1 9 7 1 – 1 9 7 3 (USA)
17 x 60 minute episodes
This ABC Saturday morning series might have failed simply because it tried to cover too much in terms of both education and entertainment.
A regular cast of four children – Pam (Pamelyn Ferdin), Gerard (John Levin), Ralph (Kerry MacLane) and African-American Cindy (Jerelyn Fields) – investigated a different topic each week (clothing, music, dance, weather, space, time, rules, flight etc) along with animals like Darwin the chimp and Eunice the seal, on a set containing elements like an “elevator to everywhere” and a talking computer.
There were also human-sized puppets Flip the Hippo (voiced by Don Messick), Hudson the Talking Rock (who told tales of prehistory) and Oogle the large mute creature, and a wall of hand puppets including Eek A Mouse, Nostalgia the Elephant (June Foray), Hermione Giraffe (also voiced by June Foray), Onomatopoeia and Woodrow the Groundhog.
Then there was Baron Balthazar, a costumed man who could talk to animals.
There were also old films and new cartoons. “Granny TV” showed clips of black-and-white comedy shorts featuring comedy legends Buster Keaton and Charlie Chaplin, while the comic strips appearing in new animated versions were Hank Ketcham’s “Dennis the Menace,” Mel Lazarus’s “Miss Peach,” and John Hart’s “B.C.”
Additionally, Ray Bradbury contributed to some scripts, and Henry Mancini provided background music. ABC also bought seven shorts from the National Film Board of Canada to use as well. Meanwhile, series creator and producer Chuck Jones (the cartoonist for several top Bugs Bunny shows) lent his voice to “Mr Jones’ Answering Service”.
All this top talent was supposed to appeal to and enlighten children, but the components were so diverse and extensive that they created a cluttered atmosphere that stunted rather than enhanced the series’ entertainment and educational value, and kids in 1971-72 flocked instead to Sabrina, the Teenage Witch and Josie and the Pussycats on CBS (which were far less confusing).
The last season consisted entirely of reruns.
Mr Jones (voice)
Gittel the Bumbling Witch
Why Can’t My Feet Keep Time with Ralph’s Ear? | Does a Dog Forgive You if He Shakes Hands Left-Pawed? | Why Can’t I Put Sunshine in a Shoebox? | What’s a They? | What Tool Do You Use To Get a Yo-Yo Out of a Mailbox? | Why Is a Nest? and Other Big Questions | Why Are Butterflies Caterpillar-Nappers? | How Come You Can’t Smell A Rose With Your Ear? | Where Do You Go to Get Out of a Scare? | What Do You Say Over A Pair of Dead Sneakers? | But What’s Leonardo da Vinci Flown Lately? | When Is a Home Not a House? | How Does a Horse Play Man-shoes? | How Do You Fix a Broken Funnybone? | Can a Ladybug Think Better than a Gentleman Bug? | Do You Measure an Inchworm Up and Down or Back and Forth? | How Come I Can’t Remember What I Was Told Not to Forget?