Picture Pages, Picture Pages

Back in the 80s and early 90s, Nickelodeon used to run a little short between shows called Picture Pages, with a very 70s-looking, groovy, (possibly stoned or more likely severely fatigued) Bill Cosby.  I used to get excited when these little shorts came on, but I felt a little left out.  I wanted to get my Picture Pages, and I’d want to get my crayons and my pencil.  The problem? No one had this damn book.  Did you? I’ll bet you didn’t.  In reality, Picture Pages was bad filler, wedged in there to pass some sort of educational programming standard.

I can almost hear the rage flowing across the internet to me:  How can you say anything bad about a Bill Cosby short? Bill F-ing Cosby.  Look, I get that he’s a national treasure and the face-popping and wow-faces are endearing; but are you telling me you enjoyed watching a grown man do a connect-the-dots for five minutes, and basically instruct you on how to do this task for a book no one owned?  If anyone can pull it off it’s Bill, but this is dry material, people.  At his best, he would throw himself into it:

“And so we’re drawing the bird house, see, go from one… to two [cue TRS-80 doople-doople-doople sound effect for the magic marker] to…anyone? That’s right…three! Now… we have… a bird house! And there’s the cat, Mr. Catimus Maximus, he’s down here saying, ‘Shnazzle-dazzle! I can’t get to the Bird!’ and the bird, Mr. Borderline B. BlueBird, says, ‘Shmackum-whackum! I’m in my house!’ [face pop]”

He tried so hard to make this exciting, despite probably filming 800 of these damn shorts in a single 24-hour period.  At least that’s how they came across:

[and tell me at 2:52 Bill was not high]

He and little Mortimer Marker didn’t only do connect the dots; apparently that was too complicated for kids.  So, they had kids draw lines to a happy earth and a sad, garbage-filled earth.

My train of thought as I watch this:
Hey! That’s one psychedelic fez Bill is wearing.  He’s like Doctor Who – fezes are cool!  Oh, it’s a dunce cap.  That’s disappointing.  Camille! OMG! The famous Camille.  She’s so pretty! She looks a little like a cross between Lisa Bonet and Maya Rudolph.  That’s kind of weird…wow, that’s some uninspired line-reading there.  I wonder if they film this in their basement.  Aw, he loves her. How cute.  Okay, maybe she doesn’t look like Lisa Bonet so much… oh my God, I’m eagerly anticipating the Mortimer sound…I wanted that marker so bad as a stocking stuffer.  Yeah, they don’t even care at this point – with pages like J-5 and Uu-1, how many picture pages were there anyway?  I bet they did these all back to back, and when they started botching lines they were like “f- it, the kids don’t give a shit, they’re probably eating their crayons right now anyway.”  Of course they wouldn’t really say that, because Bill Cosby doesn’t curse…I bet page Zy-43 broke his soul. I want to see that outtake.  Not that I relish in Bill Cosby’s broken soul – that’s pretty f-ing un-American – I just want to know how much worse these can get, because they are close to rock bottom right now…it’s kind of like when your least-stable relative is trying to keep their shit together at Thanksgiving and they’re like, “I’m happy! Everyone is happy!” and they’re just itching to run out of the dining room to smoke five packs of Camels on the patio…I bet they brought in Camille at last minute to help Bill “get through” this last stretch.  I can’t believe we make fun of Asian TV shows.  There’s a dude in Kyoto right now laughing his ass off at this, wondering why American programming is so weird…There’s a top comment on YouTube saying “the generation today needs programs like this.”  That is such a YouTube comment.

All that said, if someone could auto-tune this, I think it would be the most awesome thing ever.  Just saying. I have a submissions email, you know.