It’s time for the Ten on Tuesday yet again! This time the subject is one I can get behind…’Ten TV shows from your Childhood”. As a member of the very first generation to have that much exposure to TV during early development, this one should be a breeze.
I grew up mainly in Ontario, where most of the kids programming came in through TV Ontario. I don’t really recall us having cable until I was a teenager, and even then it wasn’t like we were getting “Pay TV”. That was for rich folks. That said, there was plenty of other programming on the Tube. Since there are so many shows to list (more than 10!), I’m just going to list them in related bunches.
Commence Wall Of Text! (No, I don’t have any real images. Sorry!)
Sesame Street / The Electric Company (and anything with Muppets):
Once you graduated from Sesame Street, you got to watch The Electric Company. Electric Company seems to have been revamped and modernized, but when I was a kid, it was a place for stay-at-home-Moms to watch Spiderman and hear Tom Lehrer songs. To this day, my mother can and will still sing the song “We are the kids known as whimper and whine” when she thinks my brother and I are acting out. Yes, in our 30’s. And my brother has kids of his own to warp. I wonder if Mum sings that song to my niece and nephew?
I had to tack on the “Anything with Muppets” on the end, because obviously Sesame Street was developed as Jim Henson was developing The Muppet Show. I still miss Jim Henson and his humour. Seriously, I cried when I found out he died. Jim Henson was kinda like my generation’s John Lennon (only without the Yoko factor). The Muppet Show was one of the few TV shows with multiple layers of comedy that would appeal to both adults and children. I definitely want as much Muppet Media as I can get my hands on if & when Robin and I spawn. Because a world without Muppet humour is a world without sunshine.
Polka Dot Door / Friendly Giant / Mr. Dressup / Mr Rogers’ Neighbourhood:
I consider this the Big-4 of CBC/PBS broadcasting. I dare you to find any kid in their mid-30’s to early 40’s who doesn’t have fond memories of how “The Polkaroo was here…and I missed him AGAIN?!” I’d expect most US-raised kids to understand the other 3, but Polka Dot Door was definitely a Canadian production, and I don’t know if it was aired in the US. Basically, it was two adults talking to a bunch of dolls as though they were children, teaching them games and singing songs with them. Very low-budget. Every so often, one of the adults would slip away and change into the “Polkaroo” character suit to do a segment with the other adult. When they came back, the usual reaction to being told that they had missed a visit from their friend the Polkaroo was the typical “Aw Shucks” reaction mentioned right at the beginning of this paragraph. Thing is, I figure most kids were in on the joke. Maybe that was part of the fun.
Rocket Robin Hood / Hammy the Hamster / Fables of the Green Forest:
The Trifecta of early-AM TV watching, though I could probably expand it to include “The World of Oz” and “The Mighty Hercules (which was interchangeable with Rocket Robin Hood). These were the shows that you watched between the time Mum forced you out of bed to wolf down a bowl of cereal, and the very last moment before you were shot out the door to go to school.
Read All About It
A weird little mystery TV show that aired on TV Ontario. Often right before reruns of Dr. Who (I don’t know why I never got into Dr. Who. Maybe because it seemed to be in black & white, and I figured I was beyond all that sort of stuff). Read All About It focused on a group of kids who formed a club to solve mysteries, and hung out in an old, converted carriage-house – I think. The clues to the mysteries usually involved reading and sounding out words and stringing together phrases. Perfect edutainment for when I was in my Trixie Belden phase. Yes, my Mum was more a Trixie Belden fan than Nancy Drew. I still wonder just what happened to good old Beatrix in the end…
Wait Til Your Father Gets Home / Looney Tunes / Wonderful World of Disney
The Sunday TV lineup, generally enjoyed at my grandparents’ place. Looney Tunes and Disney are pretty self-explanatory. The first show, though, was more like an animated sitcom. I only ever saw it when I visited Granny and Grandpa, so I have no idea where it came from, or what channel it aired on. I seem to recall it being a good show, though.
Jem and the Holograms / Jeremy / Barbapapa
I used to battle my brother for the TV when Jem would come on. He always wanted to watch something with guns, like GI Joe. Reminds me of our famous battles for the TV at lunch hours. We lived right down the street from school, so we’d come home for lunch. He’d want to watch Robotech (aka Macross); I’d want to do the 20 minute workout. He’d often win, and I never did lose weight (my friend Kathy had told me that she lost her baby fat doing the 20 minute workout. I wanted to just lose fat). Something tells me that if we had the same choice now, he’d probably PVR Robotech, and watch the 20 minute Workout for the girls in the scanty bodysuits. Then again, back then we didn’t have PVRs. We didn’t even have a VCR. It alarms me that our kids will grow up with better acronyms than we ever did.
Battlestar Galactica / Star Trek TNG / Anything else Star Trek you care to list:
My Dad can be a bit of a science fiction nut. He would often steal the TV on Saturday mornings so he could watch Star Trek on the CBC. As I got older, I recall watching the original Battlestar Galactica (reinforcing my opinion that no matter how hot Katie Sackoff is, Starbuck is a man, even when played by a woman), complete with Lorne Green. That man didn’t just narrate the Wild Kingdom, it seems he brought it with him. At any rate, Battlestar evolved into the Star Trek franchise as I got older. I think I stopped watching not long after TNG finished up. DS9 took a long time to really get going, and by the time Voyager and the one with Scott Bakula rolled out, I had pretty much moved on. But Battlestar and Scott Bakula reminded me of a couple of other shows from the same timeslot/genre: Bad News Bears (played around the same timeslot as BSG, I think), The Greatest American Hero, Buck Rodgers, and Quantum Leap. I still go looking for Al and Ziggy when someone says “Oh boy”),
Dukes of Hazard / CHiPs / The A Team / Knight Rider:
Kinda interchangeable shows. I think everyone was mandated to watch these in the early to mid 80’s. Typical action-adventure shows. My brother had a real thing for any TV show that had a helicopter or a car that pulled wheelies.
The Littlest Hobo / The Beachcombers
The Cancon of my childhood. Because, y’know, there’s a voice that keeps on calling me. Down the road – that’s where I ought to be. Every stop I make, I make a new friend. Can’t stay for long, just turn around and I’m gone again. Maybe tomorrow I’m gonna settle down. Until tomorrow, I’ll just keep movin’ on… 😉
Yes, I think everyone my age can sing the theme song to The Littlest Hobo. That’s because they usually aired it around the same time that there was anything with Muppets (The Muppet Show, Fraggle Rock, etc)
Twin Peaks / The X Files:
The shows that saw me growing up. Part of the reason I wanted to do the 20 minute workout? I wanted to look more like Audrey from Twin Peaks. Seriously. To this day I still have a thing for saddle shoes (and lucky me, I own a pair). The X Files is STILL a treat for me to watch. I’m currently going through Season 2 on Netflix, and thoroughly enjoying the mild retro nostalgia. The uncanny valley of technology isn’t so wide that the technology looks TOO far out of place, and the stories seem to hold up to the test of time.
So. What kind of shows did everyone else watch? I’m finding Netflix pretty handy for the nostalgia-factor 🙂