Howdy Doody, also known as The Howdy Doody Show, premiered in 1947 and was one of the first shows produced at NBC. It has undoubtedly left a major impact on kids television, paving the way for similar kids shows that came after it.
The show took place in Doodyville, a circus/wild west setting, and was hosted by Bob Smith a.k.a. Buffalo Bob and Howdy Doody the marionette. Among the other characters were Clarabell, a mute clown, Phineas T. Bluster, the mayor of Doodyville and Howdy's nemesis, and several other puppet characters, such as a creature named Flub-a-Dub.
The show ended in 1960. It got a revival in 1976 called The New Howdy Doody Show, which wasn't nearly as successful as the original version and only ran for 130 episodes.
"Hey kids, what time is it?" "It's Howdy Doody Time!":
- Alliterative Name: Buffalo Bob.
- Audience Participation: The show featured an audience of kids who sat in what's called the "Peanut Gallery" that Buffalo Bob would often interact with, making this one of the first examples of this trope in a kids show.
- Chroma Key: The last episode featured a scene where Buffalo Bob would stand in front of the empty "Peanut Gallery" and ask Sandra the Witch to make the kids appear in the gallery. This was all executed using chroma key, which was still relatively new technology on TV; a lot of blue noise appears on screen.
- The Eponymous Show: Replace the "Eponymous" with "Howdy Doody" and you should get the idea.
- Gender-Blender Name: Clarabell the Clown.
- Long Runner: Ran from 1947 to 1960, which is about 13 years.
- Magic Plastic Surgery: Happened early in the run, when the original puppet builder left and took the puppet with him. The familiar freckle-faced, chubby-cheeked Howdy Doody is the post-surgery version.
- Mix-and-Match Critters: Flub-a-Dub is a mixture between eight animals. He has the body of a dachshund, the tail of a pig, the neck of a giraffe, the bill of a duck, the ears of a spaniel, the whiskers of a cat, the flippers of a seal, and the memory of an elephant.
- Non-Ironic Clown: Clarabell the Clown. Although it can be argued that the whole "irony" element hadn't yet crept into the portrayals of clowns at this point in time.
- Product Placement: Buffalo Bob and Howdy Doody had a tendency to promote products in the show.
- Protagonist Title: When referred to as just Howdy Doody, without the "The" or "Show" appended to it.
- The Speechless: Clarabell the clown spoke only using gestures and a box he wore that honked when a button on it was pushed.
- Suddenly Speaking: The last episode ended with Clarabell revealing to the others that he can actually talk, and using the last opportunity he has to prove it to say "Goodbye, kids".
- That's All, Folks!: In the hour-long series finale, Clarabell used pantomime to tell Buffalo Bob and Howdy that he could actually speak. At Bob's urging, Clarabell turned to the camera and said in a soft, sad voice: "Goodbye, kids."
- Title Theme Tune: "It's Howdy Doody time! It's Howdy Doody time! Bob Smith and Howdy too, say 'howdy do' to you!"
- The Walls Are Closing In: One episode had Buffalo Bob tell the story of when he, Howdy and Clarabell got taken to King Yodstick's castle, where he looks inside the castle's royal treasure vault with Clarabell. The door to the vault gets locked and one of the vault's walls starts to close in on them, which they manage to stop just in time by jamming the wall with King Yodstick's scepter.
- Youthful Freckles: Howdy started out with 48 freckles for each of the United States, which was later increased to 49 and 50 when Alaska and Hawaii joined the Union.