JLS (jlsjlsjls) wrote,

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Canadian television oddities

Wandered into Winners (a clothing/household goods liquidation chain) today on a sock-purchasing expedition (the clothing there is usually shoddily made synthetic, but they DO carry, for some reason, high-quality, often designer, socks) ... ANYHOW, I always check the book rack on the rare occasions that I visit, because I've occasionally found treasures there(and a $50.00 book on sale for $5.99 is not to be sneezed at) ... today was no exception. Found was a copy of "TV North", an encyclopaedia and history of, you guessed it, Canadian television. The reason I'm so pleased is that most books on Canadian television tend to concentrate on the almighty CBC and ignore all the shows on the fringes ... this book includes Lexx (this is the FIRST Canuck TV book I've come across that wasn't sadly lacking in the "L" section of the index) and many other obscure programs, one of which is a favourite from my childhood: "The Hilarious House of Frightenstein". Yeah, I confess it, I was a Frightenstein kid. And MY parents LET me watch it!!!! :-))))))) For the curious (and those trying to figure out just what kind of a childhood I had), here's the "official" description:

This subversive children's series was produced by Hamilton's CHCH studios to help boost Canadian content. A surprise success, it was syndicated in the U.S. and continues in reruns 30 years later. Meet Count Frightenstein, green-faced 13th son of the original Transylvanian Count, exiled to Frightenstone, Canada, for failing to revive Brucie, a Frankenstein-like monster. The show featured the Count's efforts to revive Brucie, assisted by family retainer Igor, an overweight incompetent, and a three-foot-tall mini-count. Each episode featured recitation of the Count's pledge and a rendition of his country's national anthem: Gory, Gory Transylvania. Vincent Price introduced regular segments in rhyme, mugging heavily as he toyed with skulls and shrunken heads.

Notable segments:

The Wolf Man: A werewolf DJ (at radio station WDOG) doing a Wolfman Jack impression spins records and plays air guitar to Igor's capering, in what may be Canada's first psychedelic rock videos. In a stroke of genius, then-current hit singles by the Rolling Stones or Tony Orlando and Dawn were dubbed Golden Oldies to avoid dating the program. Theme song: "I Want to Take You Higher," by Sly & the Family Stone.

The Grammar Slammer: Negating everything Sesame Street stood for, The Grammar Slammer, an eight-foot monster, emerges to pound Igor to a pulp if he can't correct a grammatical error. Catch phrase: "Hammer, slammer, bammer Igor now?"

The Professor: Wild-haired U.S. physicist Professor Julius Sumner Miller, veteran of The Mickey Mouse Show (Professor Wonderful), provided legitimate science lessons while striving gamely to play along with the Frightenstein scenario: "We do physics here ... in this place ... this very, very strange place."

This was not a great show-- perhaps not even a good one-- but Hilarious House possessed what many kiddie programs lack: considerable chutzpah. And its pseudo-educational content was a nice touch to deflect uneasy parents who otherwise kept their kids away from programs featuring Rolling Stones records and jokes about cannibalism.

***happy sigh*** Ain't nuthin' like happy childhood memories ***now looking up "Chez Helene" to see whether Suzette the Mouse was really French ...***

Tags: viewing

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