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Way back in my youth, I would tune in after school to watch "Vegetable
Soup", a show like no other I'd seen at the time. And a show that taught
important lessons each week about playing fair, telling the truth, getting
along with others and, every once in a while, a pretty tasty snack
Let's see, how much can I remember about this show? I recall a puppet segment where a bunch of kids build a rocket ship and get lost, traveling to different planets and helping the aliens with their problems on their way back home.
There was also a live-action part with a young boy that owned a pet python named Nigel in the inner-city and dealt with topics of responsibility and other truths of pet ownership.
Then there was an animated spoon (I think) that gave out recipes for guacamole and other after school treats that kids could easily make.
I'm sure I've forgotten other parts of this great show, but there were more, to be sure (including the surreal animated segments in-between) and some very cool lessons to be learned within.
Thanks, "Vegetable Soup".
The educational series from the 1970's "Vegetable Soup" was the first
children series to be carried onconcurrently on public and commercial
television stations(more than 200 in all) since this series only
produced 78 episodes and ran for two seasons on both NBC and again on
Public Television(PBS). "Vegetable Soup" offered children the chance to
learn more about other cultures and appreciate diversity through
multiple regular segments in each show. "Outerscope" featured profiles
of minority professionals;"Real People" had ethnic actors in a
live-action soap opera;and cartoons that included "Adventures in
Saniland," which involved the activities of Long John Spoilsport(voiced
by James Earl Jones),whom children were not to emulate,and
Luther(voiced by Whitman Mayo of Sanford and Son fame),a character who
Non-professional child actors appeared in skits involving minorities,and there were "man on the street" questions,films,and other attractions. But too most people who grew up watching the show and mainly the show's highlight was the animated segments featuring "Woody The Spoon"(voiced by Bette Midler). Miss Midler's vocals dispensed recipes from different ethnic cultures. If you remember watching this show and mostly the highlight of this series,was the animated puppet segment where a bunch of kids from different cultures build a rocket ship and get to travel to different planets. Along the way they get lost and run into some very interesting adventures into the vast unknowns of outer space and somewhere lose course of the ship while landing on some mysterious planet helping aliens with their problems while finding their way back home. Each episode concluded with a cliffhanger. The other was a live-action segment where a boy owns a pet python named Nigel in the inner-city and it is dealt with the topics of responsibility and ownership of a pet. The other live-action segment was also kid friendly. This one deals with a hispanic kid named Jacinto who goes to a new school and meets with some new friends at his school. This segment sometimes ended with a cliffhanger as well to see what happens to Jacinto next time in his adventures at the new school.
Produced by George Bowers and Yanna Kroyt-Brandt,"Vegetable Soup" was the end result of a $1.58 million dollar federal HEW grant to the New York State Education Department(the latter agency that produced and supplied the show). When it premiered on NBC-TV on November 2,1975,about 100 affiliates aired the show on Sunday Mornings ran alongside NBC's animated programming(some stations ran the series on Saturday Mornings in the earlier hours),while PBS began running it on September 22,1975. Public Television ran the series from September 22,1975 until October 17,1975 while NBC aired it from November 2,1975 until August 1,1976. While some critics and educators'reacting to the show were mixed as its format,"Vegetable Soup" is right up there with "Sesame Street","The Electric Company","Zoom!",and "Make A Wish" as one of the most innovative children's shows that emerge from the 1970's. Brilliant children's series that was so popular after NBC cancelled it in 1976,a new format aired in syndication and again on public television producing 39 episodes in September of 1978.
I loved "Vegetable Soup." I remember a great story on this show called "Chi Chi Hoo Hoo Boogeyman," a short film that was cut into segments and broadcast across three shows. It took place on an Indian reservation and involved three young Native American girls who take a canoe ride and encounter a deaf, flannel-wearing man living in the woods. They think he's the "Chi Chi Hoo Hoo Boogeyman" that they heard a ghost story about. They eventually find out he's just a deaf guy and invite him to dinner, learning lessons about tolerance and accepting differences. It was REALLY badly acted and amateurishly directed and edited, but I loved it as a kid. I taped it on a beta tape and made all my friends watch it.
I has just recently come to my attention that there actually is a bit
of a following for Vegetable Soup, even The Nigel segments that I was a
part of. My Name is Edward Beckford and I played Eddie, in the 2nd
season of Nigel "A Boy and His Boa" I took over after Martin went away
to college. My new awareness of this has come from a friend whose
fiancé' was/ is a fan. She found out that I had never seen the shows,
well not most of them. She began digging and uncover something I found
interesting. A small following that still exists. Now, I did that show
when I was 9 years old, as a matter of fact it was my first show. I am
43 now and still plugging away in the industry, and I've still only
seen 2-3 episodes.
There were a few interesting things I remember about the show, like the theme song was me singing. And the real Nigel the snake never appeared with me in the show. That was a female snake named Ginger, Nigel was shedding all summer. I also still have my little sailors hat.
Anyway, nice to stroll down memory lane for a minute.
Pura Vida ! Edward Beckford
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