tek's rating: meh

Read All About It!, on TVOntario (Canada)
IMDb; Retro Junk; TVarchive.ca; TV.com; Wikipedia

So apparently this aired 40 episodes (about 15 minutes each) over two seasons, between 1979 and 83. I have no idea if I saw it that long ago, because I would have been awfully young at the time, or maybe saw reruns some years later. But the thing is... I didn't quite remember the show. I just had a very vague recollection of a certain aspect, the kind of memory that tickles the corner of your mind and drives you nuts. Several times in recent years, I've tried using the internet to figure out what it was I was remembering, and finally... I discovered this, in June 2012. And I downloaded all 40 episodes from... somewhere... after watching the first episode on YouTube, in pretty bad picture and sound quality (and for much of the episode, the audio and video were out of sync). The episodes I downloaded are in far better condition. I didn't finish watching the series until February 2014. And by then, I was less certain that this was actually the show I'd been thinking of. I can't help thinking the show I was trying to remember was better-made, and generally more interesting. Plus I sort of feel like there was a scene I was thinking of that isn't actually in this series. But I could be mistaken. Either way, I'm glad to have watched this. I guess.

Anyway, there are these three kids who are like 11 years old. One of them is Chris Anderson (which, coincidentally, is the name of one of my best friends). He inherits a building called the Coach House from his uncle, Derek Norris, who's been missing for seven years and is presumed dead. Chris doesn't actually get ownership of the Coach House until he turns 21, but until then, he can use the place for any "worthwhile and practical purpose." Chris and his friends, Lynne Davis and Samantha Nikos, begin exploring the Coach House, and soon discover a sort of computer printer which communicates with them by printing out messages. Its name is Otto. Soon after meeting Otto, they meet a sort of computer monitor that both displays text on its screen and speaks, in a sort of feminine robotic voice. Its name is Theta (but while I'd expect it to be pronounced "Thay-ta," it's actually "Thetta"). Anyway, Theta displays a video message Chris's uncle had left for him, about having uncovered some kind of conspiracy in their town, Herbertville. He wants Chris to finish his work investigating the conspiracy (I'm assuming he wasn't expecting Chris to get the message until he turned 21, because it'd be pretty lame to put such a burden on an 11-year-old). But whatever, the kids decide to do their investigating, with help from Otto and Theta (though of course the computer-things can't leave the Coach House).

They start a newspaper, the Herbertville Chronicle. This will be the "worthwhile purpose" that allows them to keep using the Coach House, as well as providing a cover for their investigation of the conspiracy. It all has to do with an alien named Duneedon, who is ruler of a galaxy called Trialviron, and wants to take over the Earth, starting with Herbertville. (I'm not sure why he needs this planet when he already rules a whole galaxy, but whatevs. At least his interest in Herbertville is eventually explained.) Oh, there's also a transporter in the Coach House, which can be used travel instantly to and from various places in Trialviron. Meanwhile, the purpose of the show is ostensibly to get kids to read, so occasionally fictional characters from various books show up (also via the transporter, it seems). Anyway, by the end of the first season, the kids thwart Duneedon's plans.

Season two begins with the first anniversary of the Chronicle. The first major story arc involves Chris and Sam being unexpectedly transported back in time, to the War of 1812. They'd seen a boy about their age transported before them, so now they look for him, and manage to rescue him, so all three return to the present. The boy's name is Alex, and he begins working with them on the Chronicle. In the next story arc, Lynne and Alex investigate the strange phenomenon of books being erased, which is the work of a villain called the Book Destroyer. Later, it's learned that Sam's family are going to move to another city, so there are a few episodes building up to that. Before she moves, Sam meets a writer named Rita Zakowski, whom she ends up helping with the book she's writing. After Sam moves, there's a brief storyline about a ghost named Mr. Wetherby, who used to be a local school principal. He decides to take up residence at the Coach House over the summer. The final story arc involves a call for help from Trialviron. It seems the galaxy is going to explode soon, and they need the kids' help transporting to a new galaxy. Of course, Duneedon plans to use the impending disaster to renew his attempt to take over Earth, but not much comes of that. I must say, though, that it always seemed odd to me how this show often seems to treat Trialviron more like a planet than a galaxy. And how the ruler of a whole galaxy needs to use the transporter in the Coach House instead of using his own ships or transporters. But whatever. Um... the series ends happily. I dunno what else to tell you about it.

Well, the acting in this show is pretty terrible, all around, but I suppose that's not such a big problem for a show whose target audience is too young to recognize good or bad acting. And I don't think the late 70s/early 80s are exactly known for being a golden era of good TV (with a few exceptions). And did I mention this show is from Canada? Heh... I've seen some good Canadian shows, for sure, but... I've also definitely seen some mediocre ones. And this show is well below mediocre. It's not just the acting, but... gosh, so many things about the show are subpar. And yet... I can't help liking it, just a little. It's sort of nostalgic, or something (whether I'd seen it before or not). And of course I'm in favor of any chance to get kids interested in sci-fi from an early age. And reading. Definitely it's good to get kids into reading. So whatever...

kid stuff
kid stuff nostalgia