Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Caught red-handed?

1979. If you are in your 30s you may remember a bizarre American children's tv programme called The Red Hand Gang. It had a somewhat whimsical opening title sequence, involving children bouncing up and down on a trampoline from various angles, with the lyrics "la la la - la la la". The programme was about these five kids who solved mysteries (usually involving kidnappers or smugglers). They were: Frankie - the eldest one and the leader; JR (the athletic one), Joanne (the girl), Doc (the clever black kid) and Lil Bill (the youngest one). There was also a dog. They were like Enid Blyton's Famous Five, except they were American and much cooler. As soon as I saw the Red Hand Gang I wanted to be American too.

This website lets you download the (rather blurred) opening and closing credits. The closing credits contain the grooviest sassiest music ever written - featuring a cliff-hanger which segues (rather badly) into a mad, urgent 1970s woodwind ensemble, while the gang hang out, chat and then saunter off into the distance. I don't remember much about the show, except that for a 7 year old, it was quite scary - that picture with a man's hand on Frankie's shoulder absolutely terrified me. And there was an episode with a deaf girl and a chimp.

The show was rather less popular in the US and it was never released on video or DVD, a real shame. TV Cream has a short article about it, and here's a site on Matthew Labyorteaux who played Frankie (and went on to be in Little House on the Prarie. Bring back the Red Hand Gang!


Brian W said...

I will admit to having had a crush on Matthew Laborteaux when I was a kid--but that was later, on Little House on the Prairie. I've never heard of the Red Hat Gang at all! The theme song is kind of exhausting, isn't it? They seem to be having trouble keeping up the la la la's up with the beat after the break.

d_harvey said...

Now there's a blast from the past.. I remember that series very well. The black kid was called James Bond III - aren't parents cruel?

Wonder what they are all doing now? Crack addicts and embittered down and outs or pillars of the community...?