A beautiful day in the neighborhood
January 23, 2004 12:55 AM   Subscribe

A Requiem for Mr. Rogers got me thinking about the TV shows that spoke to me as a child. Captain Kangaroo was there and Mr. Dressup was always great. But for me, no one surpassed The Friendly Giant and "Look up. Look way up!" still makes me feel warm and safe. I did not have PBS available as a child but my sons did and for them Mr. Rogers was a favorite as was TVO's Today's Special with Jeff Hyslop's manikin who came to life each night. Who spoke to you via TV as a child? Parents, who is speaking to your children on TV these days?
posted by arse_hat (25 comments total)
You have now triggered the Friendly Giant intro music (do do do do do do) in my head. I will now have to curse my colleagues by whistling it all day long.

posted by smcniven at 5:10 AM on January 23, 2004

I never saw the Friendly Giant, but he sounds good--Mr. Rogers was truly the best, but Wonderama ruled (in the fun and games non-educational live-action category)...Romper Room was good too, but too preachy, and they never ever called my name during the "I see Charlie, and LaTonya, and Franklin, and Debbie....". I have fond, but vague memories of Kukla, Fran, and Ollie, (scroll down for revival dates) but that was an ancient, corny show in revival by the time I got to see it : >

The Wiggles are gigantic nowadays, for very little kids, but I find them unwatchable.
posted by amberglow at 5:26 AM on January 23, 2004

You can't do that on Television probably more than any other... I was a weird kid, though.
posted by LoopSouth at 6:02 AM on January 23, 2004

Definitely The Captain and Wonderama for me, not to mention Mr. Wizard and Soupy Sales. Growing up in the NYC area, there were a number of local shows that I vaguely recall, like The Merry Mailman (who came to my school in 1962) and Officer Joe Bolton. And to add to your party trivia, I was on the local Bozo The Clown show sometime around 1961 or so. I was quite disappointed when I didn't get to have any of the Bosco Chocolate Syrup milk.
posted by tommasz at 7:04 AM on January 23, 2004

I met the friendly giant a few times, He lived about 20 km away from me, and would often come in to my parents business. How disturbing, as a teen, to realize i was taller than the friendly giant.
posted by re_verse at 7:09 AM on January 23, 2004

Ray Rayner just died on Wednesday. He did a Chicago-local show in the 60's and 70's.

I got to do TV Pow when I was 5 or 6.
posted by wells at 7:52 AM on January 23, 2004

There were also two previous Mefi discussions on this topic (search isn't finding them for me atm, however).
posted by rushmc at 8:14 AM on January 23, 2004

Mr. Rogers was (and, admittedly, still is) the television neighbour I appreciated the most as a kid, if only because he provided a rest from the frenzy of animation, and a haven from all those boring newscasts and "grown-up shows" that aired in the same time slot.

I always got a charge out of Reading Rainbow, too, if only because I was a voracious reader as a child (the kindergarten teacher would have me read to the class during story-time, so she could go outside and have a smoke).

Maybe it's just a shift in perception, but children's television programming nowadays seems lacking in quality. However, it never ceases to fascinate me to think of how today's shows, as shallow as they seem to me (compared to what I watched) will mean the same things to a generation as Mister Rogers, the Polka-Dot Door, and Captain Kangaroo meant to us.
posted by antifreez_ at 8:19 AM on January 23, 2004

The Friendly Giant for sure. I used to cry every day when the show was over and the theme music still makes me weepy.

I loved Mr. Rogers and Mr. Dressup (although Uncle Bobby scared me), but the Friendly Giant pulling a chair up to the fire for me to curl up in will be with me forever.
posted by biscotti at 8:31 AM on January 23, 2004

I think that some of your perspectives/shows mentioned may be different depending on what side of the border (or pond) we grew up on.

hmmm, someone mentioned Polka-Dot Door - I remember that fondly.

I could not stand Captain Kangeroo & Mr. Dressup. But I loved Mr. Rogers, Romper Room (a Canadian thing, I think) and like you was a huge fan of the Friendly Giant...

... I can remember for many years getting very excited when a "Green Giant" commercial would appear - I had no clue that the Green & Friendly giants were seperate...

As I got older, I liked more educational themed shows. Seasame Street was pretty good - but I really liked some oddball stuff that was never on regularly - one about a group of kids, some computer/haunted typewriter (can't really remember) who were writing stories - that was excellent.

As for who speaks to my kids these days:
- Mr. Rogers
- Steve from the Flaming Lips (uh, I mean Blues Clues)
- Zoom
- CyberChase

Steve was perfect for the role, he was excellent - Joe simply bores us all.

(I really wish they would re-air Bill Nye - my daughter would love that.)

But more so they have non-human, cartoon tastes - they both like Oswald (as an adult - you really need to be under some sort of influence to enjoy Oswald, otherwise you can actually feel your brain turning to mush), Clifford, Little Bear, Berenstein Bears, etc. Basically we get a decent almost-commercial-free small children channel in Canada called TreeHouse - of which almost everything is reasonably safe for small kids to watch.

And my eldest is a Scooby-Doo addict ... sigh.
posted by jkaczor at 8:35 AM on January 23, 2004

The Science of the Friendly Giant
posted by filmgoerjuan at 9:03 AM on January 23, 2004

Well now your precious Captain Kangaroo is Dead, Dead, Dead! How do you feel about THAT little boy?

(/evil cartoon mastermind)
posted by kaibutsu at 10:01 AM on January 23, 2004

I'm pretty sure Romper Room was found in various forms around the world. I distinctly remember hearing of a Japanese one.

Friendly Giant and Mr. Dressup do it for me. Oh, and let's not forget the old Sesame Street. Mr. Hooper and all that.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:36 AM on January 23, 2004

My old English Teacher was the Bee in Romper Room. Something I never really appreciated as a high school student.
posted by KnitWit at 11:20 AM on January 23, 2004

The Seattle area had an early morning show that i watched every day while eating my daily dose of Count Chocula...

J.P. Patches

Remembering him now gives me those weird passage of time feelings.
posted by canucklehead at 11:58 AM on January 23, 2004

With Cap'n Kangaroo hopping off today into the great unknown, one must confess the timing of this post is a bit spooky...
posted by moonbird at 4:02 PM on January 23, 2004

it is, moonbird--very...

I think it will be very different for kids today, as opposed to us "old folk"-- we grew up in 7 or 9-channel worlds, not the 100+ channels everyone has today. There was usually only one option for kids at any given time or day, and we all watched it (with local and national differences, of course). Kids today won't have the universal memories that we have, because they have a variety of channels to watch at any given time, far more options.
posted by amberglow at 4:30 PM on January 23, 2004

J.P. Patches was the best. I keep meaning to buy videos. The great thing about J.P. is that it's still kind of funny to adults, unlike so much kid-tv now. I would watch J.P. every morning while getting ready for school, and I think for a while he might have been on after school too.

There was another after-school show in the Seattle area: Brakeman Bill. I loved that show, too. J.P. was the best, but Bill was fun too.
posted by litlnemo at 4:35 PM on January 23, 2004

Kids today won't have the universal memories that we have, because they have a variety of channels to watch at any given time, far more options.

Oh, I dunno... Seems like kids are switching back and forth between Nickelodeon and the Cartoon Network, as far as I can tell. Despite 100+ channels, most of those channels are to a kid what C-SPAN is to the average adult: boring as hell. (and, as little Jason would say, often 'full of kissy stuff.') Every kid I know can quote an episode or two of Spongebob word-for-word...
posted by kaibutsu at 6:52 PM on January 23, 2004

i grew up watching mr. rogers, captain kangaroo, sesame st., romper room, etc.

but the most memorable show was the magic garden on WPIX (new york).

posted by goddam at 7:58 PM on January 23, 2004

moonbird, amberglow. The timing is very creepy. I have no idea why I was thinking about this last night. It just came out of the blue and became my first front page contribution. Damn...
posted by arse_hat at 8:51 PM on January 23, 2004

goddam: the chuckle patch? : >

and great first post, arse_hat
posted by amberglow at 8:54 PM on January 23, 2004

romper room thread.
posted by quonsar at 11:09 PM on January 23, 2004

Then there are all the hippy-weirdo Sid and Marty
Krofft shows. Never saw them as a child, but I've read about them as an adult. Seems to me they were thinly-veiled hallucinatory drug trips...
posted by five fresh fish at 11:26 AM on January 24, 2004

They were wonderful--and silly-funny, fff. (And we didn't know from drugs yet then) ; >
posted by amberglow at 11:56 AM on January 24, 2004

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