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Series / The Great Space Coaster

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"Off we go!"
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A children's television series, featuring cartoons, live action segments, and puppets, that originally aired in first-run syndication from 1981 to 1986.

The series was co-created by Kermit Love and Jim Martin, and featured a number of performers who either came from or would go onto The Muppets. The premise follows three musicians from Earth — Roy, a keyboardist; Danny, a drummer; and Francine, a guitarist — who travel to an asteroid-like planet out in space via the titular coaster, piloted by Baxter, a life-sized circus clown puppet who is actually on the run from his villainous ringmaster, M. T. Promises. Other bizarre characters include Gary Gnu, host of The Gary Gnu Show, where no g'news is good g'news; Goriddle Gorilla, a mischievous, gravelly-voiced gorilla who doesn't quite think before he acts; Edison, a robot-like elephant with an echoing voice who loves gardening; and Knock Knock, a sophisticated woodpecker who lives in a tree.

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As of 2012, the rights to the show are held by Tanslin Media. Current plans include digitally preserving the old episodes, to potentially donate them to a museum or media center (as the use of licensed songs in the program would make releasing all 250 episodes on DVD or streaming without significantly editing them difficult if not impossible), and the production of new online content featuring Gary Gnu with hopes to garner enough attention for a full-fledged revival. More information can be found on the Tanslin Media site and the official Facebook page. The preservation of these old episodes is time sensitive, as the tapes they're on are deteriorating due to age, meaning that most of the show could potentially be gone for good. The initial Kickstarter effort, which originally set out with the goal to save at least one episode, made enough money to start the preservation process for 20 episodes. Currently, Tanslin Media is holding another preservation fundraiser featuring previous Kickstarter merch and rare show memorabilia through eBay, which so far has raised enough funds to preserve an additional 7 episodes. Several fan-uploaded full episodes of the show can be found on Gnu, uh, Youtube.

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Tropes:

  • All Planets Are Earth-Like
  • Alliterative Name: Gary Gnu, Goriddle Gorilla.
  • Breakout Character: Gary Gnu, in spades; a number may not even remember this series, but all you have to do is mention Gary Gnu, and they know who you are talking about.
  • Caring Gardener: Edison.
  • Catchphrase: "This is Gary Gnu, and The No G'News is Good G'News Show, the only TV g'news program guaranteed to contain no g'news whatsoever!"
    • "And now for something really g'new, here's Gary Gnu!"
    • Also, "No g'news is good g'news with Gary Gnu!"
    • Of course! I promise!
  • Cloudcuckoolander: Goriddle could fit the bill.
  • Cousin Oliver: Later in the show's run, Baxter adopted the Huggles, a small group of baby aliens that looked like pastel otters, in an effort to reach out to younger audiences.
  • Crossover: Supposedly, characters from Sid and Marty Krofft Productions made guest appearances.
  • Dastardly Whiplash: M. T. Promises
  • Drop-In Character: In addition to the Huggles, other new characters were introduced at the beginning of Season Four, in an attempt to help boost up the slumping ratings.
  • Eccentric Townsfolk: Most of the native characters of this planet.
  • Expository Theme Tune
  • Fantastic Comedy
  • Jerk-to-Nice-Guy Plot: Goriddle's role often involves his having a get-rich-quick idea or a backfired prank that leads to a good ethical lesson for grade schoolers.
    • He surprised his friends with gifts and tried to bill them for it later.
    • He pranked the sweet old lady bird, Knock-Knock, by nailing her door shut, not knowing she was claustrophobic. The others rushed to save her and found her passed out in fright.
    • He almost won a songwriting contest by passing off a 1920's ditty as his own, but Roy recognized it.
  • Grumpy Bear: Gary Gnu always seemed to be grumbling about something or other during his segments and rarely expressed anything else. Given all the grief he had to endure from Goriddle and the other characters, is it any wonder why he's so irritable?
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: Goriddle again.
  • Informed Species: Goriddle Gorilla's orange fur and facial features have more in common with orangutans and mandrills than he does with his namesake.
  • Laugh Track
  • Medium Awareness: Some skits involve the characters speaking to the audience, usually to introduce celebrity guest stars, or whenever Baxter is about to take the gang on another trip in the coaster.
  • Medium Blending
  • Muppet
  • No Indoor Voice: Gary Gnu.
  • Once per Episode: Every episode, while having the beats and feeling of a variety show, would have consistent segments that appear at least once per episode, these include:
    • Roy showing an animated short through his mini projector to the puppets(usually showing La Linea)
    • Gary Gnu hosting his "No Gnews Show", or the Book of the Week Review with Speed Reader.
    • Knock Knock telling Goriddle a Knock Knock joke.
    • Baxter taking Roy, Fran and Danny out on a trip in the coaster, which always culminates in a song.
    • An appearance with a celebrity guest appearance, usually shown at the end of the show.
    • In later seasons more sketches were added including:
      • A sketch featuring The Huggles.
      • Rory Lion running late for his DJ show and introducing a song played by the Space Coasters
      • Baxter reading a bedtime story to the Huggles.
  • Promotion to Opening Titles: All of them. To be fair, the opening title was just an animated sequence of Baxter picking up and transporting Roy, Danny, and Francine to the asteroid in the titular coaster set to the show's theme song. For the last two seasons, however, the opening titles added something of a Dramatis Personae overlay, and a Goriddle voice-over announcing, "It's The Great Space Coaster, starring Goriddle Gorilla; Gary Gnu; Baxter; Roy, Danny, and Francine; The Great Space Coaster Gang (M.T. Promises, Big Jock Ox, Rory, et al), and the Huggles!"
  • Punny Name
    • Knock-Knock the Woodpecker
    • M.T. Promises
  • Puppet Shows
  • Repulsive Ringmaster: M. T. Promises
  • Running Gag: During Gary Gnu's segments, his stage crew often calls him a "turkey" and drops a paper turkey with his face from the ceiling, accompanied by a gobbling sound effect.
  • Show Within a Show: The program had several recurring segments, such as "Speed Reader".
  • Special Guest: Including Mean Joe Greene, Mark Hamill, Marvin Hamlisch and Marilyn McCoo among others.
  • Species Surname: Edison Elephant, Gary Gnu and Goriddle Gorilla.
  • Spiritual Successor: To the works of Jim Henson.
  • Talking Animal: Many members of the cast.
  • Verbal Tic: Gary Gnu pronouncing N words with a hard G sound before it (e.g., "No g'news is good g'news").

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