Watch Between Time and Timbuktu, an Obscure TV Gem Based on the Work of Kurt Vonnegut

Just won­der­ing, who among us knows how to sing the zip code of Boston’s pub­lic tele­vi­sion sta­tion, WGBH-TV?

If you war­bled “02134” with­out hes­i­ta­tion, you prob­a­bly grew up watch­ing a beloved children’s tele­vi­sion show of the 70s.

It turns out Zoom wasn’t the only cool pro­gram WGBH hatched in 1972. On March 13, just a cou­ple of months after Zoom’s debut, the sta­tion aired Between Time and Tim­buk­tu, a 90-minute spe­cial inspired by the work of Kurt Von­negut.

The script was writ­ten by David Odell, who lat­er won an Emmy for The Mup­pet Show, but Von­negut advised, pinch­ing char­ac­ters and scenes from such favorites as Cat’s Cra­dle, Sirens of Titan, and “Har­ri­son Berg­eron.”

Von­negut also wrote the intro­duc­tion to the pub­lished script, a paper­back quick­ie enhanced by pro­duc­tion stills and pho­tos tak­en by Vonnegut’s wife, Jill Kre­mentz. It was as good a forum as any for him to announce his retire­ment from film, which he cit­ed as a medi­um “too clank­ing and real” for his com­fort.

The show itself is like­ly to cause nos­tal­gia for television’s free­wheel­ing, Mon­ty Python era.

Though 1972 wasn’t an entire­ly sil­ly peri­od, if you’ll recall. The Viet­nam War was rag­ing, with Wal­ter Cronkite hold­ing down the CBS Evening News desk.

Between Time and Tim­buk­tu cap­i­tal­izes on the vet­er­an broad­cast­er’s ubiq­ui­ty by cast­ing come­di­an Ray Gould­ing of Bob and Ray fame, as an appro­pri­ate­ly grave Wal­ter Gesund­heit. Bob joined him at the news desk as a fic­ti­tious for­mer astro­naut. Von­negut was appre­cia­tive of their efforts, stat­ing that Amer­i­can come­di­ans had prob­a­bly done more to shape his think­ing than any oth­er writer.

Also look for William Hick­ey, who played Prizzi’s Honor’s genial, aged mafia don, in the lead role of Stony Stevenson—now there’s a peri­od char­ac­ter name! If you’ll remem­ber, Stony is also the first civil­ian in space, at least accord­ing to the Sirens of Titan.

via The Air­ship

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Kurt Von­negut Urges Young Peo­ple to Make Art and “Make Your Soul Grow”

Kurt Von­negut: Where Do I Get My Ideas From? My Dis­gust with Civ­i­liza­tion

Kurt Von­negut Explains “How to Write With Style”

Ayun Hal­l­i­day is an author, home­school­er, and Chief Pri­ma­tol­o­gist of the East Vil­lage Inky zine. Fol­low her @AyunHalliday

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