Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Classic Nick Wed. – 2 – Pinwheel

Last week I told you a bit about the history of the Nickelodeon Network, this week I would like to tell you about one of their longest running and most popular programs “Pinwheel”.

If you will remember last week the Nickelodeon Network began life as the Pinwheel network or channel then in 1981 the network re-launched as Nickelodeon – The Young People’s Satellite Network. The name “Pinwheel” was taken from a children’s television show by the same name and aired every morning in 3-5 hour time slots and ran from 1979 – 1990.

Similar to the Sesame Street program Pinwheel featured both human and puppet actors interacting with each other to teach basic everyday good manors as well as teaching children how to use their imagination, play games and so forth. One of the most beloved and well-remembered games to come from Pinwheel was the “Gottcha Last” game played by (puppets) Plus & Minus. The game was very simple, one would tap the other saying “gottcha last” and run off while the other tries to catch him to “get him last”, back and forth they’d go all through Pinwheel House and the garden. What a fun game for children of all ages to play.

Other puppet actors who lived at Pinwheel House were Aurelia, a gypsy who lived and ran the house and used a special phone to dial the "Opposite City Operator". Then there was Silas the Snail who had an elderly-looking face and took an entire episode to go from one end of the garden to the other. He was a kind and gentle character who
was forever heading to the snails' convention but never made it on time.

Just the oposite could be said about the house’s green-faced equivalent to Sesame Street's "Oscar the Grouch", Ebeneezer T. Squint who was failthful to tend to his garden of weeds and whose one goal in life was to be on the front page of the Daily Noodle which was run by Sal & Smitty – but more on them in just a minute.

Then there was Luigi O'Brien who came from Italy and who ran a talking fruit & veggie stand. Molly the Mole was an elderly, blind mole who lived in a tree in the backyard. She was kind and made the most wonderful Root Tea. And last but certainly not last there were the Hobo Bugs Herbert and Lulu, we’re not sure what Hobo Bugs are or where they come from but these lovely creatures were a joy with their lovely little faces and bright smiles. (They’re two of my personal faves.)

As previously mentioned Pinwheel Puppets interacted with a variety of human characters as well, they included. A kind and very talented African-American young man named Jake. He collected small boxes which emitted various sound effects, he also played the guitar and sang. He was played by George James from 1981-1989 and helped write many of the songs sung on the show.

One of the most remembered characters from the show was Coco the Mime but what most people do not know is that two different actresses played her. C.C. Loveheart originated the role in 1979 and played her until 1981 then from 1982-1989 she was played by Lindanell Rivera. Both actresses had the same makeup, white base with red lips and hearts on their cheeks, the only way to tell these ladies apart is that Ms. Loveheart had Ms. Rivera had curly hair. (See picture above.)

Early I mentioned Sal and Smitty the elderly couple who ran a newspaper called "The Daily Noodle"; they were played by Dale Engel (Smitty) (1981-1989) and Betty Rozek (Sal). Too me it seemed as if they were everyone grandparents and lovelier grandparents you could not have found.

In every home there is always an artist and Pinwheel House was no different, their resident artist was Kim (played by Arline Miyazaki). A young Asian woman who was perhaps in ther early 20’s (about Jake’s age) who was always creating very beautiful paintings and who was also Aurelia the gypsy’s niece.

Pinwheel was also famous for the variety of foreign cartoons and stop-motion puppet shorts which aired regularly though out the shows run. After many, many long hours of research here is a list of the Pinwheel Cartoons.


The Adventures Of The Mole (Krtkova Dobrodružství),Alfie Atkins,  Bagpuss, Bod, Bugs, Bunny In The Suitcase (Kockásfülű Nyúl), Charlie's Climbing Tree, Chapi And Chapo, Crystal Tipps And Alister, Curious George, Emily (Emilie),  Flower Stories, Gumby, Hattytown Tales, Jim & Jam (Bolek & Lolek), King Rollo, Lilliputput,  Madeline, Magic Coco, The Magic Roundabout, Mixometric,  Mouse On Mars (Maus Auf Dem Mars), Musti, Paddington Bear, Picture Pages, The Pilis, Professor Balthazar, Peelie And Poolie,  Schnoodle, Simon In The Land Of Chalk Drawings, Teeny Little Super Guy, Tip And Tap

The last point I would like to touch on is the shows theme song, which was written by Jay Lee (music) with lyrics by Janet Gardner:

Pinwheel, pinwheel, spinning around. 
Look at my Pinwheel and see what I've found.
Pinwheel, pinwheel, where have you been? 

Hello, how are you, and may I come in?
Pinwheel, pinwheel spinning around. 

Look at my Pinwheel and see what I found.
Pinwheel, pinwheel, breezy and bright. 

Spin me good morning, spin me good night.

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