Wednesday, March 12, 2008

There's a Ruckus in the Chuckle Patch

Hearkening back to my Sid & Marty Krofft tribute, I began to wax nostalgic about some other strange children's shows that helped warp me into the man I am today. The Kroffts had their own style, and their work is as instantly recognizable as a Rankin-Bass cartoon or puppet stop-motion movie, but they didn't have a monopoly on dementing our little brains.

The Magic Garden
Where the wacky tobaccie and mushrooms grow.

This was two hippie chicks on an acid trip where the flowers and squirrels and inchworms talked to them when they weren't plucking their acoustic guitars. It was actually quite well done for its time, with nicely built sets, and the gals actually played the music. IMDb tells me that the women were named Carole and Paula, and the squirrel was named Sherlock. I remember he was a little pain in the ass. Probably needed some "special" nut brownies. The chuckle patch was a quivering flowerbed they pulled corny jokes from, straight out of a psychedelic nightmare. Then there were the sunflowers, which nodded, and looked ready to take a bite out of you as soon as you turned around. I liked the inchworm, which despite being obviously operated by someone behind the tree, looked real to me.

Warning: Do not watch without toking.

The New Zoo Revue
Hot nostrils.

This show was about three merry animal stereotypes gallivanting about. Charlie the Owl was a know-it-all, and Henrietta Hippo was a snobby Southern belle who flirted with the Yankee carpetbaggers and drove them mad with lust. Freddy the Frog and the Owl would eventually experiment in college, and if you think I'm joking watch the clip. It is definitely not work safe, but then again what gay porn is? Right after this ends, Freddy took the elevator up into Charlie's treehouse and they released their pent-up feelings, and Henrietta is now on The View.

An infamous outtake. NOT work safe.

The Great Space Coaster
Love that headband.

The News with Gary Gnu! And Goriddle Gorilla, who is orange like the "gorilla" of The Banana Splits. And this was after Clint Eastwood made the orangutan movies. So there's no excuse. Nowadays this stuff is about as funny as finding a lump on your breast and/or testicle, but back in the 80's it was a laugh riot. I remember Richard Kiel, yes "Jaws" from the campy Roger Moore James Bond movies, being interviewed by Gary Gnu. Joan Collins also made an appearance at one point. We thought Gary Gnu was the funniest thing ever, you can get away with a lot when you're a puppet.

Gary Gnu is as funny as cancer.

Gigglesnort Hotel
Teaching kids the evils of The Klan.

A hotel full of puppets telling charming tales. With titles like WHERE SPLENDOR DIES. I emailed the show's creator at his website, trying to track down the show because I remembered that title and never got to see the end. This was actually somewhat gripping and scary for a child. I also remember a blind mouse named Timothy, but that may be from another show. This was pretty innocent and I think children need scary and dramatic tales at an early age. Nightmares are brain fuel! And the puppets from this show are guaranteed to supercharge a kid's brain.

The appropriately named Blob is a talking lump of clay.

The guy's other show was called B.J. and the Dirty Dragon, which is when you're doing her, and then you... never mind, those jokes are played out. This era of children's TV was much better than the Toy Commercial Shows that dominated the mid-80's, if you ask me. They inspired the imagination. I might mock Gary Gnu now, but I'm pretty sure my sister and I did our own talk shows based on his using a beat-up old tape recorder and a monkey puppet. Once my sister made the monkey strangle me, and she got hurt as we rough-housed. All caught on tape, humorously sped up for our enjoyment. I wish I still had that tape. We thought it was the funniest thing ever.

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