Tuesday, December 24, 2013

A shallow imitation: The New Captain Kangaroo (1997)

13 years after Captain Kangaroo had said good-bye to CBS, Haim Saban got his hands on a license to produce an all-new version of the iconic series.

Unfortunately, The New Captain Kangaroo lasted just 1 season, leading to a spin-off series for one of the franchise's most beloved characters, Mr. Moose, which I believe also bombed.

What Saban did right was this. The familiar house setting had once more been christened, "The Treasure House", after it'd been renamed "The Captain's Place" late in the CBS run. Also, the Captain's jacket color reverted to blue from the red he had worn for most of the color run of the series.

However, as often has happened in years since with primetime shows, viewers didn't take too kindly to actor John McDonough as the new Captain. To older viewers, there's only one Captain Kangaroo---Bob Keeshan, who'd essayed the part for nearly 30 years (1955-84) for CBS, and had parlayed that gig into two separate Saturday morning gigs---Mr. Mayor, which lasted one season in the 60's, and as the host of CBS Storybreak, an anthology series that was the network's answer to ABC's long-running Weekend Special, in the 80's.

Another change, as you'll soon see, was ascribing an episode title to each broadcast, like every other children's show. What that said to the viewers was that this Captain wasn't about informing and educating, but rather, it would be short of a sitcom for children, with the obligatory moral lessons sewn right in.

In my area, the show aired in mid-morning, so I never got to see it. Also, it retained the half-hour format that the original series had ended with 13 years earlier, which had rankled Keeshan. The original Captain had been invited to be a guest on the new show, ostensibly to pass the torch, but reportedly, he'd seen some samples and opted to decline. That failed olive branch, then, was what finally killed the show.

Here's the episode, "Turn About is Fair Play". Joby, a kangaroo, is a new character that Saban's staff created for this incarnation.....

No rating.

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