Children's film programme

TV Giants looks back and rediscovers key figures and programs that marked the history of North American children's and family television, through examples spanning from the fifties to the eighties, with a special focus on musical sequences. The works in this program were created by artists and professionals who understood the specific nature of the new medium and used it to create new ways of entertaining and educating. There will be three sessions consisting of compilations of excerpts that document the shift from pure entertainment (the comedian, the showman) to an educational approach linked to ideas such as social inclusion and the universal nature of education.

Curator: Carolina López Caballero
Special thanks to: Ernie Kovacs, Pee-wee's Playhouse, Shout Factory and Spike Jones, Jr.


Saturdays February 5 and March 19, at 5.30pm
The Real Thing: Spike Jones and Ernie Kovacs
Before recording systems were invented, there was only live television. As such, there has no opportunity for second takes, for retouching sound, elaborate tricks, or postproduction. In those days of technical restrictions, two stars shone bright in the United States, true «Giants» of family television: Spike Jones and Ernie Kovacs. This session offers a selection of their sketches, as well as some short publicity films from the period that explain television through animation techniques.

The Line Per Lygum, The Netherlands, 1950s
A short film produced by Philips Industries which portrays the history of audiovisual communication through a lion and a small animated character. This is an unreleased work.

The Spike Jones Show, NBC, United States, 1954 – 1957
A selection of sketches by this hilarious vaudeville performer who caused a sensation in 1950s America. A fusion of Marx Brothers-style humour and an immense musical talent.

Kukla, Fran and Ollie, NBC, United States, 1947 – 1957
The first children's television program, starring the former comedienne and radio singer Fran Allison, and two small puppets.
Ding Dong School, NBC, United States, 1952 – 1956
This pioneer educational program, presented by Miss Frances, was the most successful show for pre-school kids.

Ernie Kovacs, PBS, United States
Music plays a key role in the work of American comedian of Hungarian origins Ernie Kovacs. This selection presents visual symphonies that mix humour and irony with references to the art of the early avant-gardes.

Saturdays February 19 and April 2, at 5.30pm
School in a Box: The Children's Workshop
In this session we take a journey through the educational television of the sixties and seventies, where we find a series of fun experiences full of funk and psychedelia.
Saturdays March 5 and April 16, at 5.30pm
Games, Television and Rock'n'Roll: School House of Rock and the wonderful world of Pee-Wee Herman
The TV program School House of Rock first appeared in the 1980s in the United States, teaching maths, grammar and history through music and animation. Pee-Wee Herman (embodied by the actor Paul Reubens), another of North America's great «TV Giants», was the star of Pee-Wee's Playhouse (1986-1991), an educational and entertainment show influenced by animation series and programs such as The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show, The Mickey Mouse Club, Captain Kangaroo and Howdy Doody, and famous for Pee-Wee's personality and its high production values. The music, which was always original, was another of its essential elements. The session is in English.

Schoolhouse Rock!, David McCall, United States, 1973 – 1985
Schoolhouse Rock! was the television offshoot of a recording and publishing project. Three decades on, its legacy continues in classic tracks like 'Three is a Magic Number' and 'Conjunction Junction'.

Pee-Wee's Playhouse, CBS, United States, 1986 – 1991
Designed to be educational as entertaining in equal parts, Pee-Wee's Playhouse is a program that never goes out of date. It was one of the great extravagances of television history – and cinema's too, given that Tim Burton brought the character to the silver screen in his 1985 feature film Pee-Wee's Big Adventure.

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Son[i]a #118. Carolina López Caballero