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You Can't Do That on Television

You Can't Do That on Television (YCDTOTV) was a Canadian children's television program, created by Roger Price and aired from February 3, 1979 to May 25, 1990. It primarily featured child actors in a sketch comedy format, acting out short scenes based on a theme that served as the topic for the episode. Connecting scenes based on the theme would often serve to create a story arc that lasted the length of the episode. Nickelodeon became known for its iconic green slime that was originally used in this show. The series is known for featuring future pop recording artist Alanis Morissette as a cast member.

In 2002, and again in 2004, YCDTOTV cast members reunited alongside fans of the show at SlimeCon, a fan-produced convention in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. YCDTOTV was a children's comedy show, but for those now in their twenties and thirties, it is identified now as a nostalgic cult classic. During the 2004 event, a Top Secret reunion special had its premiere.

History

Local television

You Can't Do That on Television debuted on February 3, 1979 on CJOH-TV, a CTV affiliate in Ottawa, Ontario. (It was to have premiered one week earlier, but the link set was not yet ready.) At its inception it was a low-budget, local comedy program that included phone-in competitions through which the viewer could win prizes (transistor radios, record albums, clothes, model kits, and the like). This portion of the program was broadcast live, although the majority of each episode was pre-taped. The format also included performances by local disco dancers, special guests such as Ottawa-based cartoonist Jim Unger, and music videos, usually three per episode. Every week the show took its "Roving Camera" to kid hangouts around town and captured footage of kids telling jokes or complaining about the unfairness of life, which would be played on the following week's episode. The disco dance segments were emceed by Jim Johnson, a DJ on Ottawa's leading pop music radio station, CFGO (which at the time was co-owned with CJOH). Also, after a music video aired, Johnson would tell the viewers some interesting facts about the artist featured in the video.

The only adult actor on the show was veteran comedy actor Les Lye (Abby Hagyard, who played Mom and the librarian, among other adult female roles, did not join the cast until 1982), though occasionally the older children in the cast would play adult roles. The show's trademark green slime was also introduced this season, as was the practice of using the phrase "I don't know" as a trigger for the slime. The show was meant to offer a fun, Canadian-made program for children on Saturday mornings that made no attempt to be educational. It worked. CJOH had a hit on its hands, and the show became a formidable competitor for American shows in the same time slot. Only three full episodes from this season are still in existence, due to home video recordings being made the day the episodes were broadcast. These episodes were once extremely rare and considered collector's items with YCDTOTV fans, since the studio masters no longer exist. However, the episodes can now be downloaded and viewed from several websites.

National television in Canada

After a successful first season, a national network version of the program titled Whatever Turns You On was produced for CTV and debuted in September 1979 (having already aired an hour-long pilot episode in May). The format was shortened from an hour to a half-hour, removed the local content, added a laugh track, and replaced the music videos with live performances from popular Canadian artists at the time, including Trooper, Max Webster, Ian Thomas and disco singer Alma Faye Brooks. Ruth Buzzi of Laugh-In joined the cast as an additional adult performer alongside Les Lye. The cast of twenty-two children from the first season was whittled down to just seven: Christine "Moose" McGlade, Lisa Ruddy, Jonothan Gebert, Kevin Somers, Kevin Schenk, Rodney Helal, Nick Sporek, and Marc Baillon (another first season cast member, Elizabeth Mitchell, appeared in the pilot episode only). Perhaps due to its Tuesday night timeslot, it suffered from poor ratings and was cancelled after one season.

Nickelodeon

In January 1981, production on YCDTOTV resumed, and a new batch of episodes aired locally on CJOH through May of that year. The format of the 1981 episodes as aired on CJOH was similar to that of the inaugural 1979 season, with the differences being that each show featured skits revolving around a certain topic (something that carried over from Whatever Turns You On) and that the disco dancers were replaced by video game competitions. The season proper ended in May, but the cast members were asked to come back in May and June 1981 to film some additional scenes for the syndicated version of the show. At the time the season ended, it was uncertain whether the show would continue.

Later in 1981, the new youth-oriented American cable network, Nickelodeon, took an interest in YCDTOTV. Nickelodeon originally aired the "Work, Work, Work" episode several times during 1981 as well as some other edited episodes from the 1981 season. Price and director Geoffrey Darby had edited the entire 1981 season of episodes into a half-hour format similar to Whatever Turns You On for national and international syndication. Toward the beginning of 1982, Nickelodeon began airing the edited season and YCDTOTV quickly became their highest rated show.

Due to the program's high ratings, production on new episodes of YCDTOTV resumed in 1982, with all episodes from that point onward made in the half-hour all-comedy format. Also in 1982, Nickelodeon and CJOH became production partners on YCDTOTV. Over the next few years, the ratings gradually declined in Canada (by 1985, it was seen only once a week in a Saturday-morning time slot on CTV), but YCDTOTV continued to go strong in the U.S. on Nickelodeon, where it aired five times a week and eventually everyday.

In 1984, the show became the network's highest-rated television program. Kids across America were making slime and water sounds with their mouths and sending in their entries for the Slime-In, a contest hosted by Nickelodeon that flew a lucky kid to the set of You Can't Do That On Television to be slimed (which was replicated by Canada's YTV later with their version being called the Slime Light Sweepstakes).

By 1987, many of the "veteran" cast members such as Matt Godfrey, Doug Ptolemy, Vanessa Lindores, and Adam Reid had grown too old for the show. Christine McGlade ("Moose"), who was probably the most well-known cast member and the show's longtime hostess, had departed the previous year, as had Alasdair Gillis (who had been promoted to co-host with Moose in 1985) left before the end of the 1986 season; Lisa Ruddy ("Motormouth"), Moose's longtime sidekick, was also gone, having left at the end of the 1985 season. Only five episodes were filmed in this season, and one of those (Adoption) proved so controversial that it was banned after a single airing (though some sources state it aired twice, despite a "DO NOT AIR" sticker on the master tape at CJOH).

Also by this time, Nickelodeon had removed the half-hour edits of the 1981 episodes from its rotation, along with the 1982 "Cosmetics" episode. The 1981 episodes were supposed to air for the last time during a week-long promotion in 1985 called "Oldies But Moldies", which featured contests where viewers could win prizes like chocolate syrup. However, the episodes continued to air until the end of 1987 but were not played very often. Reportedly, this was because Nickelodeon's five-year contract to air the 1981 season expired in 1986, and since Nickelodeon was beginning to aim for a younger demographic and many of the 1981 episodes dealt with topics more relevant to adolescents (such as smoking, drugs, sexual equality, and peer pressure), the network opted not to renew the contract. Apparently, Nickelodeon removed the "Cosmetics" episode from rotation for the latter reason as well (although the "Addictions" episode from that same season was not dropped).

Price moved to France in 1988. CJOH decided not to make new episodes without him and production was suspended. When Price returned to Canada, he wanted to resume production on the show from Toronto, but was convinced to return to Ottawa and CJOH.

The program resumed production in 1989, but the only child cast members to make the transition from 1987 to 1989 were Amyas Godfrey and Andrea Byrne, although a few minor cast members seen in 1986, including Rekha Shah and James Tung, returned for an episode or two. According to YCDTOTV.com, 1984-87 cast member Stephanie Chow was given the option of returning for the 1989 season, but chose not to in order to focus on her piano playing. Thus, an almost entirely-new cast of children was assembled, including new host Chris Bickford (whose trademark was the leather jacket he always wore), Christian Tessier, Ted Wilson, Jennifer Brackenbury, Carlos Braithwaite, Sariya Sharp, Stephanie Bauder, Patrick Mills, Kevin Ward, Chantal Tremblay, and sisters Jill and Amy Stanley.

Opinions on the 1989 and 1990 episodes of YCDTOTV are mixed among fans of the show, particularly regarding the new episodes' increasing reliance on bathroom humor and flatulence jokes to attract a younger audience than the show had targeted in years past. In any case, the show did not completely sever ties to its past, as many former cast members reappeared during the 1989 season in cameo roles, most notably in the "Age" episode, which was hosted by Vanessa Lindores and also featured cameos by Doug Ptolemy, Alasdair Gillis, Christine McGlade, and Kevin Kubusheskie (who by that time had become a producer on the show). Alasdair also appeared briefly in the locker jokes during the "Fantasies" episode, and Adam Reid, who by this time had become a writer for YCDTOTV, also appeared (and was slimed) at the end of the episode "Punishment."

Nevertheless, the show's ratings fell throughout 1989 and 1990, and due to this and also to Nickelodeon's desire to make more of its own shows at its new theme park in Orlando, Florida, production ceased at the end of the 1990 season, which, like 1987, lasted for only five episodes. Nickelodeon continued to air reruns until January 1994, at which point it was only being aired on weekends.

Reunion

In July 2004, a reunion special called Project 131 was produced at CJOH-TV starring five members of the original cast. These included Brodie Osome, Marjorie Silcoff, and Vanessa Lindores (who was visibly pregnant at the time), with cameos by Justin Cammy and Alasdair Gillis (Also originally scheduled for the program were Christine McGlade, who had to back out due to a scheduling conflict, and Les Lye, who had to back out due to illness). Directed by David Dillehunt and executive produced by Josh Yawn, this was the final production ever made in Studio D, the same studio where the show had been produced fourteen years prior. The front of the lockers and the bookshelves from the library were the only original sets still available at the time of this taping, necessitating that most of the show be shot in green screen.

In January 2007, the special was released to the public on YouTube. Yawn's lines in the opening scene were overdubbed.

Future

As of 2005, CJOH had no plans to release re-runs of YCDTOTV nor are there any plans to produce new episodes. In 2006, rumours began floating that Nickelodeon would release DVDs of the series as part of its "Rewind" series of DVD releases of shows from its past. However, in early February 2006, ycdtotv.com reported that because of changes in the hierarchy of Viacom, there would be no DVD release in the immediate future. Although fans still hold out hope that the series will one day be released commercially, some web sites, including ycdtotv.com and barthsburgery.com, have made episodes of the series available in the interim, through either free downloads of episodes or sales of homemade DVD compilations.

You STILL Can't Do That on Television!

During late 2005, a group of fans of YCDTOTV worked on a fan-made animated version called You Still Can't Do That On Television or simply You Still Can't (YSC) as a tribute to YCDTOTV. The character designs are in a Japanese anime style, highly reminiscent of Gals! , and the show's theme song is an updated, dance-flavoured remix of the original YCDTOTV theme (which was a Dixieland jazz-style rendition of Rossini's William Tell Overture), composed by Josh Yawn. Voice artist Patte Rosebank (of "Mighty Machines") was the only Canadian contributor. Other cast members included Cristina Vee, Sean Farm, Jared Lee, Amber Aviles, Ken Dukes, and Peter Miller.

Notable episodes

Adoption and Divorce

The 1987 season included the episode "Adoption" that was banned after only one accidental airing on Nickelodeon. Among the content that led to the banning is a scene where Valerie (Abby Hagyard) and Lance (Les Lye) adopt Doug because it was cheaper than buying a dog. In another sketch, Lance adopts Adam Reid only to serve as a hired hand to do chores around the house. When Adam finishes the chores, Lance calls the adoption agency to send Adam back, and is furious when he is told that "adoption is for life." Although Adam and Vanessa Lindores gave a disclaimer in the episode's opening link explaining that the show was all in fun and not to be taken seriously, Nickelodeon was deluged with complaints from adopted viewers, and never showed the episode again; the master tape of the episode at CJOH was slapped with a "DO NOT AIR" sticker. This episode was shown on YTV, but the only part edited was Lance Prevert's line, "Damn bureaucrat!" when he learns that adoption is for life.

Similarly, according to YCDTOTV.com, the "Divorce" episode from 1984 was banned by YTV in Canada when it began showing YCDTOTV in 1988 (see: http://www.ycdtotv.com/faq/index.html). The plot of this episode involved the producer of the show and his wife getting a divorce, and the producer's wife demanding half of everything in the studio - including wardrobe, food and drink, and green slime. "Divorce" was not banned in the United States.

Body Parts

When this episode (from the 1984 season) aired on Nickelodeon, two rather risque sketches were cut and replaced with less offensive sketches from dress rehearsal:

  • An "Opposite" sketch where a teacher shows his anatomy class a pornographic movie.
  • A sketch where Ross sells his father's issues of Playboy magazine to Ben and Alasdair.

The replacement sketches for this episode were:

  • Ben complains to his doctor about his new leg being sewn on backwards (resulting in Ben spinning every time he walks).
  • Lisa tricks Moose into eating a chocolate-covered grasshopper.

Fears, Worries, and Anxieties

When the "Fears, Worries, and Anxieties" episode (from the 1985 season) aired on Nickelodeon, one sketch aired where a boy is harassed by a bully named Killer Curtis. At the time Nickelodeon aired the episode, an actual murderer named Killer Curtis was in the news. Because of this, the name "Killer Curtis" was redubbed with "Crusher Willis".

Technology

"Technology" (1984) was a unique "interactive" episode. As Christine McGlade explained during the show's introduction, this episode would provide an opportunity for the show to test some new technology that would allow viewers to influence the outcome of a scene. During the course of the show, whenever the characters disagreed on something, they would "let the viewers decide". Red and green squares would appear on the screen, and viewers would be asked to touch green for a "yes" vote, and red for a "no" vote. Afterwards, the "correct" action would be taken.

Some examples from this episode include whether or not to execute Luke McKeehan (yes), slime Vanessa Lindores in a dungeon scene (yes), and let Lisa Ruddy lose her voice and be unable to talk (yes). The viewers did "vote" to restore Lisa's voice, but only to introduce the opposite sketches, and the viewers "voted" for Lisa to lose her voice again once the opposites were over.

The next example involved going to a commercial. Lisa was to introduce the commercials, but could not because she was still unable to speak, and Lisa informed Christine (via writing notes, which was the only way she was able to communicate) that if there were no commercials, no one would get paid. This was all the prompting Christine needed to initiate the vote, but the vote failed to pass twice, thus forcing Christine to resort to a sort of bribery, including promising that Vanessa would get watered (of course, Christine got watered herself while explaining this) and Eugene Contreras would have "something really bad" happen to him if the vote went through. It worked: Vanessa was drenched, and the "really bad" thing turned out to be a pie in the face for Eugene. And of course, Lisa was able to talk again, and she chirped, "And now it's time for a commercial."

Another example allowed the viewers to "vote" on whether or not the locker jokes scene would go on. The viewers voted NOT to go through with them, which made Christine say, "Boy, the viewers of this show have a brain after all." Then she turned towards the camera and said, "Then again, if you really did have a brain, would you even be watching this show?"

One final vote at the end of the episode involved letting the viewers vote on whether the show would be allowed to end. Surprisingly, the viewers "voted" for the show not to end - which convinced Ross that the technological gizmo was broken. He and Christine were further convinced when they held another vote on whether to take Lisa's voice from her again, and vote came back in favor of Lisa keeping her voice.

Anniversary airings

During Nickelodeon's 20th Anniversary, CJOH allowed the network to rerun three episodes of YCDTOTV. On June 26, 1999, the Music and Enemies and Paranoia episodes from 1986 aired, and on June 27, 1999, the Parties episode aired. Nickelodeon chose to feature only episodes that featured now-famous Alanis Morissette because of their "Nickelodeon Knew Them When" theme.

In 2004 for Nickelodeon's Old Skool Pick, the Enemies and Paranoia episode was picked; however, after the commercial break, Nickelodeon switched to an episode of an unrelated series. The reason behind the sudden substitution was never given; however, the anniversary fell shortly after the death of former president Ronald Reagan, and the episode chosen featured some content that made light of President Reagan and his policies. YCDTOTV was never seen again after that airing.

Trademarks

Episodes of YCDTOTV included recurring gimmicks and gags. The following is a partial list.

Pre-empted shows

At the beginning of each show aired after the 1981 season, a title card would appear featuring a parody title of a TV show, with a silly (often macabre) picture and the announcer making the following announcement: "(TV show) will not be seen today in order for us to bring you this (adjective in character with the picture) production." The pre-empted shows were parodies of current TV shows (i.e. The A-Team Makes One Cup of Coffee Last Five Hours, "Hanging Out" or "Malls", 1984), movies (i.e. Top Gun Gets Put on Latrine-Cleaning Duty, "Discipline", 1986), or other pop culture icons (i.e. Boy George Without Make-up, "Halloween", 1984), and were often relevant to the theme of current episode (i.e. the pre-empted show for "Safety" (1981) was "Hit and Run on Sesame Street"). The pre-empted show announcement concept was borrowed from Saturday Night Live, which introduced their shows with similar announcements in the late 1970s. You Can't Do That On Television has preempted itself on three occasions (Television, Media, and Priorities). The Generation Gap episode did not begin with a preempted episode, instead a disclaimer read "The following program contains certain scenes which may not be suitable for mature audiences. Juvenile discretion is advised". And there was no preempted episode for the Success and Failure episode because the producers failed to come up with a preempt.

Opening animation: The Children's Television Sausage Factory

Created by opening animator Barry Blair who was inspired by Terry Gilliam's "gilliamations", the opening animation sequence was a sequence of surreal images set to the wacky music of Rossini's William Tell Overture, performed in a Dixieland jazz arrangement by The National Press Club and Allied Workers Jazz Band. Though the theme music stayed the same throughout the entire series run, the opening animation itself changed.

  • The Canadian Parliament Building was used in the first season and in the original hour-long versions of the 1981 season episodes. In this animation sequence, a hand from offscreen ignites the Parliament building with a match and it takes off like a rocket. The start of the animation features a likeness of 1979 cast member David Halpin.
  • There are two versions of the "Children's Television Sausage Factory" animation. In this sequence, children are "processed" in the "sausage factory" and deposited onto a school bus which transports them to the TV studio (a likeness of the CJOH studios on Merivale Road in Nepean, Ontario). The first version was created for the half-hour, internationally syndicated versions of the 1981 episodes. The second version, which featured larger images and cleaner (albeit less fluid) animation than the first, was introduced in the 1982 season and used for both the U.S. and Canadian broadcasts of the show until the end in 1990.
  • Both versions of the "Children's Television Sausage Factory" animation feature likenesses of Jonothan Gebert, Kevin Somers, Marc Baillon and Christine McGlade exiting the school bus, as well as a likeness of Les Lye as the security guard at the door of the TV studio. This footage was re-used from the opening sequence of 1979's short-lived Whatever Turns You On.

Opposites

Each episode had an "opposites" segment, introduced by a visual effect of the screen flipping upside down, shifting left to fade to the next sketch, and then righting itself. Right before this happened, one of the cast would generally be giving a monologue (or several would be having a group conversation) that was interrupted by another cast member with something that would (generally) be opposite what the monologue (or dialogue) was about, all present cast would say, "It must be the introduction to the opposites", and then the inversion fade would happen; several sketches would follow that were a tongue-in-cheek reversal of the show's subject of the day, and also in which the normal principles of daily life were reversed, often with children having authority over adults or with adults encouraging children to behave badly (for example, eating sweets instead of vegetables, or wasting money on something frivolous rather than putting the money in the bank). A show on marketing, for instance, would also have a sketch or four of how not to market something.

Sometimes opposite sketches involved cast members not being hit with slime or water after saying the "trigger phrase" (see below section), as in City Life (1987) or Excess (1989). The slime or water would not fall until after the opposites were over. Also, an opposite sketch in Heroes (1982) had Lisa Ruddy slimed for saying "I know," rather than "I don't know."

A return to the show's daily subject was hallmarked by another of these inversion fades, and usually accompanied by one of the cast members saying, "Back to reality."

Opposite sketches were used in the inaugural season of the show on CJOH in 1979, but it was not until Whatever Turns You On that they became an integral part of the show.

Locker room

During the "locker room" segment, cast members, residing in gym lockers, would tell jokes to each other. The person telling the joke would open their locker, sticking their head out to call another cast member to tell the joke to. For the duration of the joke, those cast members would be the only ones seen with open lockers. When the punchline was delivered, there would be a laugh track and the actors would close their lockers, allowing the process to start again with different people and a different joke. This was almost certainly an homage to the "joke wall" segment on Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In. This feature of the show was also introduced during its first season in 1979 and continued until the end of the series, with the lockers undergoing a few physical makeovers during the show's early years.

Production company

Used in a few episodes in the first two seasons and almost every episode in later seasons, the closing credits are followed by an announcement of the "company" that produced the program, with the name generally tying in with the shows subject. These announcements are given in the form of "'You Can't Do That on Television' is a ______ production." For example, the 1982 "Bullying" episode was a "Black Eye" Production; and the 1984 "Marketing" show was a "Can't Give It Away" Production. The announcements were generally followed by one final sketch, usually taking place on the link set.

Water, slime and pies

Water

Certain key words would result in cast members having substances poured on them from off-camera. When someone said "water" or "wet", a large amount of water would mysteriously cascade onto them from above. In the early years of the show, cast members (especially Christine) were frequently nailed with pails of water physically thrown on them, but starting in 1981, this began to change to the much more mysterious motif of water falling down on the victim from above. By the 1984 season, the word "wet" no longer triggered the water, leaving the job to the word "water" itself. This, too, was an homage to Laugh-In.

Slime

Likewise, when someone said "I don't know", green slime would pour on them from above. This was known as being "slimed." (The first episode in which "I don't know" was used as a trigger phrase for the green slime was one of the local episodes seen only on CJOH, broadcast on March 17, 1979 - fittingly, St. Patrick's Day. In some early episodes an actor might say "I don't know" as part of the scripted dialogue with no repercussion.) Conversely, the first episode ever to use the slime gag was Episode 6, dated March 10, 1979. In the Detention/Dungeon scene, Tim Douglas is told NOT to pull on his chains by the principal. After he leaves, Tim does just that. A "toilet flushing" sound is heard, and the first YCDTOTV sliming occurs.

Nickelodeon quickly adopted "slime" as a feature in several shows it produced, and used it heavily in its marketing. Other colours of slime were occasionally used on the show, as in the following instances:

  • Christine McGlade is slimed in blue in the ending link to the 1982 "Justice and Injustice" episode, because, as Ross (Les Lye) tells her, they ran out of green slime.
  • Christine is slimed in green, red, blue, yellow and "stripes" (red, blue, and yellow at once) in rapid succession in the 1982 "Television" episode, while trying to explain about green slime to then-newcomer Vanessa Lindores. This sketch was later seen in the opening to the hit 1987 film Fatal Attraction.
  • In the 1982 episode "Cosmetics", Lisa Ruddy is slimed with "mud" (like brown slime) for saying "I don't know."
  • Kevin Schenk and Kevin Somers were both hit with white slime in the 1981 "Safety" episode, as part of a recurring series of gags in this episode about "wearing white at night." In this same episode, Christine McGlade was drenched with whitewash.
  • In the 1983 "Media" episode, Lisa Ruddy is slimed with the "new and improved, whiter-than-white" white slime.
  • In the "Enemies and Paranoia" episode from the 1986 season, the studio is taken over by Russian Communists. Uttering the word "free" (as in "freedom") would send a cascade of red slime pouring over whoever said it.
  • The 1989 "Time" episode, which was filmed largely in black and white, featured Chris Bickford doused in white slime and Christian Tessier slimed with black slime.
  • In the 1989 episode "Losing Things", Ted Wilson and Amyas Godfrey are dumped with black slime because they lost the formula for green slime.

Several different recipes of slime were used during the series' decade-long run, some resulting in thin, watery slime and others in thick, chunky slime. In an interview with YCDTOTV.com, longtime YCDTOTV crew member Bill Buchanan explained the origin of the slime in 1979:

"...one script called for this kinda disgusting slimy green stuff - but with no real indication of what it was going to be used for. ... The description was that it was just something green and slimy and disgusting ... Anyhow, [properties man Paul Copping] mixed up a whole green garbage can ... with slime. I know he'd colored it with green latex paint. God knows what else was in it, but it was disgusting. And it was parked inside the studio door, and everyone was kinda avoiding it because it was really foul looking. I mean, he had like sausages floating in it. ... Then, all of a sudden, we get to the point of the day where it turns out that it's going to be used. It turns out that it's going to get dumped on some kid! ... It was like, "Jeeze, this stuff is probably toxic! You can't dump that on somebody!" So I guess the whole green slime thing was deferred to such time when we had something that wouldn't kill somebody if it were to fall on them. That first stuff never got used. ... Then, I remember being kind of involved in the first attempt to make a green slimy material that would be actually ... not too offensive. When you dumped it on a person's head, you were liable to get it in their eyes, in their mouths and anywhere else. So we concocted some stuff made out of green Jell-o, or gelatin. We made it by the bucket. We bought hundreds of packages of lime Jell-o or gelatin over the years."|||Bill Buchanan|

For several years afterwards, the slime consisted of this mixture of lime green gelatin powder and flour; eventually, oatmeal was added to the recipe, as was baby shampoo so that it would wash out of the actors' hair more easily. Especially in the later years of the show, cast members who were slimed frequently looked upward into the slime as it was falling so that it covered their faces (the same was also true of the waterings).

To avoid damage to the set from water or slime, a clear tarpaulin was placed over the main portion of the set for scenes in which an actor was to be hit with either. The tarpaulin can occasionally be seen and/or heard underneath the actors in these scenes, and in fact the loud splatter sound usually heard during a watering or sliming is due to this tarpaulin. The people involved in the slimings and the waterings always went barefoot when they were gunged with the slime or water. You could occasionally see this and the tarp whenever a person was slimed or watered.

Green Slime grew to become a trademark image for Nickelodeon. They later introduced Green Slime shampoo, which was a frequent parting gift for contestants on Nick's popular game show Double Dare.

Pies

The classic slapstick pie-in-the-face gag was also frequently used on YCDTOTV, although pie scenes were most common during the early years of the show. In fact, one whole episode, 1981's Drugs, was constructed around the pie-in-the-face concept: to avoid the wrath of the censors, the episode showed the cast getting "high" by pieing themselves, comparing the stupidity of hitting oneself with a pie to the stupidity of taking drugs (an example of how the show could educate young viewers without being preachy or overly didactic). For several years, pies took a back seat to the green slime, although they seemed to make a comeback on YCDTOTV in the 1989 season (particularly in the aforementioned Time episode, in which the children got into a massive silent-film-style pie fight at the end of the show).

Firing squad

Most episodes included one or more firing squad sketches, where Les would play the part of a Latin American military officer preparing to order a firing squad to execute one of the children actors, who were standing in front of a post. The kids would usually find a way to trick him into walking in front of the post and saying the word "fire", thus getting shot by the firing squad himself.

Every scene had the same basic format.

Captain- "Ready, aim..."

Cast Member- "Wait a minute, stop the execution!"

Captain- "What is it this time?"

The cast member would then make some attempt to stall or stop the execution. Most of the time, the cast member would be successful, however, occasionally, Lye's character would "successfully" complete the scene. On these occasions, the scene would end with "Ready, Aimm..." and the cast member flinching. There is also one episode in which the cast member cries: "Hurry up, hurry up, start the execution!" This, of course, draws the executioner's attention.

Cast

Over 100 actors appeared on YCDTOTV between 1979 and 1990. The following is an abbreviated list. It includes actors appearing in 10 or more episodes.

Alanis Morissette & Klea Scott

Alanis Morissette, a cast member in five episodes of the 1986 season, later became a highly successful singer and songwriter. Klea Scott, a cast member from 1982 to 1984, later starred in the prime-time television dramas Brooklyn South, Millennium, and Intelligence.

Cast comments

Cast member Justin Cammy, now a professor at Smith College, described the show like this:

You Can't Do That on Television was the first post-modern children's program of my generation. It subverted all recognizable forms and deconstructed the pre-teen's understanding of such important institutions as the family, the school and the video arcade. When the schoolteacher did not know any better than to call Milton's masterpiece "Pair of Dice Lost", the program functioned as an ideological clarion call to future college students like you who would go on to demand the displacement of an ossified Western canon with more relevant investigations of low culture.

Something Else and Don't Look Now!

Between the 1981 and 1982 seasons of YCDTOTV, several of the show's cast members, including Christine McGlade, Lisa Ruddy, Jonothan Gebert, and Kevin Somers, served as hosts on a short-lived Saturday-morning live game show on CJOH titled Something Else. Something Else was developed and directed by the Price/Darby team, and Christine McGlade was credited as a producer. Like the early episodes of YCDTOTV, Something Else incorporated elements of musical variety, with a female DJ from radio station CHEZ-FM as a guest host and performances by local bands; the chief difference was that comedy sketches took a back seat to the games and competitions. According to Geoffrey Darby, the chief purpose of the show was to keep the hosts' acting skills in shape while he and Price got to work writing the 1982 season of YCDTOTV; thus, the series lasted only about ten episodes.

Some time later, after YCDTOTV had established itself on Nickelodeon, Price and Darby made a YCDTOTV-like series called Don't Look Now! for PBS in the U.S. in 1983. Don't Look Now!, made at WGBH-TV in Boston, featured a format very similar to the local 1979 and 1981 seasons of YCDTOTV, with taped comedy sketches interspersed with live call-in competitions (though, due to PBS regulations on prizing, the only prize that could be given away was a T-shirt with the show's logo on it) and music videos. The show also had its own version of YCDTOTV's green slime, called "Yellow Yuck," which was triggered by the phrase "Don't Blame Me!"

As Geoffrey Darby told YCDTOTV.com, Don't Look Now! was made after production on the 1982 season of YCDTOTV had wrapped up, when they were unsure whether Nickelodeon would renew the series for another season. Although the show was highly rated, it did not fit in with PBS' largely educational program roster and was condemned by parents and critics alike, thus leading to the cancellation of the show after only about ten episodes.

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