On September 13, 1997, Disney's One Saturday Morning premiered as a two-and-a-half-hour sub-block within the ABC Saturday Morning lineup. It was originally scheduled to debut the Saturday prior on September 6; however, its premiere was pushed back one week due to ABC News' coverage of the funeral of Princess Diana (a news event that also resulted in CBS, NBC and Fox pre-empting their children's program blocks that day).
One Saturday Morning – advertised as "five hours of summer, once a week!" (as referenced in the theme song that introduced the block each week) – featured two parts: three hours of regularly scheduled cartoons and a two and a half hour flagship show that included feature segments, comedy skits, and the virtual world Hastings had proposed, along with episodes of four series: 101 Dalmatians, Doug (which had been acquired from Nickelodeon), Recess and Pepper Ann, all of which were interspersed through the show. Schoolhouse Rock!, a longtime staple of ABC's Saturday morning block since 1972, also aired as an interstitial segment (typically it aired during The Bugs Bunny and Tweety Show, the only non-Disney series to carry into One Saturday Morning and one that would air until Warner Bros. ended ABC's contract in 2000). Among the educational features were:
- Manny the Uncanny, in which the title character (played by Paul Rugg) would visit an unusual job site and observe how the job is performed; Another segment called Manny's America appeared on One Saturday Morning in 1999 and follows Manny visiting different locations across the United States of America.
- Great Minds Think for Themselves, in which Genie (voiced by Robin Williams, reprising the character he voiced in Aladdin) highlighted moments in (mostly American) history in which famous figures bucked conventional wisdom;
- How Much Stuff Can An Elephant Crush?. Prior to the segment, kids would go online to One Saturday Morning's website DisneyOne.com to vote for which object in this case, food Jelly Roll the Elephant would crush. Once the percentage of votes were tallied, the winning object would be crushed by Jelly Roll and the crushed platter of food would be enjoyed by a mouse named Derby.
- How Things Werk, a 1950s comic book styled segment explaining feats of American engineering, and a parodied version of their functions; and
- Mrs. Munger's Class, in which a page from an actual elementary school yearbook had its faces syncro-voxed for humorous effect (the actual people whose photos were featured never granted their permission for their likenesses to be used, prompting legal action against its producers and the eventual removal of the sketch). A similar sketch called Centerville replaced Mrs. Munger's Class in 1999.
- Find Out Why!, in which Timon and Pumbaa from The Lion King answer a scientific question.
- The Monkey Boys, played by comic duo Buddy & Hodge-Podge are two mute men who humorously play out a different job in every episode, much to the annoyance of everyone else around.
- What's Up With That? in which Professor Chris Williams tells a scientific or geographic fact while being viewed on a tv monitor by two aliens.
- Tube Dwellers, were two men that lived inside the viewers' television and were responsible for keeping the show running, with various difficulties happening in every short.
The live-action wraparound segments were originally hosted by now New York City based lawyer Jessica Prunell (in the role of Charlie) for the block's first season in 1997, and later by Valarie Rae Miller (in the role of MeMe) beginning in September 1998; the segments also featured an elephant named Jelly Roll (voiced by stand up comedian and actor Brad Garrett), who served as a sidekick to the human host.
During One Saturday Morning's intro sequence as well as the opening titles of programs during the block, a tiny lightbulb icon appeared in a bottom corner of the screen (which during programs, often occurred during a static frame at the end of the program's title sequence) with an announcer saying, "Illuminating Television," in reference to the educational programming content within the block. Various animations in which the lightbulb was removed from the screen occurred after the bulb's chain was pulled by a hand (including a hand of Pooh from The New Adventures of Winnie the Pooh), differing depending on the program (such as the lightbulb turning into a rocket, falling into a garbage can, turning red, yellow or green when it's driving as a racing car, turning into a helicopter or jumping in a pool). The icon continued to be used after the rebranding to "ABC Kids" until early 2005, when it was replaced for the remainder of ABC Kids' run by an "e/i" icon adorned on a mortarboard hat and a ball version of the ABC logo (based on the one seen in the logo used for the block) that bounced to the top of the screen to wear the e/i hat at the start of each act.
One Saturday Morning was initially a massive success, beating Fox Kids during One Saturday Morning's first season to be the most-watched Saturday morning block on broadcast television. The shorts and hosted segments were dropped in 2000 in a reformatting of the ABC block due to low ratings; by this time, the interstitials within the block were relegated to bumpers and program promotions. In September 2001, live-action series were added to the One Saturday Morning lineup with the addition of the "Zoog Hour," an hour-long sub-block featuring the Disney Channel original sitcoms Lizzie McGuire and Even Stevens (the sub-block, advertised in promos for One Saturday Morning promoting the two programs as "powered by Zoog," was named after Disney Channel's weekend programming block at the time, Zoog Disney).
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