Art Clokey of Gumby, Davey & Goliath, Passes Away

11-Jan-10 3:47 PM by
Filed under Fade to Black; 1 comment.

Art Clokey, creator of the stop-motion clay animation shows Gumby and Davey and Goliath, passed away this Friday. He was 88. The New York Times has the full obituary.

Though Davey and Goliath and its Lutheran values predate my childhood, I was a religious follower of Gumby, making the show a part of my morning ritual. Gumby's friendship with Pokey took them on the most fantastic adventures, though later characters Prickle, Goo, and Denali were sometimes a bit disturbing. Mr. Clokey's obituary taught me things even I didn't know about the character, such as the origin of his design — "Gumby’s asymmetrical head, resembling a rakish pompadour, was a tribute to [Art Clokey's] biological father's prominent cowlick" — and his popularity: more violent cartoons swayed viewers away from Gumby until Eddie Murphy's bawdy interpretation of the character on Saturday Night Live brought the fans back to the original. Who knew that a seemingly disparaging parody could have such a positive effect?

If parody can then be a tribute, then I offer the following MST3K as my contribution to Mr. Clokey's memorial. "Robot Rumpus" was Gumby's third episode, having debuted on The Howdy Doody Show in August 1956:

A Very Eighties Christmas

11-Dec-09 12:57 PM by
Filed under Star Wars, Television; 3 comments.

The holidays are upon us, and with them are a sleighful of television specials. The Eighties were a particularly good decade for the genre, presenting the season in schmaltzy but memorable vignettes, whether it be a one-off or a very special episode of a regular series.

If you long for that era and can't find your favorite special in this year's lineup, then check out A BeTaMaXMaS, a Web site that uses YouTube to aggregate various classic specials into a retro theme. Whether you're looking for Silver Spoons, Perfect Strangers, the Smurfs, or the Muppets, you'll find them all in this family den, complete with spotty reception. Play with the antennae to reduce the snow, or use the remote control as well as a TV Guide to access additional programming. It's a charming throwback to the days before 54" high-definition televisions, 5.1 surround sound, and other audio-video standards we now take for granted.

One of my favorite treats from that era was Will Vinton's Claymation Christmas Celebration, featuring the California Raisins. The entire 24-minute special has been posted to YouTube, including musical numbers such as "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer", "Carol of the Bells", and "We Three Kings" (featuring the Caramel Camels!).

Wanting something newer but still familiar? The Muppets are always happy to accommodate:

If, despite all this cheer, you're still a Scrooge, then take off the rose-tinted glasses and see these holiday specials for how terrible they really are with a bit of help from RiffTrax:

Whatever your television preferences, may your season be merry!