Hiya, Kids!! A ’50s Saturday Morning
June 12, 2008
The folks at the Shout Factory have cornered the market on nostalgia and are at it again with Hiya, Kids!! A ‘50s Saturday Morning, a primer of vintage children’s television programs from the 1950s. They have compiled the cream of the crop with the likes of Howdy Doody, Lassie, Flash Gordon, The Roy Rogers Show and several others. Each disc in this four-disc set is designed like a Saturday morning programming block with shows for the very young on first, followed by more “sophisticated” shows as the older kids “wake up.” Here are some of the highlights.
Lassie was originally created in 1938 by Eric Knight for a short story published in The Saturday Evening Post. It was an instant hit that would go on to inspire a full-length novel, a feature film, and, in 1954, a TV series. Right from the brief opening introduction, it doesn’t get much more wholesome and all-American than Lassie. Each episode features Lassie the dog and her faithful owner and best friend Jeff (Rettig) as they get into all kinds of adventures. In this episode, Jeff, his friend, and Gramps build a treehouse. The thing even has an “elevator” which is pretty cool.
No collection of ‘50s children’s TV is complete without Flash Gordon, which was originally a comic strip that debuted in 1934 and has gone on to be translated into radio serials, an animated TV series, several feature film, comic books, and novels. This show was filmed in Germany and was the first time Flash Gordon was given the live-action TV series treatment. This particular episode is called, “Deadline at Noon,” and features planets blowing up in rapid succession. Flash (Holland) and his friends decide to investigate.
Captain Z-RO debuted in 1951 as a 15-minute local show from San Francisco and became a syndicated 30-minute program in 1954. Set in a remote region of Earth, Captain Z-RO (Steffens) spent his time conducting experiments in his lab. In this episode, he builds a robot. Z-RO and his boy assistant run the robot through several tests while the scientist tells us how it works. Z-RO teaches us about our solar system as he comes across as more Mr. Wizard than mad scientist.
Sky King was about an Arizona rancher teaming up with a pilot as they encounter dangerous situations and end up saving the day. In this episode, a young blind boy gets mixed up in a store robbery and his seeing-eye dog goes after the crook. It’s up to Schuyler “Sky” King (Kirby) to find the dog and the robber with his plane, the Songbird.
Finally, Sheena, Queen of the Jungle debuted in 1955 but actually got its start in 1937 as it was introduced in a British tabloid magazine. The character’s popularity grew the next year with her first comic book appearance. When a truckload of supplies is stolen, Sheena (McCalla) springs into action in order to avoid tribal warfare.