Educational TV: What’s an Oreo?
Reason’s Hit & Run reminds us that they used to do children’s TV differently.
The ’70s show Vegetable Soup, produced by the New York State Department of Education from 1975 to 1978, aired on both PBS and NBC. In a scene on black slang from a 1975 episode, the characters “casually throw in an expression that these days would’ve been vetoed long before the show got to air,” writes Jesse Walker.
Nick Sagan remembers the “nightmarishly weird” side of Vegetable Soup.
The diversity-celebrating show mixed live action, animation and puppets, he writes. The animated characters were surreal “demonic squiggles.”
“Outerscope” featured a multicultural group of puppet children who explore the universe. “They meet aliens, have all kinds of adventures, and along the way they learn lessons about tolerance, friendship, etc.,” Sagan writes.
Unfortunately, “the puppet children were incredible creepy.” They also were lost in space. At the end of every episode, writes Sagan, “One puppet kid sadly looks at the other and says, ‘I guess we’re never going home’.”
I’m so old I remember when we got our first TV. My sister and I were allowed to watch one show, the Mickey Mouse Club. My father thought cartoons were too violent. I did sneak a little Clutch Cargo once. Talk about creepy.