How have I written this FORGOTTEN TV feature for so long without featuring THE GREAT SPACE COASTER? I actually had to search through my archives because I was sure I had written up a piece about it, but there was none to be found.
THE GREAT SPACE COASTER was a daily kids show that mixed humans and puppets. There was Baxter, a big human sized puppet. Goriddle Gorilla, Gary Gnu was a talk show host. Rory, of “Rockin’ with Rory” was a DJ. And in the later seasons, they brought in the Huggles, a group cute puppets for the younger audiences.
The show aired in syndication and was produced by a division of Hasbro Toys. It aired from 1981 to 1986. I remember seeing it when I was home sick from school, but it also aired in mornings and afternoons.
The biggest star to emerge from the show was Kevin Clash who voiced Goriddle Gorilla. Soon after, he would move on to SESAME STREET and become Elmo.
However Chris Gifford, the drummer in the band, would go on to a career behind the scenes. In the late 80’s I remember watching something on Nickelodeon where the New Kids on the Block were being interviewed. Donnie Wahlberg got all excited when he noticed one of the guys in the crew was the drummer for THE GREAT SPACE COASTER. Donnie was a fan.
Gifford would remain at Nickelodeon, and go on to create a little show called DORA THE EXPLORER. That show, and its spin off GO DIEGO GO are probably more popular than THE GREAT SPACE COASTER ever was.
One VHS compilation of the show was released (used copies sell for quite a bit), but that was it. I have no idea how well the show would hold up today. Other than the YouTube clips, I haven’t seen it in over twenty years.
EDIT 9/6/10: THE GREAT SPACE COASTER gang reunited for a wonderful interview with the Just My Show podcast
Chris Gifford even talks about the Donnie Wahlberg moment.