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Hodgepodge Lodge (sometimes spelled Hodge-Podge Lodge) was a children's television series produced by Maryland Public Broadcasting and shown on a number of PBS stations from 1970 to 1977, hosted by Miss Jean Worthley. It featured the quiet Miss Jean introducing elementary school children to wild animals and other nature topics (for example, trees) in a calm setting around the namesake lodge.
Hodge Podge Lodge was aired on PBS stations on the East Coast and syndicated for the rest of the nation in the early and mid-1970s. The host introduced the wonders of nature to national audiences, which included inner-city children, many of whom had never seen a garden or an animal in a setting other than a zoo. Miss Jean would do everything from opening up a pine cone and exploring its depths (which might have led to the discovery of a beetle or worm), to examining the habitat of a hedgehog or a red fox.
Most episodes of Hodge Podge Lodge have been lost because the master tapes were erased in order to save money by allowing the tapes to be reused. Of the over 760 original episodes, only about 30 remain. Maryland Public Broadcasting offers some of the surviving episodes on DVD. Whether or not any additional episodes remain hidden in network affiliates' archives is presently unknown.
While all too easy to blame MPT for erasing the master tapes, while it pains one to think that of over 760 episodes, only 30 are left, it is possible to understand MPT's actions...Everyday people like us hear "tape" and we think of a VHS tape....the tapes used for masters by studios, were 2" wide, and a reel for a half hour program was about a foot across & weighed 7 or 8 lbs....now multiply that by almost 800, and you can see the storage problems....plus, those tapes weren't cheap...adjusted for inflation they were almost $2000 a reel! Now multiply that by 800, and you're looking at some serious money, especially for a public TV station that is always staring at budget problems......Even if all the tapes did exist, unless they were properly stored, they might not even have been viewable, as the magnetic coating loses its charge, and the tapes dry out or face mold problems....and the special machines required to run the tapes require VERY specialized training, and LOTS of maintenance.....according to some estimates, there are only about 3 dozen of these machines left in the country that are operable! Would be interesting to see if any other public TV stations or libraries/schools have any other episodes in their collections.....BBC launched a campaign to re-claim material they erased, with a fair amount of success.....
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