That morning started out like any other. I got up, got the child ready for school, had my coffee, beat the computer at two games of Scrabble, did so-so at Boggle, ate a bowl of Lucky Charms, and went to check my Facebook.
I needy a snappy status, so I decided to use the first thing that popped into my widdle head. It is a well-established fact I am a brazen lunatic, so it wasn’t surprising this was my thought:
I’m going to paint an 11.
Then I wondered if there were videos on YouTube of this particular Sesame Street segment. Turns out there are.
One video turned into two, and pretty soon, I’d relived my entire televised childhood in two-minute clips.
I found some great stuff. Some of you may not remember any of it, considering you weren’t born yet, and, well, I hate it for you. Being a kid in the 70s was pretty dang cool, and my miniature bicentennial souvenir flag and I will not entertain arguments to the contrary.
Back then we didn’t have moronic reality shows, Ritalin® was called belts, and no one shopped for TV furniture because the TV was furniture.
Of course nearly everyone has his or her own memory of Sesame Street. Even the fetuses I work with who have, by the way, never heard of Alan Alda (I mean, honestly, get your nose out of The Real World: Sheboygan and watch a M*A*S*H rerun for Pete’s sake.) know who Big Bird is. But it would be remiss not to point out some of the differences between SS then and SS now. And I won’t go so far as to say SS sucks now, because it does not, will not, cannot. In fact, I really hope eons from now (unless the Rapture comes) kids are still sitting around with their little chins sticky from Froot Loop milk, watching Big Bird annoy Gordon. I will, however, assert SS in the 70s was better for three reasons:
a) Elmo wasn’t on it
b) Elmo wasn’t on it
c) Elmo wasn’t on it
I mean, honestly. Is it really necessary for him to take up half the show singing the word weather to the tune of Jingle Bells?
In my day (*adjusts teeth*) Kermit was a regular. His bit was a news segment about the goings on in a particular fairy tale.
Is that not the most terrifying personified egg you’ve ever seen? I love that thing. I wonder if I could make one? They have those giant lawn eggs (don’t get me started) at Hobby Lobby and I could get some fabric and a Sharpie and…
Wait. Where was I?
Sesame Street is well known for its diversity, and the 70s were not different in this respect. Though I’m reasonably certain people might find this little guy offensive nowadays, back then he was pretty hip, in a blacksploitation kind of way.
Also, prior to 1985, Mr. Snuffleupagus was invisible to everyone but Big Bird. Hijinks ensued.
THE ELECTRIC COMPANY
This show is also still on, and these days it is absolute…
But OUR Electric Company was awesome, with cast regulars like Morgan Freeman, Rita Moreno, and Bill Cosby.
A regular segment on the show featured the superhero, Letterman. Letterman would foil the villainous Spell Binder (of obvious Middle Eastern descent, which as sure as I’m sitting here typing on my hippie Mac offends someone, somewhere.) by changing a letter in a word to make a different, less imposing word.
Another featured a private detective who “decoded” nonsensical messages. The best part? His name was Fargo North, Decoder. I mean, how clever is that? Now it’s just a bunch of kids running around rapping and dancing to hip hop. *shakes cane*
It also had SPIDERMAN, hello?!?!?
Perhaps a little less well known, 3-2-1 Contact! focused on simple chemistry, biology, and physical science, covering such concepts as surface area, ignition, and volume. Sometimes, on Friday, we got to watch it at school.
The best part of 3-2-1 Contact! however, was the recurrent segment The Bloodhound Gang, where a trio of kids solved mysteries by applying their scientific knowledge. If you’ve got the crime, they’ve got the time.
The chick has since popped up in commercials and cameos (Law & Order, duh.) Law & Order is the new Love Boat. Guest stars of questionable celebrity status, milling about on the Lido deck a.k.a Manhattan. And there’s almost always a bartender.
THE CLYDE FROG SHOW
Way before Southpark‘s Eric Cartman had a stuffed doll named after this poorly rendered frog puppet, Clyde had his own show which focused on self-esteem and feelings and not jumping on the bed and junk.
Too bad I didn’t see that show before I ended up with three stitches in my right eyebrow and got blood on Clara’s bedspread.
Sadly, I could not find a video clip, but here’s a still of Clyde:
Yeah, I know, total Kermit rip-off. There are only so many ways to depict frogs via puppetry, I guess.
DAVY AND GOLIATH
Yay, Lutherans! Who else could create such a fantastic conglomeration of morals and ethics and stop-motion animation? And the stupid owner/smart pet dynamic never goes out of style. (See also: Timmy & Lassie, Sandy & Flipper, Wallace & Gromit.) D&G wasn’t shown on PBS, but early Sunday mornings on a regular channel.
D&G ho-ed themselves out for Mountain Dew in 2001. But since the proceeds were used to make a D&G holiday special, I suppose I can let it slide. Just this once.
Zoom (That’s Zoom, Z double-O M, Box 355 Boston, Mass 0-2-1-3-4) was a show cast entirely with kids, written by kids. Each episode was filled with clips of the cast participating in various activities, designed to encourage children to take an active interest in science, nature, exercise, whatever. In Season 4, I enjoyed my first celebrity girl-crush (see also: Mariska Hargitay) when Tishy Flaherty joined the cast. I was convinced we looked like each other. I was all Tishy this and Tishy that, and HAD to be in front of the TV at 5:00 p.m.
Rugby shirts for everyone!!!!
And afterward, I would hope against hope another Zoom! would air, but at 6, this show for senior citizens came on called Over Easy. It was a constant source of irritation to me. My bedtime wasn’t until 9, so I felt the shows I enjoyed most should continue until then. Stupid Hugh Downs.
Sometimes I miss the 70s. What shows do you remember?
*This post was brought to you by the letter “L” and the number 75.