Wendy Relives The Weird Canadian TV Shows Of Her Youth [Videos]
I grew up in the Upper Peninsula. I was pretty close to Canada, so we got a lot of Canadian TV stations. My dad loved it because “Hockey Night In Canada” was always on. I loved it because I had a lot of kids’ shows to choose from.
While all of you here in GR probably only had whatever was on PBS (“Sesame Street”, “Mr. Rogers”, etc.), us kids in the UP had those options PLUS some weird Canadian knock-off versions that for some reason I always ended up watching. Allow me to introduce them to you.
So… “Today’s Special”l, from what I remember, was completely set inside of a department store and starred a couple of humans and some puppets. Jeff, who was kind of the star of the show, was actually a mannequin who came to life at night with the help of his magical hat whenever someone said the words, “hocus pocus alimagocus” (not kidding). It also starred a lady named Jodie as the store’s display designer, a puppet/security guard named Sam Crenshaw, and a fashionable mouse named Muffy Mouse. Check out the opening credits.
“The Polka Dot Door”
Oh… “The Polka Dot Door”. This show was… something. I want to say that it was loosely based on the US show “Romper Room”, but I could be mistaken. Every day of the week had a theme on “The Polka Dot Door”. Monday was treasure day, Tuesday was dress-up day, Wednesday was animal day, Thursday was imagination day, and Friday was always finding-out day. Every Thursday, a mythical creature named “Polkaroo” (a polka-dotted kangaroo) would show up to play as well. Each episode also featured story time. Here’s what the opening credits were like (I still get the theme song stuck in my head from time to time. It’s catchy):
“Mr. Dress Up”
I’m pretty sure that “Mr. Dress Up” was a direct rip off of “Mr. Rogers”, but whatever. It was cute and featured Canadian accents so I got over it. Mr. Dressup would take kids through a series of songs, stories, arts, crafts, and imagination games, with the help of his friends Casey and Finnegan – a boy and a dog who lived in a treehouse in the back yard. (That’s right, the puppet boy and the puppet dog lived in a treehouse in this dude’s backyard.) Frequently, Mr. Dressup would get a costume from the “Tickle Trunk”. He would put on the costume, and play the suggested role (policeman, fireman, baseball player). Occasionally, when the Tickle Trunk would not open, Mr. Dressup sang a song and tickled the lock, hence its name. Sound creepy enough? Check out the opening credits and a little bit from the beginning of one of the shows.
The Friendly Giant
“The Friendly Giant” was on for about a million years in Canada, it seems. The show started in 1958 and ended in 1985 (which means I remember watching it when I was 3? I guess so.) The show starred a giant named Friendly, who lived in a huge castle, along with his puppet animal friends Rusty (a rooster who played a harp and lived in a book bag hung by the castle window) and Jerome (a giraffe). For a long time I honestly thought that I hallucinated the show.
So, there you have it. Now when I reference these shows to people and they look at me like I’m crazy, I can point them to this blog. THESE SHOWS WERE REAL!