This much-hyped Saturday show (airing usually around the noon hour) was created by Bruce and Carole Hart who helped assemble Sesame Street, and was intended as a kind of SNL+American Bandstand+Phil Donahue for the 10-to-13-year-old set. If good intentions were the only important criteria, Hot Hero Sandwich would have been the greatest children's show ever.
But the show never really clicked (a TV Guide post-mortem was headlined, HOT HERO SANDWICH: THE AUDIENCE DIDN'T BITE). Simply put, the show's producers fatally underestimated the savviness of its audience. With Sesame Street, a three-year-old might easily confuse an alphabet cartoon for a TV commercial or pop song. A 12-year-old Hot Hero viewer, on the other hand, had no difficulty watching an SNL-like skit about playing hooky and IMMEDIATELY recognizing its self-congratulatory stay-in-school message. 6th and 7th graders have finely-honed BS detectors. They know when they're being talked down to.
That being said, the series had its pluses: excellent production values, a slew of top guest stars/music performers, and a decent regular ensemble (Denny Dillon, in fact, graduated to SNL in the fall of 1980, and has had a solid career as a comedic character actress). And when the show wasn't full of its pro-social pretensions, quite a few of the sketches were genuinely funny (writer Andy Breckman went on to SNL, the early years of Late Night with David Letterman and Monk). Hot Hero Sandwich was very much a series of its time, when networks were scrambling to provide "pro-social entertainment" for kids. If they'd only focused on the "entertainment" portion of the equation, the series might well have lasted.
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