NBC Fare Targets ‘Tweens’ on Saturdays : Television: The network plans to drop its cartoons in favor of live-action series for older children.
NBC said Friday that it will officially bid goodby to young children on Saturday mornings Sept. 12, when the network drops the last of its cartoons to pick up three new live-action series targeted at teen-agers--"Name Your Adventure,” “California Dreams” and “Double Date.”
By also adding a second half-hour installment of “Saved By the Bell,” currently the top-rated Saturday-morning program among teens, NBC will create a 2 1/2-hour block of programming for older kids starting at 10 a.m.
NBC had previously announced the two-hour addition of “Saturday Today,” which will be broadcast at 8 a.m. beginning Aug. 1, extending the “Today” program to seven days a week.
Crowded by a strong slate of Saturday-morning cartoons on CBS, ABC and the newest challenger, Fox, the low-rated NBC decided in December to drop out of the cartoon bonanza this fall and offer counter-programming for adults and “tweens"--a network programming buzzword to describe viewers in between children and adults.
The live-action series that NBC is adding to attract teen-agers are also thought to be less expensive to produce than animation, which has been the staple of network programming on Saturday mornings since the early 1960s.
The sitcom “Saved By the Bell” will start the new “tween” block at 10 a.m., followed at 10:30 by the comedy and music series “California Dreams” and then a second episode of “Saved By the Bell.” Both series are from creator Peter Engel, who has plans to interchange characters. “California Dreams” is a sort of ‘90s version of “The Partridge Family,” about five teen-age brothers and sisters who dream of forming a rock band.
“Name Your Adventure,” at 11:30 a.m., will select viewers based on letters and fulfill their fantasies on air, such as swimming in the ocean with dolphins or attending NASA’s Space Camp.
At noon, the game show “Double Date,” with former syndicated “Fun House” host J. D. Roth, will have a real-life brother and sister choose ideal dates for each other. During the NBA season, “Double Date” will be benched in favor of “NBA Inside Stuff,” the magazine-style basketball show co-hosted by Ahmad Rashad and Willow Bay.
NBC said that it may premiere one of the new teen-oriented shows early, depending on programming needs, once “Saturday Today” premieres. The news program will originate from New York during NBC’s coverage of the 1992 Summer Olympics in Barcelona, Spain, providing NBC affiliates with a Saturday news presence that the network says they have been requesting for some time.