First, anyone who is finally with Canadian stations, I will be focusing on TVOntario (TVO is a publicly funded station), CBC (a Canada crown corporation) and CTV, but I did watch CHCH (originally a CBC affiliate until it went independent) as well. CBC and TVOntario were/are the PBS equivalents in Canada. A good number shows came from these stations. Now as an avid watcher of PBS-shows on my local PBS station WNED, like Sesame Street, Mister Roger's Neghbourhood, Captain Kangaroo, and the like there will be some similarities. So, we will start with the biggest similarity, Mr. Dressup. Here is a clip from the show "Mister Dressup".
|Mr. Dressup and the Tickle Trunk|
Mr. Dressup, is Ernie Coombs a Canadian Children's show host. Ernie work along side Fred Rogers when they both started working with CBC in 1963. Actually Rogers brought Coombs on board to work at CBC. While there the two worked on creating Children's programming that treated children with a bit more respect and wasn't at the mercy of commercial programming. While at CBC Rogers was working on "Misterrogers" (what would later become "Mister Roger's Neighbourhood"); while at CBC, he and Coombs were involved in a show called "Butternut Square" (as similar to "Mr. Dressup") airing from 1963 to 1967. While on that show Coombs created the character Mr. Dressup. When Rogers left in 1966 after acquiring the right to his show and relocating baclk to Piuttsburgh, Coombs worked to create the show "Mister Dressup".
"Mr. Dressup" has a lot of the same elements as "Mister Rogers Neighbourhood", such as puppets, crafts, and a setting of imagination. What I love about the show was two crucial items, first the 'Tickle Trunk' a large orange trunk that held costumes where Mr. Dressup would a costume to imagine stories and play games often with the puppets, Casey and Finnegan. Casey was a little boy/girl puppet with his/her puppet dog Finnegan, performed by Judith Lawrence until her retirement. Casey was ultimately made with no gender orientation, and to this day no one really knows, because Coombs, when asked if Casey was a boy or girl, he reply was, "what do you think?" and he would agree with whatever answer given was. There were a number of other puppets that appeared on the show throughout it's run, such as Alligator Al and Aunt Bird. Here's a surprise, after Lawrence retired, the crew brought in to perform the newer characters had a few well seasoned professionals including Cheryl Wagner, who worked on Fraggle Rock, Mrs. Pennypacker from "Today's Special", and was Miss Finch from "Follow that Bird" and and Nina Keogh who played Muffy Mouse on "Today's Special" and was a host on "Polka Dot Door".
Next are "Today's Special" and "Polka Dot Door", these two shows appeared on TVOntario, both are educational shows that use songs, stories, and educational shorts to teach letters, numbers, phonetics, and concepts to younger children. I am lumping these together for a couple of reasons, one being that they ran at part of the same time and because some of the hosts from "Polka Dot Door" wenton to do "Today's Special".
|Polka Dot cast|
See a clip of Denis and Cindy talk about Dinosaurs It was a very informative show for kids!
|Cast of "Today's Special|
Reddy Fox, the Weasel character (name escapes my now), and Paddy Beaver
"Doctor Snuggles" follows the animated adventures of Doctor Snuggles, a crazy old inventor of all things and his animal friends. They have adventures. He looks a lot like Be Franklin, doesn't he? He has an talking duck umbrella that he uses as a pogo stick. I think I need one of those. This one I saw on Nickelodeon, but it also aired on TVOntario. The cartoon is based on the art of English artist Nick Price and brought to life by Jeffrey O'Kelly as the writer, and is animated by two different animation studios (Topcraft in Japan and DePatie-Freleng in the US). There were guest writers that included the prolific Douglas Adams (of Hitchhiker's fame). Peter Ustinov narrated the English language episodes. Originally a British - Dutch collaboration, Doctor Snuggles aired across many countries, including US and Canada. Upon reflection this show reminds me on a number of things, but the biggest is that Doctor Snuggles and his badger friend, Dennis, they remind me of James A. Owen's characters from "The Chronicles of the Imaginarium Geographica", Quixote and Uncas, (not an exact match, but certainly those who know of this series might find a connection too). I just recent found out there is a UK release of the WHOLE series that came out in 2005 by Firefly Entertainment. Here's a full episode of Doctor Snuggles: The Fabulous Mechanical Mathilda Junkbottom
"The Littlest Hobo" is a Canadian produced television show based on the American movie of the same name. It had two incarnations, one from 1963 to 1965 and the other from 1979 to 1985, both lasting 6 seasons. It was the story of the Littlest Hobo, or whatever name his was called during any particular episode (London was his real name). He would travel around helped those who need help and making friends. He never next stayed with those he helped for long, he was the ever wandering traveler it seemed. This is another show that I would get super excited about when it came on TV. I loved to see what adventures Hobo/London got into. Many of the episodes features other famous celebrities from Alan Hale (Gilligan's Island), Abe Vigoda, DeForest Kelly (Star Trek), and a young Mike Myers.
Imagine my surprise when I found there is a tee shirt with the Littlest Hobo on it! Go here to order yours: Littlest Hobo T-Shirt
|Mark Kistler as Capt. Mark|
Thanks to Wikipedia, IMDB, Doctor Snuggles Webpage, youtube, and Google Image search for the information and pictures used in this blog.