Z

A 1970’s Time Capsule

POP CULTURE

The A to Z Challenge has dueling decades going on.  Check out the 1980s theme from a fellow blogger HERE

After I finished my post for Z and felt it was a stretch at best for covering the letter Z, I watched a Youtube video about the 1970s (included my other Z) and a show I remember well was included. I thought “Ah I could have done ZOOM” so I am.

ZOOM on public television from 1972 to 1978

ZOOM on public television from 1972 to 1978

ZOOM is a half-hour educational television program, created almost entirely by children, which aired on PBS originally from January 9, 1972 to March 24, 1978.

  • Encouraged children to “turn off the TV and do it!”
  • A cast of seven kids (known as ZOOMers) present or perform various activities such as games, plays, poems, recipes, jokes, songs, movies, science experiments, and informal chats on such subjects such as hospitals, prejudice, etc., all suggested by viewer contributions. These activities were introduced by such titles as ZOOMovie, ZOOM Play of the Week, ZOOMrap (later ZOOMchat), ZOOMgame, ZOOMdo, ZOOMgoody, ZOOMphenomenon, etc.
  • Do you remember the mail-in requests to “Write ZOOM, Z-Double-O-M, Box 3-5-0, Boston, Mass 0-2-1-3-4: send it to ZOOM!”.
  • How about the language games.  Watching video now of it gives me a headache.  The program also had various language games, including Ubbi-Dubbi, where the syllable “ub” was added before each vowel sound in each syllable of each word (“H-ub-i, fr-ub-iends,” etc.). Another language game, “Fannee Doolee,” centered around a character who likes any person, place, thing or concept with double letters in it but hates its non-double-lettered equivalent, e.g., “Fannee Doolee likes sweets but hates candy.”  This part I don’t remember.
  • Each show had a “ZOOMguest” sequence, a short film documentary about a child with a special talent.
  • In the show’s first two seasons, Tracy hosted a “Tracy Asks…” sequence in which she asked a question, e.g., “Which came first, the chicken or the egg?” or “What is the world’s longest word?”, and local children are interviewed to give their answers to the question in a “man on the street” vein.  Did Jay Leno borrow his segments from ZOOM?
  • The performers in the original series were known for wearing striped rugby shirts and jeans and for performing barefoot, although the cast members started performing in shoes from the third season (1973) on.
  • ZOOM was a new kind of series when it premiered on January 3, 1972. Unlike other children’s fare at the time, it was, for the most part, unscripted. Far from seeking to make stars of the child performers, the contracts prohibited them from making any television appearances or doing commercials for three years after they left the show.  I don’t know if any of them went onto other entertainment aftewards but on IMDB, all cast members are listed but no photorgraphs which probably means they had not.
  • ZOOM was intended to inspire children to be active investigators, creators, and problem-solvers as well as introduce them to the principles of ethnic diversity.
  • ZOOM lasted six seasons (1972–1978) and featured 49 ZOOMers.
  • With so many ZOOMers over the seasons, the show had a transitioning segment. During the first 3 seasons, cast members were transitioned during the show’s catchy production number which introduced the new cast members to the remaining cast members. The same song was used for each transition (“How do ya do do-dee-do, how do ya do-dee-do-dee-do, how’s your sister, how’s your brother, how are you? (Como esta?)”). In the last 3 seasons, an entirely new cast was used, usually with no reference to the former cast (i.e., a “cold” transition). Zoom was also presented in most episodes with captions intact before the development of closed-captioning.  Here is a composite video that someone put together on Youtube that covers the entire cast over all the year (maybe even the remake series).
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6 responses

  1. Lata Sunil says:

    Congratulations on completing the AtoZ. This program sounds so much fun. Wish it is back again.

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    • Thank you for visiting throughout the month. I think ZOOM did have a come back not too long ago but my daughter was too old at the time so we didn’t check it out. I think the difference between now and then with TV is that today there are so many more choices that giving up your time for a show is a competition.

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  2. Jon Chaisson says:

    That show was a huge part of my childhood. Years later I lived in Allston in 1994-5 (it’s the Boston neighborhood where the show was filmed), and every time I wrote my zip code on an envelope, THAT tune would pop up. Every. Time. :p

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  3. Birgit says:

    I have to say I have never heard of this show. I am playing catch up so congrats on completing the A to Z!

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