Nickelodeon’s Livewire was a talk show for kids that ran from 1980 to 1985. I haven’t seen it before, and unfortunately I can’t find an episode list online (not even on IMDb). But I’ve been going through the clips available on YouTube, and I’m impressed.
Savini is charming and giddy as he talks about “splatter films” being “on the way out” and demonstrates some of his special makeup effects. Creepshow was about to hit theaters, and he names “fluffy,” the nickname for the crate monster, his masterpiece. He also says that, among the films he’s been involved with, the controversial Maniac (1980) is his least favorite, and generally tries to separate himself from the ultra-violent genre he pioneered. (Read a 1980 interview with Savini here.)
Even if you’re not a horror fan, listen to the intelligent, searching questions the kids ask him, and ask yourself if it would be possible to produce a talk show for teens and preteens today in which kids are trusted to ask maverick adult guests articulate questions on live TV. (The Ramones, R.E.M., and The Psychedelic Furs all performed on the show and answered audience questions.) Not to mention the fact that every movie Savini had done to this point was rated R or unrated (now NC-17).
The level of respect kids got during this time—a level of respect we demanded—will not be seen again.
My mind is blown. It’s been more than 30 years since I’ve heard this song, and I still remember the melody and most of the lyrics. The show itself is coming back to me as I write this: three young musicians take off on a roller coaster rocket ship to hang out with their alien friends on a giant asteroid. There’s lots of singing, animated sequences, life lessons learned.
The Great Space Coaster is not available on DVD, and won’t be any time soon, if it ever is. According to Tanslin Media, owner of the master tapes: “The problem is that the show used a lot of great music that would need to be re-licensed if the show were ever released. This is extremely expensive, so a DVD release would probably cost more to make than it would ever earn.” Tragically, the tapes are already deteriorating.
In 2012, GSC co-creator Jim Martin, who also played a number of characters (including Gary “no gnews is good gnews” Gnu), launched a campaign to preserve at least one half-hour show. His goal was $2000. He raised $3500. Follow The Great Space Coaster Facebook page for updates.
The video below is from the 1981 one-hour special, The Great Space Coaster Supershow. Check in at 11:00 to see Goriddle Gorilla (Kevin Clash) with special guest Mark Hamill. The possibility of losing something this priceless makes me sick to my stomach.
(Video via FuzzyMemoriesTV; image via eBay)