Series / Pinwheel

Pinwheel was the flagship program for the then-new Nickelodeon network back in 1979. In fact, the show actually predates the network itself. Premiering in 1977, it was first seen on Warner Cable's old QUBE cable system on channel slot C4, which was dedicated to this one shownote . It was a program similar to Sesame Street in many ways, having a standard human cast with numerous puppet friends, and various in-between segments. Not really surprising, as creator and executive producer Vivian Horner previously worked for Sesame Street's production company, the Children's Television Workshop, as director of research for one of Sesame Street's sister programs, The Electric Company (1971).

One of the interesting things about Pinwheel was that it exposed American and Canadian children to otherwise-unavailable European short subjects like Miximetric, Chapi Chapo, Bod, and Simon in the Land of Chalk Drawings.

Pinwheel usually aired in three- to five-hour blocks in the mornings, and eventually became part of the Nick Jr. block of programming. The series ended in 1989, when it was replaced with newer Nick Jr. shows.

This series provides examples of:

  • Anime Hair: On some of the puppets.
  • Cute Mute: Coco, the female mime.
  • The Dog Walks You: One of Coco's mime acts involve her being dragged around by a presumably large dog.
  • Expy: For some Sesame Street characters: Plus and Minus for Ernie and Bert; and Ebenezer for Oscar the Grouch.
  • Meaningful Name: Visually, Minus is a photo negative of Plus; where Plus has orange skin, black hair, and a red nose, Minus has purple skin, white hair, and a green nose.
  • Parental Substitute: Aurelia's relationship to Plus and Minus is somewhat vague (though she is explicitly stated to be Kim's aunt), but she functions as their mother figure in the series by generally looking after them.
  • Running Gag:
    • In the "Plus Goes to the Moon" sketches, Plus would try taking a rocket to the moon, but he would get distracted easily, leaving the rocket to blast off without him.
    • Smitty is always looking for the Admiral Bird, a strange, goofy-looking bird that only appeared when he was out of the room and couldn't take a picture of him.
  • Shout-Out: The Admiral Bird's name is a reference to Rear Admiral Richard E. Byrd, an American naval officer, aviator, and explorer who reached both the North and South Poles by flying.