Flashback Friday: You Can’t Do That On Television

Hey, guys? Anyone oot there? Unlock the door, eh?
Hey, guys? Anyone oot there? Unlock the door, eh?

I’ve already given you a Flashback Friday entry on a Canadian import that was just so very, very wrong. Now it’s time to do one on a Canadian import that was VERY right.

If there was one thing that I think pushed me the most in my crusade for cable television when I was little, it had to be You Can’t Do That On Television. All the cool kids on my block were always talking about this show. We even would sometimes “play” YCDTOTV (yeah, I don’t really know how to explain this one other than to say this involved sitting in our friends’ dad’s fishing boat, playing different characters from the show [I was always “Moose”] and shooting each other with a water hose…these were far simpler times, eh?).

Needless to say, my crusade was successful (probably more so because my dad wanted the Discovery Channel, but I like to think I was just that convincing a debater, even at the young age of 10). Those daily visits to the Childrens Television Sausage Factory were a bit like ABC Afterschool Special by way of Monty Python’s Flying Circus. Each show focused on a topic like divorce or personal hygiene in a “very special” way that only a bunch of Canadian kids hanging out in school lockers, Blip’s Arkaid, or Barth’s Burgers could possibly do. It was simple, silly fun and, other than a sliming or watering (or the occasional pie to the face), no one ever was hurt…just left in need of a shower.

Some of you may also be aware that before she sought musical retribution (against, apparently, Dave Coulier, of all people 😮 ) on a dance through the desert in black leather pants, Alanis Morissette was on YCDTOTV. I don’t remember her, but A) I think I had stopped watching by the time she became a cast member, and B) I think she was only on five or six episodes.

What brought this show to my mind this week was actually some sad news that I read at my favorite Canadian correspondent’s blog. Les Lye, who played every single adult male role on YCDTOTV throughout its entire run, passed away at the age of 84 on July 22. Whether as Christine McGlade’s constant foil, Ross, or Barth, the purveyor of the scariest burgers that side of the Canada/U.S. border, Les was a wonderful comedian and a major player in this awesome part of my childhood memories.

Now, if you check out the official YCDTOTV site, they discuss some of the spinoffs, including You Can’t Do That In Comics. I don’t want to get anyone’s hopes up, but I used to save these strips every month from our cable guide. I’m willing to bet that I still have most, if not all of them, rare though they might be. I even think I know exactly where at my parents’ house they might be located. Guess I’m going to have to take a closer look next time I go home…

So, keep looking up whenever you find yourself muttering the dread phrase, “I don’t know,” stay clear of the borscht at Barth’s, and enjoy this, the mother of all slimings!