Saturday, May 24, 2008

HIYA, KIDS!!! A 50s Saturday Morning...

It seems the Saturday morning ritual of watching kiddie TV programs while Mom and Dad slept in has been around for over 50 years. Well before Josie and the Pussycats and Scooby Doo, kids were watching Roy Rogers and Howdy Doody. To celebrate this fact, Shout Factory released a four DVD collection of twenty-one children's programs from the 50s on May 6th. Each DVD from Hiya, Kids!! is designed like a Saturday morning programming block from the era, with shows for the very young first on the menu. As the older siblings “wake up,” the programs become more and more “sophisticated."

The programs include some titles that may sound somewhat familiar: Kukla, Fran and Ollie, Howdy Doody, Lassie, Annie Oakley, Flash Gordon, The Roy Rogers Show, The Cisco Kid and Sheena, Queen of the Jungle. Some of the lesser known titles include Ding Dong School, which paved the way for preschool television such as Mr. Roger's Neighborhood, or Captain Z-RO which was the even cheesier sci-fi forerunner of such shows as Lost in Space. I must point out--Howdy Doody and Kukla, Fran and Ollie were well before my time. I'm more of the H. R. Pufnstuf and Sesame Street era... And compared to the rudimentary puppeteering of the 50s, Sesame Street's Muppets are both subversive and sublime in their brilliance.

Still, it's a trip to see what entertained the rugrats back in the day. I learned that the recurrent themes were puppies and puppets and cowboys (and cowgirls!) and clowns. And kids back in the 50s had a much longer attention span than candy-coated cereal infused children of today. You think five year olds today would watch The Rootie Kazootzie Club when they can see Power Rangers kicking @$$? I don't think so. But for those who grew up during this time period, the kitschy, quaint and rudimentary productions will have them waxing nostalgic and reliving their childhood.

Perhaps a "swell" Father's Day gift?

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