In the early 80’s, personal computers were a new innovation. Films like WarGames made it seem as if a kid with a keyboard could hack into anything: a school or corporate mainframe, NORAD, the US nuclear arsenal or your neighborhood bank. Hoping to capitalize on this, in 1983 CBS premiered a show which could have been considered WarGames’ intellectual successor. It featured a group of resourceful kids who solved crimes by hacking and cracking, led by Matthew Laborteaux, child star of Little House on the Prairie, and advised by a Gavilan SC-toting, mustachioed reporter played by Max Gail, formerly of the show Barney Miller. Whiz Kids lasted only a single season: 18 episodes, but all of them live on in cyberspace, on YouTube. Complete episode links contained within. [more inside]
"From days of long ago... from uncharted regions of the universe, comes a legend: the legend of Voltron, Defender of the Universe!" [more inside]
Earth, 2147. The legacy of the Metal Wars, where man fought machines—and machines won. Bio-Dreads — monstrous creations that hunt down human survivors... and digitize them!In 1987, before he created Babylon 5, J. Michael Straczynski was a writer for Captain Power and the Soldiers of the Future, a live-action sci-fi show for kids. 24 episodes were produced. Straczynski wrote or co-wrote 14 of them, including multi-episode plot arcs. A line of interactive toys brought the battle into kids’ living rooms, and Captain Power was also one of the very first shows on television to feature computer animation in every episode. But in an attempt to appeal to both children and the adults who watched with them, the campy show included some concepts and scenes critics deemed too violent for children and lasted only a single season in syndication. The full run of the show has now been uploaded to Youtube. [more inside]
Actor, Playwright, Artist, Comedian, Magician, "Man of A Thousand Voices" (including Mighty Mouse,) "Beloved Herring Maven"
As you may have noticed from Google this morning, today is the 40th Anniversary of Sesame Street! New seasons are in production including the newest muppet, Abby Cadaby, but today is a day for our old friends. Videos a plenty to fuel your nostalgia.
Andy's Gang - 1 2 3: "The green puppet, Froggy the Gremlin, appeared in a puff of smoke, and was always interrupting the story." [more inside]
Is Doctor Who too scary for kids? Parents surveyed by TheBabyWebsite seem to think so. But is being scared a good thing? (via io9)
Just over sixty years ago the Reverend W. V. Awdry told his sick son a series of stories based on real life incidents with trains, which he later wrote up as the Railway Series. Now Thomas the Tank Engine and the other engines of the Isle of Sodor (somewhere between Barrow-in-Furness and the Isle of Man) are a global phenomena, with toys, books and of course the TV series - filmed using model trains on more than 70 1:32 scale 16-by-20-foot sets, and voiced by the likes of Ringo Starr and Alec Baldwin. 2008 has been a rough year for Thomas: George Carlin, who voiced the series in the US up until 1998, passed away (previously), as did David Mitton, who had written and directed over 180 episodes (and who has previously worked on the special effects for Thunderbirds). There's changes ahead for Thomas as well - this year saw the faces of the engines, which had previously been cast in silicone and attached with double sided tape, replaced by CGI faces, and from 2009 onwards Nitrogen studios in Canada will be taking over production with an entirely CGI Thomas. Meanwhile a group of British students continues the tradition of model engine-based storytelling with their YouTube based British Railway Series.
Boohbah Zone. Monday Flash Fun. On acid. With teddy-bear-seal-things.
Whatever Happened to all the Great Kids' Shows? When my wife was growing up in central Connecticut, she was a big Sandy Becker fan. (The original host of Wonderama, also seen here with a very young Linda Blair). She still remembers the characters he created for his show - Norton Nork, the Big Professor, and of course Hambone. She was naturally pleased to discover Christopher Gross' excellent site celebrating the popular kid's show host and his show. Even though so much early television has been lost to the ages, the site has accumulated several video clips, including a few, um, off-color clips. (Warning - both RealPlayer and a brief dirty word). Now if only someone would give the same treatment to the show I had growing up - Foreman Scotty, on channel 4. Sigh.
Bozo to hang up his nose. After 40 years on the air in Chicago, the final episode of The Bozo Show will air in August. One of the personalities ingrained into the head of every Chicago kid is going away.