Today's Special

"My 'What Is It?' book said that most fruits are sweet, and good to eat." - Jeff

Today's Special was a Canadian children's show that ran from 1981 to 1987. It was about a mannequin named Jeff who lived in a department store who was able to come to life after his hat was enchanted by a magician named Waldo. Other characters included Jodie, who was in charge of decorating the children's department each night, Sam the night watchman, and a mouse named Muffy who lived in the store. There was a theme to every episode that Jodie would use for her decorations and to teach Jeff, and the audience, more about the world outside of the store.

The best part about the show was the songs contained in each episode. There were definitely some less inspired than others, but they were always guaranteed to get stuck in your head. To this day I can't see popcorn or soup without getting those songs stuck in my head, and the Goldilocks and the Three Bears opera is so memorable. Jeff, of course, always got the best songs, and rewatching the episodes when we were older, it really struck us how deep some of his scenes were for a children's show. Jeff was unable to leave the department store or else he would turn back into a mannequin, and he had many scenes and songs conveying his depression over not being able to experience the world.

The camaraderie between the main characters was also a high point for the show. Sure, the Sam and Muffy puppets weren't the cutest and Sam was oftentimes quite annoying, but all four were really sweet friends together. I'm still really not sure why Jodie would hang out with Sam outside of the store, but it was always nice to see scenes of their day to day lives when they weren't working at the store. I liked how everyone worked together to help Jeff out when he didn't understand something about the world, and it gave the show plenty of opportunities to explain basic concepts for the target audience without it coming across as a lecture. Jeff biting right into a lemon - peel and all - is still one of my all time most memorable scenes from anything, and on a more emotional note, the death of Hazel the butterfly is still one of the saddest scenes. I can't speak much to the storylines of the later seasons of the show, other than the clips I've found on YouTube, but it seems that there were some episodes that delved more into the development of the characters and their uncertain future together when the store was closing.

We loved Today's Special when we were kids and still enjoy watching the few episodes we have to this day. It's really charming and all of the songs are catchy and nostalgic. Yes, it is a kids show, but it had a lot of heart and it didn't talk down to the audience too much. The puzzles and mime scenes are not very rewatchable, but the rest of the show is still highly entertaining and encapsulates a simpler time when everything didn't have to be so regulated. I mean, on what kids show today would Jodie be able to make a ghost costume for a kid by putting a big rubber band around his neck? It's a shame that Today's Special is not available on DVD because we would love to be able to see the entire series, and it would give more people a chance to discover this forgotten gem.

Favorites
Jen
Liz
Character
Jeff
Jeff, Jodie
Season
1
1
Episode
Fruit, Hair, Opera, Soup
Hair, Wild West, Fruit, Opera, Butterflies
Relationship
Jeff and Jodie, Jeff and Muffy
Jeff and Jodie
Song
Hocus Pocus Alamagocus, Goldilocks and the Three Bears, There's Nobody Quite Like You Muffy
Soup, Jeff's Opera Song, Goldilocks and the Three Bears, Fruit, A Butterfly's Life for Me, Pop a Pop a Pocorn