11 August 2006


I'm a pack rat, and in recent years I've learned how to (sort of) organize my random scrawlings. For some time now, I've been packing composition notebooks full of whatever passing fancy comes my way. Sometimes the idea develops into a Torrid Affaire or a "Disembodied Animal Head Theatre." Sometimes the ideas wither on the vine, never to be heard of again.

I thought it'd be fun to air out a few of the dead-end ideas I've had over the past few years. Fun for me. Maybe fun for you, I don't know.

So anyway, here's a little blast from the past. I was developing an idea for a Mr. Rogers-esque children's show. I had some sort of a line to local television (a friend of a friend of a friend) and thought I could pull something together. At the time, I was babysitting my wife's nephew, a very sweet autistic boy who got me hooked on "Grandpa's Magical Toys" a direct-to-video gem. In fact, he wore out his first copy of the tape, and my sister-in-law bought a new one just after I started working for her.

I had also just built (with the assistance of my lovely wife Pamela) and sold my first "professional" puppet! Okay, I sold it to my dad. He was a minister back then, and he used it (a goat puppet with wicked awesome horns and ears) to teach Jesus to the kids.

Anyway, that's what was going on in my life at the time. Here's the idea in all of it's rough-hewn glory, taken more or less verbatim from my notes at the time:

"Pandora's Garage"

Needs to convey scope and intent. It needs to express the feel of the show.

A taste of things to come? Crazy quilt episode. Cover a mess of things.

I'm sure it's just the residual effects of the poppy seeds, but I'm seeing a neutral space with a counter top of some sort. [I was really into poppy seed bagel dogs at the time.] I had thought a living room would be cool. Platforming up for puppets? Nah, too costly. Kneel, boy!

A garage? (i.e. Dad's garage?) Lots of junk in storage, handy counter space. Acoustics? Lights? Garage lends itself well to erratic nature of show - boxes of junk can be rummaged through for fun stuff.

I wonder what Brad is up to? [Most likely I meant Brad Parker, an old high school chum and current teacher of at a arts magnet school in Texarkana. Great guy.] Can I snag Pam? Pam - only if everything is in place.

It would be quite swell if I had a costar who assumed different personas as required by the show. [Reminiscent of Speedy Delivery?]

Think about Jumpy and Skip's abode [Jumpy = dalmatian puppet, Skip = mudskipper puppet.] Apartment over the garage? "I wonder who might live up there?" Figments of the imagination?

Puppet sequences do not have to be logical, just loosely related to the main focus of the particular episode.
5 - 13, but enjoyable by all.

A chest (old, ancient, enticing) full of relics which get the ball rolling. Sample list of items:
- Clown figurine
- Dinosaur model
- Magic wand
- Drama masks
- A book
- Toy blocks
- etc.

Chest doesn't have to be very large - one item at a time may fit. [The idea was for a simple idea to spark off a wild goose chase, lateral-thinking adventure.]

If I tire of chest, switch to a big cardboard box of my dad's hats.

Audience/host relationship: casual, informal. Audience members are "friends" who like to come over to hang out with host.

Figure out how to work in vocab word each episode. Maybe an old, out of date (phony) "word a day" calendar. [I had read something at the time from Mensa that said there was a direct connection between the size of a person's vocabulary and their IQ.]

I just moved back to town after college and come back to get some of my stuff that I stored in my dad's garage. "Neighbor Kids" (audience) come in to han out as I rummage for my lost box. Dad is a pack rat, so I manage to get sidetracked every time. After 30 minutes or so I have to leave (go to work/pick something up/meet someone, etc.)

[When I'm rummaging and discovering and having a little adventure, I'm little more than a big kid who has a bunch of cool stuff. But each episode begins and ends with me as an adult with adult concerns.]

There you go! Tune in next week when I share my unrealized plan for a cold fusion generator!


Anonymous said...

Look! This show has the best of both worlds. It is like being in the French Quarter for a parade with the kids during the day and heading back for something entirely different at night.


But, it looks like some people don't like it.

Andrew Moore said...

I don't understand the hubbub. They very clearly label it for adults, it's "PUPPET Improv" not "MUPPET Improv", etc. Jim Henson struggled with the same sort of thing. Dark Crystal was intended for adults, for instance. I think it shows a real bias against childrens entertainers.

One of my favorite playwrights is Shel Silverstein, author of "The Giving Tree" and "Where the Sidewalk Ends." His plays are very much adult, deal with "adult themes" and are absolutely riddled with profanity. They're also hilarious! One of his shows was tiltled "An Adult Evening of Shel Silverstein."

All that aside, for the record I am glad Mr. Rogers never did softcore porn.

Anonymous said...

Shel Silverstein is awesome. Gwynyth absolutely adores "Where the Sidewalk Ends" and I can recite some of the poetry by heart from my love of it in my own childhood.

There are many things in our world that have elements designed specifically for children and those that are much too raw. I think Adult Swim on Cartoon network is a good example. Also, Lemmony Snickett writes children's books but his real name is Daniel Handler. Titles released under that name are barely tolerated by adults.

I suppose it all boils down to the idea of something being preserved as sacred. Of course, I think people get entirely too bent out of shape over the tiniest things.

kranki said...

It actually sounds like a good start for a kids show. You're in LA go sell yourself!

It's nice to find another crazy unused idea saver out there.