Archive for May, 2009


The Popeye Club/More Childhood Trauma

I am aware that I’ve been a bit of a slacker the past couple of days when it comes to updating my blog. I’m back at it today.

It may seem odd to mention another of my childhood traumas within the context of one of my most pleasant childhood memories, but that’s exactly what I’m doing with this post. One of my more pleasant memories of my childhood is those hours spent in front of the great cycloptic black-and-white Muntz TV set watching the local kids’ TV show, “The Popeye Club” on WSB-TV, Channel 2 in Atlanta. A truly entertaining show, and I’m including a clip of it from YouTube with this post.

This was back in the days when many TV markets had their own local kids’ shows. I remember Atlanta had at least two shows besides “The Popeye Club.” One was “Mr. Pixx”, whose host was Dave Michaels, who would go on to be a news reporter on an Atlanta TV station and who also got airtime on CNN. The other big kids’ TV show in the Atlanta market was “Tubby and Lester”, a program featuring a couple of hosts who dressed like–and bore something of a resemblance to–Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy. I may discuss “Mr. Pixx” and “Tubby and Lester” at some other point, but this post is meant to be about “The Popeye Club.”

As the title suggests, “The Popeye Club” featured, among other things, cartoons starring Popeye the Sailor. “Officer” Don had a puppet co-host, Orvil the Dragon. Orvil was probably one of the ugliest puppets I’ve ever seen in my life but, as I recall, he had a rather pleasant voice and he ddn’t breathe fire, so he didn’t particularly scare me.

What did scare me was another cartoon feature that was a part of “The Popeye Club.” This cartoon was called “The Funny Company.” I should point out that becoming an adult has, blessedly, brought an end to the terror I felt as a small child whenever I would hear, “We have a company that you can join for free…”. I’ll let the Toon Tracker web site provide background information on “The Funny Company.”

Now, as to why I found this particular cartoon to be so frightening. There was a character on “The Funny Company” called The Super Chief. The Super Chief never actually spoke in the way we have come to regard speech. Rather, his “voice” was a foghorn. Again, as was the case with “Fireball XL-5”, my juvenile, underdeveloped brain did not get the concept that the foghorn “voice” was pure fantasy and the thought that someone might speak in such a way was terribly frightening to me. As I said, blessedly, reaching adulthood has helped to calm my fears.


Sylvia Anderson

After my post yesterday, I started thinking of a follow up which would involve the Supermarianation of Gerry and Sylvia Anderson. I then remembered reading something to the effect that at least some of the female character’s in the Andersons’ Supermarianation programs were based on Sylvia Anderson herself. I got the confirmation I needed from a web site I never knew existed before, Sylvia discusses the creation of “Thunderbirds” character, Lady Penelope. I’ll let Sylvia tell the story, as she can do it better than I.

I’ve already posted a video from YouTube of the opening from “Fireball XL-5.” That clip shows what I believe to be a distinct resemblance between Sylvia and Dr. Venus from “Fireball XL-5.” I’m attaching to this post a YouTube video featuring Lady Penelope to show the resemblance between her and Sylvia.


My Greatest Childhood Trauma

I’m sure Gerry and Sylvia Anderson are basically nice people. They are probably the kind of people who would make excellent dinner party guests. I’m sure they didn’t mean to traumatize children with their Supermarianation. However, that’s exactly what happened to me.

I have only the vaguest memory of one of their early programs, “Fireball XL-5.” However, I distinctly remember being terrified of it. As a young child of about three years old, I didn’t give much thought to why I found this particular program to be so menacing. However, from an adult’s perspective, I think I am able to vocalize it.

The marionettes used in “Fireball XL-5” looked so real that I got the impression they were people that somehow had turned into puppets. I found myself being frightened by the thought that such a thing could happen, and I wanted no part of “Fireball XL-5.” I remember screaming bloody murder whenever it would come on the television.

As the years went by and I got older, I found that I was not afraid of the Anderson’s other Supermarianation creations, such as “Thunderbirds.” While I’m no longer afraid of “Fireball XL-5”, I still find it, and the whole concept of Supermarianation, to be rather creepy. You can judge the creepiness factor for yourself from the attached YouTube video.

I have more information about the Andersons, which I’ll include in my next post. That will be coming whenever I feel like it.


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May 2009
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