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Saturday, April 14, 2012

The Big Comfy Couch


A few weeks ago, I came up with an idea to feature educational children's shows that were based out of Canada, and wrote a blog about it. As we deduced, some shows were really good, some were just okay, and some were just absolutely insane.

The feature ended up being a hit. It received a lot of page views, and on my own personal Facebook page, I received a lot of comments about the subjects from my friends list.

One comment in particular really got my attention, and it was the inspiration behind today's blog entry. Here it is, as it was written on March 31, 2012...

What aboot “The Big Comfy Couch”? That scored HUGE in the states, and they only filmed about 15 episodes...my daughter still has her Molly doll!”
  • Gregg M., Nebraska

All right, Gregg from Nebraska. Challenge accepted.



Today we're going to look back on the classic children's television program “The Big Comfy Couch”, which actually ran a lot longer than fifteen episodes! The show aired off and on in Canada between 1992 and 2006, and one hundred episodes were actually filmed and aired in Canada.

(Maybe when the show aired on PBS, they only aired the first season or so.)



There's actually a couple of reasons why I opted to do a whole blog entry on this children's show. Firstly, my niece, who is now fifteen years old, used to watch “The Big Comfy Couch” all the time when she was a little girl, so I know the show quite well. Any time she came over to visit, she would have the television tuned into “The Big Comfy Couch”. And, just like Gregg's daughter, my niece also owned the Molly doll. The show itself wasn't a bad one (regardless of the fact that when it debuted, I was already outside of the target demographic), and I thought it might stir up some discussion for younger readers of this blog.

The second reason...I will share that at the end of the blog.



The Big Comfy Couch” was filmed in Canada, and debuted on YTV on March 2, 1992. The show was about the adventures of a young toddler clown named Loonette and her doll, Molly.

For the first ten years of the show, Loonette was played by voice artist and actress Alyson Court, and between 2003 and 2006, the role was taken over by Ramona Gilmour-Darling. And, Molly was a movable puppet that was controlled by famous puppeteer, Bob Stutt (who also worked on the Canadian television program “Today's Special).

Each episode focused on a different subject, and Loonette and Molly would have all sorts of adventures surrounding the theme. For example, if the episode's title was “Red Light, Green Light”, the episode would be about how Loonette and Molly would learn the difference between stopping and going. If the episode was called “Wrong Side Of The Couch”, we would see Loonette waking up and being in a bad mood.

Although each episode had a different theme, the structure for each episode was almost exactly the same. At the beginning of each episode, we'd see Loonette waking up from one of her sixteen naps of the day. She'd greet everyone who was watching her on television and introduce Molly to everyone. But whenever Loonette would wake up, she would always feel stiff and she wanted to get up off of the couch and stretch a bit. So, she'd walk over to the clock shaped rug nearby and perform something called a “clock stretch”. Watch a clip of this below.



Looking back on it, the “clock stretch” was brilliant. Loonette stretched her body in a way that it resembled second and minute hands moving around the same way they would on an analog clock. Mind you, none of my watches quite moved around the same way that Loonette did, but I appreciate the creativity behind it.

Once the clock stretch was out of the way, Loonette would frequently brainstorm ideas with Molly about what they should do. Of course, Molly couldn't speak. All she could do was communicate with thought bubbles that made the same noise as an info-bubble on Pop-Up Video. However, Molly's ideas were fun and interesting. Usually, Molly would want Loonette to read a story. So, Loonette would dig within the depths of “The Big Comfy Couch” to pull out her oversized reading glasses and a story to read. Sometimes, Molly wanted to dance, so Loonette started up a dance studio which she dubbed the “Miss Loonette's Dance Academy”. She would perform a classical dance, and Molly would often watch in excitement.

Sometimes, Loonette would want to play with the dolls in her dollhouse, so the action would shift over from the couch to inside the dollhouse where we watched the Foley Family interact with each other, usually with hilarious results. Watch a clip of the Foley Family in action.



Sometimes we'd also get a close up view of the action that was going on underneath the couch. For Loonette, there wasn't anything special about the bottom of the couch. It was just one very dusty place. But for Molly, the space underneath the couch was the home of her two friends, Fuzzy and Wuzzy.

Otherwise known as the Dustbunnies.

I can see why Molly loved the Dustbunnies. They were cute...in their own allergy triggering kind of way. And, the Dustbunnies actually owe their lives to Molly, for she saved them when Loonette got a little bit too congested.



I'll just come right out and say it...when I was forced to watch “The Big Comfy Couch” during the years in which my niece was small, the episode could be saved if the Dustbunnies appeared. I loved those little guys.

Now, don't go thinking that all Loonette did all day was lounge around the couch. She did have some excitement outside the living room. In every episode, Loonette would leave the house and go and visit her beloved Granny Garbanzo, who lived in a wagon with her pet cat Snicklefritz.



(Come to think of it, I often wondered how a toddler like Loonette was allowed to just leave the house on her own to visit her grandmother without child protective services knocking on the door. Maybe Granny Garbanzo lived next door or something. Anybody want to help me out with this one?)

Anyway, Granny Garbanzo was very caring, and she loved Loonette and Molly very much. She loved showing Loonette and Molly all of the plants that she grew in her garden, and sometimes would entertain Loonette with stories from the old country.



At some point during Loonette's visit, a clown mailman riding a unicycle would drop by to join the party. His name was Major Bedhead, and he would often be in the area to drop of a letter or present for Loonette.

(Come to think of it, wouldn't Major Bedhead be better off delivering Loonette's mail to her OWN house? But then again, maybe it was arranged that way so that it would guarantee Granny Garbanzo one visit per day if all of Loonette's mail arrived there.)



Anyway, Major Bedhead would hand Loonette a postcard from her Auntie Macassar or her Uncle Chester, and in the postcard, they would tell Loonette of all of the wonderful adventures that they experienced while traveling the world. In some rare instances, Loonette's Auntie Macassar would drop in for a visit, usually making some grand entrance in the process.

So a typical Loonette day would actually be quite busy. She'd exercise, read, dance, play, visit her grandmother, chat with Major Bedhead. Loonette was quite the active kid.

But when she often got home, she was shocked to find out that the “Big Comfy Couch” was a big, messy pile of toys, clothes, and books. Loonette was outraged, and she demanded to know WHO MADE THIS BIG MESS!



Problem was, it was her.

But, Loonette's a good little clown, and she always cleans up after herself. And unlike most boys and girls her age, she can clean up a room in TEN seconds. It's a little chore that Loonette liked to call the Ten-Second Tidy. Watch it below.



Well, okay...the “ten” second tidy really lasted fifteen seconds (which was probably more like ten minutes as the Ten-Second Tidy feature was shown sped up). But, at least she cleaned up after herself.

After she cleaned up the couch, Loonette would be yawning, and she could barely keep her eyes open. She was fading fast and needed to get some sleep. So, at the end of each episode, she would say goodbye to the audience, tuck herself and Molly in underneath a blanket, and go to sleep at the closing credits rolled.

It's really nice to see that Loonette and Molly both had a place to feel safe and secure when they were young. That place happened to be an overstuffed, green couch. And, that brings me up to the second reason why I wanted to do an entry on this show.

I'd like to think that when we were all Loonette's age, we also had a spot in our homes that we felt safe. At least I hope that was the case. I know I had such a spot. In my childhood house, it was a spare room that my family used to store all the things that we couldn't find a place for. We never had a garage, so this was the next best thing. It was filled with all my old books, old furniture, and various knick-knacks. That room became my sanctuary. I think I spent more time in that room than I did in my own bedroom, I loved it so much. I had so many adventures in that room, and like Loonette, you never knew what sorts of treasures you'd find there.

But that was my experience. Some kids would choose a window with a chair nearby. Some kids hid underneath the kitchen table. Some would choose the seventh step on a flight of stairs. I knew of one kid who liked to play in the bathtub!

So, I guess to end off this note, I ask this.

BONUS QUESTION: What was your “Big Comfy Couch” place?

(Thanks again, Gregg, for the great post idea!)

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