Children's programming on CBS

In regard to children's television programming, CBS has aired mostly animated series, such as the original versions of Scooby-Doo, Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids, Jim Henson's Muppet Babies, Garfield and Friends and the 1987 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cartoon. This article outlines the history of children's television programming on CBS including the various blocks and notable programs that have aired throughout the television network's history.


Early years with Captain Kangaroo

From 1955 to 1984, live-action series Captain Kangaroo served as CBS' flagship children's program. For its first three months, the program aired only on weekday mornings; a Saturday morning edition was added in December 1955. During the 1964-65 season, the Saturday broadcast was temporarily replaced by Mr. Mayor, a children's program that served as a vehicle for Captain Kangaroo star Bob Keeshan; after returning in the fall of 1965, the Saturday edition of Captain Kangaroo was discontinued again in 1968, relegating it to weekdays only. Except for pre-emptions due to breaking news coverage, notably the network's three-day-long continuous coverage of the assassination of John F. Kennedy in 1963, and a few episodes that ran for 45 minutes, the program aired as an hour-long broadcast on weekday mornings until 1981. On September 9, 1968, the program began broadcasting in color.

Its audience of predominately children could never help the program compete in the ratings with entertainment/news shows such as NBC's Today, although Captain Kangaroo would become a three-time Emmy Award winner for "Outstanding Children's Entertainment Series" in 1979, 1983 and 1984. In the fall of 1981, as part of an expansion of the CBS Morning News, Captain Kangaroo was moved to the earlier time slot of 7:00 a.m. and reduced to half-hour – at which time, the program was retitled Wake Up with the Captain.

In the fall of 1982, Captain was relegated to a Saturday morning 7:00 a.m. (Eastern) time slot. The network offered a package of reruns to CBS-affiliated stations to air on Sunday mornings in place of the previous block of animated series reruns. Most CBS affiliates only cleared the Saturday morning broadcast of program afterward. Still a third of CBS' affiliated stations had stopped airing Captain Kangaroo entirely after 1982. The program was finally canceled altogether in late 1984, citing a lack of affiliate clearances. Alongside Captain Kangaroo, CBS aired various animated series aimed at kids during the 1960 and 1970s, such as the original version of Scooby-Doo and Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids.

The In the News era (1971–1986)

From 1971 to 1986, CBS News produced a series of one-minute segments titled In the News, which aired between other Saturday morning programs. The "micro-series" (as it would be labelled today) had its genesis in a series of animated interstitials produced by CBS and Hanna-Barbera Productions called In The Know, featuring the title characters from Josie and the Pussycats narrating educational news segments tailored for children. This was eventually metamorphized into a more live-action-oriented micro-series.

CBS Kid TV (1986–1992)

In 1986, the network began branding its Saturday morning block as CBS Kid TV, and incorporated additional programs over the next few years such as Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventures, Back to the Future and Mother Goose and Grimm. The year prior to the block's debut, the network premiered its first in-house animated series since their original Terrytoons, CBS Storybreak; originally hosted by Bob Keeshan, the half-hour series – which featured animated adaptations of popular children's books – was nominated for an Emmy Award for "Outstanding Animated Program" in 1986. Storybreak continued to air on the network in reruns until 1988, before returning in September 1993 with new hosted segments conducted by Malcolm-Jamal Warner.

One of the network's most popular children's programs around this time was Muppet Babies, an animated series which debuted in 1984 and ran for eight seasons. At the height of its popularity, CBS aired the program in two- or three-episode blocks. The program was briefly renamed Muppets, Babies & Monsters, too! during the show's second season, with the second half-hour of the block filled by Little Muppet Monsters, a new series which featured live-action puppets and cartoons starring the adult Muppet characters. The program lasted three weeks before its cancellation (leaving 15 already produced episodes unaired), replaced by an additional half-hour of Muppet Babies. Pee-wee's Playhouse, which debuted in 1986, also became a major hit for the network's Saturday morning lineup; known for its bizarre humor, reruns of the series were abruptly dropped by CBS in 1991 – less than a year after the series ended its five-year run – following star Paul Reubens' arrest after allegedly exposing himself in a Sarasota, Florida adult movie theatre.[1]

One series that never made it to the Saturday morning lineup was Garbage Pail Kids, a series based on the trading card series of the same name by Topps Company. CBS heavily promoted the series in the run-up to the 1987-88 season, having ordered an entire season of episodes; however it was abruptly pulled a few days before its premiere (replaced with a third half-hour of Muppet Babies), following protests from Action for Children's Television, the National Coalition on Television Violence and the Christian Leaders for Responsible Television due to claims that the series ridiculed the handicapped, glorified violence, and served mainly as an program-length commercial for the cards. Some advertisers (such as Nabisco, McDonald's and Crayola) also pulled out of sponsoring the program, either due to pressure from special interest groups, or because a preview tape of the show was not available in time for review. A few CBS stations (such as WIBW-TV in Topeka, Kansas; KOTV in Tulsa, Oklahoma and KREM-TV in Spokane, Washington) opted not to carry the program, notifying the network of their decision to pre-empt the program weeks in advance of the debut.[2][3]

Another popular series was Garfield and Friends, based on the Garfield newspaper comics, which debuted on the network in 1988; the episodes featured a mix of longer-length animated segments and short segments known as "Quickies", featuring characters from the Garfield and U.S. Acres strips. Although the series had still been doing well in the ratings, Garfield and Friends ended in 1994 after seven seasons through a mutual agreement to cease production, after the show's production company nixed a proposal by CBS to reduce its production budget.

From 1990-1995 a series of bumpers featuring characters from the cartoon Fido Dido ran heavily in between shows.

CBS Toontastic/CBS Kidz (1992–1997)

In September 1992, the block was rebranded CBS Toontastic; additional live-action and animated programs began aired on the block around this time such as Beakman's World, The Twisted Tales of Felix the Cat, Ace Ventura: Pet Detective, The Mask: The Animated Series and Tales from the Cryptkeeper. The block was later renamed CBS Kidz in 1995.

During the early and mid-1990s, through a partnership between the network and The Walt Disney Company, Walt Disney Television Animation provided much of CBS's animated programming (in addition, Disney partnered with CBS for some of its holiday specials such as Happy New Year, America and The All-American Thanksgiving Day Parade). The partnership led to, among other shows, several adaptations of recent Disney films (such as The Little Mermaid, Timon & Pumbaa and Aladdin) appearing on CBS's Saturday morning lineup. These series also aired concurrently on the syndicated animation block The Disney Afternoon. The partnership ended in 1996, following the completion of Disney's purchase of ABC and its corporate parent Capital Cities/ABC, Inc., around which time that all Disney-produced programs still airing on CBS at the time left the network.

Action Zone (1994–1997)

In an effort to compete with other action series at the time, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles was revamped into a more action-oriented series with less comedy, and along with new shows WildC.A.T.s and Skeleton Warriors was grouped into a new sub-block, "Action Zone", which premiered in September 1994; the sub-block featured a fly-though robotic style pre-opening that eventually segued into the show's opening title sequence. WildC.A.T.s. and Skeleton Warriors were cancelled around a year later, at which time the sub-block was discontinued (although Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles was allowed to retain the "Action Zone" brand until that series ended its run two years later).

Think CBS Kids and deal with Nelvana/CBS Kidshow (1997–2000)

Main article: CBS Kidshow

In 1997, taking advantage of the tightened Children's Television Act regulations mandated by the Federal Communications Commission that required broadcasters to carry three hours of educational programming each week, CBS launched an all-"educational/informational" Saturday morning lineup for the 1997-98 season, known as Think CBS Kids. The block – composed entirely of live-action series (marking the first time that CBS did not feature animated series within its children's program lineup) – included the youth-oriented game show Wheel 2000 (a spin-off of the syndicated Wheel of Fortune, which would ironically become a CBS-owned property through the company's 2000 acquisition of King World Productions), which aired simultaneously on the Game Show Network. Other programs included a magazine series based on Sports Illustrated for Kids, the long-running Beakman's World, and notably, "Weird Al" Yankovic's first regular television show, The Weird Al Show. In the News was also briefly revived as part of the Think CBS Kids block, hosted by CBS Radio News Washington correspondent Dan Raviv (in place of original narrators Christopher Glenn and Gary Shepard).

At this time, CBS reduced its Saturday morning children's program lineup to three hours, with the launch of the hour-long CBS News Saturday Morning (which eventually evolved into the Saturday edition of The Early Show). Since 1997, like other networks, the scheduling of CBS's children's programming has varied depending on the CBS station (for example, then-affiliate KTVT in Fort Worth, Texas – now owned-and-operated by CBS – aired the Think CBS Kids block from 9:00 to 11:00 a.m. on Saturdays and 7:00 to 8:00 a.m. on Sundays from 1997 to 1998). Think CBS Kids as a whole suffered from low ratings, resulting in the network canceling most of the shows after four months and replacing them with reruns of CBS Storybreak and Tales from the Cryptkeeper (which formerly aired as part of the predecessor CBS Kidz block), alongside first-run episodes of Beakman's World and Wheel 2000. The block was also cut to three hours as a result of a short-lived expansion of CBS News Saturday Morning into a two-hour broadcast.

In 1998, CBS began contracting other companies to provide programming material for the network's Saturday morning schedule. The first of these special blocks was the CBS Kidshow (using the tagline, "The CBS Kidshow: Get in the Act."), which debuted in September of that year and featured programming from the Canadian animation studio Nelvana[4] (such as Anatole, Mythic Warriors, Birdz, Rescue Heroes and Flying Rhino Junior High).[5] In January 1999, Franklin and Rupert swapped networks, with the former moving from the CBS lineup to Nickelodeon's preschool block Nick Jr., while the latter moved from Nick Jr. to CBS.[6]

Nick Jr. on CBS/Nick on CBS (2000–2006)

Main article: Nickelodeon on CBS

After CBS's programming agreement with Nelvana ended in 2000, the network subsequently entered into a deal with Nickelodeon (which became a sister property to CBS, as a result of one-time CBS subsidiary-turned-media conglomerate Viacom's merger with the network) to air programming from the Nick Jr. block under the banner Nick Jr. on CBS.[4] The block debuted on September 16, 2000, hosted by Face, the animated host/mascot originated on the flagship Nick Jr. block. The lineup was rebranded as simply Nick on CBS on September 14, 2002, as the block incorporated live-action and animated Nickelodeon series aimed at older children in addition to the Nick Jr. series. The older-skewing Nickelodeon series were removed from the block in 2004, refocusing the block back exclusively toward preschooler-oriented series; the block also began incorporating interstitial hosted segments featuring Piper O'Possum.

All of the programs that aired as part of the block met the FCC's educational programming requirements, despite some tenuousness to some of the claims of educational content in some programs. It was for this reason that the block did not include some of Nickelodeon's most popular programs (most notably SpongeBob SquarePants), even during the more open-formatted Nick on CBS era.

On December 31, 2005, Viacom was split into two separate companies under the shared control of National Amusements (owned by Sumner Redstone), with CBS and all related broadcasting, television production and distribution properties as well as some non-production entities becoming part of the standalone company CBS Corporation, while Nickelodeon became part of a restructured Viacom. Nick Jr. on CBS/Nick on CBS ended on September 9, 2006.

KOL Secret Slumber Party (2006–2007)

On January 19, 2006, less than a month after the Viacom-CBS split was finalized, CBS announced that it would enter into a three-year programming partnership with DIC Entertainment (which included the distribution of select tape delayed Formula One auto races) to produce a new children's program block featuring new and recent series from its program library.[7][8][9][10]

After the announcement of the CBS/DIC partnership, the latter originally announced the block was to be branded the Secret Saturday Morning Slumber Party (or Saturday Morning Secret Slumber Party); the block was later renamed as the KOL Secret Slumber Party after DIC Entertainment, which produced all of the children's programming for the block, partnered with AOL to co-produce the block's first-run programs through its KOL subsidiary. AOL managed the programming block's website, and produced public service announcements which aired both on television and online.[11] This alliance, along with the fact that some CBS stations chose to tape delay some of the programs to air on Sunday mornings, led to the block's name change.

The KOL Secret Slumber Party premiered on September 16, 2006, with two first-run programs (Cake and Dance Revolution), one that originally aired as a syndicated program in 2005 (Horseland) and three pre-2006 shows (Liberty's Kids, Trollz and Sabrina: The Animated Series) in the block's inaugural lineup. The block's de facto hosts (and in turn, from whom the Secret Slumber Party name was partly derived from) were the Slumber Party Girls, a teen pop group signed with Geffen Records (composed of Cassie Scerbo, Mallory Low, Karla Deras, Carolina Carattini and Caroline Scott), who appeared during commercial break bumpers and interstitial segments seen before the start and the final segment of each program as well as serving as the musical performers for one of the series featured in the block, Dance Revolution.

KEWLopolis (2007–2009)

In the summer of 2007, KOL withdrew its sponsorship from the network's Saturday morning block. CBS and DIC subsequently announced a new partnership with American Greetings Corporation to relaunch the block on September 21 of that year as KEWLopolis, which would be targeted at young female children and serve as a tie-in with the monthly teen magazine KEWL (which was established in part by DiC in May 2007, and is no longer in publication).[12] Complimenting CBS's 2007 lineup – which included KOL Secret Slumber Party holdovers Cake and Horseland – were newly added series Care Bears: Adventures in Care-a-lot, Strawberry Shortcake and Sushi Pack. The block came under the purview of Cookie Jar Group, after DIC was acquired by the Toronto-based company on July 23, 2008.[13][14] On February 24, 2009, it was announced that CBS renewed its contract with Cookie Jar for three additional seasons, running through 2012.[15][16]

Cookie Jar TV (2009–2013)

Main article: Cookie Jar TV

On September 19, 2009, the block was rebranded again, this time to Cookie Jar TV.[17] With the exception of Strawberry Shortcake, most of the programs previously featured on the predecessor KEWLopolis and KOL Secret Slumber Party were dropped upon the block's relaunch on September 19, 2009.[17][18] The Cookie Jar TV brand remained in place for the block even after that company's acquisition by DHX Media in October 2012.

CBS Dream Team (2013–present)

Main article: CBS Dream Team

On July 24, 2013, CBS announced that it had entered into a programming agreement with Litton Entertainment (which already programmed a Saturday morning block syndicated to ABC's owned-and-operated stations and affiliates, and subsequently began producing a similarly formatted block for CBS sister network The CW in October 2014) to launch a new Saturday morning block featuring live-action lifestyle, wildlife and documentary series aimed at teenagers between the ages of 13 and 16. The new Litton-produced block, the CBS Dream Team, debuted on September 28, 2013,[19] marking the return to an exclusively live-action Saturday morning block to the network since the discontinuance of Think CBS Kids in September 1998 (once again ending the entirety of conventional children's programming – animated or otherwise – airing on CBS). The block's lineup consisted mainly of newer series (including one scripted police procedural, The Inspectors, a format Litton has not used on its other blocks), with the cooking series Recipe Rehab migrating to the Dream Team from the ABC-syndicated Litton's Weekend Adventure block.[20]


List of notable children's programs broadcast by CBS

Note: Shows in bold are in-house productions from CBS, whose distribution rights are now held by CBS Television Distribution.

Saturday morning preview specials

Animated primetime holiday specials

CBS was the original broadcast network home of the animated primetime holiday specials based on the Peanuts comic strip, beginning with A Charlie Brown Christmas in 1965. Over 30 holiday Peanuts specials (each for a specific holiday such as Halloween) were broadcast on CBS from that time until 2000, when the broadcast rights were acquired by ABC. CBS also aired several prime time animated specials based on the works of Dr. Seuss, beginning with How the Grinch Stole Christmas in 1966, as well as several specials based on the Garfield comic strip during the 1980s (which led to Garfield getting his own Saturday morning cartoon on the network, Garfield and Friends, in 1988). Two stop motion animated specials by the Rankin/Bass studio, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and Frosty The Snowman have been annual holiday staples on CBS respectively since 1972 (eight years after the special originally debuted on NBC) and 1969 (when it debuted on CBS). As of 2015, Rudolph and Frosty are the only two pre-1990 animated specials that continue to air on CBS on an annual basis; the broadcast rights to the Peanuts specials are now held by ABC while How The Grinch Stole Christmas is broadcast by NBC and Turner Broadcasting System outlets; ABC Family owns the rights to the Garfield specials.

All of these animated specials, from 1973 to 1992, began with a fondly remembered seven-second animated opening sequence, in which the words "A CBS Special Presentation" were displayed in a colorful ITC Avant Garde typeface. The word "SPECIAL", in all caps and repeated multiple times in multiple colors, slowly zoomed out from the frame in a spinning counterclockwise motion against a black background, and rapidly zoomed back into frame as a single word, in white, at the end; the sequence was accompanied by a jazzy though majestic up-tempo fanfare with dramatic horns and percussion (believed to be edited incidental music from the CBS crime drama Hawaii Five-O, titled "Call to Danger" on the Capitol Records soundtrack LP). This opening sequence – presumably designed by, or under the supervision of, longtime CBS creative director Lou Dorfsman (who oversaw print and on-air graphics for CBS for nearly 30 years, replacing William Golden following his death in 1959) – also appeared immediately before other CBS specials of the period (such as the annual presentations of the Miss USA pageant and the Kennedy Center Honors).

See also


  1. Jill Vejnoska (July 10, 2006). "Pee-wee back with bizarre appeal intact". Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Cox Enterprises. p. 1D.
  2. "CBS gives in to pressure, dumps "Garbage Pail Kids"". Spokane Chronicle. Associated Press. September 18, 1987 via Google News.
  3. "Why Were There No Cartoons???". Adam Bomb Cartoons. Archived from the original on October 25, 2009.
  4. 1 2 Michael Schneider (June 15, 2000). "CBS picks Nick mix". Variety. Reed Business Information. Retrieved August 13, 2009.
  5. Brendan Kelly (December 22, 1998). "CTV pacts for 3 Nelvana series". Variety. Reed Business Information. Retrieved August 13, 2009.
  6. Joseph Adalian (December 14, 1998). "Nick vet CBS-bound as nets alter kidvid skeds". Variety. Reed Business Information. Retrieved June 22, 2006.
  7. Elizabeth Guider (January 19, 2006). "Synergy not kid-friendly at Eye web". Variety. Reed Business Information. Retrieved August 13, 2009.
  8. "Cookie Jar and Dic Entertainment to Merge, Creating independent global children's entertainment and education powerhouse". Cookie Jar Group. June 20, 2008. Archived from the original on May 31, 2009. Retrieved December 23, 2008.
  9. "COOKIE JAR ENTERTAINMENT EXPANDS BRAND PORTFOLIO, TALENT AND GLOBAL REACH WITH CLOSING OF DIC TRANSACTION". Cookie Jar Group. July 23, 2008. Archived from the original on May 31, 2009. Retrieved December 23, 2008.
  10. "World Screen – Home". Worldscreen. March 7, 2006.
  11. "DIC, KOL to Produce on CBS". Mediaweek. June 21, 2006. Archived from the original on 2006-07-13.
  12. "CBS Blocks Out KEWLopolis". Animation Magazine. August 23, 2007.
  13. "COOKIE JAR AND DIC ENTERTAINMENT TO MERGE, CREATING INDEPENDENT GLOBAL CHILDREN'S ENTERTAINMENT AND EDUCATION POWERHOUSE". Cookie Jar Group. June 20, 2008. Archived from the original on May 31, 2009. Retrieved December 23, 2008.
  14. "COOKIE JAR ENTERTAINMENT EXPANDS BRAND PORTFOLIO, TALENT AND GLOBAL REACH WITH CLOSING OF DIC TRANSACTION". Cookie Jar Group. July 23, 2008. Archived from the original on May 31, 2009. Retrieved December 23, 2008.
  15. "CBS Reups With Kids Programmer Cookie Jar". Broadcasting & Cable. February 24, 2009. Retrieved February 26, 2009.
  16. "CBS RENEWS COOKIE JAR ENTERTAINMENT'S SATURDAY MORNING BLOCK FOR THREE MORE SEASONS". Cookie Jar Group. February 24, 2009. Archived from the original on May 31, 2009. Retrieved March 25, 2009.
  17. 1 2 "CBS Sets Lineup for Cookie Jar Block". WorldScreen. September 4, 2009. Retrieved September 10, 2009.
  18. "Zeroing In". Kidscreen. May 8, 2009. Retrieved July 14, 2009.
  19. Meg James (July 24, 2013). "CBS partners with Litton Entertainment for Saturday teen block". Los Angeles Times. Tribune Publishing. Retrieved July 25, 2013.
  20. "Former Greenbrier chef now stars in 'Recipe Rehab'". Associated Press. September 7, 2013. Retrieved March 29, 2015.
  21. "Beakman's World makes science fun for kids of all ages". Boston Globe. Retrieved December 2, 2009 via HighBeam Research.
  22. "For Quality TV, Mad Scientist Returns". The New York Times. The New York Times Company. September 30, 2006. Retrieved March 22, 2012.
  23. "Networks Juggle Saturday Morning TV Lineups". Los Angeles Times. Times Mirror Company. April 11, 1990. Retrieved January 5, 2011.
  24. John Martin (September 6, 1991). "Fine-tuning cartoons for young and old". The Providence Journal. The Providence Journal Company. Retrieved January 5, 2011.
  25. TV Guide Guide to TV. Barnes and Noble. 2004. p. 73. ISBN 0-7607-5634-1.
  26. "Preface to Requiem: The Unproduced Dungeons and Dragons Finale". Archived from the original on July 20, 2011. Retrieved May 23, 2007.
  27. "The New Adventures of Superman". Superman Homepage. Retrieved August 19, 2007.
  28. "Saturday Mornings 1984". TV Party.
  29. Bill Carter (November 26, 1990). "THE MEDIA BUSINESS; Ninja Turtles Save the Day For CBS Children's Lineup". The New York Times. The New York Times Company. Retrieved August 7, 2010.
  30. "The Lion King's Timon and Pumbaa". Retrieved May 13, 2012.

External links

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