Their names are WHAT and WHY and WHEN/and HOW and WHERE and WHO.
April 5, 2009 12:37 PM   Subscribe

Read all about it! Discover all the news! Read all about it! Track down all the clues!
With interesting people there's a mystery to be solved! An adventure is unfolding, so why not get involved? Come on and
READ ALL ABOUT IT.
Young Chris is left an old coach house by his missing uncle. As he and his two friends fuddle with the lock, a strange figure watches. The kids do not yet know the building is the entrance to a mystery that spans time and space! Aided by Otto the IBM Selectric robot typewriter and Theta the spooky as hell talking viewscreen, they will find that the concerns of an alien tyrant reach into the government of their own town. (24 of 40 15-minute episodes, including the entire first season, of this early-80s TV Ontario-produced "educational" show are on YouTube.)

Far from being mindless entertainment, Read All About It taught reading and critical thinking skills. But neither was it dry viewing; the story was weird and interesting, sometimes frightening, sci-fi in the tradition of Dr. Who. It was produced by TV Ontario public television and spread to various public TV outlets. It was written by Chris Endersby.

I like to think of this show as a vaccine against stupid kids TV like Goosebumps. /notelitist My own memories of the show was that it was genuinely mysterious, filled with creepy atmosphere and unanswered questions. They do not make them like this any more. For various reasons, however, it looks like the show will never get released on DVD.
posted by JHarris (20 comments total) 23 users marked this as a favorite

 
hey, I'm here to get my vaccine against stupid kids.
posted by mannequito at 12:46 PM on April 5, 2009


Best. Show. Ever. When I was growing up, this was my favourite TV show to watch. I was SO excited to find it on YouTube.

To this day, Duneedon still scares the living crap out of me.

I credit Read All About It! for getting me to be a more involved reader and a better writer. I guess I was in my formative years when I watched the show.

I always thought it was equal parts cool and funny that the actress who played Lynne, Lydia Zajc, grew up to be a reporter/writer. (NL Press, and a ton of ZDNet articles scattered across the web.)
posted by juliebug at 1:08 PM on April 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


OMG I completely forgot about this show. This and Simon In The Land Of Chalk Drawings were personal favourites as a child.

Thanks JHarris !
posted by dawdle at 1:32 PM on April 5, 2009


Man did I love TVO - even did several stints as telephone volunteer during pledge drives (though that was mainly to hang out with the other Dr. Who fans).

It simply amazing - thanks for linking to a show whose name I lost, but occasionally drifted through my mind, half-visualized, never identified.
posted by jkaczor at 2:17 PM on April 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


Ditto the LOVED IT sentiment.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 2:25 PM on April 5, 2009


Oh holy crap, I remember this show like remembering a dream. It's vague enough in my memory for me to have not been sure if it was a real thing or not. It's like Ghostwriter before Ghostwriter was Ghostwriter. But Canadian.
posted by Tesseractive at 2:46 PM on April 5, 2009


OH. MY. GOD.

Do you know how many times I've almost posted an AskMe question to find out whether this show was a figment of my imagination? All I could remember was that was a sort of proto-Ghostwriter and may have involved some sort of gigantic dot matrix printer. I guess a Selectric sticking out of an enormous crate ("Maybe someone's inside"/"It's too small": Yuh-huh.) is almost as cool.

This show, along with Readalong (and some help from my parents) are a lot of the reason I can read and spell and whatnot. Thanks, television!

(Speaking of TVO: Surely I'm not the only one who noticed that Weezer song awhile back that lifted its hook from the Dear Aunt Agnes theme song?)
posted by Sys Rq at 2:48 PM on April 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


I loved this show as a kid, but didn't get to see the whole thing as the makers intended. Here, public TV stations would show stuff in the middle of the day when few people would be watching for teachers to record for later use in the classroom. I was frequently sick home from school, so I was able to watch many strange yet interesting educational shows. (That's where I first found out about Letter People Land, which I was too old for but I still found it interesting for its own sake.)

Read All About It was a big influence on me in another way. The show was half adventures on alien worlds, but also half local politics and newspaper publishing. The juxtaposition of the surreal and the mundane had a big effect on me, and I think ultimately prepared me for the work of H.P. Lovecraft.

I especially found interesting the idea that an alien overlord could also be a town mayor. Duneedon was a great character.
posted by JHarris at 3:29 PM on April 5, 2009


Oh god yes, but don't forget Tomes and Talismans
posted by oonh at 3:48 PM on April 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


Whoa, I had completely forgotten about this show. Talk about a trip down memory lane--thanks.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 7:28 PM on April 5, 2009


I have tried to explain this show to people who did not grow up in Ontario in the 80s, and pretty much failed every time. I was beginning to doubt myself. Thanks for this.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 7:41 PM on April 5, 2009


Now which was the show where the kid gets into a trunk in an abandoned building and comes out in the 18th century?
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 7:42 PM on April 5, 2009


Ah... I've found that the series is sold to educators in Canada on DVD... but at rather large cost! Home use is $585, and school use is either $935 or almost $1,800!
posted by JHarris at 9:09 PM on April 5, 2009


Now which was the show where the kid gets into a trunk in an abandoned building and comes out in the 18th century?

Harriet's Magic Hats.
posted by Sys Rq at 9:11 PM on April 5, 2009


(Or maybe not. The hats are in a trunk, and when worn they transport the kid to various vocational-type places . . . I don't think the trunk could time-travel, though.)

Home use is $585, and school use is either $935 or almost $1,800!

You won't believe what they're asking for the tote bags.
posted by Sys Rq at 9:19 PM on April 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


Just found this page which has an episode listing and, if you scroll down, an interview with series writer Clive Endersby. He also wrote Today's Special and Polka-Dot Door, and continues to write in children's television today.

I like to think of this as the "support period" for the thread, in which I provide useful new features and bug-fixes.
posted by JHarris at 12:52 AM on April 6, 2009


Also, TVO did some awesome series entirely in CGI in the nineties, one on cellular respiration (which had background music that I love), one on photosynthesis, electromagnetism, and a couple of programs on trig.
posted by oonh at 3:56 AM on April 6, 2009


I loved this show as a kid, but didn't get to see the whole thing as the makers intended. Here, public TV stations would show stuff in the middle of the day when few people would be watching for teachers to record for later use in the classroom. I was frequently sick home from school, so I was able to watch many strange yet interesting educational shows.

That's how I got to see this series as well. Sick days and Wednesdays, which were half days for my elementary school. Though as weird and bizarre as the series was (and I was completely convinced I was the only person in my town who'd ever seen it) I didn't exactly run home on Wednesdays to catch it. I do remember trying to keep up with the continuity when I did see it, however.

Good stuff, even if it now resides in a far far corner of the mind where all I can remember are the gadgets and a faint glimmer of a theme song.

This YouTube stash is an excellent find.
posted by Spatch at 6:40 AM on April 6, 2009


oonh: Hey, I think I remember that CGi trig show. Had a couple of robots demonstrating advanced math principles? I seem to remember it being quite funny.
posted by JHarris at 9:26 AM on April 6, 2009


Thank you so much, JHarris! Like SysRq, I've also considered making an AskMe post about this series (which we were shown in class in fourth grade [in CT, not Canada]). For some reason in my memory it's associated with Children of the Stones, which I was exposed to some years before, although I'm sure that's just because that one took forever to track down as well :)
posted by jtron at 9:34 PM on April 6, 2009


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