The Sixties will always be known as an extremely exciting and interesting era, and with all the interesting and exciting things going on in the world kid's TV shows tried to keep things interesting as well.
Some shows played on the world's obsession with space, others embraced psychedelia and rock music to keep things thoroughly mod, but above all kid's TV shows were stranger in the 60s than they'd ever been before!
(This list is far from comprehensive, so please feel free to tell me about any shows from the 60s that I left out and I'll include them in a follow-up article.)
1. Space Angel (1962-64)-
Space Angel centers around Captain Scott McCloud and his crew, who are agents working for the Interplanetary Space Force aboard the spaceship Starduster.
They battle extraterrestrial enemies such as the Anthenians and the Evil Queen Of Space, and with a little help from McCloud's alter ego Space Angel they're able to defend Earth one static panel at a time.
Compositing video footage of a talking human mouth over traditional animation is a practice that is seen as silly and hoaky to this day, but adding talking mouth footage to illustrations by legendary comic book artist Alex Toth- now that's just plain criminal!
2. Clangers (1969-74)-
Awww, look at the cute little extraterrestrial sock critters! The Clangers are a family of mousey aliens who live on, and inside, a faraway planet. They're called clangers because of the clanging sound made by the trash can lids that cover their burrows, which help protect them from meteor strikes.
They eat Blue String Pudding and soup provided by the Soup Dragon, encounter strange flora and fauna on the planet's surface, and solve problems while under the protection of their dad, Major Clanger. They're cute and, like, totally far out, and if you watch one episode you're sure to fall in love! -Thanks Skipweasel!
Sid and Marty Krofft were asked to create some totally trippy, yet still nice and toony, costumes for Hanna Barbera, and an iconic show called The Banana Splits Adventure Hour was born.
The Banana Splits are four musical mascots who run around having silly adventures both in their tripped out psychedelic Clubhouse and out on the town, with outdoor scenes shot at Six Flags Over Texas and Coney Island amusement park in Cincinnati.
The Adventure Hour element of the show consisted of the live action serial Danger Island and the animated shows Arabian Knights, The Three Musketeers and the short lived Micro Ventures.
The Banana Splits are still popular with kids today thanks to the retro cartoon channel Boomerang, and without the Banana Splits Sid and Marty Krofft never would have gotten the green light to make H.R. Pufnstuf.
4. Joe 90 (1968-69)-
The all marionette cast of Joe 90 will definitely trigger an uncanny valley revulsion response in some viewers, and therein lies the strangeness of this show- Joe 90 is a show where the puppets are all supposed to be ordinary humans.
Joe is a nine-year-old boy who becomes a superspy thanks to his father’s invention the BIG RAT, “a machine capable of recording knowledge and experience from leading experts in various fields and transferring it to another human brain”.
Joe 90 takes place in a near future world where the Cold War is over and Russia and the U.S. are allies, and the show's political storylines make it even more of an oddball when compared to the bright and cheery kid's shows of the day.
5. The Magic Roundabout (1964-71)-
The Magic Roundabout is psychedelic stop motion cuteness at its finest, and a wonderful demonstration of how resourceful animators can create a magical show with very little supplies. The show stars Dougal the dog, a floppy eared Skye Terrier with a serious sweet tooth who hangs around some rather colorful characters like Zebedee the jack-in-a-box and Dylan the rabbit.
The show originated in France, but achieved cult status when it was broadcast in England by the BBC, with a completely changed script written and read by Eric Thompson.
6. H.R. Pufnstuf (1969)-
H.R. Pufnstuf is the stuff of TV legend, by far the most tripped out and seemingly drug influenced TV show ever created, but to reduce it to such simple terms would be a shame. The show's plot centers around a boy named Jimmy who is marooned on Living Island, a land full of strange characters who are constantly being harassed by the evil Witchiepoo.
Pufnstuf is truly a masterpiece in many ways, as it featured a cast of human, costumed and puppet characters seamlessly interacting in an environment that feels like it has real world depth.
7. Do Not Adjust Your Set! (1967-69)-
Before there was a Flying Circus there was Do Not Adjust Your Set!, the sketch comedy show that started life as a kid's television programme but blossomed into so much more.
DNAYS! starred Michael Palin, Eric Idle and Terry Jones, with the mighty Terry Gilliam writing and (for one episode) providing his unique brand of animation. The sketches began as kid friendly and a bit odd and slowly evolved into the madcap madness we've come to expect from the Monty Python crew.
8. Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons (1967-68)-
Here's another entry from the Supermarionation set- the spaced out Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons! Captain Scarlet starred creepy puppets that looked a little too human just like the rest, but that's not what makes this show so trippy.
The trippy part of Captain Scarlet, besides the all puppet cast of course, are the Mysterons, invading Martians who can be anything, or anybody....
9. Davey and Goliath (1960-64)-
Davey is a young boy who spends way too much time worrying about being a good Christian, and Goliath is his talking dog who is a true believer and keeps Davey on the right path.
10. Torchy The Battery Boy (1960-61)-
Let's finish this list off with a particularly creepy puppet show called Torchy The Battery Boy, the story of a battery powered boy with a lamp in his head that emits a magic beam and his creator, Mr. Bumbledrop.
It's a space age take on the tale of Pinocchio, an American marionette answer to Astro Boy, and an oddball puppet show all rolled up and Torchy'd!
I hope this list of strange kid's TV shows from the 60s gave you nothing but good flashbacks and positive nostalgic vibes!
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