Friday, November 20, 2009

Trap Doors and Vampire Ducks

These are the television gems of my childhood, the shows that aired between five pm and the 6 o'clock news on ABC, or on weekday mornings home sick from school. Thinking about my favourites, I notice a certain consistency with my current tastes ...

Somewhere in the dark and nasty regions, where nobody goes, stands an ancient castle. Deep within this dank and uninviting place, lives Berk (Allo!), overworked servant of "the thing upstairs" (Berk! Feed Me!) But that's nothing compared to the horrors that lurk beneath the trap door, for there is always something down there, in the dark, waiting to come out...

The Trap Door was a four-minute claymation cartoon produced between 1984 (my year of birth) and 1986. In each episode the trap door is opened and a nasty thing escapes into the castle. There's lots of worms squirming about and the most disgusting food is concocted. Boni sits in his corner making sarcastic comments, dry observances, and generally being useless. So my favourite character! The show has a huge cult following and is available on DVD. *Resisting the urge to eBay*

The opening credits are very horror-film spoof:

Another horror-film spoof was Duckula, based of course on Dracula. This show ran for 22 minutes and I remember that it and The Trap Door would often be aired in the same half hour. Such happy times! Duckula is a reluctant blood drinker as he was resurrected using tomato sauce instead of blood due to one of Nanny's many blunders. To Igor's horror, instead of hunting for victims, Duckula strives for wealth and fame. Duckula's nemesis, Doctor Von Goosewing (named after Dracula's enemy, Doctor Van Helsing), refuses to believe he's harmless and appears in many episodes trying to stake him with this weird stake-slash-gun.

Count Duckula is perhaps the original tortured, angsty vamp, created long before Anne Rice's Louis made moping cool.

This was a series that I loved as an older child when I was home sick from school. It was filmed between 1985 and 1992 and was my introduction to the girl-goes-on-a-quest-narrative. There were about thirteen seasons of T-bag shows, but my favourites were T-bag and the Rings of Olympus and T-Bag and the Pearls of Wisdom. In each episode both the girl and the evil witch T-bag are searching for pearls or rings scattered across space and time--T-bag to obtain world domination and the girl in order to defeat T-bag. T-bag's reluctant sidekick often ended up helping the heroine, and I think became a love interest for the questing girls in later episodes when he was a teenager--but don't quote me on that, I may be remembering incorrectly!

My all-time favourite was, of course, Doctor Who. Everyone who loves the show had a favourite Doctor, and mine's Tom Baker. He defintely comes under the category of weird-looking-but-oddly-attractive men. No? Just me? (Unlike Christopher Eccleston, the first next-generation Doctor, who's just downright hawt.) Tom Baker actually married on of his companions (Romana, pictured) during the show, but it didn't last. I loved the drama of the Doctor Who, all the hand-holding and rushing hither and thither. Eccleston and Billy Piper did a great job of recreating all that I loved about the show (and OH! the final episode, so romantic and so sad!) but this new Doctor's totally lame. Doctor Who, in my opinion, should be freakishly tall and quirky. I just don't get quirky from him.

The show also wins my Best Opening Theme of All Time award. Classic.

Now do excuse me while I go relive my youth on YouTube.


  1. Oh my god, I absolutely loved The Trap Door. (I watched a lot of ABC when I was little.)

  2. Trap Door! T-Bag! Count Duckula! I loved all these - I had fond memories of school holidays where every morning was spent watching such cartoons.

    I was also partial to Superted, though even as a kid I knew it was lame. But I HATED Bananaman.

  3. Bananaman was so LAME!! Superted was awesome but it always made me sad for some reason. Probably cos he was all unwanted and unloved til he got his special powers. Poor teddy :(

  4. loved trap door, t-bag and the pearls of wisdom, trapdoor, superted, and YES even bananaman!

    and doctor who....there is only one for me and it is tom baker. He was one of my first crushes. its the charisma. I tried to watch an episode of the newest doctor who the other night. it was not even CLOSE in awesomeness.

  5. I meant count duckula instead of a repeat of 'trapdoor'

  6. "Berrrrrt!"
    I remember watching the Trap Door. I was in grade 2, 3 or 4 and I didn't like it very much.

    Did you use to watch Daria? How about Seriously Weird? I actually have a post on my blog about my favourite ABC TV shows which used to air until about two years ago. ABC Kids is now too different :(

  7. OMG T-bag! I'd totally forgotten that one, thank you. So bad, and yet so, so good.

    Do you remember that one show about the scientist (I think he was a mathematician) and the mouse? He used to have a little mouse with him, who he'd travel around with and he had a little cage for him on the front of his bicycle. Such an odd children's show....

  8. Ben, I don't remember a show like that at all. Track it down and tell me all about it please!

  9. *resists urge to make throughly lewd joke about the inappropriateness of a kid's show starring a character called teabag*

  10. Oooh, memories! I loved all those shows. I had no idea that T-Bag was shown outside of the UK (unless you had a different version), but I liked it too. I prefered the seasons with Kellie Bright (blonde girl) rather than the first one I saw (red head who I think was called Debbie) but I just loved the whole setup.

    Although... I really like the current Doctor. How can you not love David Tennant?!

  11. I've never heard of The Trap Door. Hmmm...
    However, I am obsessed with Fraggle Rock. Not sure anything from my childhood can top it.