If you live in the United States, there’s a fairly good chance you have seen Jack Horkheimer’s Star Hustler or recently dubbed Star Gazer.
He delightfully explained constellations seeming something like Carl Sagan’s Uncle Buck. Low budget, outdatted effects and cheesy deliver no matter when it aired. It was a Tim & Eric skit but with a genuine passion for the stars.
Giant leaf fell on a boy. Mayor ate too much and got sick. Kid bites dog. Grammar gets mangled.
The Write Channel chronicled the not-so-gonzo journalism career of insect reporter R.B. Bug, spitting out the facts on a 70s local newscast under the watchful eye of editor/anchor Red Green. No, not that Red Green.
R.B. covered surreal events around town in a basic, straight-laced manner, suitable for illiterates and the E.S.L. classroom. That’d be where I encountered this fine bit of educational programming. Though I was already sawing my way through Isaac Asimov, in 4th grade they sat our narrow asses down in rows to watch our weekly installment of a stop-motion bug talking with all the speed and juicy detail of a Midwesterner with a concussion. (Yeah I went there, Minneapolis.)
Still, credit is due for the end bit (the ominously named The Club) that goads viewers to fiction, finishing the epic tale of the Man Who Lost His Sack. Interactive fiction with 1978 broadcast technology.
After the cut, another clip where Red Green gets personal…
Spacey Earth mother type receives someone else’s mail. Surprisingly, mail is not a half kilo of uncut yayo but a barrel containing a dessicated lab-grown boy and a packet of nutrient gel. Mom’s bad with instructions, the Factory gets steamed that this mistaken delivery is quirking out their prized specimen, Ned Beatty is somehow involved. Hilarity ensues.
This would be another bit of children’s programming most commonly remembered through the haze of a fever dream, the sort of thing that was always playing on PBS at 2 PM on the day you stayed home sick from school. It bears the Wonderworks stamp, placing it in the company of other book to TV adaptations as the original Chronicles of Narnia and the Hoboken Chicken Emergency. I’m pretty sure this is the first movie I ever snobbishly asserted was better as a book than as a movie. Still, where else are you going to get a good show about unexpectedly finding a kid in a barrel that doesn’t involve a serial killer?
After some furious googling, I came up short on a video clip. Damnation. Well, if you’re prepared to drop $20 on a VHS, Amazon has you covered. And if you’ve got your own copy, be a good internet citizen and get a bit of it on YouTube will ya?
Produced by Mississippi ETV in 1986, Tomes & Talisman presented library and research concepts with a scifi drama. Ms. Bookhart, a librarian from the world of 2123 compiles with her compatriots a library of all human knowledge– which incidentally is in book form and about the size of an average high school library.
Humans were forced off Earth by a race called “The Wipers” who have drunken frat boy at a Midwestern tailgating party level technology: as in yell and throw things. So naturally faced up against the hooligans humans have to evacuate. Bookhart’s library is missing one book, so she sets out in the bookmobile hours before the last evacuation to find it.
Bookhart then meets a deus ex machina generic cloaked spirt guy with magic powers who puts her to sleep for 100 years called “The Universal Being.” Oh, then there are these Nordic Anglo Saxon looking aliens who love jumpsuits and headbands called “The Users” whom she takes back to the library.
Confused? I sure as hell was when I saw this in the early 1990’s in elementary school. A sincere attempt at educational television, but it seemed both worthless and frightening.
Already card catalogs were gone replaced by terminals. I was also confused why the hell we were watching this low budget postapocalyptic bizarro fest paleofuture where teleportation, space travel, and microfilm are real but computers are not.
As PBS educational television icon Lavar Burton said “you don’t have to take my word for it.” Here’s part 1 of 13.