Sunday, 26 May 2013

Johnson and Friends

As with America, quite a number of Australian shows have made it across the pond to the United Kingdom, some which I, among others, still recall from old - Round the Twist, Blinky Bill, Arthur and the Square Knights of the Round Table - but this series especially has left a nice impact with fans.

Produced by Film Australia, Johnson and Friends was created and written by John Patterson, running for a steady seven seasons between 1991 to 1996. While Pixar's Toy Story was still being developed as a feature-length, and CGI would forever change the image of animation for both theatres and television, the charm of Johnson and Friends was in the impressive costumes, designed by Caroline Jones, and the large-scale bedroom set where all of the stories were based - each chock-a-blocked with gentle imagination and memorable characters for its young audience.
All Friends Together!
The series centred on every child's dream: of how their toys would come to life when alone. Set in Michael's Bedroom, the Storyteller (Paul Bertram) first introduced viewers to Johnson the toy elephant (voiced by Garry Scale) and his humble Beginnings of finding a friend. By the end of the first episode, he made two - McDuff the cheerful concertina (Katrina Sedgwick) and Diesel (no relation) the noisy truck (Doug Scroope). Later on, Patterson would introduce fans to Alfred the grumpy hot water bottle (Peter Brownie), Squeaky the little robot (Sarah Boddy) and Michael's Sister's toy dinosaur, Victoria (Elizabeth Easther).

As with many great kid's shows of its time, it was written with entertainment first, morals second - dealing with various subjects such as sharing, kindness, facing fears and even the valuable lesson of too much television.

It's been one of ABC's most memorable shows, which saw it aired later on Fox Clubhouse in America and UK Living in the UK via satellite. Whether the old VHS cassettes or DVDs still exist after so long, it's a nice reminder of how well kid's TV was brought to life before computer generated animation became as widespread as it has now.

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