Sunday Morning Cartoons - Jotting about Jot
Today we have cartoons available for viewing 24/7 through the Cartoon Network and other outlets. But back in the day, all we had were the three major broadcast affiliates and a handful of UHF channels. We had cartoons Monday through Saturday, but - here in DFW at least - you were out of luck on Sunday morning.
Back in the 70s, Texas was still a Blue Law enforcing state. You couldn't buy pots and pans, toys, and - according to my wife - pantyhose on Sunday. Stores would have entire aisles roped off of items that were illegal to purchase on the Lord's Day, I guess because God hates Corning Ware, Legos, and Hanes.
Parts of the Blue Laws are still enforced here. Liquor stores are required to be closed on Sundays and you can't buy beer or wine at the grocery store until noon. The courts continue to enforce car dealerships being closed one day each weekend.
I doubt it was ever part of the Blue Law, but Sunday morning TV felt very regulated. Perhaps it was an FCC guideline, but just about everybody had the same programming mentality. All the shows were either news or community in focus or a worship broadcast.
There was only one place for cartoons on Sunday morning. That was the Children's Hour with Bill Kelley on KXAS-TV Channel 5. Bill Kelley hosted a program with old cartoons from the fifties, guests from the FW Zoo featuring an animal or creepy-crawly of the week, the FW Museum of Science and History (I can still hum the theme song to this segment), and reading the "Sunday Funnies" page from the FW Star-Telegram with a local kid. In keeping with the morality of the day, an episode of Davey & Goliath would air and on occasion an episode of Jot.
Jot was the most peculiar of cartoons. The animation was abstract and almost psychedelic in tone. Produced by the Southern Baptist Radio and Television Commision, the art had the stylish, contemporary feel of the sixties while the stories communicated traditional, moral lessons.
It was a weird show.
Jot was essentially a ball with a face who, when necessary, sprouted hands and legs that floated around his body. Much as the conceit of Schulz' Peanuts, the adults were featured offscreen - though in contrast their voices were clear and understandable in Jot's world. The adults were the moral authority, providing clear guidance to Jot.
I got to thinking about all of this last night as the Wife and I had dinner with our friends, Greg and Julie. Over a sumptuous feast of red wine and beef tenderloin, Greg made the startling confession that he voiced Jot's friend, Tat.
"You're kidding me!" I exclaimed.
"Nope." He swore, "God's honest truth."
I had no idea that my friend was a cartoon celebrity.
Immediately following Jot, the Children's Hour ended and the screen was filled with the image of Oral Roberts declaring, "Something good
is going to happen to you..." The ORU Singers
would swell up behind him in song while my brother and I both groaned, "Cartoons are over!"
Dad would then direct one of us to take the pliers and crank the knob over to FACE THE NATION
Check out an episode of Jot below featuring the amazing voice talents of my friend Greg as Tat! And then thank your stars for Cable and Satellite TV.
Posted by Aron Head
at 10:18 AM CST
Updated: Sunday, 2 December 2007 10:26 AM CST