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The following prescribed is transgrammed.—Opening line for Screaming Yellow Theater
Calling all stations! Clear the airlanes, clear all airlanes for the big broadcast!—Opening line for Son of Svengoolie and Svengoolie
Svengoolie is the eponymous character of a long-running series in Chicago, where he shows movies (often, but not always, Horror Films). During commercial breaks he'll crack jokes, tell some history of the film being screened, sing songs, do sketches, etc. A popular feature is "SvenSurround," where he enhances the original audio track of the film with sound effects and dubbed in dialogue.
The character has gone through many incarnations throughout its run, starting in 1970 on Chicago's WFLD as a part of Screaming Yellow Theater, where the character was played by Jerry G. Bishop, and a key writer was Rich Koz. When WFLD was bought out by a network with it's own horror host, SYT was cancelled. It was resurrected in 1979, with Koz portraying "Son of Svengoolie" in a show of the same name. Said show was cancelled when Fox bought out WFLD in 1986, but returned as simply Svengoolie (with Bishop's blessing) on stations in Chigago and Milwaukee in 1995 and has been running since.
On April 2nd, 2011 Svengoolie went national when the ME-TV network expanded out of Chicago and Milwaukee and became a full-fledged nationwide network. Find out more here.
Svengoolie provides examples of:
- Art Evolution: Bishop started out with a plain white coffin lying on a table, which would be signed by the episode's special guest if there was one, before transitioning to the more familiar, ornate one with his face on it. (The coffin-signing tradition was succeeded by a guest book.)
- Audience Participation: Faked with using audio clips from various programs, most commonly Warner Brothers cartoons.
- Award Show: Parodied in 1983 with The Worst of Svengoolie, which highlighted the worst elements of the various films that had been shown over the years.
- The Danza: Doug Scharf as Doug Graves.
- Everything's Better with Chickens: Rubber chickens make frequent appearances on the show, especially at the end, when they're launched at Svengoolie.
- Fan Nickname: Sven, short for Svengoolie. "Goolie" isn't his last name.
- Fourth Wall Mail Slot
- Hey, It's That Guy!: Svengoolie devotes one host segment a week to pointing out the actors' other roles.
- Keep Circulating the Tapes: Unlike some horror hosts Sven doesn't rely strictly on Public Domain films, which makes for a wider variety of shows available but also makes officially releasing them to home video virtually impossible. Sven is OK with people trading copies of his old shows, but do not sell them.
- Legacy Character: The current Svengoolie started as the Son of Svengoolie; the original Svengoolie (played by Jerry G. Bishop) aired from 1970-1973 on Screaming Yellow Theater. Son of Svengoolie ran 1979-1986. When SoS returned to regular broadcasting in 1995 he received the blessing of the original to just be called "Svengoolie."
- Long Runners: Sven's first show ran 1979-1986; his current show started in 1995.
- It's even longer if Screaming Yellow Theater counts--an additional four years.
- Mad Libs Catchphrase: "The time has come for scary things, like monsters, ghosts and vampire wings..." from the Bishop era. Each week, the next line would be changed to reflect that week's guest or film.
- Milestone Celebration: Son of Svengoolie has the the 300th Episode Retrospective, the 1997-on series got one in the form of the 100th Show Medley.
- Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping: Very much so over the years, with regards to Sven being Transylvianian, and how. It's pretty much gone straight into Not Even Bothering with the Accent, he'll start a segment with it or annunciation a word in it here or there but that's all.
- Parody Commercial: Fairly frequently. Dr. Phiber, anyone?
- Passing the Torch: In the first episode of Son of Svengoolie, when the Son pop's out of Bishop's coffin on the old Screaming Yellow Theater set while Bishop, out of character, provides Opening Narration.
Bishop: Good evening. I'm Jerry G. Bishop, and this is the famed split-level dungeon studio where many years ago, the legendary Svengoola--Svengoolie first entered television prominence many years ago....What if there was the same situation as in the past with Son of Frankenstein, Son of Dracula, Sanford and Son? Could their exist--somewhere, somehow--a Son of Svengoolie?
Son of Svengoolie: Hey, dad, can I borrow the key to the Hearst tonight?
- Promoted Fanboy: Koz began his career as Svengoolie by being a fan of the original Svengoolie and sending in some sketch ideas. He then became a writer on the show and for Jerry G. Bishop personally. When auditions came up for a new horror host he got permission from Bishop to become the "Son of" Svengoolie.
- Pun Based Name: Named for Svengali from Trilby (and the subsequent reuse of the name as "a person who with evil intent manipulates another into doing what is desired") along with Ghoul, a common horror trope in its own right.
- Running Gag/Phrase Catcher: "BER-WYN?" whenever a city name, or a word that sounds similar is mentioned. Berwyn is a suburb of Chicago where they have an annual mushroom parade. Used as a gag similar to Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In's "beautiful downtown Burbank."
- Screwed by the Network: Twice.
- The reason the original Svengoolie show was canceled in 1973 was that the local TV station he originated from was bought by an out-of-town TV station that had it's own local Horror Host, which it then syndicated in the Chicago area in Svengoolie's timeslot. Said show didn't last six months in the Chicago market but by then the original Svengoolie had moved on with his life.
- In 1986 the fledgling Fox Network, which bought the local channel Son of Svengoolie originated from (notice a pattern?) decided to cancel the show because it didn't fit with their vision of how the nascent network should present itself. That and they wanted the timeslot for The Joan Rivers Show.
- Song Parody: Once an Episode, usually changing the lyrics to reference that night's movie.
- Talking to Himself: Many characters are voiced by Koz, and dubbed in. Zallman T. Tombstone (a floating skull), Kerwyn (a rubber chicken who helps Sven with the Mailbag segment), and Durwood (a ventriloquit's dummy) are the three most often seen Non Human Sidekicks. Also "appearing" Once an Episode is "the guy behind the door," who interrupts Sven as he's saying his goodnights at the end of the show to tell him a bad joke. The hand is played by various people - mostly staffers at the station - but the voiceover is Koz.
- Take That: Svengoolie's response to his cancellation...in music form.
- Three Dimensional Episode: when SoS broadcast Revenge of the Creature in 1983. The effect didn't work well.
- Throw It In: The origin of Svengoolie. Staff announcer Jerry G. Bishop was announcing the night's film and deciding as a gag to do it in a Transylvanian accent.
- Uncanceled: Came back in 1995 after being cancelled in 1986. Some people who were fans of his 1980s show still don't know that he's back, and that he's been back for 16 years.
- Vocal Range Exceeded: Regularly used when musical director Doug Graves arranges songs for Sven to sing, just a bit higher than Sven can sing.
- You Gotta Have Green Hair: Jerry Bishop's Svengoolie.