For over 150 years, Speaker's Corner has been one of London's most unique and eccentric attractions. On any given Sunday morning, anyone who has an opinion to air -- or who simply wants to listen -- will gather at the point where Oxford Street and Hyde Park meet, in the shadows of Marble Arch, and carry on an oral tradition that is becoming somewhat lost to a modern culture of electronic mail and chat rooms. Y.P.R. recognizes the need for commentary
regarding society, life in the new global economy, chicken wings, ball bearings or anything else that may strike one's fancy. So put on your Sunday best, clear
your throat, step up onto the soapbox and speak up!
Dear Y.P.R. Editors,
There are some days in a person's life that go down in the record books. March 13, 1991, was just that for yours truly. Fresh from cutting out of 8th-period gym class, the minutes seemed like seconds as 2:30 P.M. approached without mercy. With two minutes to spare I reached my block and my fast walk skipped jogging speed and went straight to brisk run. Up the stairs and into the living room, my glass of iced tea and bag of BBQ potato chips would have to wait until a commercial break. It was true, the Gulf War had started, and President George Bush was being touted an historic figure of the 20th century, a man who stood by his word.
But none of that mattered, for March 13th was also the day that "Gummi Bears" was squeezed out of the Disney Afternoon by -- and I cringe with a horror to write it -- "Darkwing Duck" of all shows. Truly a dark day, as the show's name indicates.
In retrospect, I should have seen it coming: Just a year earlier the all-star lineup from 2:00 - 4:00 was deemed the "fantastic four" by consensus of the 5th-period, Section 4 lunch table at Robert H. Goddard Junior High School of Queens, New York. The world of "Heathcliff and Friends," "Gummi Bears," "DuckTales," and the least popular and understandably 3:30 slot "Chip and Dale's Rescue Rangers," (which usually lost out to "ThunderCats" anyway down the dial at Channel 5) would all come crashing down without warning. You see, those heartless corporate suits down at Channel 11 decided to drop "Heathcliff and Friends" at 2, with the addition of expert bear pilot Baloo in his breakaway from Mowgli's shadow as the jungle boy's movie sidekick for a starring role, albeit on network TV. And that was "Tale Spin," the beginning of the end. Perhaps the only redeeming quality of the show was the theme song: oh ee oh, Tale Spin, oh-ee-ay Tale Spin, friends for life through thick and thin through another Tale Spin and so on. But honestly, this unwarranted, unnecessary, and unwanted cartoon spinoff was an omen of things to come.
Next to go was "Gummi Bears," a crushing blow to Section 4, but something we all knew had to happen; syndication had began just weeks earlier on the pay-cable Disney Channel, the number one telltale sign that we at Section 4 would have to start paying to see the hijinks of Tummi Gummi (also the voice of Dr. Peter Venkman of "The Real Ghost Busters") and antics of Toadwort and Dukems attempting to steal the recipe for gummiberri juice. But we somehow moved on, we had to.
But then was the final hammer blow that shook the very foundations of childhood innocence and marked the end of life as we had known. The aforementioned March 13, 1991, brought with it both shock and shame for this American institution. "DuckTales" was no more and "Darkwing Duck" took over. Out with the old, in with the new. Most shocking of all Gyro's betrayal. For years he had been Uncle Scrooge McDuck's behind-the-scenes right-hand man, inventing products all too crucial to Scrooge's treasure finds such as Gizmoduck's supersuit and Pep, a productless name which eventually turned out to be chewing gum that enables the chewer to fly, after Pep demand reached a feverish pitch due to marketing strategies. But I digress.
Gyro was now working for Darkwing Duck, and so was Scrooge's old ace pilot, Launchpad McQuack, who managed to be hired for better pay despite a dismal safe-landing career and several warnings from Duckberg's FAA. And just like that the supersleuth Scrooge McDuck, his duckling nephews Huey, Dewey, Louie, Webby , their friend Webbigail (Webby as we knew her best) and the rest of Duckberg's population that had grown on us over the years, even old Flinthart Glomgold and the Beagle Boys, would no longer be able to make us laugh and cry for free. They had joined syndication superstars the Gummi Bears on the Disney channel, leaving the hot-lunch kids of Section 4 out in the cold. We reluctantly moved on, aided and comforted by the crap television such as "Mighty Morphin Power Rangers" and other Saban real-life morphing shows that followed the loss of "DuckTales" to help us appreciate what we had.
Y.P.R. editors, it's now just over 12 years later, and while coping with the loss will never be a true reality, I can look back to those days of iced tea and BBQ potato chips and smile.
© MMIII, Y.P.R. Amalgamated, Inc.