Square One Television
|This article does not cite any references or sources. (February 2009)|
|Format||Educational/Children's television series|
|Starring||Reg E. Cathey
|Narrated by||Cynthia Darlow|
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of episodes||230|
|Running time||30 minutes|
|Production company(s)||Children's Television Workshop|
|Audio format||Mono (1987–1991)
|Original run||January 26, 1987– November 6, 1992 , reruns aired until May 6, 1994|
Square One Television (sometimes referred to as Square One or Square One TV) is an American children's television program produced by the Children's Television Workshop to teach mathematics and abstract mathematical concepts to young viewers.
Created and broadcast by PBS in the United States from January 26, 1987 to November 6, 1992, the show was intended to address the math crisis among American schoolchildren. After the last episode aired, the show went into reruns until May 6, 1994. The show was revived for the 1995–1996 PBS season as a teacher instruction program, Square One TV Math Talk.
Square One comprised short sketches that introduced and applied concepts in mathematics such as counting, combinatorics, vulgar fractions, estimation, probability, and geometry. The sketches featured regular characters and were mainly parodies of pop culture icons or popular television shows. Sketches were presented in various formats, including music videos featuring a particular subject in mathematics and taught the subject through song (e.g., Roman numerals, obtuse and acute angles, percentages, negative numbers, etc.) or comedic sketches (e.g., General Mathpital, a parody of General Hospital; Nobody's Inn, a parody of Fawlty Towers; Late Afternoon with David Numberman, a parody of Late Night with David Letterman; etc.). "Patterns", a polka about patterns that can be detected in daily life, was performed by "Weird Al" Yankovic. (Since Yankovic did not write this song, it is unavailable on any of his records, though bootleg versions have circulated.)
Mathman was a regular segment and a parody of Pac-Man. The skit helped viewers learn to recognize common mistakes while solving math problems, such as forgetting to carry a digit, or making errors with negative numbers. A blue tornado character named "Mr. Glitch" was Mathman's enemy.
Backstage with Blackstone featured math-related magic tricks and performances by Harry Blackstone, Jr.. Each segment involved two cast members at a time (Reg E. Cathey portrayed Blackstone's assistant). After performing a trick, Blackstone explained how the trick worked.
Other animated segments included Dirk Niblick of the Math Brigade, who often use his mathematical skills to help his friends and neighbors in everyday situations; The Further Adventures of Zook & Alison; and Fax Headful, a parody of Max Headroom.
Several segments featured child contestants competing to win prizes.
- But Who's Adding?/But Who's Multiplying?: the show's first original game, hosted by Larry Cedar. Two players captured spaces on a gameboard by adding or multiplying two digits at a time, trying to be the first to complete a row/column/diagonal.
- But Who's Counting?: hosted by Monty Carlo (played by Arthur Howard). Two pairs of players (season 1)/two players (seasons 3-4) (played by the cast members) tried to make the smallest/largest five-digit number possible (seasons 1 and 3), smallest/largest pair of fractions in season 4, placing one digit at a time as it was spun on a carnival wheel.
- Piece of the Pie (Introduced in season 2, lasted until season 4): a survey-based game similar to Family Feud, using pie charts and teaching percentages. The game was hosted by Cris Franco and Arthur Howard, and later by Beverly Mickins.
- Close Call: a game about estimation, using "how many beans are in this big jar"-type of questions, and bearing a similarity to The Price Is Right. Arthur Howard was the original host, replaced at the beginning of Season 4 by Luisa Leschin (who was co-host for the previous season). Leschin's co-host was Reg E. Cathey.
- Triple Play: players spun wheels to choose two digits, then had to add/multiply them in order to match numbers on the gameboard, trying to complete a triangle. The game was hosted by Cynthia Darlow, and only lasted one season (Season 2).
- Square One Squares: a tic-tac-toe game similar to Hollywood Squares and To Tell the Truth. The game was later replaced by Square One Challenge. Both were hosted by Larry Cedar.
Each episode featured a closing segment titled Mathnet, starring Joe Howard as George Frankly and Beverly Leech as Kate Monday. A parody of Dragnet, the story line of each skit featured the detectives attempting to solve a crime by using math. Each Mathnet story line spanned five episodes, or one complete broadcast week (Monday through Friday).
In season four, Toni DiBuono replaced Leech as Pat Tuesday.