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Saturday, June 11, 2011

Saturday Morning - Bobby's World

Before I go ahead with this blog entry, I'm going to announce a slight change to the weekly schedule.

It dawned on me while I was writing my entry on U.S. Acres last Sunday that I could have really used the show under the Saturday Morning cartoon feature.  The Saturday morning and Sunday funnies feature are almost the same exact thing, as many comic strips and comic books have been turned into cartoons.  Similarly, many Saturday morning cartoons have been turned into comic books.  Therefore, I have made a decision to change the focus of the Sunday entry.  The Saturday Morning and Sunday Funnies Section will combine into the Saturday Morning feature.

So, what will I do for Sundays then?  It also dawned on me that I never really had a music spotlight in my blog, and there's lots of music videos that tell a story.  So, Sunday Funnies will now become...


I think you'll like the change, and I think you'll enjoy the new Sunday feature.  I already have a great artist lined up for tomorrow's entry.

We still have to get through Saturday first, so let's see what show we'll be featuring today.

Ah, Bobby's World.  A cartoon that I used to adore as a child.  A cartoon that was well-loved by many, many people.  A cartoon that many people want to see back on television.

It seems hard to believe but Bobby's World first aired over twenty years ago in the autumn of 1990.  It ran until 1998.  Almost unheard of for many Saturday morning cartoons.  Just goes to show just how creative a show it really was.  The show centered around young Bobby Generic (pronounced JEN-a-ric), a four year old boy who had a rather normal upbringing in a rather normal family.  One might say that the Generic family could be rather generic (pronounced djinn-AIR-ick) in nature by this description.

The one thing that set Bobby apart from the rest of his family was...ah...well, I'll tell you later.

Bobby's World was created by Howie Mandel, who those of you probably remember from the television show St. Elsewhere.  Or, if you're a bit younger, you may know him as the host of 'Deal Or No Deal' and current judge on 'America's Got Talent'.  Back in the days when Howie actually had hair on his head, he used to do the voice of young Bobby.  In fact, here's a clip of Howie and Bobby in action.

I really tried to find one that actually appeared on Bobby's World, but had very little luck finding one of decent quality, so I inserted this clip from Deal or No Deal.

Those of you who DO remember watching the cartoon know that it always started and ended with a live-action/animated clip where Howie Mandel talks with his creation about the theme of the episode and what lessons they learned.  I thought that this was kind of a neat way to introduce the show.  Not a lot of cartoons that aired combined animation with live-action and lived to tell the tale, but somehow it worked.

I think part of it could be the fact that Howie Mandel also played the role of Bobby's father in the show, and I think that Mr. Generic was meant to be the actual animated version of Howie himself.  You even had some instances in which live-action Howie morphed into cartoon Howie and vice versa.  It was interesting to see, because back in those days, not a lot of us were able to see what voice actors looked like.  Bobby's World did start airing before the days of widespread Internet service and Blackberries, so around that time, voice actors were mostly shrouded in secrecy.  To see the voice actor turn into the cartoon he voiced was interesting to see.

That's my little nerd freakout for this week.  I am entitled to at least one per week, you know.

Being a kindergartener in the show, Bobby sure had to stand out in order to be heard.  His family was absolutely huge.  There was his father, Howard.  Then there was his mother Martha, who looking back on it now sounded a lot like Sarah Palin.  He had two older siblings, Kelly and Derek, who found Bobby more of an annoyance than a help.  Later in the show, he became a big brother to his twin siblings born during the early part of the series.  He had a beloved uncle who used to give him noogies (something that I myself admit to giving all of my nephews when they were younger), and of course his dog Roger.

Aside from the whole having younger siblings (I am the youngest of three), Bobby's family was surprisingly like mine was.  Granted, I never had an uncle who gave me noogies.  I did have two parents and two sisters who like Kelly and Derek were considerably older than I was.  And, yeah, like Kelly and Derek, I imagine my sisters considered me more of an annoyance than a help too.  I was the youngest child though, so I guess it happens. 

Oh, and I never had a dog.  Not since the one we had when I was born tried to bite off half my face at a year old.  I've been a cat person ever since.

Of course, if I were to say that my family was kind of like the Generic family, then it would make for a really boring entry.

I think the thing that really made me feel like I was a lot like Bobby was something that Bobby and I shared.

We both had a vivid imagination that would take us to places that nobody else could ever visit.

Bobby had one of those overactive imaginations that many four year olds develop.  If he wanted to, he could dream up a place where he could go, and with a little brain power, he would transport to that place.  In his mind, I suppose he was goin', was goin', was goin' on a trip.

And, that's just one example.  Check these out as well, just to see how imaginative a boy Bobby was.

Yeah, Bobby was kind of a weird child according to some people.  Then again, so was I.

When I was a child, I tended to keep to myself.  Not having siblings close to my age, and not living in neighbourhoods that were filled with kids, I pretty much had to entertain myself.  And, how did I entertain myself?  I would pretend to be places just like Bobby.

Whenever I would play with my Fisher-Price little people playsets, I would grab my favourite little person (usually the grumpy looking kid with the sideways cap and freckles), and I would grab my Fisher-Price main street set, and pretend that I was in the downtown area meeting people, doing errands, and having fun doing it.  Of course as an adult, those things are anything but fun now.  When you were a kid, your imagination could take you to tons of places, and do lots of things.

I reckon that I took better vacations in my imagination than I ever did in real life.  I reckon that I created imaginary friends that were better behaved than some of the kids I really did know. 

The sad thing is that a lot of kids who have overactive imaginations are unfairly judged as being dreamy, or being silly, or something else that judgmental adults would say, and I think that's the wrong attitude for adults to have about kids like Bobby (and ultimately me).  Where would we be without our dreams and our goals?  Sure, the odds of me travelling to Mars in a rocket are slim to nil...but in my dreams I could go there anytime I wanted to.  And, yes, I doubt that I could sail around the world in a dinghy, but in my dreams, I could do it in whatever speed I so chose.

Just because a kid dreams a lot and uses his imagination to escape from the real world from time to time, it doesn't mean that they have no future, or that they're wasting their time.  It shows that they're creative, introspective, and just plain more interesting than someone who never did have that opportunity to explore the world that they live in.

Looking back on when I was four, I'm glad that I did have the same imaginative qualities Bobby did.  I don't think they warped me in any way, or made me any less of a person for it.  If anything, it allows me to look at problems through a different point of view from the average person.  I'm okay with that.

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