Posted by: laughs4dads | July 14, 2010

So Lifelike

My generation was the first to grow up with television.

I still fondly remember characters like Courageous Cat and Minute Mouse; Kukla, Fran & Ollie; Diver Dan (and his arch enemy, Baron Barracuda); and Clutch Cargo, a cartoon that was produced so cheaply only the characters’ lips moved. I even remember owning a Winky Dink Magic TV Kit which was, essentially, a piece of plastic that you put over the TV screen so you could draw an object to help Winky Dink out of a precarious situation. It was like a stone-aged video game.

Anyway, I bring this up because, in our day, kids’ cartoon characters knew their place in the world, which was on TV, and occasionally on lunchboxes, picture books, board games, breakfast cereal packaging and secret decoder rings.

Rarely did they go out on a live tour.

Possibly this was because nobody knew what color they were, but more likely, nobody ever really thought to take Heckle and Jeckle out on the road. These days, the only places Dora seems to explore are America’s arenas, and Elmo spends so little time on Sesame Street he has his mail forwarded. Disney’s characters not only tour about as much as The Dave Matthews Band, they do it on ice skates.  Barney’s usually on the road, as is Bob the Builder. Curious George has ditched the Man in the Yellow Hat for a relationship with Ticketmaster. Even Thomas the Train is out on tour, ironically (I imagine) in a bus.

Nickelodeon may not have been the first to recognize the profits to be made by turning TV shows into top-grossing live acts, but when my daughter was growing up, we were constantly going to live versions of Family Double Dare or some other Nickelodeon program.

I remember one such outing, at The Theater at Madison Square Garden. Cast members were roaming through the audiences, looking for families of four to come up on stage to do one of the stunts, and everyone was screaming to get their attention, and they looked at us and asked “Are there four of you?” and there were only three of us, so of course I said “Yes” and literally kidnapped a kid from the family that was sitting next to us who we didn’t even know. I mean it. I was frantically asking the boy his name and some other vital information as we raced to the stage. I also looked back at his family, who was happily waving goodbye to their son, as if we were in medieval times and the boy had been chosen to serve in the king’s court.

We did well at one stunt, but then Barbara, who has lousy depth perception, had trouble busting balloons by pecking at them with a beak she was wearing on her head. If I had known that she sucked so much at balloon pecking, I might not have married her.

So we headed back to our seats with some small, long forgotten consolation prize, and returned our hostage to his family without demanding ransom.

Soon after that, Casey graduated to more sophisticated entertainment, and Barbara and I found ourselves taking her to events like a concert with the Spice Girls which, at least, did not involve abductions or balloon pecking, although being in a building with 19,000 screaming young girls is somewhat less pleasurable than root canal.

And while it has been many years since Casey has wanted to go to a live version of a TV show, if Doctor Who* ever goes on tour…

*In case you haven’t heard of Doctor Who, he is a British TV character who travels through time and space in a telephone booth. Don’t ask.




  1. If Doctor Who goes on tour…I will gladly volunteer to be the fourth member of your family….(and I will even bring my own sonic screw driver).


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