Sunday, September 21, 2014

Sunday Storybook Theatre

A little escapism in a rather dreary week, darlings, not to mention a reminder of half-forgotten childhood pleasure...

Yes, it's "The Princess of Pure Delight," a segment from the short-lived TV experiment that was Curiosity Shop.  Running for only eighteen months starting in 1971, the show was ABC's Saturday morning attempt to blend the educational content of Sesame Street with a little show-biz sparkle provided by, among others, Spike Jones.  The result was a more solemn version of the Sid & Marty Kroft costume extravaganzas then all the rage in kid-vidland - basically Lidsville with Lessons.

I don't know about anybody else (and I think the short run tells the story), but I ate it up.  For one thing, I got a wholehearted go-ahead to watch it from the parents and grandparents (always iffy - they didn't really approve of much kiddie-level frivolity any later than Milne or the Goops), mostly I think because the title indicated it might be somehow Dickensian.

There's not much Curiosity Shop around on the YouTubes, and what's there is in parlous condition, faded, scratchy, and primitive-looking.  Even so, it's easy to see that we were an easily pleased crowd, my little friends and I.  I remember this piece, for example, as a magical thing, a notion not wholly dispelled by seeing that it's done with only barely repurposed GI Joes and an off-brand Barbie knockoff.

As for the story itself, well I suppose I'm happy enough for the Princess and her minstrel - but as for me, I've always been a sucker for a prince whose raiment is of lavender hue...


  1. 'They sighed and they suffered, and they tossed at night.' Indeed. In the UK the last term has a very particular meaning...

  2. We had Mr Benn, The Clangers and Crystal Tipps and Alistair, about which I savour equally fond memories... Jx

  3. I grew up on the Goops, too. Not Milne, but Grahame and Uncle Remus. "The Goops, they lick their fingers. The Goops, they lick their knives." And then Mother would sniff. "*We* don't do that."

  4. Those princes are certainly GI Joes, my fantasy men until Big Jim came into my life. But as a 70's gayling with two sisters, I am fairly certain that's not an off-brand Barbie but Barbie's kid sister, Skipper. I could be wrong. Ken and the boys had much more of my attention.

    The Curiosity Shop seems vaguely familiar. Wisps of remembrance clouded by time. Its tiny light dimmed perhaps by grander entertainments of the day. It appears to be created by an animation team that couldn't quite cut it with the Lutherans over at Davey and Goliath.

    Truth be told, my stop-motion heart will always belong to Ray Harryhausen (as much for toga-clad Argonauts as his creatures), Rankin Bass productions (and that dreamy ginger who grew up to be Santa Claus), and of course, Mr. Bill.