Remembering 1970’s PBS Kids Show “Zoom”

ZOOM was a PBS kids show produced in Boston and syndicated nationally. There were two runs of it, most recently from 1999 to 2005. But it’s the original 1972 to 1978 version that burned holes in my evolving brain.

By season 5 (1976) the 70’s funky grooves were in full effect:

The cast changed each season, but it was always multicultural and there was usually at least one kid who looked like s/he’d never had haircut.

The sometimes wacky, frenetic style of the show gave a pretty clear indication that the adults involved were fans of the show Laugh-In, which was in its heyday at the time. For example, this “Fannee Doolee” clip:

ZOOM even had their own language, Ubbi Dubbi, which is Pig Latin-esque but harder to figure out if you don’t know the trick. There’s lots of Ubbi Dubbi out there, but here are a few examples:

Why didn’t anyone straighten this kid’s shirt before he went on:

Here Ubbi Dubbi combines with pantomime & 70’s video editing for a singular effect:

By 2000, in the second run of the show, they had to do Ubbi Dubbi rap:

Another segment I vividly remember is “Roll Out the Barrel”, which was some kind of viewer mail thing; it confused the hell out of me why there was a barrel involved. I managed to find one clip of it online–there are none on YouTube.

In fact there’s surprisingly little online about the odd, rugby-shirted kid-ruled past reality of ZOOM. It surprised me anyway. The current PBS site has a tiny tiny Boomer ZOOMers nostalgia section. Ugh. has a decent one page fan’s history of the show. Another site has a collection of sound samples of Zoom (and other 70’s kids shows and commercials). And of course there’s Wikipedia which lets you in on the secret to Fannee Doolee.

To send us out, here are the closing credits from Season 3:

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