Since I had been missing my man Droopy, I sought him out on YouTube and was not disappointed. And as it is, one video leads you onto another and then another and then a whole flood of childhood memories. I chuckle when I find myself in company of people trying to include me in reminiscing popular Western or American children shows of the 1980s and I can’t say I share those memories really.
We had no BBC and poor AFN (American Forces Network) coverage on our rabbit-ears reception TV out in East Berlin. The most I remember of AFN was Christmas time when Santa would visit the children at the schools and they would each sit on his lap and tell him their laundry list of wishes. I want a GI Joe, and a He-Man, and a Barbie for my little sister…We did get the West German satellite station SAT.1 where we watched advant-garde shows like Glücksrad (Wheel of Fortune), Batman (not the cartoon; probably from the 1960s now that I think of it), and Charlie’s Angels.
Aside from that, some exposure to Care Bears, Scooby Doo, Winnie the Pooh and such came from rented videos from the NAAFI in the British zone of West Berlin.
No, what filled our days were good old Soviet inspired East European children shows. If they were propagandizing to me I wouldn’t have known it but goodness those were some good shows. But not to fret, we also watched broadcast West German stations such as ZDF for a balanced upbringing!
I remember that they didn’t stop a programming every 5-10 minutes like they do in the States to insert an advertisement but rather they would have a long block of commercials after a program. Each advertisement or two was followed by a funny cartoon and the whole block of commercials would end with a cartoon doing a cute ENDE finale! Goodness, we looked forward to watching these ads just for those cartoons. That’s good marketing…and that wasn’t just directed at children but rather all the advertisements were programmed that way.
Then there was the East German Unser Sandmännchen which actually I never liked. It was a “goodnight” children’s show that came on around 6-7pm and the point was all children would watch it, get brainwashed, then have their abendbrot & bath (or before the show) and then go to bed…at 6-7pm! I must say that this was one area where my mother’s “just because you are in Rome doesn’t mean you have to do what the Romans do” mantra worked to our benefit. While our friends had to leave us to go to bed we continued to stay up late! Hence my poor sleep hygiene.
What I do love about the Sandmann though was him pouring his magic dust over us at the end to get us in the mood to sleep lol. The intro song sang by the kid started so: “Sandmann, lieber Sandmann, es ist noch nicht so weit!…” (Sandman, dear Sandman, it’s not yet time…) and the exit song sang by the Sandman started “Kinder, liebe Kinder, es hat mir Spaß gemacht. Nun schnell ins Bett und schlaft recht schön… (Children, dear children, that was fun. Now quick to bed and sleep well…). Cute, no? In between was the puppet show that I did without.
Then there was Heidi, the best Heidi animation series EVER! It’s intro song quickly become “Heidi, Heidi, bada bada booooah!”, because one of us was but just a toddler. I’m not naming names! Even though it was German (I believe), it had the looks of Japanese animation (you know what I’m talking about).
Then there was Pippi, Pippi Langstrumpf. The best Pippi movie or series or character EVER on film.
She skips all over the place tolla hi-ing, tolla hey-ing, and tolla hoppsasa-ing. We taped them and watched the series over and over again. We could sing the songs, do the Pippi dance and the Tommy/Annika sack dance, and go “spunk”-ing all over the place too.
How does she start?
Drei mal Drei macht Vier, widde widde wid, und drei macht Neune…
(which makes no sense because three times three does not make four!).
See I love PippilottaViktualia Langstrumpf and her kunterbuntes haus, her äffchen Mr. Nilson, and her pferd so much that a couple years ago I rented the series on Netflix and watched it. Nope, I’m not ashamed. I can spend a whole Saturday morning watching cartoons on network TV so there! It wasn’t entirely the same because it was in English but that spunk, strength, and unconventionality was still there. I found out then though that my beloved German TV series was a Swedish/German co-production from 1969! They don’t do shows like that anymore!
There was Der Fliegende Ferdinand which I remember faintly as a boy, Ferdinard, being carried to a planet of flowers where he gains magical powers to fly and to turn into his father (who later on in life when I was introduced to Mr. Bean I thought was the same actor). It was apparently a Czech production.
But how can one talk about Czech children shows and not mention Pan Tau? Pan Tau and his bowler hat which he could tap in a special way to transform himself into a puppet and other magical things. He never spoke, he just observed and worked his wonders.
Then there was Tom & Jerry which yes I know is American, but the cartoon we watched on German TV had it’s own memorable introduction song (not the MGM lion roar intro).
And speaking of American shows with foreign adaptions I must mention Sesamstrasse which did NOT have Big Bird or Mr. Snuffleupagus or Elmo (I kid – not my era), but rather Samson and Herr von Bödefeld who I understood to be female (don’t ask me why).
Wer, wie, was (clap, clap) wieso, weshalb, warum?