Whenever I mention The Friendly Giant to Americans, they usually think I am talking about the Roald Dahl story. You know, the one they recently turned into a movie. However, generations of Canadian children know it better as a children’s show that aired from 1958 to 1985. If you thought kids shows in America were weird, buckle up.
What’s the Deal?
The Friendly Giant, as you could expect, is a show about a giant named Friendly. He hangs out in his castle entertaining the children who come and visit him. He would talk to his friends, Jerome the Giraffe, and Rusty the Rooster. Each episode had a theme, and they would play three songs about whatever subject they were talking about.
If you liked wholesome music played on the recorder or were a kid that enjoyed the soothing tunes of a harp, this was the show for you. I loved watching this show as a kid, but the ravages of time have taken their toll and, as an adult, I look back at the Friendly Giant and see some problems.
Do You Like to Rock?
Each episode opens with a panning shot of a miniature town as the Friendly Giant talks about the day’s subject. He then invites you into his home, cues the opening theme where you enter the Giant’s castle.
Once inside, the Giant begins setting up chairs for all his guests. A smaller chair for one, then a larger chair for two…
Then he says he says he has something if you like to rock.
Sorry to disappoint everyone, but the Giant is only offering up a rocking chair.
Friendly is the host of the show, and he delivers his lines like someone who never studies lines ever. If you watch enough clips on YouTube, you’ll also notice that Friendly Giant rarely has control over the conversation. The other characters often talk over him in their silly voices. Sometimes, you can see Friendly’s frustration over the nattering between each other.
His love of woodwinds is troubling. I’ve taken my share of music classes as a child, and any teacher who taught us how to play a recorder were dead inside. This guy does it as a hobby. Almost as though he thrives on our suffering.
Rusty the Rooster
One of the Friendly Giant’s friends is Rusty the Rooster. Rusty lives in a bag that is nailed to the wall of the castle. He has a shrill voice and plays the harp. He also likes wearing a clown clothing. Whenever they have to move anywhere, the Friendly Giant has to take him out of the bag and carry him to… ANOTHER BAG!
Is Rusty his prisoner? Is he confined to the bag? Am I to believe he’s a giant rooster? What is even going on?
Rusty is so annoying, the only use I could find for him is sealing him in the bag and hitting it against the wall as hard as possible.
Jerome the Giraffe
Jerome the Giraffe is the only character that has any sort of credibility on this show, which is too bad because I think he also has a raw deal. He can only come over when the Friendly Giant whistles for him, and even then, Gerome isn’t allowed inside the castle. I’m not an expert on giraffes or anything, but it’s winter on the set of the Friendly Giant a lot of the time.
Why’s that Friendly? You think Jerome is going to steal something? Is it because he’s not a white giraffe? I bet Friendly counts all his tiny furniture after everytime Jerome comes for a visit.
Say what you will about Jerome, he’s a wicked headbanger.
These cats…… These cats… Just look at them…. LOOK AT THEM!
If you’re expecting me to say more about this show, that is literally it.
Now, since I’ve ensured that I won’t be getting any sleep tonight, I leave you with these haunting images from the great white north. Next time on Meanwhile in Canada, I will bring you the adventures of a middle aged man and his Tickle Trunk.
Meanwhile in Canada is an ongoing series of articles that feature Canadian fandom that is otherwise unknown to people in general. Check out more articles from this series here.