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Television's Pop Culture Never Dies--It Just Goes Online


You might think you are oh, so modern because your electronic entertainment, thanks to your home computer, is "interactive."

Forget it. You're old hat.

Long before the first computer ever arrived in a home to steal away our sleeping hours, there was a black-and-white, animated television show featuring a little guy with a giant star attached to the top of his head. This was Winky Dink, who made his debut in 1953 with in-studio host Jack Barry (who went on to fame and infamy as the co-producer of "Twenty-One" and other rigged TV quiz shows).

This Saturday morning kids program was called "Winky Dink and You" because it involved the viewer. Winky Dink would set out on a little animated adventure during which he would find himself in some kind of predicament. He would be stuck on the side of a rushing stream, for example, having no way to cross.

At that point, Barry would instruct kids to get out their Winky Dink Kit--conveniently available, via mail order, for 50 cents. In the kit was a clear plastic sheet that was to be smoothed over the TV screen. Then the viewer would take crayons, also included, and draw a bridge Winky Dink could use to cross over.

This interaction was, of course, not very high-tech. Even if you didn't draw a bridge, Winky Dink was going to make it across that stream. It was like the fact that somewhere deep down, you knew Tinkerbell would live, even if you didn't applaud (although I never took that chance).

Many a kid--including one of my cousins, if an old family story is true--skipped the part about the plastic sheet altogether and drew directly onto the screen.

Because I grew up in a small town where TVs were scarce, even in the late 1950s, I never actually saw the Winky Dink show, but my sophisticated, big city cousins would taunt me with stories of its wonders. And I had forgotten about it--at least I thought I had--until I wandered onto not one, but two Web sites devoted to the star-headed creature.

The better of the two is at And at a video rental site-- can order a copy of one of the Winky Dink episodes.

This just goes to prove that in cyberspace, there is no trash can. Every bit of our pop culture is remembered somewhere out there, especially when it comes to television minutia.

The Homeroom--a site created by a group of Web designers to show off their stuff--where you find Winky Dink can lead you to other, mostly forgotten programs. For example, there is a tribute to the 1972 "Lola Falana Show" in a special section on "Variety Shows of the '70s." You can download a sound clip of Lola cutting up with guests Art Carney and Dennis Weaver.

There's even a site devoted to the surreal "Davey and Goliath," a low budget, stop-action animation show from the 1960s. Funded by the Lutheran Church, it would tell little morality plays each week as acted out by Davey Hansen and his talking dog, Goliath.

I remember seeing this show on very early morning TV while I was in college. It was actually kind of progressive, featuring a black family at a time when they were rare on TV.

The creator of the show's tribute site, at, proves that he is not the only one who remembers the show. He points out that on "The Simpsons," the doorbell of the Flanders' home plays the "Davey and Goliath" theme song.


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