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My Square One TV Collection

Square One TV, which aired from 1987 to 1993 on PBS, is undoubtedly the greatest television series about mathmatics ever aired. This creation of the Children's Television Workshop follows in the tradition of such favorites as Sesame Street, The Electric Company, and 3-2-1 Contact, using a fast-paced format echoing various television styles and genres to illustrate mathematical concepts intended to appeal to third to sixth-graders. Of course it was also so entertaining that grownups could enjoy it as well. I, however, first saw the show at age two and was immediately hooked, having seen nothing else of the sort on television, and made it a point to watch religiously. And of course I became interested in math along the way. Whether or not it was the work of this show is uncertain, but I still loved it. And as you can imagine, I was devestated by its cancellation. Even when it was rebroadcast on Noggin from 1999 to 2003, they only used 65 episodes, all of which were edited down. But thanks to tape trading, I have been able to expand my collection and see episodes that I had missed the first time around. So if any of this appeals to you, please let me know and perhaps we can arrange a trade. "You've already seen 24% of this page, how much is left? Think about it."

Season One-1987 (51 eps, 3 partial eps):

The first season of Square One, and in my opinion, the best. This set the pace for the series, with a combination of sketches, game shows, music videos, animated segments, and even live-action video games. No other season was like it, unfortunately.

106 (missing last several minutes)
108-132 (129 has two jips in beginning)
133 (cuts off during "Tesselations")
134 (only first few minutes, cuts off during "Welcome Back, Blotter")
140 (credits missing)
141-146 (jip during 146)
147 (missing first several minutes)
148-157 (157 is missing last Mathnet minute)

Season Two-1988 (40 eps):

The show had become drastically different with its new segments, which seemed to replace the numerous varied sketches of the first season. We were introduced to cartoons such as Dirk Niblick of the Math Brigade, who used math and logic and common sense to thwart scam artists and most importantly, the rise of fours new game shows, each of which was seen once a week: Triple Play, Square One Squares, Piece of the Pie, and Close Call (which bear many similarities to Goodson-Todman's best shows such as Family Feud and To Tell The Truth, in fact the legendary game show company was named in the credits). In fact, the only studio sketches produced this season were a few Oops! segments. Still it was an entertaining show, and the math, its most important part, was fortunately kept intact.

201-240 (208 and 217 are missing the ends)

Season Three-1990 (38 eps):

Still going strong after three seasons, the show seemed to strike a happy medium between skits and game shows, thanks to the addition of Math-a-thon and new segments with Eddie "the Old Philosopher" Lawrence offering solutions for mathematical predicaments. The game shows were also retooled and But Who's Counting was revived with a "hipper" presentation. Another shocking change was that its most prominent sketch, Mathnet, was moved from Los Angeles to New York, where Sesame Workshop could have more control over production.


Season 4-1991 (38 eps)

There were two significant changes in the look of the series. First, the opening and closing sequence had been changed from the one used for three seasons. Second, Mathnet had shown us a new detective, Pat Tuesday, replacing George's old partner, Kate Monday. Though newer segments were added, such as Mathcourt, General Mathpital, and animated and filmed segments demonstrating that math is "more than just arithmetic," many of the new segments were based on the Season 3 additions, particluarly the game shows. Mathman had returned after a season of repeats, but instead of eating numbers he debunked misperceptions about math. Despite these new changes, the most significant was the its apparent focus on not describing the elements of math but instead its necessity and applicability to everyday life.


Season Five-1992 (22 eps, 2 partial eps):

This was the final season, completely different from the previous four. It was also the shortest, with only 35 episodes. The old cartoons and game shows were a think of the past, only a few repeats were kept. And only one music video was released this season, "Rules of Thumb" by Kid'n Play. New installments of Mathcourt and General Mathpital, plus new features such as Fawlty Towers spoof Nobody's Inn, Max Headroom takeoff Fax Headful, talk show parody Late Afternoon with David Numberman, and a recurring series of mathematical movie parodies under the series Sneaky Peeks, in addition to new cartoons with Zook and Alison and a new video game, Pauline's Perilous Pyramid. Though the show remained as popular, Children's Television Workshop decided that its funds would be better served for other projects, such as its new series Ghostwriter, and so Square One ceased production in 1993. Not before, however, leaving a remarkable impression on the minds of millions of viewers, and inspiring them to learn, and enjoy, the wonders of mathematics.

502 (missing first few minutes)
513 (cuts off at start of Mathnet)

Square One Specials (7 eps):

In 1990, the show released Square One Video Jukebox, a collection of 8 of the music videos released during the show's history, with segues by MTV's "Downtown" Julie Brown. From 1991-1993, the show released ten specials based on the Mathnet segments at the end of each show, which took one full Mathnet episode and edited it into a one-hour special, interspersed with clips and segments (and ads for Square One) from the show, some of which had not been seen. If CTW had allowed Mathnet to be shown as a regular series (as it had been offered to do by ABC), this might have been it.

*Square One Video Jukebox (my copy is missing the opening credit sequence, and the credits are cut and interrupted by a pledge drive)
*Mathnet: Despair in Monterrey Bay
*Mathnet: The Case of the Calpurnian Kugel Caper
*Mathnet: The Case of the Galling Stones
*Mathnet: The Case of the Mystery Weekend
*Mathnet: The Case of the Smart Dummy
*Mathnet: The Case of the Bermuda Triangle

Math Talk (2 eps):
Imagine my thrill when channel surfing on January 2, 1997 and disocvering Square One still on broadcast television! It turned out to have been resurrected as Math Talk, a series of fifteen-minute shows where Maria Lopez and Buster the parrot would guide viewers on a specific subject, with the help of at least 2 revelant clips from Square One. Produced in 1995 for PBS, it still remains part of the intstructional programming lineup on some stations. If you happen to have it in your area, you are indeed fortunate.


Square One from Noggin:

All 65 episodes, however my copy of 514 is missing its opening

This is Tony DuMont, saying "May the math be with you!"

Words of wisdom:
Since the grownups want me to discourage drug use, all you kids out there should throw out your Ritalin.