Todays Special

Scaring the crap out of kids since 1980
February 19, 2008
I wrote this originally as a blog on my myspace account, and it has been toned down significantly for Retrojunk. As a result it has lost some of its bite...but I think you will get the point all the same. So onto my review of the opening sequence of Todays Special:

It all starts off innocently enough.

We hear an optimistic drum tap and a cheery piano rhythm lightly playing. We see a woman taking down a store window display as a splash of 70's jazz sax welcomes us to the world of 80's Canadian children's television.

Milliseconds later, this lighthearted intro gives way to a terrifying low budget nightmare.

We see an old midget man puppet, with human hands, playing the role of security guard. He's checking the stores front doors to make sure that they are all secure. "Well I guess that's all locked up tight now, as it should be", he says before humming along to the digital harpsichord rhythm now intruding in on the pleasant retro-elevator music intro.

We don't get a good view of his face at first, but these are the basics. He has a mop head for hair, and a plastic face with synthetic rosy cheeks perpetually posed in a mischievous almost perverted grin. For some reason, as a kid he reminded me of the sad clown picture my grandmother had on the television room wall.

This picture scared the living snot out of me as a child, but Sam the Muppet man was the epitome of terror to my 5 year old mind.

The "Plastic Ono Man" sees the woman fondling the mannequin in the stores front window and speaks to her. "Oh, hiya there Jody" he snarl's. "Hi Sam" she politely replies.

I'm pretty sure that Jodie was an innocent bystander held hostage by this maniacal artificial creature. He probably made her do terrible things, like use a wet sponge to wipe the dust off of his face or something. He probably even touched her with those weird human hands in sick, twisted, perverted ways. He probably molested her soul. And not in a good way.

So Jodie picks up the mannequin that she was abusing, and Sam the ringleader commands her up the stairs. I think he asks her if she needed help carrying the store dummy to the escalator or something, but I'm pretty sure that if she had said, "Yes Sam that would be great", he would have spit in her face and told her to "shove off eh". It is a Canadian show after all.

They get on the escalator, the puppet master standing behind her to make sure she doesn't make any sudden moves, and the next thing out of Sams mouth pretty much proves my point that the freaking guy was a spawn of the devil. I seriously couldn't make this stuff is THAT sick.

"Heh, on our way to the childrens department once again!"

I swear he says this. He says it. And I'm positive that he really does mean to do harm to all the little 80's children. Myself included. In fact I can't be too sure that the creature didn't reach out of my grandmothers television set and stroke me with his odd plastic grubby marionette hands. Those are the types of memories that you suppress as a child, and which later come out when you go to the shrink as an adult complaining of strange recurring dreams. Some people are regressed and find out that they were abducted by aliens. I would probably be regressed and find out that I was manhandled by Sam the security guard from Todays Special.

In any case, the camera zooms in to a sign that reads "Childrens Department" to illustrate the fact that we as viewers are indeed switching locations to the "Childrens Department". And holy crap! This is the first time we can get a clear view of Sam's face as he peeks around the corner of the entryway. It's funny how he looks so much taller in this shot than he did in the beginning scenes. If they wanted him to seem like a life sized person, why the heck didn't they just hire a life sized person to do this character instead of terrorizing little kids with this synthetic clown creature? It could have spared me the emotional scars I have carried with me all these years. It's the reason I drink...

"The customers have all gone home now", he mentions to Jodie as she tip toes the mannequin over to the glass check out counter. She props him up and sneaks off screen quickly, perhaps thinking that she has escaped the eye of the evil gloved-puppet tyrant that was holding her hostage.

Jodie and Sam at this point disappear off screen. Nobody knows where the heck they went, but I've always imagined that Sam was probably back up in his fake puppet security lair smoking Macanudo cigars while he sat and watched Jodies every move. If there is ever a remake of SAW, they need to get rid of Jigsaw and replace him with Sam. Now that would be some fear-provoking freaking cinema.

So now that two of the main characters are off doing their own flippin thing, we are introduced to two more. Both of them are equally as terrifying. First there is Muffy the sewer infested flea bitten old rat.

She practices dark witchcraft which soon becomes quite apparent as she turns to the mannequin and says in her cigarette damaged voice "Hocus Pocus allamasomething" at which point we are treated to some truly outstanding 80's special effects and the store dummy comes to life.

His name is Jeff....and he seems stunned. And I'm sure that most of you know, the best thing that you can do when you are feeling stunned is to clumsily perform pirouettes and run off screen. Which he does.

Jody reappears on a ladder for some reason. Not sure why. But the now living mannequin doesn't seem to surprise her in any way. In fact, they seem to instantly become quite good friends. This is illustrated by the fact that they join hands and run out into a field of green screen stars and jump merrily into the air. We are then treated to some more outstanding 80's special effects as they are then magically transformed into cartoon faces.

This whole cartoon sequence is like a drug infused trip-fest parody of the Brady Bunch intro. The four faces are split into four sections, with each character looking up, down and over at the other characters. Sam for some reason, who is placed in the upper left hand corner, looks more than once to his left, even though there is nobody over in that direction. Not sure why he does this, but it all contributes to my theory that he has a paranoid personality.

I really think that the people that made this show were ex hippies. They had to be stoned out of their minds when they made this cartoon sequence. This idea is re-enforced when the split screens fade out and we see a goulish old cartoon woman riding over a rainbow road on top of a pigeon or something. And just as you think that it couldn't get any worse, an animated Muffy jumps through Sams Commodore 64 security camera system interuppting his cigar smoking and making him tip over.

This was truly a frightening show that even this intro sequence can't fully illustrate. I'm really not sure how to add videos yet seeing as I am a noob at this, but if you run a search on Retrojunks home page, you can view the video in all its terror. I will also e-mail the webmaster to see if he can add the video to this article. Let me know what you think!
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