This week's Flashback Friday is part 1 of a 2-parter regarding television shows I would watch in the 80s (not to be confused with Saturday morning programming). This week, we'll be flashing back to the kids shows I remember watching, while next week we'll touch on 80s primetime TV shows.
Now of course we all watched Sesame Street growing up, so there's no point in mentioning that one, however, another muppet show by Jim Henson and Company that most of us probably watched was Fraggle Rock. The Fraggles were small colorful creatures who lived in a series of caves underground called Fraggle Rock. They also ate radishes. While there were tons of Fraggles, the main characters in the show were Gobo, Mokey, Red (who was my favorite!), Wembley and Boober. Also in Fraggle Rock live the Doozers, small ant-size creatures who build things in Fraggle Rock although the Fraggles have a bad habit of eating or destroying their works. Outside Fraggle Rock live a family of Gorgs - giant furry human-like creatures who consider the Fraggles to be pests and often try to catch them. I recall they had a dog too that would scare the Fraggles. I remember loving this show as a kid!
"Zoobilee Zoo... Zoobilee Zoo! Wonder and magic are waiting for you!"
You can tell I watched this one one too many times as a kid when nearly 20 years later I can still recall the theme song! This was probably one of my favorite shows to watch early in the morning and then later on before going to preschool and kindergarten. I remember it aired on PBS (or WTTW out here), which also aired Sesame Street and Mr. Rodgers. In this show, we had humans dressed up as different zoo-type animals, each with a distinct personality that you could tell from their "home". We had Mayor Ben, a leopard, who usually introduced each episode; Van Go Lion who was a lion with a knack for painting; Talkatoo Cockatoo, a bird who seemed to talk a lot - I remember thinking she was more of the mother-figure on the show; Lookout Bear, who likes adventure and travel; Bravo Fox, a show man of sorts; and Whazzat Kangaroo, the youngest of the bunch who liked dancing - she was my favorite. They always had some adventure or problem that needed to be solved. Whatever it was, it had me hooked! I remember being really emotionally angry and upset when they took this one off the air - I felt like I lost my morning friends!
This one aired weekday afternoons on Nickelodeon, usually before or after Lassie reruns. This show took place in a department store after hours. The store's display manager Jodie would come in for the night and things would come to life - including a manequinn named Jeff. Also part of the cast was a puppet named Sam who was the night security guard, a little mouse named Muffy and her cousin Mort and TXL - the store's security computer system. We pretty much followed the adventures of the cast and sometimes special guest characters would come to life and cause problems. Whatever it was that day, I sure enjoyed watching this one.
Shining Time Station
The origin of Thomas the Tank Engine and his buddies, however personally I much preferred and enjoyed the live-action parts of the show over the silly trains. Enjoyed watching the adventures of Stacy Jones, Tanya (mechanic Harry's granddaughter), Matt (Stacy's nephew), and tiny Mr. Conductor as they went up against the mean, always scheming Mr. Schemer who owned the arcade and never let the kids have fun. There was also a jukebox which housed a small band that would play songs for a nickel. Ringo Starr played the role of Mr. Conductor for the first season, and was later replaced by George Carlin for the next few seasons, before there was another change (I only watched the early seasons though). Didi Conn (aka Frenchy from Grease) was Stacy Jones. This was another PBS regular that I would watch weekdays.
David the Gnome
David - the oldest gnome around at 399 years old (most only live to be 400) and is still in good health - and his wife Lisa live in a cave with David's friend/pet/mount Swift the Fox living right outside. All David has to do is whistle and Swift shows up to aid him. The gnomes are not fond of the trolls though, which cause problems for them and the other forest creatures. David is also a known doctor gnome, so he goes all over the forest to heal fellow gnomes or forest creatures in need. While this series only had 26 episodes, it sure felt much longer as it aired for several years as part of Nickelodeon's Nick Jr. programming in the 80s. My favorite character was probably Swift - I wanted fox that I could ride around on!
Another show that aired on Nick Jr. in the 80s, Maple Town followed the adventures of small animals who lived in a town much like people do. We had newcomers the Rabbit family, joining the Mouse family, the Bear family, the Fox family, the Dog family, the Squirrel family, the Raccoon family, the Beaver family, and I'm sure you get the point. Wild Wolf was considered to be the main antagonist of this series. There was also a toy line by Tonka created after the series where you could buy each family as a set.
It never cease to amaze me just how many shows I grew up watching in the 80s were actually animes from Japan!
Now this was our game show, as a kid in the 80s. Hosted by Marc Summers, there were 2 teams of kids, usually a boy-girl team. They would be asked trivia questions that none of us watching knew the answers to, but that was alright, as we weren't watching for an educational lesson - no, we were watching for the messy physical challenges! If a team couldn't answer the question, they would "dare" the other team to answer. If that team didn't know they could then "double dare" the other team to answer. They could then "physical challenge" the other team, which would then lead to a wacky challenge involving Nickelodeon slime. At the end of the game, the team with the most points would get to do the obstacle course, where they had to retrieve flags out of slime filled objects and slides. It looked so messy, yet so fun! Eventually they turned it into a family affair, creating Family Double Dare - watching mom and dad get slimed only made the show that more fun! I always wanted to go on the show as a kid, but I didn't have a sibling until 1993 and all the families on the show had 2 siblings and a mom and dad.
She-Ra: Princess of Power
I wasn't crazy about He-man growing up because, well, that was a boy's show. She-Ra however - the female spin-off of He-man and supposedly his twin sister - now THAT was a girl's show! I remember watching this one USA Network for a time, and then renting the VHS tapes at the video store from time to time. While the plot and storyline were almost identical to He-Man, I fully enjoyed this version so much more! She-Ra had a horse named Spirit who became Swiftwind when She-Ra (aka Adora) became She-Ra. She had so many friends I can't even recall them all! I do remember attending a friend's Vacation Bible Study one summer and during the downtime, several of us, myself included, would play She-Ra. I was always She-Ra, one girl always wanted to be horse (don't ask!) and a few others usually had the same roles. One time someone tried to change up the roles and a few of us got really upset - *I* was She-Ra, the one girl *was* Swiftwind. This takeover by kids that didn't play with us from the start really caused an uproar and I recall we were told not to play She-Ra the rest of the week! oops!
Who can forget this one? DuckTales often aired weekday afternoons on Fox, and meant the end of the cartoon shows for that day, as The Andy Griffith Show would come on immediately afterwards. My friends I loved watching this one in the afternoons though. We all had our favorites - some liked Launchpad, some liked Gizmoduck, some liked the nephews Huey, Dewey and Louie, and some, like myself, liked the nephews female counterpart Webby. I remember my best friend's brothers had the DuckTales game for Nintendo - we would spend hours playing that game (my friend could eventually beat it). I remember when they released the big screen DuckTales movie - our parents took us to it together and oh how we loved it!
What televison kids shows did you watch as a kid?