Growing up as a child of the '80s I got to see some classic television. I'm speaking mostly about children's programming, Saturday morning cartoons and all the kick ass shows that were on the during the day. I was born in 1980 so I got to see all the hits like Sesame Street, Reading Rainbow, The Snorks, and the list goes on and on. Remember the Hair Bears? Christ I loved that show. The Bears that lived at the zoo and rode imaginary bikes and terrorized the zoo keeper with their antics. OK, sorry about that.
Yesterday during Father's Day my sister and I along with our spouses were sitting around talking about our favorite old kids shows from the '80s. I don't know how we got on the topic but it was hilarious. She even reminded me of a forgotten all-time favorite, "Faerie Tale Theatre" starring Shelley Duvall(The Shining) as the host and featured all the big names of film and TV from that time. We played the shit out of those VHS tapes!!
Just for the hell of it I thought I'd put together a quick Top 5 of my favorite '80s kids shows, at least the ones I can remember. Grab a bowl of cereal and turn it up!!
It's hard to find a kid anywhere that hasn't heard of Sesame Street or at least a character from the show. Elmo, Big Bird, etc..... It's a good show to start the list off with because everybody has at least one special memory of Sesame Street. I won't get long winded with this one because everybody knows the St.
Here's a clip featuring two of my favorite characters, Kermit & The Count.
I thought about lumping Sesame Street and Mr. Rogers together because for me as a kid it was always kind of the same show. I always thought Sesame St. was in actually in Mr. Rogers neighborhood and could never figure out why they didn't hang out more. The recent Mr. Rogers video I posted last week that has him singing about the "garden of your mind" catapulted him back into pop culture. The new mash-up song might possibly be one of the greatest internet videos of all-time but when it comes to classic Mr. Rogers nothing beats the trip to the trumpet factory with Mr. McFeely.
Now this was a tough one. Do I take the easy route and go with the classic "G.I. Joe: Real American Hero" cartoon or do I go with my second favorite MASK. I decided to go with the one that's a little more obscure. MASK or Mobile Armored Strike Kommand was a cartoon that ran for 2 seasons between September '85 and November '86. Which is too bad cause not only was the cartoon great but the toys were super kick ass!! MASK was like a hybrid of GI JOE and TRANSFORMERS. The characters got special powers when they would put their MASK helmets on not only transforming them but also their vehicles. That's what made the toy line great, all the bad ass vehicles. Not to mention the MASK fortress which was a volcano where you could keep all your guys. To cap off a great toy line and cartoon you had to have a cheesy 80s rock theme song and MASK won that prize too.
2) FRAGGLE ROCK
No list of '80s kids shows is complete without Fraggle Rock. Another gem from the genius mind of Jim Henson. The Fraggle's were furry humanoid creatures that lived underground in their own little world.
They live in a network of caves called Fraggle Rock, populated by a variety of creatures, and seeming to connect to at least two different worlds in separate dimensions of time and space. Fraggles spend much of their carefree lives in play, exploring their worlds, and generally enjoying themselves. However, at the same time they maintain a complex culture and society, with each individual having rights and responsibilities. They have basic skill with tools and with crude machinery, and the concept of war is known to them (although wars between Fraggles are very rare). Fraggles live on a diet of vegetables, especially radishes. If individuals touch their heads together before falling asleep they can “share dreams.”
Five Fraggles are at the center of the series: Gobo, Mokey, Wembley, Boober and Red. They form a tight-knit group of friends, and each has a distinct personality.
Within Fraggle Rock lives a second species of small humanoid creatures, the pudgy, green, ant-like Doozers. Standing only 6 inches (150 mm) tall (knee-high to a Fraggle), Doozers in a sense represent anti-Fraggles; their lives are dedicated to work and industry. Doozers spend much of their time busily constructing all manner of scaffolding throughout Fraggle Rock using miniature construction equipment and wearing hard-hats and work boots. No one but the Doozers themselves seem to understand the actual purpose of their intricate and beautiful constructions.
Fraggle Rock ran on HBO for 5 seasons between '83 and '87 and will always have a special place in my house when I have kids.
I know what you're saying, what show is that and why did you pick for #1? Today's Special might not ring alot of bells for some people but for me it's the greatest. When I think back about watching TV as a little kid this show immediately pops in my head. It ran on Nickolodeon way back in the day and was another great product from the folks at CBC(Canadian Broadcast Corp.). The same wonderful people that gave us "You Can't Do That on Television", a show that gets the first honorable mention for sure.
Today's Special wasn't ground breaking like Sesame St. and they didn't have the super cool muppets like Fraggle Rock, it was just a simple kids show with a cool idea. The show centered around a shopping mall and it's overnight display designer Jodie. In the children's department of a major department store, each night when Jodie arrives for work, she carries a mannequin (Jeff) upstairs, where Muffy the mouse says the magic words "hocus pocus alimagocus!" This brings him to life. Wonder where they ggot the idea for the movie from?
Many early episodes focused on a tangible object as a subject, such as hats or costumes, with the show revolving around teaching about it. Later episodes dealt with more complicated ones, such as the episode "Wishes" dealing with sacrificing one thing for another, or "Phil's Visit", which dealt with alcoholism.
Short films, often less than a minute long, were often inserted as breaks in the episode's main plot. These included Mime Lady segments, animated quizzes designed to test a child's observation, narrated storybooks, and popular nursery rhymes (which an unseen Muffy would introduce with "And now I'd like to introduce a nursery rhyme by Mother Goose").
Many episodes featured one or more one-time visitors to the store. Some would cause problems for the characters, while others would befriend them and help solve their problems. These visitors included the characters' friends or family, people coming to the store to do their jobs, people brought there by magic, bizarre, non-human characters, and real life celebrities. Magic was important to many episodes, and the characters sometimes would have an adventure that involved it.
Nothing beats the memories of Jodie and Jeff, Muffy the Mouse, and old Mr. Crenshaw, a puppet security guard that kept everyone in line. Such a great show and it only ran for 2 seasons. When you're a kid you don't care about re-runs, you just watch that shit over and over again.