Me Want It!

On this date in 1969, television was changed forever as a new type of children’s series hit the air: Sesame Street! Certainly the show has changed over the decades as it adapted to new generations of young people but the important thing to remember is that Sesame Street was, is and always will be one of the hippest programs for kids.

So let’s celebrate this 47th anniversary with a little Cookie Monster covering Icona Pop (see – told you it was a hip show).

Be Seeing You

When you make a list of fan favorite cult television shows, the psychological spy drama The Prisoner is almost always near the top, if not #1. The Patrick McGoohan vehicle has delighted viewers for decades and rightfully so. It’s complex, cryptic, hip, genre-defying and so utterly 60s.

That being said, it’s hard to believe The Prisoner began fifty years ago this week! Yep, cameras began rolling in Portmeirion village in North Wales on September 5, 1966 and BBC.com takes a look back at the action.

Read up on The Prisoner At 50 and celebrate one of the wildest small screen rides to emerge from Great Britain ever.

Aliens In America

Sesame Street has changed a lot over the years. Skits, songs and characters I know from my youth no longer play or seem incredibly dated. Still, that doesn’t keep me from fondly remembering such classics as this – the Yip Yip Aliens encounter a telephone.

Honestly, this one still makes me laugh. These were among my favorite recurring characters when I was a kid. As an adult, I’m amazed at how the puppeteers convey so many emotions with what’s essentially and open furry tube with eyeballs.

A Mystery To Me

Today is the birthday of writer and artist Edward Gorey. Gorey passed away in 2000 yet he will be forever part of PBS culture since he created the illustrations that populate the open and close of the classic series MYSTERY! The drawings were animated by veteran animator Derek Lamb based on Gorey’s work but any true fan knows they are quintessential Gorey. Even though MYSTERY! was taken into the Masterpiece fold in 2008, you can still glimpse the Gorey characters in the opening to Masterpiece Mystery!

Here is one of the opening sequences of MYSTERY! from the 1980s…

The PBS Connection

If you watched the 67th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards on Sunday night, you didn’t see a lot of PBS shows taking home awards. In fact, none by my count. A bit of a shame (and I was really pulling for Wolf Hall) but, when a lot of quality shows get nominated, the winner’s margin can be extremely thin. So, cliché as it is, this is honestly is a case of “it’s an honor just to be nominated.”

That being said, there was a very interesting PBS connection I couldn’t help but notice.

As you may have noticed, actor Reg E. Cathey won Outstanding Guest Actor in a Drama Series for his role in House of Cards. He received the Emmy when the Creative Service Awards were presented a few weeks back (PBS did win a few of those) but made an appearance at Sunday night’s festivities as a presenter.

Well, it’s certainly fair game to point out that Netflix’s House Of Cards is an adaptation of the British mini-series House of Cards – a drama that UNC-TV has broadcast as recently as this year. (And while the Kevin Spacey series is very good, I will always favor the original with Ian Richardson as Machiavellian Tory Francis Urquhart.) But Reg E. Cathey has a far more interesting PBS connection in that he was a regular on a classic kids’ series UNC-TV aired in the late ’80s/early ’90s.

You may remember Square One TV. Created by the Children’s Television Workshop, Square One may be best known for the Dragnet-parody “Mathnet” but the educational anthology series featured lots of skits, parodies, cartoons, music videos and the like, all designed to teach basic mathematics. Reg E. Cathey was one of the regular performers on the show (I know that’s where I first saw him) so you might say that PBS launched his career.

So, congratulations to Mr. Reg E. Cathey. You may not have won an Emmy for PBS per se but it’s nice to see a former employee made good.

[Addendum: A quick glance at Cathey’s imdb profile also lists a performance as Guildenstern in a Hamlet adaptation starring Kevin Kline which Great Performances aired in 1990. I have that on VHS somewhere, so I’ll have to fish it out and watch it again.]

Electric Boogaloo

Fifty years ago this past weekend, the world of rock music changed when Bob Dylan went electric at the Newport Folk Festival.

PBS Newshour‘s Hari Sreenivasan discussed this controversial yet profound moment in music history with Bob Love, Editor of AARP The Magazine (Love talked with Bob Dylan earlier in the year).

See the interview at the PBS Newshour website.

Take A Look! It’s In A Book!

If there’s a person who doesn’t like LeVar Burton, I sure don’t want to meet that guy.

To put it simply, LeVar is just awesome. Whether you know him from Roots, Star Trek: The Next Generation or from PBS’ own long-running children’s series Reading Rainbow, the beloved Mr. Burton is the apotheosis of cool. So it more than makes sense that the wonderful folks at PBS Digital would have commemorated the Reading Rainbow host with this neat little video. Enjoy!