I’m just going to warn you now; if you are a human being who did not spend their formative childhood years in Canada with access to basic cable and are not between the ages of 25-35 as you read this, what is about to happen may make little to no sense. Although if you don’t fit both of these categories and just happen to be an aging artist who enjoys watching strange children’s shows from the 1980s while on a three-day PCP binge then enjoy, friend.
For those of you who do fit this mold, I’m about to take you on a wild journey back into the depths of both your memory and heart. No matter what your family life was like, what school you went to, how you’ve grown, what soul-searching you’ve done on the banks of whatever-the-fuck country you traveled to on your parents’ dime after high school, what career you ended up going into or what heartbreak you have doled out or suffered through in life – I am telling you right now that these show are why you are you who are. Point blank period. This is also why, despite all the seemingly inherent differences that may exist between you and I, we will forever be bonded. Here we go.
Let’s do some crafts, bitches! I’m convinced this show turned me into an artist. The things I could do with an empty shoe box, some pipe-cleaners, a handful of glitter and some googly eyes. Gawd damn.
This show was produced by Lois and Herb Walker but also had a cast of unforgettable (although slightly creepy, in retrospect) characters. Remember crazy Mr. Twister?
Marke’s Recycle Cycle (and creepy over-sized eyes)?
There was also Pam’s Kitchen but I always used that segment as a break to go get myself a snack because umm, hello, why would I just want to sit around and watch other people eating snacks?
Pioneering in terms of radical environmentalism. As a child, I had no idea what the fuck it meant to ‘measure your carbon footprint’ but I’ll tell you right now, I was not about to let NO motherfucking Smoggie pollute my ocean. This show made my 5-year-old ass want to go help clean oil off baby ducks from the Exxon Valdez and made me extremely adamant that my mother only bought cans of tuna with the “no chopped up dolphins in here” logo.
The most important thing about this show was the fact that instead of taking place in a magical world of seizure-inducing colours in the sky (I’m talking to you, Rainbow Brite…ole bright ass bitch) this show looked exactly like your backyard, especially if you grew up in British Columbia or Alberta. This shit was REAL.
It took place in the Evergreen Forest, which were basically the only trees you knew existed for the first 10 years of your life until your family saved up enough money to go to on a trip to San Diego and you nearly shit your pants seeing a palm tree for the first time. It felt like if you played outside long enough, you were bound to run into one of these dudes. The only thing that reminded you it wasn’t real was the aardvark millionaire, Cyril Sneer.
[Fun fact: I honestly thought he was a “weird-pig-kinda-thing” until I researched this show as an adult.]
Just yesterday, someone in my office mentioned this show and no one could remember it until I started singing the theme song. Then our brains exploded.
Under The Umbrella Tree
This is the show I feel the least amount of people remember. So when I finally meet someone who does, it’s like looking into the mirror for the first time. I see you.
This shit had me screaming “hocus pocus alimagocus” at every mannequin I saw until 1993, although the thought of a mannequin coming alive is now one of my greatest adult fears. When I moved to Toronto a few years ago, I found myself screaming it again at the top of my lungs when I was walking down Queen Street West and realized they shot the show in the store windows of what is now The Bay. Thankfully screaming at basically nothing seems to be the municipal pastime of Queen Street West.
Sharon Lois and Bram
I wanted to be on this show so bad until I realized that your teammate had to be a sibling. My younger brother was only one year old when the show stopped shooting new episodes so THANKS, MITCH.
Video and Arcade Top 10
Sweet graphics, bro.
And the most important lesson you could ever have possibly learned…
DON’T YOU PUT IT IN YOUR MOUTH.
Before I go pass out from overwhelming nostalgia, shout outs also to the following pillars of cultural relevance:
- Polka Dot Door
- The Friendly Giant
- Fred Penner
- Dudley the Dragon
- Uh Oh!
Have I blown your mind? Did I miss your favourite show? Is Fred Penner your cousin’s stepdad or something? Talk to me.