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  • Gag or Glimpse?

    A long long time ago I posted a thread saying I was surprised by how the kids on ycdtotv were always drinking coffee and having coffee breaks, because, unlike today, in the 80's I didn't know a single kid who drank coffee. Seemed very weird to me, but I was told that this was merely a glimpse at the backstage life on set and that coffee is just a hugely popular thing in Canada that everyone drinks. But I was watching the "Addictions" episode the other day, and I'm starting to think the whole thing may have been a gag.
    At the start of the show Christine says a list of "dangerous addictions that adults have" and along with smoking and drinking, she mentions coffee. So even in Canada it still must have been considered a mostly adult beverage at the time.
    This makes me think the kids having coffee breaks thing was just supposed to be a sight gag. Kind of another way to show the atmosphere of the show where they treated kid actors like abused factory workers.
    I think I noticed this particularly because I recently watched the lost 1979 episodes and the coffee consumption went off the chart! particularly in the episode where Christine is giving her fellow actors "the special of the day" with their coffee.
    Though if we didn't have all the caffeine consumption on this on the show we wouldn't have gotten the great gag in "Strike Now" where Christine is denied her coffee- that she is so looking forward to drinking- by Ross because she is on strike. I do love the crushed look on her face when he takes it from her! What a jerk!

  • #2
    The break area you saw on the show was the actual break area in the studio. There was coffee available there, for the crew if for no one else. No one was policing it, so if any kids wanted to go over and get some coffee too, the were certainly able to do it.

    Remember also that in the later years, Christine was much older than any other kid in the cast. She's a year older than I am, even.
    Robert A. Black, YCDTOTV writer 1985-86
    http://www.rablack.com

    Ah yes... very tricky, those Argentinians...

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    • #3
      Poor kids....no chairs in the breakroom and they even got water dumped on them.

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      • #4
        Originally posted by BBOvenGuy View Post
        The break area you saw on the show was the actual break area in the studio. There was coffee available there, for the crew if for no one else. No one was policing it, so if any kids wanted to go over and get some coffee too, the were certainly able to do it.

        Remember also that in the later years, Christine was much older than any other kid in the cast. She's a year older than I am, even.
        I know Christine was older which is why it didn't surprise me much when she did it in the later years. The only reason I thought it was a gag written into the show was that that the kids having coffee was sometimes written into the scenes like with the "special of the day" joke in, /i think it was episode 8.

        Actually i think it said coffee was used as stage pollution in episode 6, but I scanned the episode and didn't see that happen anywhere. In fairness I didn't watch the whole episode though, I haven't gotten through all the 79 episodes yet but I scanned through all of them to at least see the stage pollution parts. Only beverage I saw poured on anyone looked like a martini or some sort of alcoholic one.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by ugotslimed View Post
          A long long time ago I posted a thread saying I was surprised by how the kids on ycdtotv were always drinking coffee and having coffee breaks, because, unlike today, in the 80's I didn't know a single kid who drank coffee. Seemed very weird to me, but I was told that this was merely a glimpse at the backstage life on set and that coffee is just a hugely popular thing in Canada that everyone drinks. But I was watching the "Addictions" episode the other day, and I'm starting to think the whole thing may have been a gag.
          At the start of the show Christine says a list of "dangerous addictions that adults have" and along with smoking and drinking, she mentions coffee. So even in Canada it still must have been considered a mostly adult beverage at the time.
          This makes me think the kids having coffee breaks thing was just supposed to be a sight gag. Kind of another way to show the atmosphere of the show where they treated kid actors like abused factory workers.
          I think I noticed this particularly because I recently watched the lost 1979 episodes and the coffee consumption went off the chart! particularly in the episode where Christine is giving her fellow actors "the special of the day" with their coffee.
          Though if we didn't have all the caffeine consumption on this on the show we wouldn't have gotten the great gag in "Strike Now" where Christine is denied her coffee- that she is so looking forward to drinking- by Ross because she is on strike. I do love the crushed look on her face when he takes it from her! What a jerk!
          I don't recall coffee being used as a form of stage pollution in YCDTOTV, though I think it might have been in WTYO. I know hot chocolate was (in the infamous "weather forecast" scene).

          This is kind of a long shot, but perhaps it was more a case of Nickelodeon (who was a production partner on the show with CJOH starting in 1982) wanting to downplay coffee drinking to fit American sensibilities more. I seem to recall coffee was always considered an adult beverage when I was growing up, but then I have always lived in the United States. In the "Country Life" episode from '86, there's something that seems to hint at this - the kids are thirsty after all their hard farm work, and after Ross tells them they can't have soda, Adam suggests coffee instead, and Ross tells him no way, coffee is an adult beverage, and seems irritated that the kids don't know this... though that could have been just Ross trying to rain on the kids' parade, but if you look at it from a Canadian perspective, it might add an extra layer to the interpretation...

          Or perhaps that's all wrong and Christine was referring to becoming so addicted to coffee that one needs it to function upon rising in the morning, as opposed to enjoying it in a reasonable level of moderation.

          OT slightly, I do recall that with Disney's English dub of Hayao Miyazaki's anime film "Kiki's Delivery Service," the dialogue of one scene where Kiki (a very young girl) was drinking coffee (actually served to her by an adult character) was changed so that it would become tea. Again, that seems to me to be a dialogue change to fit American sensibilities.
          Last edited by ChrisInMI; August 14, 2013, 04:11 PM.

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          • #6
            Having lived in Canada all my life (though I enjoy visiting the USA) I can say that coffee is considered a "teenage and adult" beverage here, whereas in the USA it seems like it is an "adult" beverage only. The kids on YCDTOTV certainly talked about and drank more coffee than the typical Canadian kid of that age, but I never considered it bizarre or a gag. There are some kids who drink coffee regularly here.

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            • #7
              There is one episode, and I forget which one, and I forget which kid it is, but he and Lisa are about to have coffee break and the kid says "where'd you get this coffee? It tastes like dirt!
              to which Ross naturally replies "It should, it was just ground yesterday!"-now this is a very old joke. but I have never seen it done with a kid that young before!
              In the 79' episode, I think it's 8, where the local show is being filmed outside in the hallway and Christine is giving people the "special of the day" with their coffee, there is a hard to catch bit where one of the boys, (I forget who) actually takes a sip of the coffee Christine hands him and sort of quietly says "yuck!" or something. This made me think it was just a gag, and he wasn't supposed to drink it, but for the heck of it he tried some and didn't like the taste. However, the bit is saved when Christine takes the cup and starts smelling it to see if it smells funky like it their might be something wrong with it.
              Maybe they told them to downplay the coffee references for American audiences, but the directors certainly still directed the kids to be having the coffee breaks while they played out the backstage scenes. I remember in the episode where everyone keeps asking out Alanis on dates she is pouring herself coffee and stirring it as she is dealing with her various suitors. (though we all know it wouldn't be long before coffee abuse would be the least of her worries, after she got into those jagged little pills!) And of course in the pop music episode we had the ending scene with Allisdair dumping Christines coffee on her.
              I dunno, I still think the coffee drinking kids thing was supposed to be a gag. Maybe a bit of a gag, maybe a bit of backstage reality.
              And I would say in America coffee is an adult and a Teenage thing. But the appropriate age to start drinking it is one of those things that's always debated.

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              • #8
                ..Also, if Christine meant that only adults get addicted to coffee while the kids enjoy it in moderation, she would seem to negate that in the "Strike Now" episode episode. She comes off as a coffee addict in that one for sure.

                And lets not forget one of the other great coffee scenes, the one at the end of "safety" where Christine, as "Miss Take" pour the coffee on Mr. Dime in an attempt to get danger pay. I love how at the end of that one she finally pours the coffee in his cup but then drinks it herself!(though in fairness she playing a "grown up" character in that scene.)

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by ugotslimed View Post
                  ..Also, if Christine meant that only adults get addicted to coffee while the kids enjoy it in moderation, she would seem to negate that in the "Strike Now" episode episode. She comes off as a coffee addict in that one for sure.

                  And lets not forget one of the other great coffee scenes, the one at the end of "safety" where Christine, as "Miss Take" pour the coffee on Mr. Dime in an attempt to get danger pay. I love how at the end of that one she finally pours the coffee in his cup but then drinks it herself!(though in fairness she playing a "grown up" character in that scene.)
                  On the other hand, Strike Now was a 1981 episode, made originally for a Canadian audience, and Nickelodeon wasn't a production partner in the show yet. I haven't watched the half-hour version in a while so I don't remember how much of the coffee consumption was left in, but I guess I wasn't paying much attention because excessive coffee consumption wasn't one of the things from that episode that registered with me. I'll have to watch it again, both the CJOH and half-hour versions, and compare.

                  I'd completely forgotten about that scene with Moose as Miss Take. That was hilarious! "Well, accidents can keep happening and happening again..." as she keeps pouring the coffee in his lap.

                  This brings to mind something else Christine mentioned in the "Addictions" monologue and something I found while reading through old news articles on Newsbank's Infoweb... smoking. Of course, YCDTOTV did two shows on smoking, the first in 1981 being more satirical and the second in 1989 having more of a gross-out theme (with the kids hypothesizing that slime is mucus from smokers' lungs). On Infoweb, I found an editorial - I forget in which paper - about a woman who thought YCDTOTV was a bad program for kids because "it showed them smoking." That made me think of the Safety First episode in 1981, in the final link in which Christine advises the audience on how to safely dispose of cigarettes, despite her calling smoking a "disgusting habit," which made me wonder if attitudes toward kids smoking were also different in Canada at that time... because Roger and Geoff, despite acknowledging smoking as a "disgusting habit," probably would have known that a portion of their young audience were smokers. Both Smoking episodes have skits were kids admit they're tempted to try it because it would make them look older and more sophisticated; Kevin Schenk (I think in Equal Rights) tells Angie the Talking Doll "I can't stop smoking" before she dumps a bucket of water on him; and one other episode - I can't remember which, I think it's an '83 - has a sketch in which Mr. Prevert scolds Alasdair for smoking in school, only to then light up a cigar and tell Alasdair, "I said smoking was bad for YOUR health. I never said anything about MINE." However, none of the kids were actually ever seen smoking - IIRC the only actual smoking was done by Les Lye (a non-smoker in real life, according to the end of Smoking '81) as Lance and Barth. Also, the dad in "Don't Look Now!" (David Perrigo, I think) smoked a pipe (although he acknowledged in one episode that he only did it to have something in his mouth, as his wife got rid of his pacifiers).

                  Or again, perhaps I'm reading too much into it and the whole thing was an attempt to try to shame the crew members into not smoking in the studio. (Speaking of which, when did Roger and Geoff's ban on smoking in the studio take effect? Anyone know? I'm curious.)

                  One more thing... I also have to wonder if, for both Smoking episodes, Roger picked kids whose parents were smokers to star in it, since assumedly those kids would know best how gross a habit it is. I notice Chris Bickford (an orphan in real life) wasn't in the '89 Smoking episode except as an extra.

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                  • #10
                    It's truth in television. It's not nearly as prevelant today, but when I was a kid in the 1990's, nearly all the other kids smoked. I was the exception for not smoking. Into the early 2000's, it was like that. It seemed most kids started smoking between 10 and 16. These days, I'm an adult, so it's likely hidden from me, but I almost never see kids smoking any more, and reports say teen smoking has gone way down in the last 10 years in the United States. Not sure about Canada though.

                    I must say, it's better to aknowledge that it happens than to pretend like no kids EVER smoke. I only wish this were tolerated today. You'll notice almost no one on TV smokes at all anymore, but in real life probably 1/4 of adults smoke, and probably 1 in 10 teenagers, with some smoking even younger.
                    Last edited by Adam 12; August 23, 2013, 06:12 PM.

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                    • #11
                      Still, coffee is a gray area, smoking is not. Even in the episodes where ycdtotv shows that kids do smoke sometimes they are presenting it as a bad thing that the show is trying to dissuade them from doing. The show sometimes presented coffee as bad "addictions monologue, and the time Ross wouldn't let them have any) but mostly presented it as something the kids just drank all the time with no one scolding them for it.
                      The miss Take scene with Christine is great, it really makes me wonder if the ending was her ad-libing when she took the sip of his coffee.
                      it doesn't surprise me that she was a heavy coffee drinker I guess, considering she was older than the other kids, but in that scene she takes it black! Tough girl!
                      Come to think of it, she's making it look like she is drinking it black straight from the coffee pot in the scene from pop music where Allisdair dumps it on her too, but in that scene there probably wasn't anything actually in the cup.

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                      • #12
                        Does anyone know if they ever made special extra scenes just to add into the American versions? Because, funnily enough, the coffee scene from "Strike Now" where Christine is denied her coffee does not seem to be in the original version, but it is in the Nickelodeon version! Maybe I just didn't see it, I didn't watch the whole original version because it was longer. All I did was a quick fast forward to see where the scene fell in the episode and I didn't see it anywhere!
                        if it was added for the American version to replace the parts with the concert footage and contests and such, that would be weird, because someone suggested that the scenes of kids drinking coffee may have been edited or cut back by Nickelodeon due to the different cultural attitudes of U.S viewers. Seems really odd that they would ADD a scene like that!

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                        • #13
                          You probably missed it. I"m 100% certain it's in the CJOH airing of it.

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