Zoom was a childrenâ€™s show on PBS (or whatever they called PBS back then) from 1972 to ’78. The big draw of the show was that it was for kids, by kids: you could write a story or play or any sort of interesting idea and send it in, and there was a chance the cast would perform it on TV. They also sang a lot on the show; Come On and Zoom is a collection of some of those songs.
Of course we have to start things off with the showâ€™s peppy theme song. I may be wrong here, but I seem to remember somebody taking Zoom‘s producers to task for the line â€œWeâ€™re gonna teach you to fly high,â€ citing it as a drug reference. I think they may have changed the lyric in later years, but hereâ€™s the original version:
Zoom was good at featuring songs that got stuck in your head, and â€œPiccolominiâ€ was no exception: interspersed with some tongue twisters is the cast singing the word “piccolomini” over and over. Itâ€™s a bit annoying but very catchy (but why theyâ€™re singing about an Italian nobleman’s family in the 13th century is beyond me).
The cast wasnâ€™t afraid to take on the classics, either, as this performance of â€œTwinkle (A Mad Tea Party)â€ demonstrates — they perform a scene here from Alice in Wonderland and sing a number of subtle variations on â€œTwinkle Twinkle Little Bat.â€ Hereâ€™s where you notice that even though these kids werenâ€™t the greatest singers, they really seemed to enjoy what they were doing.
Hubi, frubiends! Dubo yubou rubemubembuber Ububbubi Dububbubi? Thubis wubas Zuboom‘s subecrubet lubanguubage, whubich ubinvubolved ubaddubing uban ubub bubefubore ubevuberuby vubowubel subound. (Translation: â€œHi, friends! Do you remember Ubbi Dubbi? This was Zoom’s secret language, which involved adding an ub before every vowel sound.â€) This song isnâ€™t really about Ubbi Dubbi, but it’s a neat sort of madrigal anyway.
Another popular segment on Zoom was about the idiosyncratic Fannee Doolee. You never saw her, but you sure did learn about her likes and dislikes. For instance, Fannee Doolee loves Jeff Giles but hates me. Why?
If you couldnâ€™t figure out why Fannee likes the things she does, this reprise of the song reveals the answer. (WARNING: No one will be seated during the shocking disclosure of the mystery of Fannee Doolee!)
Of course, if you were a kid and had a great idea for Zoom, how did you know where to send it? Well, the folks on the show took care of that too with a fun little ditty that was so catchy, anybody who saw the show back then remembers the address to this day!
Iâ€™m aware that there’s a new version of Zoom on PBS, but I havenâ€™t seen it. The curmudgeon in me says it couldnâ€™t be as good as the original. OneÂ encouraging thing about Zoom 2.0, though, is that they apparently still believe in Ubbi Dubbi, since they have an Ubbi Dubbi Translator on their website.
Anyway, if you want to hear more of Come On and Zoom, including the castâ€™s take on Mac Davis’s music and the Three Witchesâ€™ speech from Macbeth, you can get the whole thing here.