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The Great Space Coaster
Format children's show
Country of origin  United States
No. of seasons 5
Production
Running time 30 minutes
Broadcast
Original channel first-run syndication
Original run September, 1981 – September, 1986

The Great Space Coaster was a children's television show that ran from 1981 through 1986. The series was directed by Dick Feldman, and distributed by Sunbow Productions.

Contents

Show summary and history

The show is about 3 young singers (Francine, Danny, and Roy) who are brought to a habitable asteroid in space by a puppet clown character named Baxter who pilots the "space coaster", a rollercoaster-like spaceship. The asteroid is populated by strange-looking, wise-cracking puppet characters like Goriddle Gorilla, Knock-Knock the bird, Edison the Elephant and Gary Gnu, who hosts the "The Gary Gnu Show". Baxter is forever on the run from M.T. Promises, a nefarious circus owner (played by a large, top-hatted puppet) who plans to re-capture Baxter and return him to the circus he worked at before he escaped. Each episode ends with a different life lesson, and various celebrity guest stars (such as Mark Hamill and Marvin Hamlisch, etc.) occasionally dropped by.

In each episode, Roy shows a short film on his portable, fold-up TV, often featuring segments from La Linea, an Italian animated series about a little man who is drawn (using a single line) at the beginning of the segment and then springs to life, communicating with his animator through high-pitched Italian mixed with gibberish. Francine, Roy, and Danny sing a song together in each episode (sometimes originals like "Wacky Talk", sometimes older songs like "Be a Clown" or covers of '60s and '70s hits), and the various puppet characters often sing songs as well. A few years into the show's run the MTV-like "Rockin' with Rory" segment began, where a DJ puppet would introduce "Danny and the Spacecoasters" performing cover tunes. While the action was mostly videotaped on the space set, it wasn't unusual for the characters to venture down to Earth for filmed musical numbers.

Characters

  • Goriddle Gorilla - A gravel-voiced, baboon-like creature. He has a tendency to be rude, obnoxious, nosey, lazy and a nuisance, but somehow the gang on the asteroid seem to like him just the way he is. He and Knock Knock introduce Gary Gnu whenever the Gary Gnu Show segment comes on.
  • Knock Knock Woodpecker - A prissy pink bird who lives in the hollow of a tree and tells a lot of knock-knock jokes. She, alongside Goriddle Gorilla, occasionally introduces Gary Gnu whenever the Gary Gnu Show segment comes on. Knock Knock also intros The Book Of The Week In Review segments by saying, "And Here's Gary Gnu, with The Book Of The Week In Review," usually waking Gary Gnu from a nap. Knock Knock also uses her sense of humor at times to give Goriddle Gorilla a taste of his own medicine.
  • Edison the Elephant - A strange, robotic-looking elephant with a segmented, hose-like, ever-moving trunk and semi-transparent, fan-like ears, whose voice is an echo. He loved plants and tended a large garden.
  • Baxter- A large, gentle clown who once worked for M.T. Promises in an apparently slave-like situation, and lives in fear of ever going back. He now pilots the space coaster, taking the characters from Earth to the asteroid. He can magically disappear by twirling around, a talent he uses to escape M.T.'s attempts to catch him and bring him back to his circus. Whenever the gang wants to leave on a field trip, he always says, "The Great Space Coaster Is Ready For Takeoff." When the gang assembles, he always says, "Get On Board For A Magical Trip. And Where We Land This Time Is Anybody's Guess." He sometimes plays the "baxophone" (an instrument similar to a saxophone) with the Space Coaster Band.
  • Speed Reader - A young man who appears on the Gary Gnu show. He can allegedly read incredibly fast, zipping through an entire book (usually a recently-published novel for young readers) in seconds and then offering a short review. Before a reading, he'll warm up by doing "push-ups" with his eyelids (blinking rapidly).
  • M.T. Promises - A nefarious, bulgey-eyed, top-hatted, caped circus ringleader forever scheming to capture Baxter the clown and take him back to the circus. More silly than sinister, he sweeps onto and off the set accompanied by evil circus music.
  • The Huggles - Small, furry creatures who have stories read to them by Baxter, usually about "Bamba the Barbarian". They also have a little sibling named Baby Huggle. Baxter brought the Huggles to the asteroid after he found their eggs in space. As their intro song put it, Baxter, "brought 'em home to hatch 'em, and now they're here to stay..." Introduced a few years into the series' run, the extreme (some would say excessive) cuteness of the these characters was an attempt to appeal to a younger demographic.
  • Rory - A wild-looking lionlike DJ puppet, he appeared a few years into the show's run as the host of "Rockin' with Rory," a segment featuring music videos by "Danny and the Spacecoasters", typically performing covers of '60s hits.
  • Gary Gnu - A gnu newscaster who does a show each episode and is well known for his catchphrase, "No Gnews is Good Gnews with Gary...Gnu". He would add a guttural "g" sound to the beginning of any word he spoke which normally began with an "n", such as "gnews" for "news" and "gnaturally" for "naturally". Whenever introduced by either Goriddle Gorilla or Knock Knock, the introduction is always, "And Now For Something Really Gnew, Here's Gary Gnu." The only difference is that Goriddle always says "WOW!" each time he introduces Gary Gnu. Gary always begins by saying, "This Is Gary Gnu. And The No Gnews Is Good Gnews Show. The Only TV Gnews Program Guaranteed To Contain No Gnews Whatsoever." Gary's unusual speaking style was inspired by the 1957 Flanders and Swann song, The Gnu, which told the story of a gnu in a zoo who spoke much as Gary did, adding a "g" sound to the beginning of various words. Gary actually sang the song in one episode. Gary Gnu's gnewscasts were punctuated by comments and jeers from the filming crew. Occasionally he would be set up for a practical joke as the crew would call him a "turkey", followed by the dropping of a paper turkey(with Gary's picture taped over the face) onto Gnu's head, with a gobbling sound effect.
  • Baffle - A furry, horned magical alien. She casts spells by chanting this phrase: "Miki Pooka Tiki".
    • NOTE: In one episode, Goriddle Gorilla filled in as host of "The Gary Gnu Show," while Gary was absent. Goriddle took the opportunity to remake the show in his own image, even decorating the set with dense jungle foliage. Thus "The No Gnews Is Good Gnews Show" became "The Guerrilla Warfare Fun-time Show"; it consisted mostly of Goriddle telling his favorite puns while unseen commandos traded machine gun and artillery fire in the background. Being Gary, he was outraged to discover what Goriddle had done with his show..."He's turned my gnews set into a battlefield!"

References in pop culture

A line from the song Flashback by Gift of Gab released on their 2004 album "4th Dimensional Rocket Ships Going Up" sings "... the Great Space Coaster -- No gnews is good gnews ..."

In 1982, when the Boy Scouts of America introduced their Tiger Cubs program (which has since been integrated into the Cub Scouts system), their first commercial for the new program included the Great Space Coaster cast playing baseball with the Tiger Cubs.

The song "Rhinestone Cowboy" by Madvillain contains the line "Goony goo goo loony coo-coo like Gary Gnu off of New Zoo Revue, but who knew..." even though Gary Gnu wasn't on the show New Zoo Revue.

Gary Gnu is mentioned in a song by Blackalicious.

Gary Gnu is referenced by rapper Ras Kass in the song "Sonset" on the album Soul on Ice:

"Going through your coast, like the Green Gary Gnu Who said no gnews is good gnews But gniggas is gnot gnowing about the gnext shit that I be flowin'"

In the episode "I Take Thee Quagmire" on the Fox sitcom Family Guy, Peter Griffin gets lost for seven years while driving The Great Space Coaster, in a flashback gag. Half of the show's theme song is also played. While an older Ricky sings some of the theme song, Peter yells out " Shut up Ricky, just shut up. Unless the next words out of your mouth are directions how to get home, I am going to punch you right in the stomach".

"The Great Speights Coaster" is an affectionate nickname given to former Florida Gators and current Philadelphia 76ers Power Forward Marreese Speights.

The show is mentioned in the Bomb the Bass single, "Bug Powder Dust".

Cast

External links

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