Saturday, June 18, 2011

That's Entertainment

After being basically freaked out by the World Beyond and sent off to bed "early" (which meant hiding behind the hall door and listening to the B&W Zenith portable TV until you fell asleep on the floor), Saturday mornings came without fail. And that meant...cartoons. And there were some REALLY lame ones, and we knew it, but we had to watch them anyway. The Bugs Bunny and Road Runner HOUR hadn't been invented yet.

This was like the TV in Grandma's room where I watched the Beatles when they were on Ed Sullivan.
(After she died in that room, no one really wanted to go in there.)

How lame, you ask? Well prime-time animation was so lame, that it almost wasn't even animation. There was Clutch Cargo (with his pals Spinner and Paddlefoot). Creepy use of real people's mouths to do dialogue, that kind of looked like they had on lipstick and just ate a candy bar. Thanks to Wikipedia I learned the voices of Spinner and Paddlefoot were done by Margaret Kerry, who provided the look and movements of Disney's Tinkerbell. Huh. Shown in color below, a TV experience we didn't have until I was in the 5th grade, and even then my Dad bogarted it to watch news. What a waste.

There was Fireball XL5. Creepy puppet science fiction. 2 years ago I discovered my still-intact FXL5 lunchbox when cleaning out my boyhood home. Of course I now have it hermetically sealed for posterity, waiting for my fortune to come in. Serious inquiries only, please.

Even in B&W, you just couldn't buy into the cheezy flying motorcycle thing with sparklers.

Then things would wind down with Wonderama! - which basically sucked so bad it MADE you go outside and play. So my early career as art critic had a target-rich environment.

Another particularly lame weekday show was Tobor! the Eightman! Similar to AstroBoy or Speed Racer in effect, it actually was the dawn of anime which I have yet to embrace some 40 years later.

Tobor was of course robot spelled backwards and the plotline later spawned RoboCop. I bring this series up because of a recent revelation. After reading the obituaries (which one tends to do more of the older one gets) I turned to my horoscope (Scorpio - 8th sign of the zodiac). I was informed that my number is 8, and when laying down, it is infinity.

Up to this time I had not realized I had been wandering aimlessly through life without a number. The ensuing serenity remains with me still.

And in closing, I will also touch upon Ultraman. We watched a lot of rubber-suit monster movies in our day, but Ultraman routinely dispatched them on a weekly basis. The link provides thorough details of the Ultraman saga, including personal stats such as top speeds, jump ceiling, and physical strength. I was surprised to learn he could press at least 100,000 tons. 
That's a lot. Without a spotter. 

So why did we watch? Was it the opiate of the masses? Was it a capitalist conspiracy to foster a persistent vegetative state, capable of only becoming alert for commercials? No. It was entertainment without effort. And when Wonderama! would come on or if my Mom could stand it no more we were forced to go outside and cure our boredom. We would go down to the creek, catch frogs or bugs, climb trees, ride bikes or get into some other mischief. There was effort involved, and that was real entertainment. Funny it seemed like punishment at the time.

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