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Series / Zoom

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The ZOOMers, old and new.

Zoom (stylized in all-caps as ZOOM) is a TV show first created in 1972 by PBS affiliate WGBH in Boston, and which ran until 1978. Here, a cast of ethnically diverse kids called the ZOOMers (who change every season) do various activities requested by viewers who write in during the show, such as games, arts & crafts, poems, and jokes.

In 1999, it was given a revival,note  which lasted until 2005. Although it quickly became a PBS Kids standard, the show became notorious for being very hard to find online thanks to never getting an official release, and earlier seasons eventually getting dropped from rotation. It was followed by a far more popular Spiritual Successor called FETCH! with Ruff Ruffman.

This show contains examples of:

  • Conlang: Ubbi Dubbi, which simply involves adding an "ub" sound before each vowel sound (e.g., "ZOOM" becomes "ZubOOM").
  • Couch Gag: Various clips of ZOOM guests are inserted into a certain point in the opening credits.
  • Dancing Theme: The Zoomers dance as they perform the theme in the opening. The revival's more energetic and better choreographed, though.
  • Introductory Opening Credits: In the opening credits, the name of each kid appears below them as they introduce themselves before they do a stunt.
  • Late to the Punchline: Give the name Fannee Doolee a closer look.
  • Limited Wardrobe:
    • The original cast wore uniforms. Early, they were light blue long-sleeve shirts. Later, they wore striped rugby shirts.
    • Everyone in the revival gets their own outfit, which they wear throughout the season (except during some segments where they would instead wear a T-shirt with the ZOOM logo on it, or parts requiring them to wear a different outfit, such as the Ubbi Dubbi Man segments).
  • One I Prepared Earlier: During the cooking segments.
  • Recycled In Space: The series comes off as Blue Peter IN AMERICA!, except the hosts are kids instead of adults.
  • Running Gag: A number of kids have their own.
  • Spelling Song:
    • F, A, double-N double-E, D double-O L double-E!
    • If you didn't know what SASE (pronounced "SAY-zee") was, you soon found out: correspondence to ZOOM required a "Self-Addressed Stamped Envelope."
  • Stock Footage: Fannee Doolee and The Z-Mail song.
  • Theme Tune Roll Call: In the opening and closing credits. In the last two seasons, the voice over kids shout out the ZOOMers' names during the theme song rather than having the ZOOMers introduce themselves.
  • Title Theme Tune: "Come on and Zoom-a, Zoom-a, Zoom-a, Zoom!"

The revival contains examples of:

  • Adaptational Nice Guy: "Rumpelstiltskin" (who later decides to call himself Jack) in "A Mixed Up Fairytale" isn't scheming to take a woman's baby, even if she made a bargain with him. Instead, he offers to rescue Cinderella from a locked tower if she guesses his name; when she forgets, he decides to rescue her anyway and changes his name since even he can't remember it.
  • The Big Guy: Jared and Pablo in Season 1, Ray in Season 2, and Eric and Buzz in Season 3. Starting in season 4, the tallest cast member was female (for example, Garrett, the tallest male in season 4, was shorter than all but one of the four female cast members) until season 7, in which the trope was played straight with Francesco.
  • Big Word Shout: By season 2, PBS shows were required to add "thank you" to the end of their funding credits. Zoom was happy to oblige.
    Kids: (Holding up a sign) THANKS!
  • Bilingual Bonus: In seasons 1-4, the Zoomers of Hispanic descent would give submission instructions in Spanish. The pilot had Enid do it, season 1 had Pablo, season 2 had Claudio, and season 4 had Estuardo. Season 3 didn't have any Hispanic Zoomers.
  • Bottle Episode: The season one episode "The Making of Zoom" and the season 7 episode "How We Became Zoomers" focus entirely on the cast's experience on being members of the show. The latter averts this slightly as it focuses on their experience at a camp they attended prior to the filming of the season.
  • Brand X: Brand names are covered up with brightly colored labels. Sometimes Bland Names are used such as Mozo brand fruit, with the label mimicking the Dole Food Company's logo and trade dress.
  • Calvinball: Games like Crab Soccer.
  • Character Focus: The "Zoom Out" and "Zoom In On" segments in the last two seasons show us what the kids do outside of Zoom.
  • "Could Have Avoided This!" Plot: Zoe in one skit tries to use a storybook machine to go into the books she has for summer reading. Tom Sawyer makes her paint his fence, the Macbeth witches try to eat her, and the Queen of Hearts sentences her to death. When she's back, Zoe picks up the books and says she should have just read them from the start rather than try to get killed.
  • Epic Fail:
    • Rumplestiltskin can't remember his own name in "A Mixed-Up Fairytale." After forgetting too many times, he asks Cinderella to call him Jack instead.
    • In a skit from one of the currently missing episodes, Keiko tries to summon a rabbit out of a hat for Jared, Zoe, and David. It only works for David; with Jared, she summons a carrot, which he proceeds to eat. She brings a ringing telephone for Zoe, who answers and finds out it's her grandmother. As Keiko puts it in Ubbi Dubbi, "Zub-oops!"
  • Fun with Acronyms: A few pieces of Z-Mail (snail mail) feature kids sending in acronyms such as "Zero Ostriches On the Moon", with accompanying drawings.
  • Fun with Subtitles: The Closed Captioning not only subtitles the Ubbi Dubbi, but writes the sound effect descriptions in Ubbi Dubbi, too!
  • HA HA HA—No: Usually done in Ubbi Dubbi, in response to terrible jokes.
  • Happily Adopted: Season 7's Nick.
  • Halloween Episode: There's one in season three, although aside from featuring instructions for making a few different costumes, and a claymation music video for "The Monster Mash" that was submitted by a third-grade class, it's pretty much a standard ZOOM episode. On top of that, it was filmed in the summer, premiered in January, and was never even rerun on Halloween (and the only times it even aired in October was twice the year the season premiered).
  • Kissing Discretion Shot
    • Done in one episode of reenacting a fairy tale, likely because the actors were still preteens. The actual kiss is covered up by the knight's shield.
    • In another episode that also reenacts Sleeping Beauty, Kenny (the narrator) moves in front of the camera and talks to the audience during the kissing moment.
  • Lampshade Hanging: In the season five finale's ZOOM Playhouse they have a skit about the zoomers reuniting for their 60th reunion. Caroline organized the event and has a lot of ZOOM activities for them all to reminisce over. Aline is surprised by how much Caroline remembered. Caroline responds that she is still on ZOOM, lampshading the fact that she was the longest running cast member of ZOOM with four seasons. This also happened to be her final episode.
  • Large Ham: Jared and Pablo in season 1, among others.
  • Lock-and-Load Montage: The first two seasons of the revival use this in the opening credits.
  • Logo Joke: A number of intertitles, the baseball mentioned below, and a giant logo that doesn't always have its letters in the right order.
  • My Nayme Is: Kaleigh Cronin and Kortney Summer.
  • One Head Taller: Jared, to David. Emily is one head shorter than her fellow cast members.
  • One I Prepared Earlier: Usually in the Cafe ZOOM segments.
  • Pilot: The reboot had a pilot episode filmed in 1996. It was very similar in style to the 70s series, reusing the original logo. The pilot had its own theme song using actual lyrics (not just "Come on and ZOOM"), and a completely different cast from the rest of the 90s series.
  • Precap: Almost every episode of the revival has a "today on ZOOM" segment before the funding credits. Seasons 2-7 they last 30 seconds, while in season 1 they usually lasted between 15 and 22 seconds note . Episodes not including a precap include season one's "The Making of ZOOM"note  the first episode of season threenote ; one episode of season five; the first two episodes, and the behind the scenes special in season seven.
  • Rearrange the Song: In addition to the theme song itself being rearranged in the seventh season, this is the premise of the "Twinkle Twinkle Little Bat" plays in both versions of the show.
  • Revolving Door Casting: The cast of ZOOMers changed every season, while certain ZOOMers would stay in the cast if they were young enough.
  • Rube Goldberg Device: The kids try to build a machine to squeeze toothpaste in season 2 and a machine to pour milk in season 3. In addition both seasons feature video submissions from kids that made their own Rube Goldberg Device.
  • Sequel Episode: Applied to ZoomSci segments.
  • Shout-Out: A few later seasons showed old clips from the 1970s and one ZOOMer teaching viewers how to do Bernadette's "arm spin".
    • In a behind-the-scenes episode from the first season, everyone (minus David, for some reason) is seen dancing to "Stop" by the Spice Girls, possibly to celebrate filming all the episodes.
    • The kids from the last season are camping out as part of their overnight training retreat. They decide to sing the theme song from Arthur around their campfire. WGBH produces both shows.
    • Sketches parodying Antiques Roadshow and This Old House have also been used.
  • Smash Cut: The Season 5 intro has the kids playing a game of baseball. It flies out of the park and into the studio, where it is caught.
  • The Scream: In the play "There's No Such Thing As Monsters".
  • The Stinger: At the end of every episode before the funding credits.
  • Story Arc: The Season 6 team participated in a LEGO League competition. The entire experience, including training, was recorded and given a recurring segment. This was probably the genesis of FETCH! with Ruff Ruffman.
  • Thanking the Viewer: Every episode from the last two seasons end with the Zoomers thanking the viewers for watching the show and saying goodbye before the credits start.
    "Well, that's the end of our show. Thanks for watching! Bye!"
  • Three... Two... One...: In "A Mixed-Up Fairytale", the evil queen kisses the frog in hopes of getting a prince out of the deal. After warning her that kisses don't work that way with fairy tale crossovers, he nonchalantly checks an invisible watch, saying, "Three, two, one" as she starts changing into a cat.
  • Tomboy and Girly Girl:
    • Season 1 has Lynesse & Zoe, and Keiko & Alissa.
    • Season 2 has Jessie & Caroline.
    • Seasons 3 and 4 have Rachel & Kaleigh.
    • Seasons 5 and 6 have Kortney & Shing Ying.
    • Season 6 has Maya & Cara.
    • Season 7 has Taylor & Noreen.
  • Very Special Episode: The Zoom Chat segments, America's Kids Respond, and America's Kids Remember. The latter two episodes, both from the 1999-2005 series, focused on 9/11.
  • Viewers Like You: In all of the funding credits from 1999-2005.
  • Wildlife Commentary Spoof: The Caterpillar Hunter skit in season 7 was a parody of The Crocodile Hunter
  • Whip Pan: Used to indicate Time Skips during Zoom Do segments on projects which take a while to finish.
  • Wrong Genre Savvy: The evil queen from Snow White in "A Mixed-Up Fairy Tale" thinks that if she kisses the talking frog, she'll get a prince since that's how his story goes. He warns her that they're from two different fairy tales, so kisses will work differently. She doesn't listen. Cue the queen being turned into a cat rather than getting a prince after pecking him on his froggy cheek.


Video Example(s):


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