What’s My Line … man?

I would have been about 11 when the show The Great Space Coaster was on TV. I don’t remember much about it, but there were three things that come immediately to mind.

First there was Gary Gnu, the news “gnu”.

I can still here him saying “No Gnews is good Gnews with Gary Gnu.” I seem to remember his stories having punchline, but I might be mistaken.

Second, I remember the elephant. Only by searching for a picture of him did I find out his name was Edison.

Two things stick out about this elephant that made me despise him: (1) His voice. It had like an echo to it, almost robotic. It was annoying. (2) The fact that his hand moved his trunk. Ok, I was 11, but I’m sure any smart kid could figure out that he was fake! The hand held a handle on the trunk and moved it around. It was enough to make me want to turn the show off.

Finally, the only thing that I remember fondly from this show – Lineman (I want to say he might have been called Fred a time or two).

I had no idea that this was originally an Italian thing. Upon further investigation, I found out that this cartoon was created by Osvaldo Cavandoli and was broadcast in Italy from 1971 to 1986. He made his appearance on the Great Space Coaster in 1981. The series features a man known as “Mr. Linea” (which was voiced by Carlo Bonomi). He is drawn as a single outline of an infinite line, which encounters various obstacles during his walking, and often turns to the cartoonist, represented as a live-action hand holding a pencil, to draw him a solution. All episodes are short subjects and are anywhere from 2 to 7 minutes long.

There were plenty of these shorts made, I had no idea just how many, until I looked it up. Even though the episodes are numbered up to 225, there are actually 90 La Linea episodes. The 1971 series had 8 (4 min) episodes, the 1978 series had 56 (101-156), and the 1986 series had 26 (200-225). Not all La Linea cartoons were featured on “Space Coaster”, as some had a mature theme and were therefore considered inappropriate for children. The kid-friendly shorts also played on the Nickelodeon show, Pinwheel.

The cartoon was shown in over 50 countries and is considered a cult classic. Believe it or not, you can watch over 2 hours of Lineman on YouTube….

I’m not even sure what made me think of this cartoon today, but on a day that I had writer’s block….it gave me something silly to write about ….

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