Wednesday, April 15, 2020

The Great Space Coaster

The Great Space Coaster is about three young singers (Francine, Danny, and Roy) who are brought to a habitable asteroid in space called Coasterville by a clown named Baxter who pilots the "space coaster", a roller coaster-like spaceship. The asteroid is populated by strange-looking, wise-cracking puppet characters such as Goriddle Gorilla, Knock Knock the Woodpecker, Edison the Elephant, and Gary Gnu (host of newscast "The Gary Gnu Show"). Baxter is forever on the run from M.T. Promises, a nefarious ringmaster who plans to re-capture Baxter and return him to the circus he worked at before he escaped. Each episode ends with a different life lesson, and various celebrity guest stars (such as Mark Hamill of Star Wars fame and composer Marvin Hamlisch) occasionally dropped by.

In each episode, Roy shows a short film on his portable, fold-up television. Most often, the segments came from La Linea, an Italian animated series about a little man who is drawn (using a single line) at the beginning of the segment and then springs to life, communicating with his animator through high-pitched Italian mixed with gibberish. Other animated shorts from the National Film Board of Canada, Weston Woods Studios, Jim Thurman, and others were shown, usually broken up into two or more segments within an episode.

Francine, Roy, and Danny sing a song together as the Space Coasters in each episode (sometimes originals like "Wacky Talk", sometimes older songs like "Be a Clown" or covers of '60s and '70s hits), and the various puppet characters often sing songs as well.

A few years into the show's run, the MTV-like "Rockin' with Rory" segment began where a VJ named Rory introduced "Danny and the Space Coasters" performing cover tunes. There were also other additions to the show including Baffle, Big Jock Ox, and the Huggles. While the action was mostly videotaped on the space set, it was not unusual for the characters to venture down to Earth for filmed musical numbers.

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