"1, 2, 3, Go!" was an American children's programme that was never transmitted in Britain, but I saw a few episodes at a screening in London in 1963, when an American TV producer was trying to sell the UK syndication rights for the series. This is the only American series I've ever seen which even remotely reminds me of Britain's excellent long-running series 'Blue Peter'.
"1, 2, 3, Go!" was an extremely well-made and impressive series. I especially enjoyed the theme song during the opening credits, which had a catchy melody and lyric that I remember to this day: 'Wonder what it'll be today? / What excitement is on its way? / You can find out just by saying "1, 2, 3 Go!".' Why isn't this theme song included in one of those albums of TV series theme songs?
The series was hosted by Jack Lescoulie (an early NBC utility man) and boy actor Richard Thomas: aye, the future John-Boy Walton. Thomas was excellent on this series, but had a prominent birthmark on one cheek: I recall being very surprised that Thomas had been cast, since most of the Yank TV series I'd seen at this point featured preternaturally good-looking performers.
Each episode of '1,2,3 Go!' had a theme, prompting Jack and Richard (as they called each other in the show's dialogue, and in Richard Thomas's narration) to find out about this week's topic. Unlike 'Mr Wizard' and other children's series featuring an adult and a child, '1,2,3 Go!' avoided the stereotype of the all-wise adult enlightening the uninformed child. Jack and Richard would find out about the subject together, although there were some clumsily-scripted sequences in which Richard the boy is too obviously superior to Jack the man. The episodes were narrated by Richard in an ingratiating style, but the scripts were written in a way that often made Richard a bit too smug about his own knowledge versus Jack's.
I recall one episode in which they decided to find out about special effects in movies. Jack walked onto a movie set and promptly got shot in the neck with an arrow. Richard blithely assured him that the arrow was just a special effect, and not to worry about it. During the next several scenes, Richard leads the way while Jack meekly follows with an arrow in his neck, which looks rather distressing. As Richard gleefully tells us in voice-over: 'Jack was getting worried about the arrow, but I told him to stop crying.'
'1, 2, 3, Go!' would still be interesting today, not least for an early glimpse of Richard Thomas. I hope the kinescopes are safely preserved in NBC's vault, because this series is worth re-issuing on video.
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