|Format||Children's television series|
|Created by||Christopher Sarson (1970–1974)
Kate Taylor (1999–2006)
|Country of origin||United States|
|Running time||30 minutes|
|Original run||January 3, 1972– June 24, 2005|
ZOOM is an American educational television show, created almost entirely by children, which aired on PBS originally from January 3, 1972 to 1978 and again from 1999 to June 24, 2005. Both versions were produced by WGBH-TV in Boston.
ZOOM encourages children to "turn off the TV and do it!" On the show, a cast of (usually) seven kids (known as ZOOMers) perform various activities such as games, plays, poems, recipes, jokes, and science experiments, all suggested by viewer contributions. The mail-in request became a pop culture reference for its music exhortation to "Write ZOOM, Z-Double-O-M, Box 3-5-0, Boston, Mass 0-2-1-3-4: send it to ZOOM!". There is also a language game on the show called Ubbi-Dubbi and another called Fannee Doolee. The performers in the original series were known for wearing striped rugby shirts and jeans and for performing barefoot, although the cast members started performing in shoes from the third season (1973) on.
ZOOM was a new kind of series when it premiered on January 3, 1972. Unlike other children's fare at the time, it was, for the most part, unscripted. Far from seeking to capitalize by making stars of the child actors, the contracts prohibited them from making any television appearances or doing commercials for three years after they left the show.
ZOOM was intended to inspire children to be active investigators, creators, and problem-solvers as well as introduce them to the principles of ethnic diversity. The show's ZOOMSci segment, for example, featured on the later incarnation, encouraged viewers to try the activities shown on ZOOM and to send in their results.
When ZOOM made a comeback in 1999, parents who had grown up watching the show could now share it with their own children, and found that it was very much the same as it had been in the 1970s. The theme song was similar, there was still Ubbi-Dubbi, and the ZOOMers continued to play games and perform skits suggested by other children. With the advent of the Internet, the "0-2-1-3-4" jingle was rarely sung, supplanted by one that emphasized "PBSKids—dot org!" Also, when reading aloud the names of contributors, the later version provided only first names and abbreviated surnames (e.g., "Paul T."), presumably as a compromise between crediting the children and meeting modern privacy expectations for child safety.
The show was last taped during the summer of 2004, many episodes taking place off of the ZOOM set. The decision to cancel the show was largely because of failing ratings, with the last season's ratings down almost a fifth from the previous year. Currently, there are no TV stations airing rerun episodes, with the sole exception of Discovery Kids Canada, which is available only by digital cable or satellite subscription within Canada. There is currently talk of putting ZOOM on either PBS Kids Sprout or soon-to-be 24-hour digital PBS Kids Go! channel.
The first ZOOM series lasted six seasons (1972–1978) and featured 49 ZOOMers. The second ZOOM series lasted seven seasons (1999–2005) and featured 32 ZOOMers. At the end of every season of the second series, cast members who had grown too old were replaced by new cast members.
Fannee Doolee is a fictitious girl acted in the playhouse by the ZOOMers on ZOOM. During the play, Fannee Doolee does not face the audience and she does not speak; instead, Fannee Doolee's unheard dialog is exposed when the person she was seen talking to turns to talk with others. The play is a comedy and the repeating gag is that Fannee Doolee likes and dislikes things that are similar and the people around her are perplexed by this inconsistency. For example, she likes stools but not chairs; she likes coffee but not drinks; she likes rolls but not bread; she likes cheese but not dairy. The 1970s series used this play format more than the 1999-2005 version. In the second series a ZOOMer would pop up on screen and say, "Fannee Doolee likes _____, but doesn't like_______. Why do you think that is?" There was also a theme song for Fannee Doolee that spells her name. It almost gives away the joke. It went "F-A-double N-double E D-double O-L-double E. (repeat). Fannee Doolee!!"
The gag is a lexical and spelling puzzle. Fannee Doolee likes words that have double letters; hence, she likes sweets but not candy, and likes luggage but not suitcases. This is a variation on a game commonly known as The Green Glass Door.
First Season (Early 1972): Joe Shrand, Jon Reuning, Nina Lillie, Tommy White, Kenny Marshal, Nancy Tates, Tracy Tannebring
Second Season (1972–1973):
Third Season (1973–1974):
Fourth Season (1974–1975): Andrae Neilsan, Carmen Hernandez, Cate Albonda, David Azzoto, Harvey Reed, Norman Christian, David "Red" O'Brien, Tishy Lyman, Tommy Schultz, Tracey Dunlap (This was the only season of the original show that featured more than seven ZOOMers at one time.)
Fifth Season (Late 1976): Arcadio Gonzales, Chris Blackwell, Jennifer Gold, Karen Wing, Levell Gethers (who did not complete the season), Nell Cox, Ron Richmond
Sixth Season (1977–1978): Amy Clark, Carolyn Malcolm, Chee Bong, John Lathan, Nicholas Butterworth, Shona Wiseman, Susan Hobbie
Some PBS stations continued to broadcast reruns of the series as late as early 1980.
During the 1970s version of the series, WGBH never disclosed the ZOOMers' last names, which was likely part of the producers' policy of just using ordinary kids who would be likely to stay ordinary kids, and allowing the viewers to more easily identify with the ZOOMers; this policy also included a contract in which the ZOOMers would not appear on television for three years after leaving the show.
Listed below are some cast members' full names that have come to light in later years.
Season 1 (1999): Zoe Costello, Jared Nathan, Keiko Yoshida, Pablo Velez, Alisa Besher, David Toropov, Lynese Browder
Season 2 (2000): Ray MacMore, Caroline Botelho, Claudio Schwartz, Alisa Besher, Jessica "Jessie" Ogungbadero, Kenny Yates, Zoe Costello
Season 3 (2001): Frances Domond, Kenny Yates, Rachel Redd, Eric Rollins, Kaleigh Cronin, Kevin "Buzz" Barrette, Caroline Botelho
Season 4 (2002): Aline Toupi, Garrett DiBona, Rachel Redd, Matt Runyon, Estuardo Alvizures, Kaleigh Cronin, Caroline Botelho
Season 5 (2003): Caroline Botelho, Aline Toupi, Estuardo Alvizures, Garrett DiBona, Mike Hansen, Kortney Sumner, Elena "Shing Ying" Shieh
Season 6 (2004): Mike Hansen, Kortney Sumner, Francesco Tena, Cara Harvey, Kyle Larrow, Maya Morales, Elena "Shing Ying" Shieh
Season 7 (2005): Nick Henry, Taylor Garrson, Francesco Tena, Noreen Raja, Emily Marshall, Kyle Larrow, Elena "Shing Ying" Shieh
In 1974, A&M Records released an album of songs from the show titled Come on and ZOOM (LP OCLC 3060311; cassette OCLC 18900529), featuring cast members from the second season. The catalogue number of the album was SP-3402 (213 402 under PolyGram system).
In 1975, the cast members from the first version came out with an album called Playgrounds that was available by mail order.
There were two books published for children that were based on the 1970s ZOOM series:
In 1997, WGBH released the video and book set Best of the 70s and ZOOMers Revisited—Where Are They Now? (ISBN 1578072077).
In 2008, WGBH released a two DVD set ZOOM: Back to the '70s. The first DVD was a reissue of Best of the 70s, with extras consisting of behind the scenes stills set to the theme song and a 10 question quiz asking what a few of the cast members are doing today. The second DVD consisted of four episodes from the 1970s series.
Three videos were released based on the show: Party with ZOOM (1999, ISBN 157807200X), The ZOOMers Video Special: The Making of ZOOM! (2000), and ZOOM: America's Kids Remember (2002).
Four books compiled by Amy E. Sklansky were published by Little, Brown and Company:
As always, all material in these books were submitted by the viewers.
A two-disc set with four full episodes plus various footage from all six seasons of the 1970s version was released on October 28, 2008.