Friday, July 08, 2005

Today's Special

Canada has given so much to us and we rarely say thank you. I would like to make the following statement of gratitude:

Thank you, Canada.

Thank you for your Canadian bacon which, let's face it, is superior to our bacon.

Thank you for the Blue Jays, a team we can always point at and say "see THAT'S why it's called the WORLD Series." Then of course we snicker at the fact that they are in the AMERICAN League (stick that in your pipe and smoke it. Come on, Canada. Take out your pipe and start smoking.)

Anyway, there was another great Canadian import in 1981.

"Today's Special".

You may have never heard of it. If you had, you may have forgotten about it. I know I sure have, but recently I unearthed about 2 minutes of an episode that remained on an old VHS tape that I had taped "Gilligan's Island" on.

The show was produced for a Canadian channel but ended up in the U.S. as part of Nickelodeon’s early line up.

The show told the story of a department store after closing. The show featured a cast of bizarre characters that seemed like the result of some children's TV writer having to put together a show at gunpoint... in the middle of the night... after downing a bottle of Nyquil... lying naked in a snow bank... wearing a watch commemorating the VHS release of the Burt Reynolds' flick Cop and a Half... this is fun... I just write any silly I can think of... wearing shoes but no socks... and having his nails polished by Imelda Marcos... see, it doesn't need to make sense... or be funny.

Here are the show's characters:

Jodie: I know I promised you bizarre characters, but she isn't one. She's the "straight man". By "straight man" I mean the person who the audience is supposed to identify with as comic things happen. I didn't mean that the guy on the show was gay (although I have my suspicions.)

Jeff: He was the guy on the show (yeah, THAT guy.) Anyway, he was a mannequin during the day, but at night they would put a magic hat on him (and said Hocus Pocus Alimagocus) he would come to life and dance. When he took the hat off he would turn back into a mannequin. Jeff was stupid and so he would often tip his hat to people and freeze. You know, thinking about it, I have never tipped a hat! I shall find one and tip it 15%... unless it doesn't refill my soda. I HATE when they ignore my soda!

Parts of the show were filmed in a real department store called The Robert Simpson Company. The store is still standing under the name The Bay. I don't know much about Canadian department stores, but I find it odd that they would keep a mannequin that was always dressed in the same awful plaid outfit. ALWAYS.

Sam: I love this guy! He was an elderly puppet who worked in the store as a security guard. You can NEVER have too many puppets on a show.

Muffy: This was a puppet mouse that spoke in rhyme... ALWAYS. I take back my comment about never having enough puppets. (I would also like to take back my comment about Canadian Bacon. I think I prefer the regular stuff. I just don't EAT the Canadian stuff that often so it seems like a treat.)

TXL: This was a computer that ran the store and talked.

There was also a Mime, a magician and an old lady puppet that worked in the store. I don't want to discuss them, however. Sue me.

The show ran from 1981 to 1987. Originally shown without commercials, segments were edited out for broadcasts on Nickelodeon. The show is not currently available on DVD. Cop and a Half was released in 1993 and directed by Henry "The Fonz" Winkler.


  1. Anyone else remember this? I was really young when I saw it so all I remembered was Sam for some reason.

  2. Anonymous7/08/2005

    I met Robert Simpson once. He was dead at the time so I washed his hands and moved on. Oh that takes me back! Thanks for the nostalgia!

  3. Fantastic! I remember this completely! Sweetie, do you remember the episode where Sam couldn't hear because he stuck a Q-tip in his ear? That made me scared of Q-tips for YEARS!

  4. Oh, BTW where did the Chinese Theater stuff go? That was my favorite new thing!

  5. Sweet! I really remember this show! I also remember Pinwheel and the great You Can't Do that on Television! Remember those? They might be worth an article.

  6. Oh great, you ripped this off from me!

    I think I will sue.

  7. I remember You Can't do That on Television, but not Pinwheel. I liked YCDTOT, maybe I will do something about that.

    As for the Chinese Theater articles, they are located in the "highlight reel" on the right of the front page. I will rotate that with the Walk of Fame.

    Thanks for noticing.

  8. Anonymous7/09/2005

    A manequin! I always thought his acting was wooden!

    Whoo! I hit that one out of the park!

  9. Anonymous7/09/2005

    Cool, thanks!

  10. It does sound vaguely familiar, but then, I think I watched a lot fo TV as a two-year-old.