a central high raised room, with two wings on the left and right sides and another on the south side.
On September 13, 1997, Disney's One Saturday Morning premiered as a two-and-a-half-hour sub-block within the ABC Saturday Morning lineup. It was originally scheduled to debut the Saturday prior on September 6, but coverage by all U.S. networks of the funeral of Princess Diana pushed back the premiere up one week to September 13.
Disney's One Saturday Morning - advertised as "5 hours of summer, once a week!" (as referenced in the theme song that introduced the block each week) - featured two parts: three hours of regularly scheduled cartoons and a two-hour flagship show that included feature segments, comedy skits, and the virtual world which Hastings had proposed, along with newer episodes of three animated series: Disney's Doug (which had been acquired from Nickelodeon in 1996), Recess and Pepper Ann. Schoolhouse Rock!, a longtime essential of ABC's Saturday morning block since 1973, also aired as an interstitial segment (typically it aired during The Bugs Bunny and Tweety Show, the only non-Disney cartoon to carry into Disney's One Saturday Morning (as its contract had yet to expire) and one that would air until 2000, when the carriage contract with Warner Bros. was exhausted).
Doug, Recess and Pepper Ann were each nominally given 40-minute time slots. The extended 10 minutes during each show's slot were for One Saturday Morning's interstitial segments and educational features. Among the educational features were:
The live-action wraparound segments were originally hosted by Charlie (portrayed by Jessica Prunell, now an attorney) for the block's first season in 1997, and later by MeMe (Valarie Rae Miller) beginning in September 1998; the segments also featured an elephant named Jelly Roll (voiced by stand up comedian and actor Brad Garrett), who served as a sidekick to the human host.
During Disney's One Saturday Morning's intro sequence as well as the opening titles of programs during the block, a tiny lightbulb icon appeared in a bottom corner of the screen (which during programs, often occurred during a static frame at the end of the program's title sequence) with an announcer saying, "Illuminating Television," in reference to the educational programming content within the block. Various animations in which the lightbulb was removed from the screen occurred after the bulb's chain was pulled by a hand (including a hand of Winnie the Pooh from The New Adventures of Winnie the Pooh or a hand of Doug Funnie from Disney's Doug), varying depending on the program (such as the light bulb turning into a rocket, turning red, yellow and green then driving as a racing car, turning into a helicopter or jumping in a pool). The icon continued to be used after the rebranding to "ABC Kids" until early 2005, when it was replaced by a simple "e/i" icon embedded in a tiny circle on the top right corner of the screen which was displayed throughout the entire program. Then, in early 2006, that icon was replaced for the remainder of ABC Kids' run by an "e/i" icon adorned on a mortarboard hat and a ball version of the ABC logo (based on the one seen in the logo used for the block) that bounced to the top of the screen to wear the e/i hat at the start of each act (skipped on occasional events).
A spin-off of Disney's One Saturday Morning, Disney's One Too, debuted on UPN on September 6, 1999; produced through a time-lease agreement between Disney and UPN, the block aired each weekday (either in the morning or afternoon, depending on the station's preference) and on Sunday mornings, and featured many of the programs shown on One Saturday Morning (including Recess, Pepper Ann and Sabrina: The Animated Series).
Disney's One Saturday Morning was initially a massive success, beating Fox Kids during its first season to be the most-watched Saturday morning block on broadcast television. The shorts and hosted segments were discontinued in 2000 in a reformatting of the ABC block due to low ratings; by this time, the interstitials within the block were relegated to bumpers and program promotions. In September 2001, live-action series were added to the One Saturday Morning lineup with the addition of the "Zoog Hour," an hour-long sub-block featuring the Disney Channel original series Lizzie McGuire and Even Stevens (the sub-block, advertised in promos for Disney's One Saturday Morning promoting the two programs as "powered by Zoog," was named after Disney Channel's weekend programming block at the time, Zoog Disney).
On July 23, 2001, the Walt Disney Company purchased Fox Family Worldwide, primarily for its Fox Family Channel, which was included in the sale as well as Saban Entertainment, a company in which Fox purchased a 50% interest in 1994. On September 14, 2002, ABC rebranded its Saturday morning block, as a subtle nod to the Fox Kids brand acquired by Disney through its purchase of Fox Family Worldwide, to ABC Kids (as a result of the sale, Fox Kids ceased to exist; Fox's children's program lineups would be handled from that point onward by 4Kids Entertainment until 2008).
The rechristened block originally contained a mix of first-run programs exclusive to the block, as well as reruns of several original series from Disney Channel. NBA Inside Stuff also began airing on the block as a result of ABC's acquisition of the broadcast television rights to the NBA from NBC (where the series originally premiered in 1992), beginning with the 2002-03 season's Christmas Day game; Inside Stuff continued to air on ABC Kids until 2004. Replacing the massive building theme used on One Saturday Morning (which was used for the live-action segments from 1997-2000) was a factory motif, a theme that would last for all nine years of ABC Kids' run (including the sports stadium one from 2002-2006, and the rock concert one from 2006-2011).
Through Disney's acquisition of Saban Entertainment, ABC also moved the Power Rangers series from Fox Kids to the ABC Kids block. All first-run episodes from the franchise premiered on ABC Kids beginning with the second half of the show's Wild Force season (starting with the episode "Unfinished Business", followed by reruns of the first half), with the entirety of the Wild Force and Ninja Storm seasons subsequently airing in reruns on ABC Family (the former season aired in part both prior to the introduction of and during the ABC Family Action Block). Subsequent seasons from Dino Thunder to Jungle Fury had their first-run episodes debut on Jetix first and re-air on ABC Kids. The RPM season aired exclusively on ABC Kids, after which ABC canceled production of the series. In lieu of a new season, ABC instead aired a re-version of the first season of Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, with an updated title sequence and comic book effects similar to William Dozier's Batman series from January 2 to August 28, 2010.
In September 2004, ABC Kids almost exclusively carried live-action and animated series from Disney Channel as a result of the short-lived Fillmore! (which had been airing in reruns since the summer of 2004) and Recess (which was airing in reruns on the block since it ended in 2001) being dropped from the lineup. With the expanded regulation of federally mandated educational programming guidelines defined by the Federal Communications Commission's Children's Television Act, ABC chose to fulfill the three-hour quota by carrying select episodes of Disney Channel live-action comedies and animated series (anywhere between eight and 13 episodes from a given season) featuring moral lessons and/or educational anecdotes. Furthermore, some of the network's affiliate groups - primarily Hearst Television and Allbritton Communications - refused to carry any show aired within the ABC Kids lineup that did not fulfill E/I requirements (such as Kim Possible or the Power Rangers series during their tenure on ABC Kids) in order to instead free up the time to air locally produced programming. However, some stations aired these shows on tape delay, shifting them to either very early in the morning on Saturdays or to Sundays - often before local newscasts, Good Morning America and/or that week's "live" portion of the ABC Kids block began. In a few cases (including Hearst's Milwaukee station WISN-TV and its Oklahoma City station KOCO-TV), Kim Possible and Power Rangers aired early Monday morning before ABC World News Now during the 2005-06 season to fill the contractual need to air those series but also express disinterest to the network in carrying the shows altogether, which was a factor behind the chain-wide decision to end airing Power Rangers altogether the next season.
Beginning with the 2006-07 season, ABC Kids (outside of Power Rangers) consisted mainly of repeat episodes of Disney Channel series that first aired on the block between September 2005 and May 2007 (Hannah Montana, The Emperor's New School and The Replacements were the last Disney Channel series to be added to the block in September 2006). In fact, nearly all of the shows aired on the lineup were out of production by June 2011 (most notably That's So Raven, which aired its series finale in 2007 but continued to air on ABC Kids for four more years, even after reruns of the sitcom stopped airing on Disney Channel in June 2010), except for Power Rangers (which aired its final new episode at the time in December 2009).
Airings of Power Rangers ended on the network's West Coast affiliates on August 14, 2010, due to a two-week preemption caused by ABC's coverage of the 2010 Little League World Series and the educational programming makegoods by those stations that resulted from it; the program officially ended its run on the block nationwide two weeks later on August 28, 2010. On September 4, 2010, ABC turned over the hour held by Power Rangers to its local affiliates (with many that carried the program and some that did not using that time to debut an additional hour of their existing Saturday morning newscasts on that date). Through Haim Saban's repurchasing of the intellectual rights to the franchise from Disney and a deal reached in May 2010 which gave the cable network the television rights, all new seasons of Power Rangers began premiering on Nickelodeon with the debut of the Samurai season on February 7, 2011. Repeats of new seasons and all previous seasons also began airing on that network the following day.
In Summer 2011, ABC announced that it would no longer provide educational programming to its owned-and-operated stations and affiliates as part of its Saturday morning network lineup. The network decided to lease out the three-hour timeslot and seek other programmers for an agreement to produce a syndicated block for its stations. In August 2011, ABC's affiliate board announced that it had reached a deal with Litton Entertainment, a production company which produces syndicated programming (including educational programs aimed at children and teenagers), to produce original content for the Saturday morning block.
ABC Kids aired for the final time on August 27, 2011, the Litton-produced Litton's Weekend Adventure block effectively replaced ABC Kids the following week on September 3, 2011. As a result, ABC discontinued airing animated programming, making it the first network not to air animated series within its children's program lineup since August 1992, when NBC discontinued its animation block on Saturday mornings to launch the live-action block TNBC. This left Cookie Jar Toons on This TV and Toonzai on The CW as the only two children's blocks on over-the-air television not to have a strictly educational/informative lineup; the latter was replaced by Vortexx in 2012. Both soon met the same fate of replacement with their own E/I block replacements (This TV premiered an unbranded E/I block in 2013, while The CW premiered Litton's One Magnificent Morning in 2014).
|That's So Raven2||September 20, 2003|
|The Suite Life of Zack & Cody2||September 17, 2005|
|The Emperor's New School2||January 28, 2006|
|The Replacements2||September 9, 2006|
|Title||Premiere date||End date|
|101 Dalmatians: The Series1||September 13, 1997||September 4, 1999|
|Disney's Doug1||September 8, 2001|
|Recess12||September 18, 2004|
|Pepper Ann1||January 27, 2001|
|The Bugs Bunny & Tweety Show1||September 2, 2000|
|Jungle Cubs1||September 5, 1998|
|The New Adventures of Winnie the Pooh1||September 7, 2002|
|Science Court / Squigglevision1||September 2, 2000|
|Hercules: The Animated Series1||September 12, 1998||April 24, 1999|
|Mickey Mouse Works1||May 1, 1999||September 2, 2000|
|Sabrina: The Animated Series1||September 11, 1999||October 13, 2001|
|The Weekenders1||February 26, 2000||January 12, 2002|
|Teacher's Pet1||September 9, 2000||September 7, 2002|
|Buzz Lightyear of Star Command1||October 14, 2000||September 8, 2001|
|House of Mouse1||January 13, 2001||September 7, 2002|
|Lloyd in Space1||February 3, 2001|
|Lizzie McGuire12||September 15, 2001||September 10, 2005|
|Mary-Kate and Ashley in Action!1||October 20, 2001||June 29, 2002|
|Teamo Supremo12||January 19, 2002||September 13, 2003|
|The Proud Family12||August 31, 2002||September 2, 2006|
|NBA Inside Stuff12||September 7, 2002||September 18, 2004|
|Fillmore!2||September 14, 2002||February 19, 2005|
|Kim Possible2||September 2, 2006|
|Power Rangers Wild Force2||February 8, 2003|
|Power Rangers Ninja Storm2||February 15, 2003||February 14, 2004|
|Lilo & Stitch: The Series2||September 20, 2003||September 2, 2006|
|Power Rangers Dino Thunder2||February 21, 2004||February 12, 2005|
|Phil of the Future2||September 25, 2004||September 2, 2006|
|W.I.T.C.H.2||January 15, 2005||March 26, 2005|
|Power Rangers S.P.D.2||February 26, 2005||March 4, 2006|
|The Buzz on Maggie2||September 17, 2005||January 21, 2006|
|Power Rangers Mystic Force2||March 11, 2006||February 24, 2007|
|Power Rangers Operation Overdrive2||March 3, 2007||March 22, 2008|
|Power Rangers Jungle Fury2||March 22, 2008||February 28, 2009|
|Power Rangers RPM2||March 7, 2009||December 26, 2009|
|Mighty Morphin Power Rangers2 (2010 re-version)||January 2, 2010||August 28, 2010|