Here we have a children's TV show that originated in Chicago
in the late 1970s. It was sold into syndication
in the early 1980s and aired at local stations around the USA
. It was created and hosted by Bill "B.J." Jackson
, a local Chicago
children's show host. He was the only human
on the show; the other characters were all puppets
that were voiced by Jackson himself.
The premise of the show was that B.J was the clerk at the Gigglesnort Hotel, a 9-floor hotel at the end of the street. The place was owned by Captain Gigglesnort, a senile old man who thought the building was a ship. B.J. kept the place running and taught lessons about morality, being yourself, telling the truth, and other things that all good children need to learn.
The cast of characters included...
- B.J. (the human) - He ran the front desk and the phone switchboard. He was often called upon to settle disputes and keep the place running smoothly.
- Dirty Dragon - the dragon who lived in the hotel furnace room. He ran the heater and was responsible for loading coal into the furnace. Of course, being a dragon he had a nasty habit of eating more coal than he shoveled into the furnace. Fond of shouting "FIE!" and spewing smoke everywhere. He had a nasty attitude, but typically did the right thing in the end. Most of the conflict on the show came from Dirty.
- Ma and Pa Plumbtree- elderly humans who lived in the hotel. Pa was also known as the Professor and Ma was the typical kindly old grandmother. They were quite spry for their age. Pa had an obsession with noodles.
- Maynard and Myrtle Thumptwanger - redneck crows who lived in the hotel. Maynard had a nasty habit of pecking uncontrollably whenever Myrtle nagged him about something.
- Captain Gigglesnort - the senile old sea captain who owned the hotel. He lived on the top floor of the hotel and "steered" the place with his ship's wheel. He actually believed the hotel was a ship. As such, he didn't like to be disturbed. Nobody ever disturbed him and he hardly ever left his room. He was fond of calling B.J. for status reports on the "ship" and the "crew".
- Gus Gus and Gertrude - two gorillas who lived at the local zoo. They couldn't speak English and instead grunted like apes commonly do. Somehow B.J. could understand them. They often dropped by the hotel to visit.
- W.C. Cornfield - the hotel detective. He had a large, bulbous red nose and was fond of ears of corn. He often held them in his mouth like a cigar. He slept a lot and was quite lazy. He was also friends with...
- Weird - the hotel elevator operator. He was equally strange and short. He was also quite the prankster.
- The Blob - the hotel statuary. He was a lump of gray clay and once the an show he would stroll into the lobby (which was quite a feat since he was just a lump of clay on a pedestal) and B.J. would remold and reshape him into something that tied into the show's theme of the week. Like the gorillas, The Blob couldn't speak English but somehow B.J understood everything he said.
And what show would be complete without the villains?
- Doompuss - a sour curmudgeon who liked to steal hope.
- The Lemon Joke Kid - a twisted joker with a lemon for a head. He would drop slips of paper with awful jokes written on them. Whoever read one of the jokes became "puckered" and was knocked out until the Kid was run off.
An example of some of the plots...
- Doompuss attack! Can anyone save the Hotel?
- Captain Gigglesnort orders Blob to reflect the ship's mood - and the Prince of Putty becomes the Clay of a Thousand Faces!
- Energy crisis! The lights go out and the laughs go on when the hotel turns on its imagination!
- Dirty Dragon makes himself boss of the hotel, but his crew mutinies against his firebrand tactics, making him the leader of zilch.
- The Lemon Joke Kid comes to the hotel! He bombards the hotel picnic with the worst jokes ever! Can a mere dragon from a small coal-mining town stop The Pucker Power Menace?
- A hotel art show inspires the residents to flex their creative muscles. Who will win the big prize?
When I was around four years old I was hooked on this show and I'd wake up every Saturday morning at 5am to see it. I've referenced a few webpages below if you'd like to learn more about the show, but all of the above character descriptions were written from memory - scary what the brain
can retain, ain't it?
To prove that this writeup isn't the result of a drug trip gone bad, these webpages prove I'm not hallucinating: http://dirtydragon.com/, http://www.chicagotelevision.com/wfldtv.htm, and http://www.tvparty.com/lostgig.html. Plot descriptions taken from dirtydragon.com