My Top 10 Favourite Childhood TV Shows
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Round the Twist (1989)
Wiki: "Round the Twist is an Australian children's fantasy television program about three children and their widowed father who live in a lighthouse in the fiction coastal town of Port Niranda and become involved in many bizarre magical adventures"
My Thoughts: Round The Twist was an eccentric Aussie children's TV show that first appeared on CBBC when I was around seven or eight. Its blend of humour and fantastical elements certainly appealed to me. Some of my favourite episodes included the first episode Skeleton On The Dunny which provided a perfect intro to the formula of the show, the brilliantly memorable and fairly terrifying (especially to a young kid) Know All, which features a seemingly psychotic Scarecrow dressed as a clown (Nuff' said). Season two may have been more memorable to me, if only because I was a little older and though I was a little confused as to why the kids seemed to look different (they were replaced by different actors, I still continued to totally crush on Linda though) it certainly provided some of the best episodes, especially the ingenious Little Squirt, in which young Bronson makes a deal with a water elemental in order to win a pissing competition, The truly touching and wonderfully told romantic magical realism of Nails and the memorably haunting Grandad's Gifts.
The Storyteller (1987)
Wiki: "The StoryTeller is a British live-action/puppet television series that originally aired in 1987 and which was created and executively produced by Jim Henson. The series retold various European folk tales, particularly ones considered obscure in Western culture, created with a combination of actors and puppets. The framing device had an old storyteller (John Hurt) sitting by a fire telling each tale to both the viewers and to his talking dog (a realistic looking puppet of a blonde Pudelpointer performed and voiced by Brian Henson) who acted as the voice of the viewers, and was written in a language and traditional style in keeping with old folk tales."
My Thoughts: I was particularly young when The Storyteller was first shown on Channel Four, yet I have fairly vivid memories of watching the show, probably because I found elements of the first two episodes Fearnot and the Soldier and Death particularly terrifying. In fact so terrifying did I find these elements as a young lad I believe I gave up watching the show altogether(Mind you, such was the spell cast upon me that I went straight back to watch reruns when I was a little older). The Storyteller was a beautifully made production, and is well worth a watch for anybody of any age quite frankly but especially for those with an appreciation for fantasy and mythology.
The Real Ghostbusters (1986)
Wiki: The Real Ghostbusters is an American animated television series, a spinoff of the 1984 comedy movie Ghostbusters. "The Real" was added to the title after a dispute with Filmation and its Ghost Busters properties. The series continues the adventures of paranormal investigators Dr. Peter Venkman, Dr. Egon Spengler, Dr. Ray Stantz, Winston Zeddemore, their secretary Janine Melnitz and their mascot ghost Slimer.
My Thoughts: Of all the big 80's cartoon franchises (He-Man, Transformers, Thundercats, TMNT etc) I think Ghostbusters was probably the one that had the most impact on me throughout my childhood. The cartoon adaption was what really started me on it, which then of course branched out into the films (which I didn't fully watch until I was a little older as I couldn't get past the scary librarian scene) and the plethora of toys and merchandise. The Real Ghostbusters was a great cartoon series, it never pandered to its primarily kid audience, being at times truly spooky and always wonderfully imaginative. As a kid who was fascinated with the supernatural the franchise as a whole was perfect for me but also what with its origins in Saturday Night Live and comedy it provided for me an early appreciation for humour too.
Wiki: "Knightmare is a British television programme for children and was broadcast on CITV from 7 September 1987 to 11 November 1994. An adventure game show, Knightmare involves a team of four children—one taking the role of the sightless dungeoneer, and the remaining three acting as their guide—traversing a medieval environment as they attempt to complete a quest and exit the dungeon, using their wits to overcome puzzles, obstacles and the unusual characters they meet along the journey."
My Thoughts: I can remember watching the trailers of Knightmare at a young age and mistakenly assuming the show was cartoon along the same lines as He-Man and The Masters of the Universe or Dungeons & Dragons and I was quite disappointed when I tuned in to watch and realised it was an entirely different format. I just didn't get it to begin with but throughout my childhood it was something I kept on coming back to. The seemingly terrified and thoroughly square kid contestants were a source of much mirth at times but it was the imaginative Dungeon and the creatures and characters that inhabited that world that kept me coming back for more.
Dungeons & Dragons (1983)
Wiki: "Dungeons & Dragons is an American animated television series based on TSR's Dungeons & Dragons role-playing game. The show focused on a group of six friends who are transported into the titular realm and followed their adventures as they tried to find a way home with the help of their guide 'Dungeon Master'."
My Thoughts I loved Dungeons & Dragons, it was one of few cartoons of the eighties that didn't try to push a huge merchandising scam on kids for one thing, but it was just a great, imaginative (and at times scary) cartoon. I remember really feeling for the kids and the plight they were in. That the show was cancelled before they could get back home made it all the more heartbreaking.
Wiki:" Moondial is a British television six-part serial made for children by the BBC and transmitted in 1988, with a repeat in 1990.The story deals with a young girl, Minty (Siri Neal), staying with her aunt after her mother is injured in a car accident. Minty spends much of her time wandering around the grounds of a nearby mansion, and is drawn to a moondial that enables her to travel back in time, where she becomes involved with two children, Tom (Tony Sands), who lives in the Victorian era, and Sarah (Helena Avellano), who seems to live in "the previous century" to that, and must save them from their own unhappy lives."
My Thoughts: My memories of watching Moondial were primarily of how eerie it was, it really scared me at the time. Watching it back fairly recently I have to say as a children's drama show it still stands up and was really well made, it remains eerie due to its wonderful use of music and atmospherics.
Wiki: "The show features X-Men similar in look and line-up to the early 1990s X-Men drawn by Jim Lee (specifically, Cyclops's Blue Team, established in the early issues of X-Men: Legacy), composed of Cyclops, Wolverine, Rogue, Storm, Beast, Gambit, Jubilee, Jean Grey, Professor X, as well as an original character, Morph (an adaptation of previous X-Men member Changeling). The series deals with social issues, including divorce ("Proteus"), Christianity ("Nightcrawler" and "Bloodlines"), the Holocaust ("Enter Magneto", "Deadly Reunions", "Days of Future Past" and "The Phalanx Covenant") and AIDS hysteria ("Time Fugitives"), and feelings of loneliness ("No Mutant Is an Island"). Television was satirized in the episodes "Mojovision" and "Longshot"."
My Thoughts I first discovered X-Men when I was ten years old though the comic books of which I remember first receiving as a gift on an otherwise drab Butlins holiday back in 1992, this was back during the Claremont/Lee era and I was blown away. I approached the cartoon with a little trepidation and besides by the time it was shown on British terrestrial television I'd developed into an elitist comic book snob, I was at high school too, which mean't watching cartoons was kinda looked down upon by my highly sophisticated and mature eleven and twelve year old peers. But yeah it was an awesome cartoon, full of cool blink and you'll miss them references to the comic book universe, in fact it was a far superior adaption to the source material than the Fox films have ever come.
Eerie, Indiana (1991)
Wiki: The series revolves around Marshall Teller, a teenager whose family moves to the desolate town of Eerie, Indiana, population of 16,661. While moving into his new home, he meets Simon Holmes, one of the few normal people in Eerie. Together, they are faced with bizarre scenarios, which include discovering a sinister group of intelligent dogs that are planning on taking over the world, and meeting a tornado hunter who is reminiscent of Captain Ahab. They also confront numerous urban legends such as Bigfoot and a still-living Elvis Presley. Although the show was host to a plethora of jokes, it also featured a serious tone.
My Thoughts: Eerie, Indiana was a show that appeared on Channel 4 at a weird time in my life, it was my last year of primary school and my parents had just split the previous year and I'd moved back in with my dad because I loathed the school I went to when I was living with my mum. So it was a strange time; way too much clowning around at school,being a heavy metal and comic book nerd and this sense of emptiness in the pit of my stomach (an emotional one, though my dads cooking probably didn't help). So this weird-ass kids show appears on the TV about surreal sci-fi and supernatural twists infecting suburban America, and of course I loved it. What overly imaginative, subtly mentally traumatised eleven year boy, wouldn't?
Dark Season (1991)
Wiki: Dark Season is a British science-fiction television serial for adolescents, screened on BBC1 in late 1991. Comprising six twenty-five-minute episodes, the two linked three-part stories tell the adventures of three teenagers and their battle to save their school and their classmates from the actions of the sinister Mr Eldritch. It was the first television drama to be written by Russell T Davies, and is also noteworthy for co-starring a young Kate Winslet in her first major television role.
My Thoughts Another atmospheric and interesting children's show that I have fond memories of was Dark Season. I just loved shows that didn't patronise its audience, kids can handle big sci-fi concepts and they love to be scared and this Russel T Davies (who became better known for resurrecting Doctor Who in the early 2000's) production provided that in spades. I remember waiting for CBBC to bring back Dark Season after its original six episodes, but sadly they never did.
Wiki: The Chronicles of Narnia is a BBC-produced television serial that was aired from 13 November 1988 to 23 December 1990 and is based on four books of C. S. Lewis's The Chronicles of Narnia series. The first series aired was The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe in 1988, the second series aired was Prince Caspian and The Voyage of the Dawn Treader in 1989 and the third series aired was The Silver Chair in 1990. This television serial was produced by Paul Stone and teleplayed by Alan Seymour. The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe was directed by Marilyn Fox, while Prince Caspian, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader and The Silver Chair were directed by Alex Kirby.
My Thoughts: The BBC produced a number of adaptations of CS Lewis's Narnia books and as a young kid I totally lapped them up. I also remember listening to the adaptation of The Silver Chair on the radio during my Sunday evening bath, won an art competition for it too. Happy memories, The Silver Chair remains a favourite of mine to this day.
As a kid of the late eighties/early nighties I watched far too much television for my own good. Of all the endless rubbish I watched there were however some great shows that I remember with a lot of fondness, here's ten of 'em...
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