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Aug. 16th, 2006

A happier childhood media memory involved The Magic Door Television Theater, which is probably causing a chorus of "Oh yeah!" among Chicagoans my age. The Magic Door was a local show targeted at Jewish kids. It was on on Sunday mornings, because the more Orthodox kids in the area couldn't watch cartoons with the rest of us goyim on Saturday, the Jewish Sabbath. The show was hosted by Tiny Tov, a elfin character played by a man who was shrunk to wee size through the magic of television. He played folk guitar, and sang the show's theme song at the very beginning:

A Room Zoom Zoom. A Room Zoom Zoom. Gilly Gilly Gilly Gilly Ot Zat Za
Come open the magic door with me,
With your imagination there's so much we can see.
There is a doorway that leads to a place.
I'll find my way by the smile on your face.

Yeah, it doesn't sound like much, but after hearing that song once, it will replay in your head until you die.

Tiny Tov interacted with, to use a favorite word of mine, creepy hand puppets. I only remember a black puppet who who could sing, and some sort of witch puppet. I might be misremembering that because if she was a witch according to Leviticus she would not have been suffered to live by the other characters. The show usually involved Tiny Tov and the puppets learning a lesson about being polite or whatever. Tov would also go back in time to see biblical stories in action (via puppets). I'm guessing he stuck with the Old Testament Greatest Hits tales of Noah and the Ark and Joseph's coat of many colors, and so on, and skipped the extended bits about how Manasseh divided the oxen amongst the tribes of Jacob and Melchizedek before he counted the grains and placed then within the 20 pots of Habakkuk whilst begetting Esau who invented the panflute and asked for the Lands of Goshen with which to feed his cattle etc. etc. etc. There was also a segment where viewers would send in their pictures and Tov would wish them a happy birthday (I think). I sent mine in, but, sadly, I never saw myself on the tiny screen.

Now, realize that young Irish Catholic Dan Kelly had no idea what a Jew was at the time (other than that Jesus was King of them, according to the nuns). Hence, when the Hebrew learning segment came up, I was completely amazed. Tov would explain the day's word, and then would spell it while primitive special effects made the characters appear above his head. "CHET! BET! GIMEL! SHIN! That means 'dog'!" Tov would say. (Yes, I know it doesn't mean "dog," but give me a break. I don't know Hebrew.) I thought he was speaking in some sort of ubbi-dubbi language. I told this to my friend Seth, who is a Chosen Person, a few years ago, telling him that back then I was totally boggled, and I thought the whole Magic Door thing was some sort of secret exclusive club with its own secret code.

"It is, man!" he said. Damn. Outside the in-crowd once again.


( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
Aug. 16th, 2006 06:14 pm (UTC)
I remember that show! I think it was on before Hot Fudge and Gigglesnort Hotel.
Aug. 16th, 2006 07:38 pm (UTC)
I always got Tiny Tov confused with the little Brownies I'd read about in my Brownie handbook. Also, wasn't there some song that ended "Open the door to Torah-Ville!" Or did I imagine that? I don't remember my mom saying much about it being Jewish. Maybe she realized she didn't know much about the specifics of Judaism so didn't want to say anything wrong.
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )


Shriner Dan
Dan Kelly


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