Friday, November 30, 2007


There are times in Skitlandia (the TV dimension based on comedy sketches) when repercussions occur in the real world.

Recently, a televised awards show in Canada made fun of the puppets that inhabited the world of 'The Friendly Giant'. It was suggested that now that they are no longer on TV, the puppets are free to engage in rude, crude, lewd behavior at a retirement home. However, the family of the late creator of the show, Bob Homme, took offense at the suggestion. Since they own the original puppets and the rights to the show, they demanded the puppets back from the CBC and that the tribute display in the network's lobby to be dismantled.

I first read about the story in
Roger Catlin's blog. But the Torontoist gives more details and provides a link to the YouTube clip from the Gemini Awards.

And here's just
the YouTube link alone.

The only good thing that came out of the brouhaha is that it's now established that Jerome the Giraffe and Rusty the Rooster also exist in Skitlandia. And I have to admit, the Felt With Feelings Retirement Home for Puppets and the F.L.O.P. organization are funny ideas. But permission should have been sought and if not received, they should have been axed from the bit. There are a couple of fake puppets used, (like Basil of 'Sesame Park' and Curtains from 'Dr. Giggles Place'), so why not have all of them be original to the sketch?

What they should have done was go the route taken with Casey and Finnegan, the puppets from 'Mr. Dressup': refer to them, but don't show them.

I'm only familiar with 'The Friendly Giant' from what I've read online in such places as TVParty. So I can't say for certain whether the Giant lived in the main Toobworld or was to be found in some alternate dimension. I'd like to think that he lived in some remote Brobdignangian region of the world, and that perhaps he was related to the giants you see in the Colorado Rockies during those old Coors commercials.

Hopefully, the Homme family will not let their anger over the situation keep them from setting up some other kind of home for the show's puppets, so that future generations can enjoy seeing them again.....

Toby OB


Brent McKee said...

If you can stand a long post I might be able to give you some background to the Friendly Giant as it is one of the treasured memories of my childhood. The quick and dirty answer is that there is nothing to indicate that Friendly belongs anywhere but Main Toobworld. This is because the show was a largely self-contained entity in which the only time one ventured outside of the castle was in the opening sequence.

The location set in the introductory sequence was pretty clearly Ontario farm country in modern times. The farm had a relatively modern tractor (probably a Massey-Ferguson though most of the time I was watching the show on a Black & White TV) and there was a car that drove down the road - all done with off the shelf models of course. Once the drawbridge was lowered and we were in the three chairs (including a rocker for someone who likes to rock and a big chair for two) around a normal sized fireplace at the base of the wall we were in the Giant's domain. Mostly this was the main room, where Friendly read picture books which came oout of Rusty the Rooster's seemingly bottomless book bag home, and play his recorder, and talk with Rusty and Jerome the Giraffe. On occasion (and more often in the later years) we'd go to the Music Room, with Friendly carrying Rusty to the Music Room Bookbag. There Friendly would be joined by Jerome (who of course didn't come inside) and two or three non-speaking puppets like the kittens Angie and Fiddle and I seem to recall a raccoon as well showed up to play music.

Sadly the CBC has steadfastly refused to release The Friendly Giant on home video in any format. They claim in part that the show is too old fashioned for kids brought up on fast moving material like Sesame Street. There are probably other reasons as well though. The books Friendly reads are obviously still in copyright which means negotiating payments. The CBC's contracts with performers may also be a problem - residuals are apparently paid for any repeat airings and not just to the performers but to their estates.

Bex said...

Ended up here because of a nostalgia-infused search for Friendly Giant that got me curious about this controversial skit, and wanted to leave a note that Basil actually is a real Canadian Muppet.