Monday, June 09, 2008

Educational program flashback of regional interest

Hey kids!
In the 1970s and 1980s, daytime programming on my home state's PBS affiliate was devoted to locally produced children's shows. I wonder if this still happens. I'm guessing it doesn't. In Nebraska, the shows were written and produced in Omaha. They aired throughout the state, as well as in South Dakota and Ontario, Canada for some reason, and I watched a lot of them in my elementary school classes. Most of them seemed to be about people locked up against their will and forced to read children's books to their captors. Kind of creepy, in retrospect. Star Lore was about a group of space alien children who stared at a blank blue screen all day until they got bored. Then, an adult alien woman with a blue Afro would hit a button on a weird machine and a kid's book would pop out. In Once Upon a Time, Marion the Librarian is kidnapped by a witch and forced to read her children's books, which, once again, pop out of a weird machine. My favorite one, however, was Reverse the Curse. Two ex-librarians turned archaeologists discover the Egyptian tomb of King Hop-To-It, but the tomb is cursed. The King comes out to play, complete with gold facepaint, and informs the two women that they must stay in the tomb and decipher the hieroglyphics while passing on literary information to the King, or the curse will kill them. Thanks to the magic of YouTube, the very first episode of Reverse the Curse is now available. Come for the Egyptian curse, stay for the boogie-rock theme song, mannered overacting, and Carole King sing-along. I'm not joking.

I Googled the names of the three actors to see what they're doing now, and actually found all three. Marlin Rothe is a GLBT activist and heavily involved in theater in Minneapolis/St. Paul, Peggy Billo is involved in theater in Los Angeles and has done some bit parts on network television, and the hilariously named D. Chetley Kraft writes teacher's editions for elementary schools.

Here's the opening to Once Upon a Time. They decided that overly delicate hippy-folk was the best way to set the mood here.

Finally, I need to present the theme music to Tales in a Treehouse with Mrs. Kozeny. I wasn't a big fan of this show, which consisted of a woman in a treehouse reading a story, but the theme music sounds like a collaboration between Aphex Twin and Perrey & Kingsley.


Spacebeer said...

Once Upon a Time was my favorite show ever when I was a little kid, although I totally remembered it being called Marion the Librarian. I liked that the witch always told her she would let her escape if she read one more book, but then changed her mind at the end of the episode and kept Marion locked up. So evil!

And when I was a kid I thought all the shows on NETV were made in Nebraska, so I always half expected to see Big Bird or Mr. Hooper walking around downtown...

Lei-Leen said...

you immediately reminded me of this skit, which lives in my mental hall of fame.

Plop Blop said...

I hate, hate, hated Once Upon a Time. It scared the holy living shit out of me. It basically told little kids that at any moment a weird middle-aged woman might grab you and lock you in a room in her house, and then lie to you about letting you free. I was always thinking, "Why doesn't Marion just bash that bitch in the back of the head and make a run for it. Come on Marion, get outta there!" Well, I probably didn't use "bitch" in my young thoughts, but you get the idea. Reverse the Curse on the other hand, was quality programming in my opinion.

Anonymous said...

I loved Once Upon a Time so much! I am now a librarian. Go figure. Marian was so kind and calm. Kerfrumbly did scare me though.

I wasn't a big fan of Tales in a Treehouse with Mrs. Kozeny. I thought it was a bit boring.

I grew up in Rock Rapids, IA (the very northwest corner), so not sure if I saw this on SDPTV or IPTV.

Thanks for the posting. I enjoyed the flashback.