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June 29, 2007
Growing up in the 70’s in New England meant many things. TV38’s Creature Double Feature weekends, crisp autumn days jumping in huge piles of leaves, building forts in snow banks 25 feet high, and lots of great TV out of Boston. When I was in elementary school, I watched the offerings of WGBH Boston and WPIX New York (PIX! PIX!) almost every day and I still remember them clearly. Naturally there were the classics we all know and love like Sesame Street and The Electric Company. But there were a few others that really stuck in my head. I’ve managed to track them down so I could share them with you and see if they awaken long forgotten memories, as they did for me. Thanks YouTube!
The Magic Garden
My favorite show growing up had to be The Magic Garden, hosted by Carole Demas and Paula Janis. The show was a fun romp for kids that lasted 12 years on WPIX and gave us memorable songs to sing (the “Hello Song“), riddles to pose and costumes to wear. Its hosts were genuine and easy going and I look back on the show with very fond memories. Watching the closing credits makes me sad even now because each time they sang goodbye, I imagined they were singing it to me. Carole and Paula have continued their friendship and working relationship and have starred in touring productions of The Magic Garden to this day. Amazing.
“The following is from a national, instructional television series.” went the narration that started each episode of the critically acclaimed series Inside Out. The series, produced in 1972 and ’73 was different from most in that it dealt with complex social issues like bullies or feeling left out of a group. I remember watching Inside Out many times in school, all on 16mm film! One story told the tale of two boys who played a game of “war” that somehow ended badly. Each episode ended in a cliffhanger, so the teacher could discuss how you would have handled the situation in their place. Amazing the things that stay with us.
All About You
Hosted by Louise McNamara, All About You was an instructional show aimed at 6-8 year olds that taught kids about their bodies and how they worked. The show broached such subjects as where babies came from, what happens to food once you eat it (poo!) and why you keep growing out of your clothes. The opening and closing music is burned in my brain to this day, as is the surreal, wall-less set that was used. I don’t think All About You ever came right out and explained how sex worked, but I do remember it skirted the subject several times. Somehow, Miss McNamara made learning this awkward stuff fun and natural.
“Roll out the barrel, we’ll have a barrel of fun!” Kind of like a low-budget Mickey Mouse Club, Zoom! was a kids show filled with energy and fun games that you could learn to play at home with your friends. I remember Zoom! because it came on right before The Electric Company and I used to watch it to get out of helping my mom set the table. Check out the clip of Zoom! over at YouTube and be sure to watch the “ubbi-dubbi” speak that starts at mark 2:30. Can you speak ubbi-dubbi? I bused tobi be bubble to, bubbi I forgobbi ingubi mybi olbi agbi.
The Great Space Coaster
Of all the shows growing up, The Great Space Coaster was probably the lightest. Coaster didn’t try to teach you your ABC’s, and it wasn’t an after school special, it just wanted to make you laugh. We all remember the show’s classic tag line “No gnews is good gnews, with Gary Gnu!” and the wierd space elephant thing with the guy in the suit had to hold his trunk up with a puppet-erring rod. The Great Space Coaster paved the way for other great puppet shows like Fraggle Rock and The Muppet Show, all while giving us one heck of a memorable theme song. Ah, childhood!
So how about it? Remember any of these gems of our youth? What TV shows have stayed with you through to adulthood? Feel free to leave your favorites in the comments thread, I’d love to share in your memories too, so let’s have them people!