Monday 28 July 2008

Conclusive proof... The Internet is Great!

As a wee nipper in the 70's, I was a bugger for a bit of kids TV. In these days of multiple channels devoted to the little ones, it's hard now to remember what kids TV was like in those days... but 'limited' would probably sum it up quite well. During the week it was no more than an hour at lunchtimes (with programmes such as Rainbow, Pipkins, Little Blue... Issi Noho and Animal Kwackers anyone??!), and a couple of hours after school (Blue Peter, Magpie, How?, Grange Hill, Rentaghost, The Ghosts of Motley Hall, Barbapapa, Runaround, Record Breakers, The Tomorrow People, The Double Deckers etc etc). The Beeb would normally finish off with a five minute'er (like The Magic Roundabout, Ivor the Engine, Noggin the Nog) before that boring programme that dad liked came on. What was it's name again... ah 'The News' that's right.

The only time for a mini TV addict like myself to really 'fill me boots' was during school holidays and sometimes on Sunday mornings, where hours of fun awaited. The love of all things nostalgic has ensured that most of the popular kids programmes (certainly the majority of the ones I've mentioned above) have been preserved for posterity with books, websites and\or DVDs available to relive your childhood. But what about the ones that got away?

I'm sure ITV used to save all the best stuff for weekday afternoons - and any 'ol pony they weren't sure about was palmed off on us committed Sunday viewers (anyone remember the Sunday cracker - The Funky Phantom??!). One programme I vividly remember in that slot was a mad cartoon series called 'Tomfoolery'. Even at the time I don't think many watched it, as nobody at school ever mentioned it. This surreal show featured nonsense rhymes, poems, jokes, sketches and general oddness, that could only have come from the brain of a bunch of whacked out students. In my memory it was like a cross between the Banana Splits, Monty Python and Spike Milligan's Q.

I never found another person who'd heard of this show until a chance conversation with a mate in the mid-80's. At last, someone else remembered it. Who was it? none other than Mr Planet Mondo himself! I had remembered characters such as The Yongy Bonghy Bo and The Unmbrageous Umbrella Maker, where as Mondo was keen on the weekly 'running gag' of some fella wandering around trying to deliver a large plant shouting 'Plant for Mrs Discobolus!'.... erm, you probably had to be there. My chat with Mondo got me all fired up again about this show, but in those pre-internet days, your options were fairly limited.

I'm rather ashamed to admit it, but when i very first got my hands on this new fangled 'inter-computer-web-net' thing (mid 90's?), 'Tomfoolery' was the first word I ever typed into a search engine! But it seemed that bar Mondo and me, the rest of the world had forgotten about it too, and all my searches brought up links to various on-line dictionaries and thesauruses providing me with handy definitions of the word. I continued to search for it every so often, but never with any success, and eventually, even I forgot about it.... Until this weekend that is! On Saturday I was messing around on-line and BING! 'Tomfoolery' comes into my head... no idea where that came from! So i immediately punch it into Google and... yes!! at last, people did remember it after all! Within minutes I'd gained pretty much all the info I needed..

Made by Rankin-Bass, much of 'The Tomfoolery Show' was based on poems by Edward Lear, Ogden Nash, Frank Gelett Burgess and Lewis Carroll. As well as the characters I mentioned above, others included the straw hatted and bow-tied 'Scroobious Snake', the Enthusiastic Elephant (who spoke like W.C. Fields), and the Fastidious Fish (who lived in a goldfish bowl and moved around on stilts!!). 17 episodes were made between September 1970 and September 1971, and although an American cartoon, it was actually made here in England (at the Halas and Batchelor Studios in London and Stroud). Just when I thought it couldn't get any better, I found a full ten minutes worth on YouTube, complete with opening credits! I've not seen this programme for about 35 years, but as soon as I watched that clip it seemed like only yesterday - I remembered it so clearly!

But the best was still yet to come... during my searches I stumbled on a Rankin-Bass historian - Rick Goldschmidt. Rick runs a website devoted to locating and preserving all of the works released by Rankin-Bass (which, as it turns out, it quite some list... they were also responsible for the Jackson 5 cartoon and the Osmonds one too). A couple of e-mails wizz back 'n forth, and within 24 hours, he's sending me a DVD containing the only 4 episodes of Tomfoolery that have so far been unearthed (Rick got these directly from the archives).

The internet may be great for shopping, blogging, keeping up-to-date with bands and global sports events, but this weekend it finally showed me its full potential.

Anyone else remember this show? Or have you got a show that only you seem to remember??

Oh, and here is that ten minute YouTube clip!


Mondo said...

OH MY GOOD GOD - what a turn up, that is what the internetty's made for isn't it? I've done a bit of digging for Tomfoolery but never struck gold like that.

So bizarre that it's made by the Osmonds/Jackons crowd, as Tomfoolery and those two shows have always been linked together for me, as they all shared the early Sunday slot but the animation style seemed similar.

Amazing - right I'm off to look for footage of Marine Boy (remember Oxygum?), Planet of the Apes,Tarzan Cartoons and Escape Into Night/Marianne Dreams footage.

Anonymous said...

Piley, of course I remember Tomfoolery too - as you say there was precious little youth tv on a Sunday so it was essential to catch what there was.

I also remember the Funky Phantom, and Around the World in 80 days as early Sunday treats.

Do you remember Run Joe Run and Luna - Luna was Clockwork Orange for kids lol.

Mondo,there used to be at least one full episode of escape into night on you tube.

I used to have a 2 hour mp3 of the BBC 7 reading of it which was pretty good - spooky as hell.

Paperhouse was great too.

Did you know there is a sequel to Marianne Dreams? Very hard to find though.


Piley said...

Thanks Mondo - Didn't realise you were buzzin on the 'ol Apes cartoons... look no further than Piley towers mate - I got the lot! They finally released em on DVD in America and I picked up a copy off Amazon (i think).

PH - There is a nice bit about the Funky Phantom over on toonopedia, you can see it here here... heavens to mergatroide!!

Don't remember Run Joe Run or Luna... (how 'bout you Mondo?) will google 'em and see if they jog my memory.


Anonymous said...

Cheers Piley - its Funky Phantom phantom time.

There is a Luna fansite but its one of those series that was shown once but never repeated - probably for good reason!

Mondo said...

I shoulda known about POTA

PHS - I'd forgotten all about 'Around the World in 80 days'. I'll have to track down the 'escape into night' footage it was remade as a film Paperhouse/Paperchase or something wasn't it in the early 90s. I've got the book, bought it last year from Amazon for my kids - it was written in the 50s and still terrified them

E F RICE said...

Evening Piley. Don't remember Tomfoolery but I do remember you asking me about it when I was getting to know you in 1988 !

However, you have inspired me to use Google and type in 'Graham's Gang' which was a kids show from the 70s with a real halfwit character called 'Lux' (he had massive glasses !) which no one seems to remember.

Sure enough up it popped from 1977 with a profile of Lux .... heaven mate, internet heaven !

E F RICE said...

By the way don't you and Mondo have sons named Tom ? Surely not named after the 70's kids show you both craved ??!!......

Piley said...

Bah, rumbled!! Looks like he's got you bang to rights too Mondo..

Don't recall Grahams Gang, but top work tracking it down. The net sure is fulla shite aint it?!!


Mondo said...

Don't remembe Grahams Gang but what about Robbies Robots

Anonymous said...

Don't remember Robbie's Robots, were they mates of Robert's Robots :)

Anonymous said...

I used to piss my pants laughing at this as a kid , what a great show it was , absolutely mad. I used to love Hair Bear Bunch (Hippie Bear's farrr outttt)and Hong Knong Phoey too (Scatman Curruthers who started in The Shining and One Flew Over THe Cuckoos Nest among others did his voice which is ace). Great to be reminded of this well done P.


Rhinestone said...

Issi Noho

This side up. Use No Hooks.

Anonymous said...

I remember this show. I was 5 I guess. I can still remember the song. 'Beeberly baberly that makes good sense, good old non-sense. Beeberly, baberly ladies and gents, pennies are pents to me.'

Furrball said...

W X Y ZED! I remember this show!!
I'm glad I'm not the only one! (Of course, I still think Saturday morning TV went to hell after ABC cancellec The Bugs Bunny Show...)