Obsessive Nostalgia Disorder Monday: Pinwheel on YouTube

Paying homage to the weird things from my childhood that haunt me as an adult.

Finally! An actual ONDM post on that odd show I still find myself referencing - frequently - Nickelodeon's Pinwheel.

I haven't done an actual Pinwheel post until now because I haven't had anything solid to point you to. I've posted the occasional clip of the show, and some of its contents. In fact, my very first ONDM post, written in the very early days of this blog, was about the Emilie (Emily) books by Domitille de Pressensé, on which the "Emily" cartoons were based. These, of course, I knew from Pinwheel. I've also shared several shorts here, in a post about BunnyEars.TV.

Basically, Pinwheel was the other weekday show of my very early childhood, the one not on PBS. I had no idea until recently that the last episode was recorded in 1982. They aired the same 260 one-hour episodes over and over again, in six-hour blocks, until 1990. I was in middle school by 1990, with a two-year-old brother. I hadn't watched Pinwheel in a few years by then. My dad canceled our cable, and I was too old for it, of course. My mother still had cable, though, and I remember feeling so angry when I saw that Pinwheel had been replaced by Eureka's Castle. How dare they cancel my childhood like that! Pinwheel faded from memory, but throughout the last decade, I've felt the need to search the internet to more clues about the weirdness of Pinwheel, all the barely-remembered shorts and well-remembered songs.

A few years ago, some blocks of the show hit YouTube, but that user has since disabled their account. Lucky for me, however, two 3-hour blocks of Pinwheel, complete with old station IDs and commercials, hit YouTube again! They're the same ones as before, as they seem to be all that exist anymore. While a VHS cassette was released commercially in the 1980s, called The Pinwheel Songbook, it only features the puppet/Playhouse segments of the show. The full show as it existed in the 1970s and '80s will probably never be commercially available, as most of the filler consisted of shorts from a variety of sources, many of them international, the rights to which have surely changed sources many times in thirty-plus years.

Anyway, here are some YouTube videos of Pinwheel, and some of the stuff I remember from Pinwheel. The quality may not be great, as the clips come from 30something-year-old VHS tapes. NONE of these are mine - I'm just excited to share them with you. I'm not sure the adult me enjoys this stuff even half as much as Little Me did, back in the day. The girls like some of it, but not as much as I did as a kid.

To watch the two sets of the full show, you will have to go to YouTube. You can find one set here, and the other set here

Here is The Pinwheel Songbook, the official home video release.

We haven't seen the new movie yet, but this is Paddington Bear as I first knew him.
We have a DVD of this somewhere!

The 1952 UPA version of Madeline.

The lovely British stop-motion series, Bagpuss.

I loved these Curious George telefilms. I'm not sure if they aired during Pinwheel,
or between episodes.

While I watched that very occasionally, I knew the cartoons from Pinwheel.

Friends of the Elephant Goshko is a Bulgarian animated short from 1968. I loved it
when this one came on.

A happier elephant can be found in Halas-Batchelor's Hamilton the Musical Elephant.

Snowman's Dilemma, a Bulgarian cartoon from 1960, was one of my favorites.
But I remember always heading to the bathroom at my babysitter's house, just before the ending.
It made me cry.

Here's the young Ronnie James Dio singing "Love Is All," animated by Halas-Batchelor,
taken from Roger Glover's concept album, The Butterfly Ball and the Grasshopper's Feast.

I vaguely remember Crystal Tipps and Alistair.

My whole family loves watching this playlist of A Kockásfülű nyú (The Bunny With the Checkered Ears.) I would still love some Bunny merchandise from Hungary, by the way!

Musti was a Flemish cartoon series that began in 1968. Pinwheel showed it in English.
There is a new computer-animated version.

One of the Pinwheel full episodes links posted above opens with Emily. 
Unfortunately, that one episode seems to be the only one I can find in English.
Here is one in French! (Emilie has also been updated in recent years. Here is
a new episode!)

I recognized this character from Pinwheel, too! They showed it in English, but you don't have
to understand the words to enjoy the beautiful animation.

They never bothered to translate Chapi Chapo. The music will be stuck in your head forever.
My husband hasn't forgiven me yet.

This is just the tip of the iceberg, of course. If you click here, you can see an Alfie Atkins short in English. Here's a playlist of The Magic Roundabout

This post has taken me a very long time to put together.

I need to be doing something else now.

I hope you enjoy!

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  1. Oh, my goodness I had forgotten all about Pinwheel!!!!

    "Pinwheel, pinwheel spinning around... hello, how are you and where have you been?"

    My memories of the show are week... I remember an episode where someone lost their keys (I think) in the house and they played 52 Card Pick-up to find them. I loved the idea of tossing an entire deck of cards and picking them up, seeing what I found underneath.

    Was this also the same show with a nightwatchman puppet named Sam? I think he worked at a mall or something... How's that for an obscure '80s children's programming reference. Hahaha!

    1. The nightwatchman named Sam was from Today's Special, a Canadian series that usually followed Pinwheel on the Nick lineup. Sharon, Lois, and Bram, later of The Elephant Show, made their first Nickelodeon appearances there.


      I watch it on YouTube sometimes, too. I have a problem. ;)

    2. Now I remember! I can even remember the opening jingle. I remember feeling very disappointed when Today's Special was no longer on the air.

    3. I loved it, too. Jeff and Jody and Muffy the Mouse and Sam the Nightwatchman...

  2. Wow, I never knew about all these amazing cartoons! Seriously, Paddington? Madeline? This is all new to me. What a great post, thank your for giving me all this delightful homework to do! hehehe

    1. The Paddington shorts are from the UK, as are The Magic Roundabout, Crystal Tipps and Alistair, Bagpuss, Simon, and Emily (although the books were French, and they dubbed them into French, as well). . The Madeline cartoon was made here in the 1950s. Pinwheel filled the space between the puppets and Playhouse scenes with stuff from all over the world.

  3. I know I'm replying to a two-year-old post, but I just wanted to tell you there are plush Rabbit with the Checkered Ears out there. I got one via Ebay (it is soooooo cute!)

    1. Oh, lucky!!! I've seen them on Hungarian websites, but hasn't seen one on eBay. That is so cool!

  4. Okay, I can't believe I'm posting this but I'm hoping someone can confirm I'm not crazy. ;-)

    I swear when I was a kid in the 80s, a short used to come on Nickelodeon, but no one else remembers it. It was a little redheaded freckle face girl with a black background (cartoon, not an actress) reciting a poem about dress up and she "morphs " as she's describing things.
    Then at the end, there's a knock on a door. Her friend asks her to come out to play and she changes back to a little girl and runs out to play baseball.
    It was cute, in a Shel Silverstein way, but no one remembers it.
    I even remember one of the lines "maybe green eyes are finer, with purple eyeliner." I've tried googling it, no luck.
    My mother thinks it might have been on Pinwheel. Ring any bells?

    1. Okay, now you're going to drive me crazy, because yes, something like that sounds familiar. There are so many weird, fleetingly remembered cartoons in my head from Pinwheel (and Sesame Street, and to lesser extents, The Great Space Coaster and evem Captain Kangaroo).

      I keep trying to remember a Pinwheel short that started out as being about creating some sort of string art that I think veered off into some cool animated thing, but I don't know. I wish there were transcripts available, at least, so we could track these things down.

    2. I remember this!!! I’ve tried googling it too with no luck! “And so not to look stupid, I should have lips like a Cupid!”


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