August 07, 2021

KIDD VIDEO

 

KIDD VIDEO
(NBC, September 8, 1984-December 7, 1985)
 
Saban Productions, DiC Enterprises
 
 
MAIN CAST:
Bryan Scott – Kidd Video
Gabriele Bennett-Rozzi – Carla
Robbie Rist – Whiz
Steve Alterman – Ash
Cathy Cavadini – Glitter
Peter Renaday – The Master Blaster
Robert Towers – Cool Kitty
Marshall Efron – Fat Cat
Susan Silo – She-Lion
Hal Rayle – Toolbot (season 2)
 
 
            When MTV launched in 1981 it ignited a revolution in the music industry. Their ever-growing viewership offered greater exposure for artists and their music. As a result, more and more money was being put into the production of the music videos the station was supplied with to the point where many became mini movies. Not ones to let a popular trend pass, DiC Enterprises teamed up with Saban Productions to produce a Saturday morning show catered to the MTV generation: Kidd Video.

Kidd Video live and animated. Bottom picture from left: Ash, Whiz, Kidd, Glitter and Carla.


            Kidd Video, created by Jean Chalopin, Andy Heyward, Haim Saban and Shuki Levy, was named for the band who was named for their frontman (how’s that for some inception?). Kidd (Bryan Scott) was the lead singer, guitarist and keyboard player for the band. While being a generally good friend who cared about his bandmates, there were times his ego could inflate out of control and he’d need to be brought back to Earth. Carla (Gabriele Bennett) was the band’s drummer and a bit of a party girl, always looking for a good time and into keeping fit. She often served as the voice of reason and frequently injected Spanish words when she spoke. Ash (Steve Alterman) alternated between keyboards (particularly a small, collapsible one called the Groove Machine) and bass and saxophone. Despite being the biggest music lover in the group, his lyrics were always terrible. He was also the token coward, often needing his friends’ support in dangerous situations to keep moving forward. Whiz (Robbie Rist) played guitar and keyboard and also sang lead vocals from time to time. He was the resident genius, capable of inventing and building almost anything. He was also a little selfish and short-tempered, often angered by his friends’ seeming inability to take certain things seriously.

Master Blaster and the Copy Cats: Cool Kitty, She-Lion and Fat Cat.


            As laid out in the show’s intro, while the band was rehearsing in a warehouse, an animated despot named Master Blaster (seemingly an evil music executive, voiced by Peter Renaday) appeared in a mirror in a floating chair. He transported the band into an alternate animated dimension known as The Flipside where music was a powerful commodity. He sought to steal their sound and use it to strengthen his hold over the realm by either conquering it or controlling its music (on some occasions, he’d just settle for riches galore). Aiding him was his trio of incompetent henchmen and lousy band known as the Copy Cats: literal humanoid felines comprised of the vain and whiny She-Lion (Susan Silo); the constantly-hungry Fat Cat (Marshall Efron); and the lazy and mellow Kool Kitty (Robert Towers). Master Blaster operated out of and travelled around in a flying fortress that resembled a juke box. It’s interesting to note that while all the characters wore the same clothing in each episode, Master Blaster’s suit was given different color combinations each time.

Glitter rocking that 80s fashion.


            The band got their own help in the form of Glitter (Cathy Cavadini), a tiny fairy that gained super strength for a brief time whenever she sneezed, who rescued them from Master Blaster when they arrived and stayed with them. Together, they traveled around The Flipside as the band searched for a way to get home while protecting the unusual citizenry (one whole town was comprised of vegetable people that grew instruments, for instance) from Master Blaster’s machinations, as well as freeing the other performing artists he captured. They did so in the Kiddmobile, a large hovercraft that doubled as a mobile home for the band. In the real world, it was actually Whiz’s 1984 Subaru Brat that was also sucked in with them and their instruments and took on this new form.

The strange world of the Flipside.


            Kidd Video debuted on NBC on September 8, 1984. The series featured a blend of live-action and animation, with the actors portraying both themselves in the real world and providing their voices in The Flipside. Each episode was largely a showcase for popular music of the day. A Top 40 hit was played during at least one scene, lip-synched by the Copy Cats via Master Blaster’s captives, or somehow incorporated as an element of the story. Additionally, an excuse was always made to show a minute-long snippet of a music video. The entire season was written and story edited by Jim Carlson and Terrence McDonnell, and the characters were designed by Tim Gula and Barbara Pizinger. Animation duties were handled by Cuckoo’s Nest Studio. The visual style for the show was heavily influenced by the videos airing on MTV and album artwork of the era (and, as one artist would claim, lots and lots of drugs).


            The show was a hit and was renewed for a second season. Several changes were made; most notably the alteration of the characters’ animated forms to closer resemble their actors. Carla’s skin was made lighter in complexion and her tendency to drop Spanish words was removed. Glitter was given slightly longer hair and a more pixie-ish face. Whiz was far less homesick than he had been in the previous season, and invented an artificially intelligent toolbox robot named Toolbot (Hal Rayle) that served as his sidekick and friend. He also gained a vest over his shirt. And speaking of vests, Kidd’s became a darker blue. This season was written by Dianne Dixon, Michael Maurer, Deborah Shelton and Levy, with Tracy Mays serving as story editor. The night before the season premiere, the live cast appeared on the preview special Back to Next Saturday Morning to promote the show.




           Each episode ended with a Kidd Video music video set to an original song that were actually performed by the band. Rist and Scott also played guitar on several tracks. Most of the songs and the series’ music were written and composed by Levy and Saban, with additional songs written by Terry Britten, Lynsey de Paul (as Lindsey DePaul), Lisa Popeil, Willie Wilkerson, Gary Goetzman, Mike Piccirillo, Noam Kaniel, Holly Knight, Bernie Taupin, Jay Gruska, Tom Keane and Holland-Dozier-Holland. The song “Time” was written by Scott himself. These live segments were directed by Bud Schaetzle, written by Schaetzle with Jeff Book, Kevin Clyne, Carole Markin, Don McGlynn, Martin Wiley, Mike Salomon and Kathy Dellar, and produced by High Five Productions. Nancy Grossi designed the characters’ costumes.



            At the height of Kidd Video’s popularity, there was a strong concern in the nation for a famine outbreak in Africa. Various types of fundraising initiatives were conducted to raise money to combat it; most notably the recording of the songs “Do TheyKnow It’s Christmas?” by Band Aid and “We Are the World” by USA for Africa. Adding their own spin on the idea, the kids from Kidd Video fronted an assembly of 69 young entertainers called Kidds for Kids in Africa in partnership with UNICEF. Together, they sang “Love’s Gonna Find a Way” written by Levy and Shelton, and like the other two songs a video was produced of their singing it. The celebrity performers were gathered from hit programs and films at the time and included the likes of Sean Astin, Jason Bateman, Todd Bridges, Mindy Cohn, Shannen Doherty, Kim Fields, Cherie Johnson, Regina King, Joey Lawrence, and Malcolm-Jamal Warner. Uncredited in the video but mentioned in 16 Magazine’s coverage were Scott Baio, Alphy Rivas and Soleil Moon Frye. UNICEF named the members of Kidd Video Youth Ambassadors for UNICEF Day.

Toolbot joins the group.

            Although Kidd Video’s popularity quickly waned in the United States, in Saban and Levy’s native country of Israel the show was incredibly popular. So much so, the band actually went on tour in the country in 1987. As a result, a great deal of Kidd Video merchandise was only released in Israel, including an album featuring 11 songs by CBS Records; an audio story cassette recorded in Hebrew; candy bars; yogurt cups; bed sheets; and a card game. In the United States, Helm Toys produced a portable AM radio emblazoned with Kidd’s image.

One of the VHS tapes.


            Kidd Video remained on NBC in reruns until 1987 when CBS picked it up for continued airing. In 1989, it was combined with another less-successful music-themed DiC production, Wolf Rock TV, and aired in syndication as The Wolf Rock Power Hour. The last known airing of the show was in 1992 on WGN (now NewsNation), when licensing for the respective songs ran out resulting in the video clips being removed and the music being changed to generic tunes. Golden Books Video released six VHS tapes containing the original music but missing the video clip. Four of the tapes contained one episode each, with the other two featured three episodes. Because of the music rights issue, it’s highly unlikely further releases or even a complete series release would ever happen. More episodes as well as attempted fan recreations of the original broadcasts can be found on YouTube.



            Following the end of the show, most of the band had largely fallen out of the spotlight. Rist has been the most active, continuing to do voice work, some on-screen acting, and playing music with several bands locally. Scott had a few more voice acting roles and worked in sound post-production. Bennett became a teacher and dance instructor, and relocated to Germany in 2011. However, she did perform with Rist in 2012 at Redballs Rock’n Roll Pizza. Alterman has also continued voice acting, as well as working behind the camera and playing music in local clubs. At one point, he and Rist had their own band, The Beat Society.
 
 
EPISODE GUIDE:
Season 1:
“To Beat the Band” (9/15/84) – The band must find a way to slow down the residents of Neon City before they burn themselves out.
Music video: All Night Long” – Lionel Richie
Songs: Running with the Night” – Lionel Richie, “Electric Avenue” – Eddy Grant
 
“The Master Zapper” (9/22/84) – Master Blaster plans to crash a concert put on by their fan club and hit Kidd Video with a device that will turn them into their exact opposites.
Music video: Run to You” – Bryan Adams
Song: Somebody’s Watching Me” – Rockwell
 
“Woofers and Tweeters” (10/6/84) – When the Kiddmobile gets stuck in the Lock Stock Forest, they’re captured by the inhabitants as minions of Master Blaster.
Music video: Owner of a Lonely Heart” – Yes
Songs: Footloose” – Kenny Loggins, “White Horse” – Laid Back
 
“Barnacolis” (10/13/84) – The Copy Cats steal the magical instruments of mermaids, causing them to wail and awaken the destructive Barnacolis.
Music video: Hungry Like the Wolf” – Duran Duran
Songs: The Safety Dance” – Men Without Hats, “Footloose” – Kenny Loggins, “Wrapped Around Your Finger” – The Police
 
“The Pink Sphinx” (10/27/84) – A homesick Whiz rescues a Beatburg city leader who gives him a Pink Sphinx that can grant anyone a wish once a year while the Copy Cats capture the others.
Music video: “Owner of a Lonely Heart” – Yes
Songs: “Somebody’s Watching Me” – Rockwell, “Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough” – Michael Jackson
 
“Cienega” (2/16/85) – The band travels to Dismal Swamp for a cure for the disease Whiz contracts and encounter a swamp monster.
Music video: Unknown
Songs: Automatic” – The Pointer Sisters, “Footloose” – Kenny Loggins
 
“The Lost Note” (2/23/85) – Ash restores a city from stone after pulling a golden note for a rock, becoming its king and allowing the power to go to his head.
Music video: Unknown
Song: Don’t Answer Me” – The Alan Parsons Project
 
“Music Sports” (3/2/85) – The band goes up the cheating Copy Cats in the annual Musical Sport meet for control of the Flipside music.
Music video: Unknown
Songs: “Owner of a Lonely Heart” – Yes, “Automatic” – The Pointer Sisters, “Breakdance” – Irene Cara
 
“Chameleons” (3/23/85) – While the rest of the band tries to free the Kiddmobile from desert sands, Carla and Glitter enjoy a hot new dance club.
Music video: Unknown
Songs: Karma Chameleon” – Culture Club, “The Safety Dance” – Men Without Hats
 
“Euphonius, the Melodious Dragon” (5/5/85) – The Copy Cats steal a dragon’s egg for Master Blaster’s breakfast, and the resulting angry roar threatens to shatter the jeweled Sparkle City.
Music video: Missing You” – John Waite
Songs: The Reflex” – Duran Duran, “Don’t Answer Me” – The Alan Parsons Project
 
“Professor Maestro” (5/12/85) – While the band employs a genius to help them get home, Master Blaster targets the cause of his constant defeat: the Groove Machine.
Music video: We Belong” – Pat Benatar
Songs: Unknown
 
“Grooveyard City” (5/19/85) – Master Blaster drops the band in the middle of a haunted city.
Music video: Unknown
Songs: Ghostbusters” – Ray Parker Jr., “The Reflex” – Duran Duran
 
“The Stone” (5/26/85) – A giant bird takes Ash away, and the band learns that the wise man who owns it may have just sent Ash home through a special stone.
Music video: Unknown
Songs: Unknown
 
Season 2:
“The Dream Machine” (11/2/85) – Master Blaster steals and uses Whiz’s device to give a town nightmares after they refuse to pay their music tax.
Music video: Dancing on the Ceiling” – Lionel Richie, “Crazy in the Night” – Kim Carnes
Songs: Axel F” – Harold Faltermeyer, “Relax” – Frankie Goes to Hollywood, “The Heat is On” – Glenn Frey
 
“Double Trouble” (11/2/85) – The band rescues a man whose bottled message they found, and he ends up being Master Blaster’s brother Laster!
Music video: Taken In” – Mike and the Mechanics
Songs: Master Blaster (Jammin’)” – Stevie Wonder
 
“No Place Like Home” (11/9/85) – The band makes their way towards a town that looks like their home and discover that looks can be deceiving.
Music video: Point of No Return” – Nu Shooz
Songs: “The Heat is On” – Glenn Frey
 
“Having a Ball” (11/16/85) – The band transports the Lyric Box with all the lyrics yet to be written, and it and Ash end up stolen by Master Blaster’s cousin.
Music video: Dreamtime” – Daryl Hall
Songs: Rhythm of the Night” – DeBarge
 
“Old Time Rocks that Roll” (11/23/85) – The band investigates why a town of vegetable people’s instrument crops keep disappearing underground.
Music video: Don’t Forget Me (When I’m Gone)” – Glass Tiger, “Out of Touch” – Hall & Oates
Songs: I Love Rock and Roll” – Joan Jett, “Solid” – Ashford & Simpson, “Beat It” – Michael Jackson
 
“Starmaker” (11/23/85) – Without fans of his own Whiz creates a device that will make them for him, which the Copy Cats intend to steal to get in good with Master Blaster.
Music video: When I Think of You” – Janet Jackson
Songs: Everybody Wants to Rule the World” – Tears for Fears
 
“Narra Takes a Powder” (11/23/85) – When the Copy Cats hit Glitter’s cousin with a music scrambling powder, she’s unable to create the whistle needed to keep her land cold and a monster asleep.
Music video: All I Need is a Miracle” – Mike & the Mechanics
Songs: Sussudio” – Phil Collins, “Beat It” – Michael Jackson
 
“Race to Popland” (11/23/85) – In order to keep their jobs, the Copy Cats trick the band away from a contest where Master Blaster planned to steal their music.
Music video: Unknown
Songs: Angel” - Madonna
 
“Master Blaster Brat” (11/23/85) – The Copy Cats make a cake for Master Blaster’s birthday that accidentally turns him into an evil toddler.
Music video: Jumpin’ Jack Flash” – Aretha Franklin
Songs: “Sussudio” – Phil Collins
 
“Twilight Double Header” (11/23/85) – Ash’s singing keeps up a cyclops who is responsible for the day and night cycle of a town and they must find a siren to put him back to sleep.
Music video: Daydream Believer” – The Monkees
Songs: Shout” – Tears for Fears
 
“A Friend in Need” (11/30/85) – Away from the group, Carla must choose between going home or helping an injured new friend.
Music video: Everybody Have Fun Tonight” – Wang Chung
Songs: Every Time You Go Away” – Paul Young, “Lay Your Hands on Me” – Thompson Twins
 
“Pirates and Puzzles” (11/30/85) – When a flower turns Carla and Ash into plants and disables the Kiddmobile, Kidd and Whiz borrow a pirate parrot’s ship to retrieve the cure.
Music video: Don’t Get Me Wrong” – The Pretenders
Songs: “Rhythm of the Night” – DeBarge
 
“Who’s in the Kitchen with Dinah?” (12/7/85) – The Copy Cats bungle getting a love potion from Dinah for Master Blaster, spilling it on her and causing her to fall for him.
Music video: Take On Me” – A-Ha
Songs: Dancing in the Streets” – Martha and the Vandellas, “Be Near Me” – ABC

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