The Early 1980’s
I’m old. I’m getting older. But one of the things that keeps me young is revisiting things that I loved as a child. PBS provided me with a lot of excellent programs that I fondly remember and I often look for episodes of these shows not only to reminisce, but to share with my children as well. PBS gave me Sesame Street, The Electric Company, and Square One TV. It also introduced me to 3-2-1 Contact, a show that ignited my interest in science and made me confident enough to not only ask why something happened, but to attempt to make it happen with experiments.
3-2-1 Contact made me feel older and more intelligent than I really was at the time. It made talking to adults (especially teachers) easier because I would often learn things on the show that I had not yet learned in class. I loved watching as characters like Lisa (Liz Moses), Kathy (Kelly Pino), Marc (Leon Grant), Miguel (Frank Gomez), and Trini (Ginny Ortiz) would go on adventures to learn about everything from animals to space and architecture to sound waves. They were all just a few years older than me, but they were doing cool and wonderful things that I could only dream of doing.
I also enjoyed watching the adventures of The Bloodhound Gang, a group of teens working for Mr. Bloodhound’s detective agency who used science to solve mysteries. Vikki (Nan-Lynn Nelson) and Ricardo (Marcelino Sanchez) were the mainstays of the show with three junior detectives that assisted them named Zach (Kelly Pease), Cuff (Glenn Scarpelli), and Skip (Seth Greenspan). Their adventures would often last more than an episode, so you had to regularly watch 3-2-1 Contact to keep up with their stories. I always hated whenever my local PBS station would play episodes out of order and the Bloodhound mystery would be spoiled too soon.
There’s an interesting and fun four part interview with the surviving cast members of The Bloodhound Gang from a few years ago that I highly recommend reading. Check it out on Noblemania’s website. Part one can be found here and simply follow the links to the other parts of the interview. I especially love the part of the interview where the cast talks about Sanchez, who passed away in 1986 due to AIDS-related cancer.
The series ran for the length of my childhood. I was born in the mid 70’s, and 3-2-1 Contact began airing in 1980 and lasted until 1988. The first season ran during 1980 and featured Lisa, Marc, and Trini. It was rerun until the second season began airing in late 1983. Lisa, Marc, and Trini were replaced by Kathy, Miguel, Paco (Benjamin Carlo), and Robin (Judy Leak). More cast members came (and others left) in the next few seasons.
Even though I was still a young kid at the time. I developed three notable but purely innocent crushes on Kathy, Trini, and Lisa. They were lovely, loved science, and were entirely too cool for a squirt like me.
I know that I’m not the only person who was impacted by this series as a youth. Just after a brief internet search, I’ve uncovered fan groups on social media and a ton of episodes and snippets from episodes on YouTube. If you grew up in the 80’s like I did, I’m sure you watched this show as well. If you did, let me know what you thought about it in the comments. If you know any of the cast members or know a way to get in touch with them, I’d love the opportunity to speak with them and possibly get a quick interview.
As always, thank you for taking time to read my post. If there’s anything that you’d like to see covered in Throwback Thursday, let me know.
I went to school with a guy who told me he dated Kelly Pino at one time. His daughter was my age and named Kelly after her. She and her parents were all attending college at the same time. She said that they slept on Kelly Pino’s floor when her mom temporarily kicked them out of the house. When he was in high school, he was in a play with Bruce Campbell. Back in the mid-nineties, Bruce Campbell would answer fan e-mails, and he confirmed and said that he was one of the funniest people he ever met. He had bad emphysema and died, and he was buried during a blizzard. My mom asserted her ownership of the car I was driving and wouldn’t let me attend the funeral on the grounds that it was too far away to drive in a blizzard. Our professor said that it was the bleakest funeral he had ever attended. All this was wrapped up in a production of Much Ado About Nothing with an overlong rehearsal period that the young Kelly’s mother was directing (Kelly was Beatrice, and I was Balthasar the minstrel). She ended up having to abandon the production for health reasons and passed away not much later. The video of it got zotzed, too, so the only record of it is the program..
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