When I was a kid, few things in life gave me more pleasure than Saturday morning cartoons (although after school cartoons certainly supplied a decent helping of childhood happiness). But even as a child, there was something that plagued me about most of cartoons that I watched on Saturday, and every other day of the week for that matter. Simply put, there was very little diversity to be found among the various casts of characters. Sure, you had Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids, and there was a smattering of token minority characters here and there, but by and large all of the really cool characters found in cartoons were white. And that just didn't seem right to me.
Now that I'm much older--though not that much more mature--I don't have time for kids cartoons. Still, when a friend of mine called me and told me to check out The Secret Saturdays, telling me, "This is the cartoon we wanted when we were kids," I figured I'd check it out. Well, my friend wasn't lying--The Secret Saturdays is the cartoon I always wanted to see during my childhood, only it didn't exist back then.
Chronicling the exploits of the Saturday family, a trio of scientific adventurers, the show stars Doc Saturday, his wife Drew, and their 11 year old son Zak. What's most interesting about the family is that Doc is black, Drew is white, and young Zak is whatever they call biracial kids these days. What's even more interesting is that the show never makes mention of the Saturday's racial make-up, which makes The Secret Saturdays that much cooler. The family also includes Fiskerton, a seven-foot tall "gorilla-cat", Komodo, a genetically altered komodo dragon, and Zon, a prehistoric pterosaur.
The primary mission of the Saturday family is tracking down and protecting cryptids--creatures that exist in legend and mythology, but have yet to be officially acknowledged by modern science. One of their main enemies is V.V. Argost, a sinister madman bent on destroying the world, who also happens to be a popular television host. Zak is a fan of Argost's show, which doesn't sit well with his parents. In the debut episode, the two-part "The Kur Stone," the Saturdays race to stop Argost from getting his hands on the Kur Stone, and ancient artifact that will allow him to command an army of cryptids that will help him overthrow humanity. Fortunately, Zak has special psychic abilities that allow him to communicate with cryptids, which comes in hand in the fight against Argost.
The Secret Saturdays, Volume 1, features the first five episodes of Season 1 (there's thirteen episodes total), including "The Kur Stone." The other three episodes find Zak Saturday (and sometimes his parents) globe-trotting to unravel the mystery of the giant ape-like Hibagon, battling the werewolf-like Amarok, and squaring off against a criminal fiend who eats cryptids.
The Secret Saturdays reminds me a bit of shows like The Herculoids, as well as a few other Hanna-Barbera programs from the late 1960s and early 70s, but it has the diversity that was missing from most of those series. Even the supporting cast of The Secret Saturdays is a diverse mix of different culture and nationalities, and its just plain cool to see something different. It's also cool that all the creatures like the Japanese Hibagon and the Chilean Cherufe featured on the show are based on cryptids found in real folklore from all over the world.
As far as contemporary cartoons for kids go--and keep in mind I'm a bit illiterate on the whole--The Secret Saturdays is a fun show. The character design is great, the animation is very good, the stories are interesting and fun, and here is just enough of a twisted sense of humor to keep adults from getting too bored. If you have children--especially boys--between the ages of about seven and twelve, they should really enjoy The Secret Saturdays. And if you are a slightly developmentally arrested adult that still enjoys cartoons, you'll probably enjoys the show as well.