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"First it's a mouse who talks in rhyme, and then a computer, not to mention the mannequin upstairs with the magic hat running around!"
From left to right: Jodie, Sam, Jeff and Muffy.
A Canadian children's TV series that ran from 1982 to 1987 and was originally produced for TVOntario. It is best remembered in the U.S. for being one of the earliest staples of Nickelodeon's lineup — and at times, for being really freakin' weird.The setting was a department store in an unspecified city (presumably Toronto, where the show was filmed). The show centered around the characters (human and otherwise) who worked there during the overnight shift. The employees of the store included Jodie, who set up the displays in the children's department, Sam Crenshaw the security guard (played by a puppet), and Mrs. Pennypacker (another puppet introduced in one of the later seasons). They were joined by the far stranger nocturnal residents of the store: Jeff the mannequin, Muffy Mouse (another puppet), who spoke in rhyme and had a little penthouse within the store, and TXL Series 4, Sam's Do Anything Computer and who also plays quizzes and participation games with the viewers in between segments. Another character in the show is the Mime Lady. While she is not an in-store character, she participates in TXL's games.The aforementioned Jeff is such an unusual character, he deserves his own paragraphs. Every kid's show has an obligatory character meant to be the young audience's representative in the show's fictional world, but Jeff was an especially bizarre example. He is a mannequin, in the shape of an adult man, who was brought to life by wearing a magical hat created by a magician named Waldo The Magnificent. Thing is, his personality and mannerisms were that of a small child. So in other words, this show's Big Bird equivalent was a Man Child who lived in the store and was taught about everyday things and the world in general (ie, in one episode, the other regulars had to explain to Jeff what brooms were for, and in another, how umbrellas work).Being a bit of a Cuckoolander, Jeff also had to be reminded not to remove his own hat, as this turns him back into a mannequin. Fortunately, saying the magic words "Hocus Pocus Alamagocus" brings him back to life. Unfortunately, Jeff could never leave the store, due to the conditions of the magical hat (it only works inside the store). In some episodes, it is said that if he ever stepped foot off the store grounds, he would stay a mannequin forever (but not always; it should be noted that the "rules" of the hat were fairly inconsistent). Any episodes that took place outdoors had to provide a Hand Wave to work around this. (Pretty dark for a kids' show, eh?)For a certain generation of young adults, this show often comes right after Zoobilee Zoo and/or The Noozles in conversations that start, "Oh my God, do you remember...?"More information can be found at this very extensive fansite.This show provides examples of:
Alien Animals: XL7-Zed is the descendant of mice who traveled to the moon in search of green cheese (of course) and later colonized a planet they call Squeakonia.
All Animals Are Domesticated: To an extreme in Muffy's case. But there was also a strange episode where a police officer is looking for his department's mascot who is lost in the store — turns out he's a Mountain Lion...
Call Back: The lullaby that Jeff sings to the lizard in Adventure is the same one that Jodie sings to Jeff in Sleep, and that he asks her to teach to him in the same episode. Apparently she did.
Canada, Eh?: The show was made by the Canadian network TV Ontario, and was filmed in Toronto.
The Cast Showoff: Jeff Hyslop, who played Jeff the mannequin, is a triple threat entertainer. While he and everyone else sang on the show, he was the only one who danced, and did this on the show frequently. Nerene Virgin danced a little bit and was often paired with Jeff, but for anything more complicated they had to bring in outside talent to keep up with him. It should also be noted that Jeff Hyslop was also the show's choreographer.
Food as Bribe: In Trains, when Muffy is considering leaving the store, Sam offers her a bag of cheese sandwiches, hoping to convince her to stay.
Furry Confusion: Mice in the "Today's Special" universe are consistently portrayed as creatures of human-like intelligence who live in little houses, form popular musical acts, and even beat humans to the moon. And yet there are several episodes where Muffy is threatened by humans who "never saw a talking mouse before".
Things also get a little strange when we learn that butterflies are intelligent and able to speak.
Somewhat related: Jeff is occasionally frustrated by the fact that he is the only object in the store that is in any way self-aware.
Genie in a Bottle: In the episode "Adventure," where he transports Jodie, Jeff and Sam to Potion Land.
I Want My Beloved to Be Happy: In the aforementioned episode "Wishes", Jeff had the opportunity to be permanently transformed into a human. Unfortunately for him, this came right when he had no choice but to use his wish to save his friends, as per the memorable line:
Waldo never getting Sam's name right, and his magic always going awry.
Sam pressing the wrong buttons on TXL, resulting in hilarious havoc.
Shaped Like Itself: Jeff describes a hairbrush in the most vague way possible in one song. In the same verse, he lampshades it by saying he knows next to nil about hairbrushes since he wears a hat at all times.
Ship Tease: There was a little bit between Jeff and Jodie, and a little bit between Jeff and Muffy, but given that the target audience really wouldn't be interested in such things it was never really mentioned.
Shout-Out: Quite a few. One of the best is in "Adventure", where a castle is warned to house "Dungeons & Dragons" (the whole episode plays out like a role-playing game).
Sam makes some of his own, also from "Adventure":
Jeff: What do you suppose lives in this creepy castle, anyway?