Southerly: They don't make 'em like they used to
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The five greatest children's television programmes of all time? I have to concur with Tomorrow People, and would add Doctor Who, Blake's 7, Sapphire & Steel, and Logan's Run. Hmmm... I'm detecting a theme here...
Not sure if they all consistute children's programs, but I did watch them as a kid.
Over the past year or so we've been working our way through DVDs of Blakes 7 and Sapphire and Steel and killing ourselves with the special effects - who could forget the Michelen Men, or the very frightening blob of light that slide along floors and up walls (they must have blown the budget on that one!).
To be honest, I'm not sure these were my favourite shows as a kid (I have a funny feeling it was more Mr Merlin, BJ McKay and his best friend Bear, and the Dukes of Hazzard) but these are the shows that I've remembered the most fondly.
mmmm... Gabrielle Drake....
Did NZ screen some dross called Ace of Wands? If we were to do an equivalent list of the worst kids' shows, I think we really can't go past the Double Deckers, which might have been the UK response to the Partridge Family.
Passing it on to the next generation, my kids are big fans of Thunderbirds, and while my daughter isn't afraid of speeding cars or dangling from high things, she's utterly terrified of Daleks and Cybermen.
And yes, Blake's 7 was brilliant/appalling. I think I spent a major portion of my teen years trying to date Avon. No-one was allowed in the lounge during screenings of the orginal series of Star Trek.
I'd add Kiwi favourites Under the Mountain and Children of the Dog Star.
Count Homogenised. Made me the soy drinker I am today.
Speaking of Blake's 7 and expanding your vocabulary,
I was blobbing out watching an episode on DVD last week and heard the words, Vulpine, Eviscerate, and Perfidious all get used.
Yes, granted it was a particular eat the scenery shakespearian moment, but has the use of language declined so much in 20 years,
Heck you wouldn't even get words like that used most 1st year university papers these days, let along a "Kids" scifi...
I always got a kick out of Dangermouse.
Probably from the obscenely awful puns that proliferated throughout.
Maybe just standard kid-wanting-to-be-seniors syndrome. Whatever the technical term for that is.
Judi, Emma & Gary: excellent point about Blake’s 7. An obvious omission from the post. In my defence, the mutoids used to scare the crap out of me (I think it was their haircuts), so perhaps I blanked it out...
Andrew: funny you should mention Gabrielle Drake from UFO. For some reason, she rather sticks in my mind as well...
Judi: all blobs of light subsequent to Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons have been pretty tame. But the original Mysterons light-blob was terrifying. I used to hide underneath the sofa to get away from it. It seemed like the sort of thing that could easily escape from the telly.
By the way, something I forgot to point out in my original post was the fact that someone could make an excellent dance mix from the theme to the Tomorrow People. If anyone has the urge to give it a go, then I will be happy to post their results as an audio clip on Public Address.
A number of years ago I was flatting with some young'in's (ie just turned 20) and this was when Prime was replaying Blakes 7 everynight. Myself and my flat mate FORCED him to be home on time and watch the entire show from beginning to end. He was a bit bemused to start with but by half way through we no longer needed to prompt him. Somethings never loose their class!
And I certainly agree with the Tomorrow People and UFO calls - were required watching for me when I was a youngster!
Other fond favorites were the childrens TV adaption of Maurice Gees "Under The Mountain" (which I reread recently) - gave me nightmares as a kid but I just couldn't stay away from it.
It's interesting - there's an online movie reviewer that I rate very highhly, called James Berardinelli,
he's Chicago born & bred. Yet he is a huge Blakes 7 fan...
i reckon the Tomorrow People might stump him though.
I'll second Under the Mountain. I have vague recollections of a show (possibly set in a huge big desert) called Ark 2000. Anyone recall this? Google doesn't seem to know what the devil I'm on about, and this guy couldn't find much either. Also that drawing/craft show with the really catchy music as they panned across the resulting artwork from each episode. And Morph.
So, detecting the science friction element here. What do you think of Babylon 5? A modern inheritor of the tradition?
To me, it is the most brilliant, underrated sf show, even though Minbarri ambassador had an implausible Swedish accent and and look of perpetual surprise on her face.
"Sapphire and Steel" scared me shitless. The one with the person with no face - after I saw that, I used to go outside and play while S&S was on. I could not bear to be in the house while such televisual horror was happening.
I loved "Under The Mountain". I remember "Rachel, Theo, heeeeelp!", the slimy tunnels the Wilberforces travelled along, and the triumphant finale with the powerful arcs of red and blue light stretching between Mt Eden and Rangitoto. "Go down, creatures of the mud!"
And I also remember "Children of Fire Mountain". It was a kidult series set in colonial times and it involved some Maori and Pakeha children, a village and a volcano. Um, I guess my main memory of that is the rousing orchestral theme tune. I'd like to see that on You Tube.
But I do know one thing - all these old TV shows are never as good as you remember them. The production values look awful and the plotting seems painfully slow.
TV today may seem rubbish, but it's unexpectedly more sophisticated and competent than its equivalents in the past.
Matthew, I think Ark 2000 was maybe called Ark 7?
And big ups to Under the Mountain. I was in love with Theo, and am still frightened of the Wilberforces. In fact I'm still scared of Rangitoto.
What about Fangface and Hong Kong Fooey and Top Cat?
Matthew, I think Ark 2000 was maybe called Ark 7?
Hey, looks like we were both wrong. From TV.com:
This is their achievement: Ark II, a mobile storehouse of scientific knowledge, manned by a highly-trained crew of young people.
When I was five, that show was genius.
"Children of Fire Mountain"! I'd forgotten that.
I loved Bab 5, but I always thought that was because it was considerably ABOVE the tradition. Multiple-episode plot arcs. Any kind of plots arcs. And look, there IS a use for Bruce Boxleitner.
Watching ST TOS with my kids is just excruciating, but they love it. I suspect those episodes of Dr Who that had me cowering behind the couch wouldn't hold up to modern scrutiny, but I can testify that Sapphire and Steel is still some scary, scary shit.
Under the Mountain really was scary, for kids and adults. A common theme of many of our best shows here is that they don't patronise childs. The current vogue is for shows to operate on "multiple levels" - for kids and knowing adults at the same time. But one of those levels is often still patronising.
The new Dr Who is fantastic at bringing generations together - both old and young can watch it together, as I think Emma Hart was suggesting. That's family television.
All the current shows with multi-season or season-long story arcs (Lost, Prison Break, Alias, Desperate Housewives) all owe a lot to Babylon Five. Who else had the guts to plot five-years of a series from episode one? I re-watched it earlier this year, and season one is nothing but setup for season two and stuff in season four refers back to the first season.
Boing boing said Zebedee, what about the Magic Roundabout, surely legendary childrens TV programme.
Sapphire and Steel was good. I must admit that I thought that Blakes 7 and the Tomorrow People were hopeless. Doctor Who, Thunderbirds and Captain Scarlett were my favourites.
"Catweazle" was pretty good too.
I have to join the legion of Dr Who, Saffire and Steel and Blakes 7 fans (my favourite line is from Villa, upon regaining consciousness in one episode; "Oh my god I've gone to Hell and it's full of Avons!" Is there a red blooded woman out there who *didn't* fall in love with Paul Darrow? I've been working my way through these old series on DVD and am pleased to find they are as goos as I remember, despite the not-so-special effects. I never saw Under the Mountain but loved the books ("Wilberforcing" became a verb in our household) so I must try and find it. On the more obscure front, I remember Ark II (although I wasn't overly impressed by it) and "A Haunting we will go", but there are another couple which I can't remember the names of that I'd love to know. One was a British comedy about 3 ghosts, one of whom still lived with his parents because he couldn't bring himself to tell them he was dead. A second was a rather creepy series about a young girl who got sucked into some alternate reality via a picture of "The Scream" on her bedroom wall. The last is a BBR arts programme which had all sorts of odd things in it like pictures drawing themselves, and a furry that lived in a grandfather clock that would occasionally zip around the set. Any enlightenmment would be greatly appreciated!
Finally, on the subject of Dr Who, I love the new series, but having the Doctor as seriously sexy (twice) is *really* screwing with my head!
"Under the Mountain" was the scariest thing I ever saw as a kid - I loved every second of it, even though I had to skip a couple of the chapters when I was finally given the book. They should rerelease it, it's obviously got a place in people's hearts.
It was just one of a number of what I recall as very good NZ kids programmes - they probably wouldn't stand up well against The Tribe or that other one with Tim Balme and Danielle Cormack in it these days, but there were heaps of them. The Kids from OWL, Terry and the Gunrunners, Children of the Dog Star, Fire Raiser - lots of Margaret Mahy and Maurice Gee.
I'd think I'd died and gone to heaven if Weta and co took on The Halfmen of O one day.
I like the Goodnight Kiwi youtube - any chance of a Keep Cool till After School one?
Stephen - yeah, the intergenerational thing is important. A program that my kids will get into that we can actually bear to watch is like gold. Dr Who falls into that category and I'd put Stargate Atlantis (that's following in the legacy of all those hour-long scifi programs we grew up with) in there as well.
In the Kiwi Kidult drama tradition, Maddigan's Quest was brilliant. It was even put on in a decent timeslot so we could all sit down and watch it together. I'd LOVE to see Halfmen of O, my kids have read the books. I don't know why NZ stopped making those great kidult dramas: at the time it was about the only thing we did well.
UFO was for children? I always thought it was something I should not be watching. Of course, that did not stop me.
The last is a BBR arts programme which had all sorts of odd things in it like pictures drawing themselves, and a furry that lived in a grandfather clock that would occasionally zip around the set.
..ah! "Vision On", perhaps? That was definitely a favourite of mine, although at that age I was a little confused at the lack of talking (heh, it was targetted at deaf kids). The program name was written in cursive and mirrored to make the Vision On bug.
I was a BIG tomorrow people fan; now I know it's on DVD I can tell my parents what I want for Christmas! I thought Stephen was really hot, and I wanted to dress like them. I also second Logan's Run and Sapphire & Steel, although the latter got very samey after the first couple of stories.
I suspect I'd find Children of the Dog Star a bit boring now; I think even when I watched it, I was just hanging out to see that thing on the barn start moving. Also, the theme tune was great.
Blake's 7: I liked it when I was a kid, but I saw a couple of the old episodes a few years ago, and a lot of the storyline must've really sailed over my head. For example, how many people remember that Blake was actually framed as a paedophile by the federation, who planted fake memories in the heads of his supposed victims?
ALSO: Space 1999!
Well, I never really watched TV much as a kid (does Fair Go count?) but...my TV still runs on valves. Pretty damn awesome TV, too; on the one hand, no DVD/laptop input, on the other, nice big screen and speakers. The annoying whistling sound for the first five minutes is sort of par for the course.
The 70's, which appears to be the golden age of children's television mainly being referred to (says somthing about the contributor demographic) was a rich period for sci fi TV.
Those were the days - i don't think anyone has mentioned that great british classic 'Time Slip' yet, or even Terry Nation's finest moment - no not the daleks but 'Survivors' (okay okay, it wasn't a kid's programme in any shape or form but it was something special).
Otherwise my personal top five children's series from the 1970's would Doctor Who, Time Slip, Vision On, Blakes 7, & Space 1999.
I noticed a few people mentioning B5 - a magnificent achievement and to my mind the greatest modern Sci Fi television series but I can't personally count it as a childhood show.
NZ - Under the Mountin and the Fire Raiser were fab - gotta love anything from Maurice Gee.
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