A Canadian series, my local PBS affiliate used to carry Read All About It on weekday afternoons. While we were in school. This wasn’t a preschool show, but I think the thought was that teachers could record this and other shows aired at that time and then show it in school. (There was a graphic added saying “the following may be taped and held for the school year.) It ended up being one of my favorite shows as a kid, and is one of the reasons I like serials.
Recorded as 15 minute episodes, PBS used to air them back to back to fill a half-hour and is one of those examples of “edutainment” done right. In that vein, I present the first two episodes (not great quality, but what can you do?) as we meet our heroes, and then see just what danger they’re going to be getting into.
From my research, only one of the child actors on the show, David Collard, not only continued in the entertainment industry but is now a writer on Family Guy. I haven’t heard of anything the adult actors did, but I’m not from Canada.
So what happened to the kids? All I’ll say is that Duneedon is the evil rule of Trivalviron, and Earth is his next target. There was also a second season, but I don’t remember seeing it. Every episode ended with a cliffhanger, making you want to see the next episode to see how it all turns out. (Take notes, networks, this is a gimmick that works, not your silly theme weeks.)
All the solutions involved reading comprehension, whether it was solving a clue or escaping one of Duneedon’s death traps. Yes, 8-year-old kids had to be able to read to escape a death trap on a kids’ show. (Take that, do-gooder parent groups who have helped ruin kids TV!) This, however, was the dirty little secret we kids didn’t realize…we were learning the whole time we watched this show! In between the sci-fi mystery we were learning big words and better reading skills. I’m sure I took some storytelling skills from this show as well.
This was not a high-budget show, much like the original Doctor Who. However, the crew of the show made up for it, and the stories so well told to us younglings, that we didn’t care. It was a great story and I loved every minute.
Sadly, this show will not make it to DVD any time soon. According to writer Clive Endersby, as reported by a fansite for the series (there’s also a Facebook fan page), there are rights issues and “special ‘educational’ arrangements” getting in the way, because unions and the government ruin everything. This is disappointing, but is anything stopping them from doing a remake? Everybody loves remakes, and I’m curious to see if kids would get into a serial format that too many “want it all now” adults (spoiled by video box sets and the internet if you ask me) seem incapable of.
So the only way to find this show is to scour YouTube, and I recommend it. The video quality may not be the greatest, but the show is still entertaining, at least to a nostalgic type like myself. Would this show stand the test of time? Maybe not, but like I said, I would love to see a properly done return to the Coach House and the adventures of Trivalviron! And of course an upgraded Otto and Theta. The world will need more good robots like them to give us allies when Skynet finally strikes!