Growing up, did you ever watch kids’ shows? Cartoons? Live action? Did you have any favourites? When I was a kid, my mom wouldn’t bring a TV into our home. I had to live vicariously through the stories the other kids would tell about the TV shows they watched. If I was lucky, I would be at a friend’s house and I would catch a bit of a show. It wasn’t until I was seven that a TV was in the house. Do you realize how much catching up I had to do??
TV was a different place back then. No really, I’m not just reminiscing through a foggy memory that glorifies the olden days. I just found out that when Ronald Reagan was the US president, he deregulated a lot of business and one of those was TV. Right after that, kids’ TV programming when from sponsored by toy companies to half an hour toy commercials (with commercials). Come on, sing along with me:
“Paw Patrol, Paw Patrol,
We’ll be there on the double
Whenever there’s a problem…”
For a guy that apparently stood for family values, kind of odd that Reagan sold out kids to corporations.
Anyhow, even though we had TV, in Canada without cable there weren’t lots of programming choices. One kids’ show I would watch, out of sheer lack of choice, was “The Friendly Giant.”
The Friendly Giant was a 15 minute program on the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC). Bob Homme, the friendly giant himself, created the show based on the premise that adults look like giants to children, and he wanted to show that “adults could be kind and warm and share a sense of wonderment.” Apparently, he could have been a millionaire if only he merchandized himself and his puppets. He felt doing so would be a betrayal of the children’s trust in him so he never sold out. Terry O’Reilly, Under the Influence.
Honestly, I thought “The Friendly Giant” was a bit corny by the time I watched it having already become a fan of “The Six Million Dollar Man.” How can a guy with some puppets and a recorder compete with bionic Steve Austin? And then came “Star Wars.” The show eventually ended in the early 1980’s but by then I was long past the target audience of the show and didn’t even know it was gone.
But here’s the thing. On May 2, 2000, I was living in the Vancouver, BC area and I was driving around to client meetings. While I sat in traffic at an intersection, a common Vancouver experience, the radio announced that Bob Homme, the friendly giant, had passed away. They did a short overview of his life, during which I grew in respect for the man, and then they played the ending to his show…
So there I sat in traffic, listening to the ending of that corny show, and I wept deeply for the loss.