Monday, January 16, 2012

Early Morning Electronica

My Saturday morning routine as a child almost always involved getting up before anyone else in the house, getting a bowl of cereal, and plunking down in front of the TV to watch cartoons until they got chased off the air by sports or news programming, and then heading outside to play.

This schedule pre-dates our getting cable television, so sometimes the programming choices were pretty meager due to our only having three channels. Without that scarcity of choice, though, I might never have noticed that Rocket Robin Hood and Spider-Man fought the same villain one time.

If I got up too early for actual animated fare, I could at least get a little kid-oriented history lesson courtesy of either Professor Kitzel or Max the 2000 Year Old Mouse.  These programs used crudely animated framing devices at the opening and closing of the episode, and then narration accompanied panning across various paintings and drawings of historical events; not really my cup of tea, but sometimes this was the only alternative to The Farm Report.

On those rare occasions when I woke up even prior to Professor Kitzel, some stations wouldn't even have begun broadcasting yet, which seems almost unbelievably quaint in today's 24 hour, 500 channel, time-shifted, smart-TV universe.  Before beginning their programming day, CTV affiliates would broadcast a post-secondary lecture on their educational program, University of the Air.  During a recent bout of insomnia on the weekend, my internet perambulations led me to a YouTube video of the closing credits, which I believe to be indistinguishable from the opening credits.  In addition to being remarkably nostalgic, it got me to thinking: was this the first electronic music I ever heard?

Years later, when we got cable and PBS, I stumbled across the intro to Doctor Who, and although I never cared for the program that much, I always enjoyed the theme song.  I wonder if it made me hearken back to those carefree 6-year-old mornings, and the allure of a computerized future (along with The Starlost)?

I can't imagine having heard any synthesizer-based music prior to this trippy, hypnotic opening, with the possible exception of "Popcorn" by Hot Butter (1972), which I remember learning the bunny-hop to in grade 8 gym class, but I don't know when I might have first heard it.  As it sits, I wish I had the programmer-fu to turn that credit sequence into a screen saver for my PC.

Does anyone else remember University of the Air, or was I the only kid up that early?

1 comment:

  1. Can't say I really remember University of the Air - sounds vaguely familiar but just not coming back to me. What I do remember of course was Kitzel and Max the mouse. I absolutely loved Professor Kitzel, so much so that when my kids were little I bought a VHS of 6 episodes on ebay so they could watch them too.