Chris Illuminati is more upset than a grown man should be when an actor on a kids’ TV show gets replaced.
The great thing about Nick Jr. (and there are few in my eyes) is its policy on commercials; there are none.
Except for promoting their own TV shows—and an occasional PSA about washing hands or making crafts out of household objects—the viewer isn’t bombarded with ads for toys, games and trips to places a parent would need to auction off a body part to afford. So, much like the shows on NickJr, the commercials tend to muddle together and get ignored by anyone over the age of five.
“It’s an all new season!”
Fine. That made me look at the screen. I’m legally over five but mentally hovering around pre-teen.
“All new episodes of The Fresh Beat Band!”
Cool. I like the Fresh Beats. The kid loves the Fresh Beats. They are like The Monkees but with two girls, they are not as funny and they don’t discuss the Vietnam war. I’ve seen every episode a couple thousand times. New episodes are welcome.
“Join Twist, Shout, Kiki and Marina….”
Those are the characters, each hitting a specific racial profile, so that the show appeals to—WHO THE HELL IS THAT?!?! That’s not Marina. Who is that chick? I mean she looks like Marina but she isn’t Marina. This is outlandish. How dare they try and pass off another girl as Marina?!
“Do you believe the nerve?” I said to the kid, who either didn’t notice or care because he was much too busy bopping along to the signature Fresh Beat sound.
I was much more upset than a grown man should be at the replacement of an actor on a TV show for a preschooler. So upset, I felt the urge to grab my phone.
“Babe it’s me.”
“You’re not going to believe this. I just saw a commercial for the new season of The Fresh Beat Band. They replaced Marina!”
“Oh that sucks. I hate when TV shows do that. It’s as if they think the kid won’t notice.”
“I know. They spend all this time trying to educate and then they assume kids are too young and dumb to notice the person on their favorite show is completely different. It’s asinine.”
“Yeah. Sucks. So what’s up?”
“What do you mean? I just told you.”
“You called me at work to discuss a kid’s show?”
“Of course not!”
I searched for something else to tell her. She had just left the house 20 minutes earlier. I had nothing.
“That’s all I’ve got.”
“I’ll see you tonight.”
I took this change in the band personally. I had no idea why. I didn’t realize the reason until I thought back to grade school.
Cue flashback! It was 1984. One of my favorite TV shows at the time was The Slim Goodbody Show. Slim was this jeri-curled, nice guy with a full body suit that had the interior of the human body painted on it so kids could learn how the body worked. You could see his heart, his lungs, his ribs and every other vital interior organ that is making this a really disgusting recollection now that I’m thinking back on it. Anyway, there was just something awesome about Slim and his songs.
One afternoon, in the middle of a second grade lesson about whatever it is that people teach a second grader, the teacher announced there would be a special assembly the following week. Slim Goodbody would be coming to our school. What? What did she just say? I asked some classmates around me because I thought I was hallucinating. I thought I’d finally poisoned myself and this was a delusion brought on by eating a more than recommended serving of eraser tops. The FDA recommended one to two erasers per school year but I was chewing through at least 10 per school day.
No hallucinations. Slim was coming. I was a head case for the entire week. “Slim Goodbody is coming to MY SCHOOL” I’d tell anyone that would listen, which was pretty much all my friends at school, who already knew the news and didn’t seem as ecstatic. I didn’t care. I loved Slim and it would be the greatest school day ever (or at least up to that point, seeing as I really didn’t have a large sample to pull from).
Finally, the day arrived. The assembly was right after lunch. Come on clock! Come on! You stupid son of….
“Alright students, line up, it’s time to go to the auditorium.”
First in line. First into the auditorium. Primo seat for the Slim man. After a brief announcement the Principal introduced Slim Goodbody and the curtains jerked open to show the stage set up like the inside of the human body. The music hit and Slim came dancing out onto the stage.
One thought jumped into my mind and out my mouth. “Who the f*ck is this guy?”
Yes. I cursed. Luckily the music was so loud no one heard. Although, I’m sure more than a few kids were thinking the same. It wasn’t Slim dancing on the stage. It was some imposter in a Slim Goodbody suit, dancing and singing Slim’s songs. I was crushed. I couldn’t believe in this fraud. Just because this school is based on a religion revolving around virgin births and burning bushes it doesn’t make us all oblivious to tricks! I barely paid attention for the rest of the performance.
“How was your assembly today hun,” my mom asked at dinner. I explained how awful it was and how the school dared to pass off an imposter Slim Goodbody to the children of Incarnation School.
“Well,” my mom began, ready to explain something I really wasn’t ready to hear “it’s kind of like the Santa at the mall. You know how it’s not the real Santa because it would impossible for the real Santa to be at every mall around the world at the same time. Especially during such a busy season. So he sends his friends out to help, and they all happen to look like Santa. Well, Slim Goodbody probably has to do the same thing. He can’t show up at every school, so he sends other Slims around to spread his message of…Goodbody-ness and all the cool things a child should do with them?”
That moment made me realize two things at a very young age. First, nothing in life happens like people plan. Sometimes I was gonna have to settle for the faux Slim Goodbody and just make the best of the situation. Second, my mother had no idea what the hell Slim Goodbody actually did on his TV show.
“AHHH! AHHHH!” My kid was screaming and pointing at the TV while the new Fresh Beats danced around to a tune about friends helping each other out or possibly the benefits of Communism. Could have been either. I wasn’t really listening, stuck in a flash back about Slim Goodbody.
He was dancing along to the music, completely oblivious to the different Marina on the screen.
“Hey, it’s me. Do you remember Slim Goodbody?”
An audible groan came from the other end of the phone line.
“I’m asking IT to change my extension number this afternoon.”
— Photo Xurble/Flickr