Technology has evolved so much over the past few years that we now have smart TVs, smart phones, and even smart refrigerators. We wonder what they will come out with next? Perhaps a TV show that invites the audience to draw ON THEIR TV SCREEN story props, set locations and even main characters that are part of the show! Well, guess what? That happened already.
The show was called Winky Dink and You. It aired 1953 to 1957 on the CBS network. Hosted by Jack Barry, the show featured the adventures of a cartoon character named Winky Dink and his dog Woofer.
the show's central gimmick was the use of a "magic drawing screen", which was a large piece of vinyl plastic that stuck to the television screen via static electricity. A kit containing the screen and various Winky Dink crayons sold for 50 cents. At a climactic scene in every Winky Dink short, Winky arrived upon a scene that contained a connect the dots picture. He asked the children at home to complete the picture, and the finished result would help him continue the story. Examples include drawing a bridge to cross a river, an axe to chop down a tree, or a cage to trap a dangerous lion. A final use of the screen was to create the outline of a character with whom Jack Barry would have a conversation. It would seem meaningless to viewers without the screen, further encouraging its purchase.
This TV show was a very big hit for CBS and had high ratings but was canceled due to a reason that I don't think would happen anymore to TV show... X-Rays from the TV picture tubes. The public was afraid that their kids were getting x-ray poisoning being so close to the TV tubes. CBS was also getting more and more complaints about kids drawing on their TVs without the Winky Dink "Magic Screens."
Speaking of that term "Magic Screen" and of the concept of having a host play connect-the-dots with the viewers, does any of this sound familiar to you?
PEE WEE'S PLAYHOUSE! Creative genius, Paul Reubens ( aka Pee Wee Herman) was a big fan of this show and wanted to have this worked into his TV show. They even had a deal lined up with 7-Eleven to sell the magic screen kits that would used on TVs all Around the world. Well, what happen to this? The network said, "No way. We have been there and not going to deal with the calls of kids drawing on the TV again" so the deal was off.
Check out a full episode below of this children's TV show that was away ahead of its time!!