From the 1970s to the 1990s the big three networks (NBC, CBS, ABC) tried just about every way imaginable to package their Saturday Morning lineup into a prime time special that was unique, watchable, and in service to other relevant things happening on that Network at the same time. From the extreme contortions of the Yummy Awards to the more organic Back to Next Saturday, each special speaks to a ton of effort. In 1990, though, ABC’s strategy was a simple and natural choice.
If I were the head of Marketing for ABC in 1990, “Use Urkel” would be my go-to solution for any problem. It would likely work in any situation and it really works here. The setup has the main Family Matters cast – Urkel, Carl, Laura – on a couch watching previews of Saturday Morning shows.
Throw in a few core Urkel gags like uncomfortably hitting on Laura, cheese jokes, frustrating Carl, and nasty descriptions of food and you’re good to go.
The 1990 Saturday Morning lineup itself is the odd bird here; the new Roseanne Barr cartoon, Little Rosey, is the anchor and the special features a full episode of it with a half-hearted intro by Roseanne herself. Woof. It’s rough.
Around that, though, we’ve got the New Kids On the Block cartoon and returning favorites like The Real Ghostbusters, Beetlejuice, Pup Named Scooby-Doo!, and Pooh. Carl’s got a line, “Nobody Touches Pooh!” that goes un-punchlined, speaking to the decency and decorum of 1990s prime time.
Pretty straightforward special, as these things go. It’s a bit of a headscratcher that they’d make a bigger deal out of Little Rosie than they would out of the New Kids cartoon, but I guess the bigger win for ABC was another Roseanne success. Here’s a partial capture of the special.
It’s also worth pointing out the Orange Juice commercial in the first commercial break, where two smug adults discuss their love of orange juice and stealing the other’s orange juice, ending in one of the characters drinking their OJ in a glass filled with ice cubes like an absolute psycopath. Who does this??