Pop Culture Gadabout
Sunday, November 25, 2007
      ( 11/25/2007 08:53:00 AM ) Bill S.  

" . . .AND JOOOOE!" Though it always kinda surprises me to see a superstation like WGN devote air time to memories of its days as a more local concern, both my wife and I got our kicks recently viewing a holiday tribute to three of the station's long-gone kids' shows. Bozo, Gar and Ray looked at three shows from its years as a Chicago station: Bozo's Circus, Garfield Goose And Friends and Ray Rayner. The series' heyday was, arguably in the fifties thru sixties (tho Bozo lasted through WGN's transformation into a nationwide superstation), and, since I didn't arrive in the Midwest until I was a 'tween, I missed growing up with 'em. For Becky, whose formative years were spent watching Chicago television, the retrospective had more of a nostalgic charge.

There was a time, though, when Rayner's early morning program was practically the only available source for area cartoon lovers to watch the early Warner Bros. toons - which meant that more than one over-aged viewer sat through the show's juvenile-centered host sequences to get to the good stuff. Rayner, who looked like your goofy alcoholic uncle, also turned part of his morning show over to weather and sports headlines, putting him years ahead of the curve in the news infotainment biz.

In addition to providing a good outlet for classic cartoons, the WGN kids shows also were a theatre for truly odd animation (the scary lipped Clutch Gargo, for instance). One of the seasonal cartoons that regularly appeared for edification of the kiddies was the Christmas-themed "Hardrock, Coco and Joe," which was unspooled for us geezers as part of BG&R's final segment. It's a decidedly peculiar little animation. One of those strange attempts at reaching down to a child audience that comes across as disturbing as it does cutesy, the stop motion 'toon haunts my dreams to this day. (That Santa looks especially creepy.) See if it doesn't haunts yours . . .

# |

Pop cultural criticism - plus the occasional egocentric socio/political commentary by Bill Sherman (popculturegadabout AT yahoo.com).

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