|Created by||Christopher Sarson|
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of seasons||6|
|No. of episodes||130|
|Executive producers||Christopher Sarson (1972–1974)|
Kate Taylor (1975–1978)
|Production locations||WGBH Studios|
|Picture format||Closed-captioned, Color|
|Original release||January 9, 1972 –|
February 10, 1978
|Followed by||Zoom (1999 series)|
Zoom (stylized as ZOOM) is a half-hour educational television program, created almost entirely by children, which aired on PBS originally from January 9, 1972, to February 10, 1978, with reruns being shown until September 12, 1980. It was originated and produced by WGBH-TV in Boston. Inspired by educational shows like Sesame Street and The Electric Company, but designed to give the kids who watched it a voice without adults on screen, it was, for the most part, unscripted. Far from seeking to make stars of the child performers, their contracts prohibited them from making any television appearances or doing commercials for three years after they left the show.
The show was revived in 1999 and aired on PBS until 2005.
On the show, a cast of seven kids (ten in Season 4) known as Zoomers presented various activities such as games, plays, poems, recipes, jokes, movies and science experiments, all suggested by viewer contributions. These activities were introduced by such titles as Zoomovie, Zoom Play of the Week, Zoomgame, Zoomdo, Zoomgoody, Zoomphenomenon, etc. The cast also had informal chats on subjects such as hospitals, school, family and prejudice, titled Zoomraps. Each episode ended with a choreographed song performed by the cast.
The young Zoomers were only identified by first names, and every six months, half the cast would be replaced, creating a continuous revolving door of hosts. The cast was chosen by audition, and the producers made efforts to include children of multiple cultures and backgrounds.
The mail-in request became a pop culture reference for its musical exhortation to "Write Zoom, Z-double-O-M, Box 3-5-0, Boston, Mass 0-2-1-3-4: send it to Zoom!". The lines were mostly spoken, but the ZIP Code was sung.
In the opening sequence, each cast member performed a brief "signature move," and second season cast member Bernadette's "arm thing" (a helicopter-like series of arm moves) became famous among the show's young audience. By popular demand, Bernadette eventually explained on the show how to perform the move.
The program featured its own language, Ubbi-Dubbi, where the syllable "ub" was added before each vowel sound in each syllable of each word ("H-ub-i, fr-ub-iends," etc.). For the first two seasons, a word game called "Fannee Doolee" was featured, in which a series of statements about the titular character were presented to the audience without further explanation (e.g., "Fannee Doolee likes sweets, but hates candy"). It was eventually revealed that Fannee Doolee loved all words with double letters and hated all words without them.
Each show had one or two Zoomguest sequences, short film documentaries about children with special talents (singing, tap-dancing, instrument-making, etc.) or interesting hobbies or jobs. The premiere episode featured a boy who built a boat by making a ring of sticks and twigs and covering them with a tarpaulin.
Throughout the show's run, Newton Wayland was the musical director, while Billy Wilson handled choreography through the first four seasons.
In the show's first two seasons, Tracy hosted a "Tracy Asks..." sequence in which she asked a question, e.g., "Which came first, the chicken or the egg?" or "What is the world's longest word?", and local children were filmed giving their answers. In later episodes, other cast members hosted and the segment was retitled "Zoom in the Street." The first two seasons had "quickie" comedy routines modeled after Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In. Season 4 featured a recurring mock-soap opera titled As the World Zooms.
The performers in the original series were known for wearing striped rugby shirts and jeans. In Seasons 1 and 2 the cast performed barefoot but wore shoes from Season 3 on.
The first Zoom series lasted six seasons (1972–1978) and featured 49 Zoomers. During the second and third seasons, cast members were transitioned with a catchy production number that introduced the new cast members to the continuing cast members. The same song was used for each transition ("How do ya do do-dee-do, how do ya do-dee-do-dee-do, how's your sister, how's your brother, how are you?"). In the last three seasons, entirely new casts were used.
Several episodes were available with captions for the hearing-impaired.
|Season||Cast Member #1||Cast Member #2||Cast Member #3||Cast Member #4||Cast Member #5||Cast Member #6||Cast Member #7||Cast Member #8||Cast Member #9||Cast Member #10|
|1 (1972)||Joe Shrand||Nina Lillie||Kenny Pires||Tracy Tannebring||Tommy White||Nancy Tates||Jon Reuning|
|2 (1972-1973)||Maura Mullaney||Kenny Pires||Ann Messer||David Alberico||Nancy Tates||Jay Schertzer||Tracy Tannebring|
|Luiz Gonzales||Bernadette Yao||Leon Mobley|
|Edith Mooers||Lori Boskin||Danny McGrath||Leon Mobley||Neal Johnson|
|3 (1973-1974)||Danny McGrath||Edith Mooers||Mike Dean||Donna Moore||Timmy Pruce||Lori Boskin|
|Mike Dean||Rose Clarkow||Hector Dorta||Shawn Miranda Reed||Danny Malloy|
|4 (1974-1975)||Harvey Reed||Tishy Flaherty||David "Red" O'Brien||Cate Wadsworth||Norman Christian||Tracey Dellaria||Tommy Schultz||Carmen Hernandez||David Azzoto||Andrae Wyatt|
|5 (1976)||Chris Blackwell||Jennifer Gold||Ron Richmond||Arcadio Gonzales||Karen Wing||Levell Gethers||Nell Cox|
|6 (1977-1978)||Amy Clark||John Lathan||Carolyn Malcolm||Nicholas Butterworth||Shona de Nile||Chee Kim||Susan Wolf|
Some PBS stations continued to broadcast reruns of the series until September 12, 1980.
In 1973, the cast members from the first season released an album called Playgrounds (LP OCLC 3399239), produced by Rupert Holmes, that was available by mail order.
In 1974, A&M Records released an album of songs from the show titled Come on and Zoom (LP OCLC 3060311; cassette OCLC 18900529), featuring cast members from the second season. The catalogue number of the album was SP-3402 (213 402 under the PolyGram system).
In 1977, Rounder Records released Zoom Tunes, featuring cast members from the fourth season. John Nagy and Newton Wayland produced the latter two albums.
Two books for children were based on the 1970s Zoom series:
On December 1, 1998, WGBH released the video-and-book set Best of the 70s and Zoomers Revisited — Where Are They Now? (ISBN 1578072077).
On October 28, 2008, WGBH released a two-DVD set, Zoom Back to the '70s. The first DVD was a reissue of Best of the 70s, with extras consisting of behind the scenes stills set to the theme song and a 10-question quiz asking what a few of the cast members are doing today. The second DVD consisted of four episodes from the series.
At the show's 50th anniversary in 2022, WGBH posted all surviving episodes online. On January 28, 2022, original executive producer Christopher Sarson and members of the first cast appeared in online video chats, followed on February 2, 2022 by a chat with Sarson and cast members from the second and third seasons.