The Secret Saturdays
By Emily Ashby,
Common Sense Media Reviewer
Common Sense Media Reviewers
Strong family is at heart of action-packed 'toon.
A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this TV show.
The series is intended to entertain, not educate.
The series centers on a strong family whose members are respectful of and affectionate toward each other. Expect plenty of standard cartoon struggles between the "good guys" and the "bad guys," with the good guys triumphing in the end.
Positive Role Models
The Saturday parents are protective of their 11-year-old son and always mindful of his safety, but they allow him enough freedom to test his limits and learn from his mistakes. As a team, the Saturdays willingly risk their own lives to battle evil forces seeking world dominance, which naturally leads to many physical confrontations, since violence seems to be the only means of conflict resolution.
Violence & Scariness
This action-packed show is full of cartoon violence, including explosions, missiles that take down aircraft, gunfire (though not aimed specifically at people), fistfights, and weapons that shoot fire or knock victims unconscious. Even so, realistic injuries are rare. A villain trains animals and insects to attack, bite, and sting his enemies on command. Occasionally characters are assumed to die in explosions or from falls, but the details aren't shown, and little mention is made of the deaths.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
A married couple is affectionate and often hugs. In one scene, a man tells a woman she's "looking hot."
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that this series has plenty of the animated violence you'd expect from an action/adventure cartoon (explosions, fire power, fistfights, high-tech weapons), but it also has a surprising amount of positive content surrounding the family at its center. The superhero-like parents are patient with and respectful of their 11-year-old son, often expressing their love for him but at the same time setting clear rules to ensure his safety. The fact that he tags along with his globetrotting mom and dad on dangerous missions does seem to fly in the face of responsible parenting, but the show's tween viewers aren't likely to notice the contradiction in light of the action.
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What's the Story?
For 11-year-old Zak Saturday (voiced by Sam Lerner), studying unusual creatures and fending off villainous attacks is just an average day. After all, for most of his life he's accompanied his cryptozoologist parents, Doc (Phil Morris) and Drew (Nicole Sullivan), on missions around the world to locate and analyze cryptids -- legendary animals that science doesn't believe in and most people don't know really exist. While Zak and his parents study the cryptids in an effort to keep the creatures' existence a secret -- for their own protection as well as humans' -- other forces are hard at work plotting ways to use the cryptids for their own evil endeavors. It's up to the Saturdays to face down tyrants like the maniacal V.V. Argost (Corey Burton), who's bent on enslaving cryptids to execute his plan for world domination.
Is It Any Good?
It's unusual for an action/adventure cartoon to have enough heart to distinguish itself from its peers, but THE SECRET SATURDAYS' focus on a strong, loving family succeeds at just that. Set against the cartoon violence that predictably pervades the show's action (none of which is likely to be new for kids) is the surprisingly realistic subplot about a family working out the daily ups and downs of just being a family. Doc and Drew often struggle with setting safe boundaries for their 11-year-old son -- who's bent on growing up faster than they're ready for -- and Zak feels that his parents still view him as a little boy rather than a reliable teammate.
The Saturdays aren't perfect, but they do their best to understand each other and talk their way through any issues that arise. While parents might argue that truly responsible adults would think twice before allowing an 11-year-old to tag along on potentially life-or-death missions, at least they'll know that there are some worthwhile undertones to this action-filled cartoon.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about how this show is similar to and different from other current TV cartoons. Does it feel more like older shows? Why or why not?
Do you think the characters could resolve their differences in nonviolent ways?
What legendary creatures have you heard of? How plausible do you think such stories are? Do you believe there are things in this world that science can't explain? Speaking of which, what aspects of science interest you? How do people use science in their everyday lives?
- Premiere date: October 3, 2008
- Cast: Nicole Sullivan, Phil Morris, Sam Lerner
- Network: Cartoon Network
- Genre: Kids' Animation
- Topics: Superheroes
- TV rating: TV-Y7
- Last updated: October 13, 2022
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