What Went Right? Pinwheel and Primitive Nickelodeon

Do you know where Nickelodeon came from? Take a few minutes to learn the history of the first cable television channel for kids and the forgotten show that started it all…

About Omega


Leave a Reply

40 Comments on "What Went Right? Pinwheel and Primitive Nickelodeon"

trlkly
Guest
I don’t think the fortune teller stuff would fly today on kid’s TV. It’d be hated by both Christians and atheists alike for condoning (the wrong kind of) superstition. (I am not as familiar with other religions, so I can’t say what they would think.) I’m also pretty sure the Roma would be upset, if the few of my acquaintance are of any indication. Wait, Picture Pages was originally from this? Because I grew up loving Picture Pages as part of Nick Jr. I even got a whole run of them on VHS. (You’re older than me, which is kinda… Read more »
OmegaGeek
Guest

Picture Pages was not a part of Pinwheel but it started around the same time and was shown as interstitial programming during Pinwheel blocks. Actually, the very next episode of What Went Right? is about Picture Pages, it’s up on my blip page.

Falconfly
Guest

Really? Because A) fortune teller characters are still reasonably common (if almost never as main characters, granted), and B) I don’t think atheists have enough power to censor media.

LikaLaruku
Guest

Well, it wouldn’t have flown back in 2002, when the hot news story was about Miss Cleo being charged with fraud.

trlkly
Guest
In children’s “educational” shows, though? I mean, granted, it’s been a little while for me, maybe 2006 or so, but it did not seem that Blues Clues or Bear in the Big House or Charlie and Lola or Dora the Explorer or, yes, Sesame Street would have that sort of thing anymore. Fortune tellers have a creepy vibe to them, and that aspect of children’s educational program seems to have died out as far as I can tell–for the reasons I said. Magic, if it exists, is kept for whimsy and playing pretend. And I would argue that atheism has… Read more »
trlkly
Guest

BTW, Omega, you really need to update your website, if even just a post telling people that it’s no longer active, and pointing them to the correct place. (I found it while looking for your Blip page.)

captainswift
Guest

Picture Pages was on Captain Kangaroo in the late 70s. It was around for a very long time.

OmegaGeek
Guest

Local Pittsburgh affiliate in 1974, started on Captain Kangaroo in 1978, Pinwheel debuted in 1979…see the WWR? on Picture Pages for more details. (I DESPERATELY wanted my own Mortimer Ichabod Marker from ages 4-6…)

Amesang
Guest
Having been born in ’83 I was just barely in the demographic for Pinwheel, yet unfortunately I have no memory of it at all; my family did have Nickelodeon all throughout my life, by the first shows I can recall watching were “You Can’t Do That On Television,” “Welcome Freshman,” “Hey Dude!,” “Salute Your Shorts,” “Doug,” “Rugrats,” and “Ren & Stimpy” — the early 90’s staples. I have this feeling that, prior to those shows, we were probably watching the Disney Channel, instead. Still, I found an interest in wanting to learn more about Pinwheel when, out of curiosity, I… Read more »
technotreegrass
Guest

Funny, I was born in ’85, but I also have no memory of watching this show, though I remember watching other pre-Nick Jr shows like David the Gnome, Special Delivery, The Woozles, Maya the Bee, Adventures of the Little Koala, Belle and Sebastian, and Grimm’s Classic Fairy Tales.

Closet80sfan
Guest

I’m 32. I and vaguely remember the Waner-Amex/Premium Only years of Nickelodeon.

To say that they sucked ass, is an understatement. Pinwheel was poor man’s Sesame Street, pure and simple.

Give me GOLDEN YEARS/MTV NETWORKS era of 1985-1993 anyday or Nickelodeon/Universal 1994-1995.

Closet80sfan
Guest

I was born in late ’82. I only VAGUELY remember the early years of Nick as the PBS Cable Knockoff network and like you, vividly remember Nick Jr’s early years of 1988-1993 where they showed DOZENS of Children’s anime.

MTV Networks helped put Nickelodeon on the top. Warner Amex nearly drove the network into the ground.

trlkly
Guest

I was also born in 1985. I think we’ve found the crossover point, where Pinwheel wasn’t relevant. The sketch show she mentioned that took over is the one I remember: “You Can’t Do That on Television!”

trlkly
Guest

Also, I believe you mean Noozles–the Koala aliens. Nickelodeon had a thing for Koalas back then.

(And do not under any circumstances Google that show and listen to the theme song. It will be stuck in your head forever. You think Ducktales is bad–at least it’s not just the name of the show over and over.)

LikaLaruku
Guest

I was born mid 83. We had basic non-cable TV growing up, but I can’t remember anything older than Real Ghostbusters TAS, which came out in 86.

Man, remember when weekend mornings were worth getting up for? & now that there’s 3 networks dedicated (almost) entirely to kids, the other networks seem to figure they don’t need ANY cartoons at ALL. When I’m cleaning the kitchen at 6am, making lunches, I always wish the stuff I grew up on was still there. But at 6am, all the TV programs seems to be crime dramas, medical comedies, news, & sitcoms.

Lapis Rune
Guest

Isn’t there/Wasn’t there a channel for old cartoons specifically? Like Boomerang or something?

Creature SH
Guest

Beautiful work, Omega. It’s also a very interesting history lesson for me – I didn’t know most of this stuff. I feel like I missed out by living the wrong place.

lobsterzoidberg
Guest

Pinwheel was awesome.

I remember it being on, like, all day.

Great episode.

Closet80sfan
Guest

Pinwheel was linear. Everything else save for Mr. Wizard was just dull and boring. Plus Nickelodeon was premium only until 1984. Parent’s were actually PAYING for shit that their preschoolers and kids could watch on PBS for free.

Another crappy part of Nick, Until June 1984, THEY SIGNED OFF AT 8PM!Only 12 hours of actual programming. A&E debuted in June 1984 replacing the blank prime time lineup. Nick At Nite didn’t launch until June 7,1985, and that was under MTV Networks.

trlkly
Guest

I guess I may have seen Mr. Wizard on there. (I assume he’s also not part of the show, though, since I remember him having his own show.)

I don’t remember much about Mr. Wizard other than the name and a small bit of the aesthetic.

englanddg
Guest

Lots of good stuff from that era of Nick. Pinwheel was the flagship, but there was also the Elephant Show (a CBC property), Today’s Special (also CBC), and my personal favorite (and late night treat, just before they switched over to more “adult” programming”…Turkey TV. Now, if you wanna talk hard clips to find…it’s Turkey TV. To this day I can still sing the song!

Great video, can’t wait to see the future episodes!

Closet80sfan
Guest
Nickelodeon from 1979 to 1984 was complete shit. Unsuccessful, premium only and a poor man’s PBS, you had to pay for. Warner Amex were the wrong people to own and run the network. MTV Networks with Viacom Communications’ help completely launched Nick into the stratosphere in late ’84. After MTV Networks,Inc split from their parent Viacom becoming MTV Networks,Inc owners of Nickelodeon Networks,Inc, MTV ran Nick with pure excellent and phenomenal success. Everything fell apart in September 1993, when Nickelodeon Networks,Inc took it shares from MTV Networks, divorced them and became Nickelodeon Studios,LLC on March 22,1994 in a joint venture… Read more »
OmegaGeek
Guest

I remember watching Nick and PBS pretty equally during my early years but I don’t think we got cable until I was older…I emailed my mom to ask if we paid for Nick back then (we moved in 1985 and ended up getting cable a few years later) but it’s 5am in the US right now so I don’t think I’ll hear back for a few hours.

ShadowWing Tronix
Guest

The only time I was able to see Nickelodeon as a kid was over my grandparent’s house. By the time our cable company finally got Nickelodeon a lot of those shows were gone and I was too old for Pinwheel. (Although for some reason I did watch Today’s Special a few times.) A number of those animated things I saw on Captain Kangaroo or between shows on HBO.

LiamA
Guest

How come you’ve reuploaded this video?

OmegaGeek
Guest

Because it was originally posted on my blip before I became a member of CA and I’m posting this series in order (excepting the holiday episode, which went up on at the holidays).

Hinatachan360
Guest

I loved watching Pinwheel when I was a wee one. My favorite shorts were Chapi and Chapo and Hatty Town. This review was a nice trip down memory lane for me.

Papallion
Guest
I remember my younger sister was JUST the right age for that show, and it was one of the few shows Mom would let us watch. She was careful about our TV. I remember Kim was always making art, and I remember that clip, how she didn’t know what she was making, just that it was fun and she let the art lead her. I remember her clips the best, like the one where she was painting with glue and sand and someone sneezed on the work. He thought he ruined it, but it just blew the extra sand away.… Read more »
ImaginaryGirl
Guest

Oh my word, I didn’t think anyone else remembered Pinwheel House! This is probably the first time I’ve seen some of these clips in going-on 30 years. Thank you!

EvilAshTwin
Guest

Didn’t the picture pages segment have Bill Cosby? I remember that being my favorite thing about the show.

OmegaGeek
Guest

Yup! The next ep of What Went Right? is on Picture Pages and it’s actually already up on my blip page. 🙂

trlkly
Guest

I seem to remember hearing that it didn’t start with Cosby. I think I’ll cheat and watch your next episode early, despite not being able to talk about it until it posts on CA.

LikaLaruku
Guest
I didn’t get cable until the mid 80s, so I’m quite interested in this pre-nostalgia. Everything the news anchors say about QUBE makes me think of FMV games. The humor & sketches of Pinwheel seem significantly more condescending than Sesame Street, with a bit of an improv feel to it, while Sesame Street seemed more nonsensical & drug-fueled. Man, in 2005, when the Nick studios closed down & sold to the Blue Man Group, & people reminded us about the time capsule, & they totally revamped their lineup & got rid of all of their classic shows, I felt like… Read more »
The Crazed Spruce
Guest

Are you planning to do a show on “You Can’t Do That On Television” somewhere down the line?

OmegaGeek
Guest

Funny you should mention…it’s the script I’m working on now, actually. I have a 2000 word essay due for uni and after that’s out of the way, YCDTOT will be the next episode.

Ahturos
Guest

I have never seen this show but somehow I felt nostalgic. Felt like a little child seeing something like that again. I did grow up with Sesame Street. But it reminded me more about programs I saw as a child overall. I live in Sweden so we got some shows late. I grew up in the 90´s but we had just started getting a lot of 80´s shows.

Emilie Bennett
Guest

Since I live about 100 miles or so east from Columbus, this history fascinates me. Also, is QUBE now called Qubo?

Future Guy
Guest

I really enjoyed this! I used to watch Pinwheel at my grandmother’s house in the early 80s, and this video brought back some nice memories of that time.

webbwerx
Guest

Man I really liked this. I love Pinwheel so very much growing up. I preferred to Sesame Street because of the little cartoons. Thank you.

Brad1ey Shaw
Guest

Thanks for the nostalgia trip. I grew up in the 80’s but didn’t get cable tv until the start of the 90’s. I have vague memories of seeing Paddington Bear, Pinwheel (in some form or another) and maybe one other show you mentioned from when I was at a friend or relative’s house. Now I know where some of those shows originated.
Pinwheel may have been the poorman’s Sesame Street but if the real thing wasn’t on and Pinwheel was you’d happily settle when you’re a kid who’s bored.

wpDiscuz