Series: 3-2-1 Contact

"Let's make contact!"

"3! 2! 1! Contact is the secret, is the moment/When everything happens!"
—Opening theme

This PBS series, created by the Children's Television Workshop, was the CTW's 1980s attempt to engage young viewers in science. The original series lasted from January, 1980 to November, 1988. Edited versions of older episodes were broadcast to 1992.

To that end, 3-2-1 Contact took the equivalent format of Sesame Street and adjusted it for a preteen audience with comedy sketches, cartoons as well as demonstrations of scientific principles not only on the set, but also in filmed segments in which the hosts went around America to explore interesting things about science.

However, the most popular section was "The Bloodhound Gang'', about a private detective agency staffed primarily by kids due to the seemingly perpetual absence of their boss, Mr. Bloodhound. In a world where nearly every adult other than the arresting police officers appears to be a gullible idiot, the young sleuths find themselves busting frauds and other nonviolent crimes all around them with their knowledge of science (and, in one case, communication — in one episode, the Gang visits a diner and the waitress appears able to read minds — until The Reveal, which shows that it was all due to non-verbal hand-signals used commonly by the staff of many diners).

The show also had a tie-in magazine that ran about ten years longer than the original series (although it became rechristened as Contact Kids near the end of its publication).

Nothing to do with the 1997 movie with Jodie Foster. The rock/hip-hop band "Bloodhound Gang" did get their name from here, however.

Tropes featured include:

  • Attack of the 50-Foot Whatever: The show explains why giant insects ala Them are simply not possible.
  • Animate Inanimate Object: Lampshaded in an animated sequence by a chart questioning the smugness of a "smart" scientist explaining human speech.
    Chart: Dumb.
    Scientist: What?
    Chart: Dumb. Charts can't talk. (chart comically rolls up)
  • Balloon-Bursting Bird: The tie-in magazine would publish computer games written in BASIC to run on your computer during The Eighties. One of the games, called "Pop!", carried an illustration of a computer blowing bubble gum and spotting a bird ready to pop the bubble.
  • Cosmetic Horror: From Marc's point of view, this is Played for Laughs and for edutainment purposes when he has makeup applied to show how he would look as an elderly man.
  • Mickey Mousing: The 83-86 version of the intro does this.
  • Random Transportation: A regular feature in the magazine based on the show was "The Time Team" stories, in which modern teenagers Sean and Jenny have a hand-held "tachyon machine" that transports them to various locations in time. However, they can't predict where the machine will take them, and it has to recharge before they can reactivate it to go back home.
  • Re Cut: A condensed version of the series, titled 3-2-1 Classroom Contact, was produced in 1992, after the original series was dropped from syndication.
  • Retool: The first version was of three college-age kids and a fancy college studyhouse, then there was a second version with younger kids in a plain basement playroom. The show was retooled a second time in 1986 (season 5), being hosted by David Quinn and taking place mainly on-location.
  • Scooby-Doo Hoax: The Bloodhound Gang exposed a few of these.
  • Sesame Street Cred - The first version had short spots of various stars and media characters explaining various scientific facts.
    • And yes, Big Bird did appear once.
  • Show Within a Show: "The Bloodhound Gang".

Alternative Title(s):

Three Two One Contact