The Light from the TV Shows: Hey, Kids, Remember These Shows?

Last night on Twitter, I earned a few favorites and reTweets when I sent out the one-liner, “At last, my months of following “The Great Space Coaster” on Twitter have paid off: I just won an autographed photo of Gary Gnu.”

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Funny thing is, though, I wasn’t joking: I really did get selected to receive a Gary Gnu photo which — unless I very much miss my guess — will bear the signature of puppeteer Jim Martin, who brought Gary to life on the show.

Reminiscing about that live-action kids show in turn got me to thinking about other such shows from my youth which, for the most part, tend to have been forgotten by just about everyone who didn’t experience them when they were originally on the air.

Here, for your reading enjoyment (and possible education) are a few that crossed my mind. Some were on broadcast networks, others were in syndication, but they all clearly left their mark on me in one way or the other, since it’s been at least 30 years since I’ve seen full episodes of most of them. Mind you, that’s not to say that they’d hold up for me now, but I’ll say this much for ’em: every damned one of the theme songs has a hook that’ll stick in your brain for the long haul…except maybe the one that leads off this list, but, damn, even that’s screaming to be sampled by an industrious DJ somewhere.

1. Curiosity Shop (1971-1973)

Chuck Jones, the man behind some of the most memorable Warner Brothers cartoons of all time, brought his unique sensibilities into a live-action setting for this educational program which, at least as far as ABC was concerned, seemed like a perfect opportunity to pull in some of the audience of this new PBS show called “Sesame Street” which was all the rage for the single-digit set. Thanks to Jones’s cartoon connections, he was able to pull such luminaries as Mel Blanc, June Foray, and Don Messick to give voice to the various characters, but there were also actual cartoons incorporated into the show, including animated adaptations of such comic strips as “Dennis the Menace,” “The Wizard of Id,” and “Miss Peach,” and trivia buffs may also be interested to know that the Schoolhouse Rock song “Three Is A Magic Number” made its debut on the show.

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