I was doing some reminiscing tonight, and I remember some old shows that others may or may not remember. Ready for a nostalgia trip?
Okay…anyone remember Calliope? No, not the one with the animated intro on USA Network, although it did evolve INTO that. I remember growing up, there was a time on channel 3 when nothing would show on the screen but snow, but then, magically, around 3 or 3:30, this show would come on called “Calliope” – very simplistc intro with a close-up of a carousel and the word Calliope showing up one letter at a time. Gene would then introduce the shows he was going to show, but his “appearance” was a still image of a director in his chair with the word “Gene” on the back – those were never animated, although he did show some great cartoons! It was the only show to air on that channel on any given day, and then once it was over, the channel went back to snow. I didn’t see Calliope again until it surfaced on USA Network in the last form anyone would see – the one most people know. I remember writing to Gene once in the 7th grade, and he actually wrote back TO me – handwritten! I wish I still had the letter, because it was so special to me at the time. I honestly don’t know if our childhood friend Gene (Eugene Francis Sr.) is still alive, but if he is, I really wish he could continue to know just how special he was to us.
I also remember “Nickelodeon” back in its infancy, when it first came on – it wasn’t a 24-hour network, and it didn’t always have the orange “splat” logo – or even the silver pinball logo – it used to have either a male mime or just the hands doing all the filler bits between shows. Pinwheel was on for 5 hours each morning, and had great cartoons like “Charlie’s Climbing Tree” (Kalles Klattertrad), Chapi Chapo, Hattytown (remember Sancho?), Simon in the land of Chalk Drawings, The Bunny with the Chequered Ears(he has a homepage now!), and many others! There were other shows, such as The Tomorrow People, Video Comics, The Third Eye, Livewire, Children of the Stones, Mr. Wizard’s World, and of course You Can’t Do That On Television! It was a channel that was awesome in its heyday, but has sadly grown to lack the magic spark that it used to have, and has now mired into commercial hum-drummery.
I used to come home in the afternoons and watch Sesame Street (before it got watered down being PC), Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood, and The Electric Company (heyyyyy you guyyyyys!). Another thing is, they just don’t make cartoons like they used to. I can rattle off a list that would take hours to go through, but some of the more memorable ones were Shazam/Isis, Tarzan and the Super 7, The Space Sentinels, Space Academy, Star Trek (animated), Ark II, Jason of Star Command, Lidsville, H.R. Puffnstuff, The Krofft Supershow – which had Magic Mongo, Wonderbug, Dr. Shrinker, ElectraWoman/Dynagirl, Sigmund and the Sea Monsters, and some others I can’t recall off the top of me hair. I also watched shows like The Hot Fudge Show and The Banana Splits quite often. We also watched Blackstar, Mighty Orbots, The Pirates of Dark Water, and 3 hours of Bugs Bunny/Road Runner.
Oh, and remember the afternoon cartoon lineup back in the 80’s? We had Thundercats, He-Man/She-Ra, M.A.S.K, Spiral Zone, Transformers (yes, the ORIGINAL series), GoBots, Jayce & the Wheeled Warriors, and G.I. Joe. I think these days, producers are rushed to make any new show that perhaps they have lost some of the actual love they have for what they do. I see animation with increasingly less detail than I used to, but that may be due to computer animation taking over. If anyone thinks the new Transformers is better than the original series, they’ve been sucking down the wrong energon cubes.
Wanna discuss some retro TV shows with me? Drop me a line, and we’ll have loads of conversation on this one. I’ve done entire nights of coffee just hashing out lists of shows that were brilliant back in the heyday of animation! I so wish someone would come up with a network that would bring back ALL of this magic and let us view it again – that would be SO awesome!