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25 Kids Shows That Should Be On DVD

Forgotten classics, from Captain Kangaroo to Zoom.

By Brett Singer |

Thundarr The Barbarian

ABC, 1980-1982

This fantasy/sci-fi/adventure series gets a lot of love online, collecting over 9,000 signatures on a petition for a DVD release. The plot, for the uninitiated, is as follows: in 1994 (you know, the future!), Earth has been decimated by a “runaway planet” that sliced the moon in half (hate when that happens). Then, two thousand years later, “Earth is reborn:” The main characters are Thundarr, a big dumb barbarian with a special weapon called the Sun-Sword, Ookla the Mok (basically Chewbacca with fangs) and Ariel, a tart sorceress who tolerates Thundarr’s stupidity. The three travelers wander the now-decimated planet, which is full of “ancient” technology such as movie projectors, cars, and soda machines. Somehow, high-level magic has become commonplace, and pirates (pirates!) roam the land, making life both difficult for the common folk and extremely entertaining for the viewer.

The Beatles

ABC, 1965

According to BeatlesCartoon.com, the Beatles’ Saturday morning cartoons have never officially been released on VHS/DVD – and that’s a shame. These charming animated adventures were very much of their time, obviously, but the animated Liverpool Lads are just as cute – and the songs just as hummable – as they were in the sixties.

The Jackson 5ive

ABC, 1971-1973

Before Michael Jackson had so much plastic surgery that he looked like a cartoon, he actually was a cartoon! This little gem originally aired on ABC from 1971-1973, but it must have continued in re-runs because I remember it more vividly than I care to admit. Oddly enough, if Wikipedia is to be believed, the Jacksons didn’t actually contribute anything to the cartoon other than their music.

Wonderama

Syndicated, 1967-1977

“Snake cans!” This wonderful local program was a variety/game show of sorts and featured actual kids – many of the YouTube videos are from the grown-ups who were in the audience at the tapings.

Scooby’s All Star Laff-A-Lympics

ABC, 1977-1979

Although you can get discs containing every episode of “Wacky Races” (cool!) and “Dastardly & Muttley in Their Flying Machines” (um, who cares?), the never-ending competition between The Scooby Doobies, The Yogi Yahooeys and The Really Rottens is thus far confined to the dustbin of cartoon sports history. With everyone still high on the Olympics, this is a perfect time to put these out.

The Magic Garden

WPIX, later syndicated, 1972-1984

Sherlock the squirrel, Flapper the bird, the Chuckle Patch – ah, the memories. I had a big crush on hosts Carole and Paula, especially Paula (I think it was Paula), who kind of looked like my babysitter at the time. The bell-bottoms, the looong pigtails, the guitar – what’s not to love? The ladies are still around, still friends, and their website says they plan to release the shows on DVD soon.

Zoom

PBS, 1972-1978 (Remake: 1999-2005)

“Won’t you zoom, zoom, zooma zoom:” In contrast to the more amped-up kids’ television produced today, the intro to Zoom, even now, has something of a calming effect. The kids, who created much of the content for the show, were real kids, they looked like real kids, and they even danced and sang like real kids, even if that meant musical numbers that were not terribly polished (take that, High School Musical!). There is a VHS collection of select moments from the original 1970′s run, but no DVD. There was also a remake in 1999 that ended in 2005; the website is still active, noting over five million visitors. Um, hello? DVD, please?

Romper Room

PBS, 1953-1994 (various incarnations)

It started in 1953, which puts it at the very beginning of children’s television (or television at all, for that matter). Romper Room was like a virtual kindergarten class, but it was so sweet and easy you loved every minute of it. The hosts were always “Miss” – Miss Nancy, Miss Louise, and the one I remember, Miss Mary Ann (here’s an interview with her from 2006). Who doesn’t remember hoping to hear their name when Miss Whoever closed out the show with, “And I see Peter, and Lucy, and Pilot Inspektor:”

Batman (Live Action TV Series)

ABC, 1966-1968

Adam West may not be interested in The Dark Knight, but that’s probably because he still thinks of himself as the one and only Keeper of the Cowl. Despite huge demand, this classic and campy take on Bob Kane’s creation is not available on DVD, except for the 1966 TV movie. Disputes over rights abound, but the episodes are still shown in syndication.

Big Blue Marble

PBS, 1974-1983

Big Blue Marble was one of many children’s shows in the 1970′s that asked the question “can’t we all just get along?” This one did it partly by encouraging viewers to become pen pals; some web sites claim that many children stayed in touch long after the show went off the air. “Together is a word we must learn to understand:Love your fellow man, woman, and everyone.” Nothing wrong with that, right?

The Wonderful World of Disney

ABC, NBC, CBS, Disney Channel, 1954-present (sort of)

This Disney anthology show had various names and incarnations, and is still around in some form (including airing in Spanish as El Maravilloso Mundo de Disney). It included movies, cartoons, and Walt being his imagineering self – this is the Disney that guys like BoingBoing’s Cory Doctorow revere, not the company that currently produces nonsense like Hannah Montana. Select shows are available on DVD but there is no “complete season”-style release.

Bozo the Clown

Syndicated, 1956-2001 (various incarnations)

Only a few episodes are available on DVD, none featuring Bob Bell, who appears to be the fan favorite, despite the fact that many actors donned the red rubber nose and dopey hair. (One of them, Bill Britten, was an acting teacher at the High School of Performing Arts and even appeared in the movie Fame.) Bozo is the most iconic of clowns; even though there is no current version on the air at the moment, future generations can enjoy his evil doppelganger: Krusty.

Kid Superpower Hour with Shazam!

NBC, 1981-1982

This hour of superpower contained two segments – “Hero High” and “Shazam!” The former is on DVD in full, the latter is not because of rights issues. “Hero High” is hilarious, but mostly hilariously bad, especially the live action musical segments, which make The Archies look like Metallica. As for Mr. Mightiest Mortal, he’s still around in various forms, but this animated version was much beloved by many (including me). The robot walker thingies in the intro jogged my memory immediately. A live-action Shazam film is supposedly in the works with The Rock as Black Adam.

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About Brett Singer

bcbrettsinger

Brett Singer

Brett Singer is a writer and father living in Manhattan with his wonderful wife and two terrific sons. Other writing work includes his new site, daddytips.com.

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21 thoughts on “25 Kids Shows That Should Be On DVD

  1. photolicious says:

    great list! personally, the show i keep longing for is eek! the cat. oh, how i loved that show :)

  2. StacieDale says:

    Oh what I wouldn’t give to see the episodes of Danger Island on the Banana Splits again! I lived for that show as a kid. One show that is on DVD that I also adored is The Electric Company. Not only did it have a rockin’ theme song, it taught kids alot about grammar and rules for spelling in an very entertaining way. I believe it is available through the PBS website…. “We’re gonna turn it on, we’re gonna bring you the power, we’re gonna light up the dark of night like the brightest day in a whole new way…” I love that song.

  3. vegetable soup is greatness says:

    The world NEEDS Vegetable Soup on DVD. Needs it.It’s really something that has to be seen to believed. I’ve spent 15+ years trying to explain it to people, only to be met with wary looks and questions like, “I think you were dropping acid.”Banana Splits comes on really early in the morning/late at night on Noggin or Boomerang.

  4. brettsinger says:

    Yeah, Vegetable Soup was a trip. Even now, it’s vaguely disturbing. Ah, the 60′s and 70′s.

  5. dance_your_cares_away says:

    Uhmmmm…. You forgot FRAGGLE ROCK!

  6. brettsinger says:

    Pretty sure the Fraggles are on DVD. If not, apologies – couldn’t get everything. Keep posting your favorites, I’ll put something up on the blog.

  7. NoHo Mom says:

    I LOVED Isis/Shazam. Loved the whole Hanna Barbara hour (and performed in a late night comedy show that spoofed it for years). I also remember some show where the family rescued animals in the Rockies – and then solved mysteries using the animals’ help? RIng a bell to anyone?Plus Land of the Lost…

  8. jazmyne says:

    Hot Fudge! Nice! So few ever remember that- anytime I recount it to anyone they think it’s a Kroft thing. No.
    “Hot fudge holy moly ch-ch, gonna have some fun”

  9. Anonymous says:

    Big Blue Marble. Until 2008, it was available for sale only on VHS by a small company in Ventura, CA. Their distribution deal expired and ITT has retained its distribution right for now. Don’t know which department at ITT to make an inquiry. Hopefully they will grant rights to someone who knows how to burn a DVD or sell it via Netflix or iTunes.

  10. Stoich91 says:

    Mmm…Zoom! I loved that show. But this is the intro I remember…
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=unW4GOJw4ro More updated! :D

  11. Mel says:

    Fraggle Rock IS on DVD… watched yesterday and still remember the songs! :)

  12. Anonymous says:

    I actually have the Magic Garden on DVD. Not sure why their site is not updated. I think I bought it through Amazon, in fact.

  13. Robert says:

    There’s one kids show that I know many would very much like to see on DVD. The classic british children’s series “TUGS” from the producers of Thomas the Tank Engine & Friends. It was an awsome show which sadly only went for one series due to the company producing it went bankrupt.
    If TUGS was released on DVD, it would be one of the greatest things ever.

  14. Courtney Barbee says:

    Aah…these classics are awesome, but here are some really good modern shows, too. I did a post on the least-irritating kids’ shows for adults. http://8poundpreemie.blogspot.com/2011/01/kids-shows-that-arent-painful-to-watch.html

  15. SatMornLongGone says:

    UM, I must be missing something here…or else my computer has cospired with the internet to give me fits, but I went thru the 1st page, and where it siad “next page’ in red, I clicked on it, only to be taken back to the 1st page. Is there a problem here? I done this several times to make sure it wasnt me, and with the same results. Anyways, from what I have seen…I havent seen anyone post about “Bigfoot and Wildboy” anybody remember that one? Or how about “Hong Kong PHooey” which I understand is supposed to be turned out as a movie this year, sometime soon, hopefully, I cant wait.

  16. Anonymous says:

    ewoks droids men in black back to the future and extreme ghostbusters should all be on dvd soon

  17. Anonymous says:

    ewoks droids men in black back to the future and extreme ghostbusters cartoon tv shows should all be on dvd soon

  18. Anonymous says:

    the fintstone kids and sabrina the animated series should all be on dvd soon

  19. Anonymous says:

    is a pup named scooby doo on dvd yet

  20. Anonymous says:

    braceface should be on dvd soon. is braceface on dvd?

  21. Anonymous says:

    beetlejuice the cartoon

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