ZOOM Children's Television Programming

ZOOM is an American educational television show, created almost entirely by children, which aired on PBS originally from January 3, 1972 to 1978. This was produced by WGBH-TV in Boston.

ZOOM encouraged children to "turn off the TV and do it!" On the show, a cast of (usually) seven kids (known as ZOOMers) present or perform various activities such as games, plays, poems, recipes, jokes, songs, movies, science experiments, and informal chats on such subjects such as hospitals, prejudice, etc., all suggested by viewer contributions. These activities are introduced by such titles as ZOOMovie, ZOOM Play of the Week, ZOOMrap (later ZOOMchat), ZOOMgame, ZOOMdo, ZOOMgoody, ZOOMphenomenon, etc.

The mail-in request became a pop culture reference for its music exhortation to "Write ZOOM, Z-Double-O-M, Box 3-5-0, Boston, Mass 0-2-1-3-4: send it to ZOOM!". The exhortation was spoken but the ZIP code was sung in a barbershop quartet style.

The program also has various language games, including 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.). Another language game, "Fannee Doolee," centers around a character who likes any person, place, thing or concept with double letters in it but hates its non-double-lettered equivalent, e.g., "Fannee Doolee likes sweets but hates candy."

Each show has a "ZOOMguest" sequence, a short film documentary about a child with a special talent for singing, piano-playing, tap-dancing, instrument-making, performing in the Ice Capades, etc. The premiere episode features a boy building a boat by making a ring of brush and covering it with a tarp.

In the show's first two seasons, Tracy hosts a "Tracy Asks..." sequence in which she asks a question, e.g., "Which came first, the chicken or the egg?" or "What is the world's longest word?", and local children are interviewed to give their answers to the question in a "man on the street" vein. The first season also has "quickie" comedy routines modeled on those on Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In.

The performers in the original series were known for wearing striped rugby shirts and jeans and for performing barefoot, although the cast members started performing in shoes from the third season (1973) on.

ZOOM was a new kind of series when it premiered on January 3, 1972. Unlike other children's fare at the time, it was, for the most part, unscripted. Far from seeking to capitalize by making stars of the child actors, the contracts prohibited them from making any television appearances or doing commercials for three years after they left the show.

ZOOM was intended to inspire children to be active investigators, creators, and problem-solvers as well as introduce them to the principles of ethnic diversity. The show's ZOOMSci segment, for example, featured on the later incarnation, encourages viewers to try the activities shown on ZOOM and to send in their results.

The first ZOOM series lasted six seasons (1972–1978) and featured 49 ZOOMers. During early seasons, cast members were transitioned during the show's catchy production number which introduced the new cast members the remaining 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? (Como esta?)"). In later seasons, an entirely new cast was used, usually with no reference to the former cast (i.e., a "cold" transition).