February 23, 2007

Remembering Marlo And The Magic Movie Machine

Marlo and the Magic Movie Machine is one of those long lost gems that we all loved watching back in the late '70s. After several years of not having seen this obscured show, we only begin to learn how special it was; not only for its educational value, but for the fact that it was one of those shows that worked on a shoestring budget, and still managed to attract a great audience. Executive producer Sanford Fischer had access to an enormous film archive, which contained what seemed endless feet of film, which hadn't been viewed in years, even decades. Fisher and his team laboriously edited the shorts into bite-sized clips which enabled Marlo to take the kids at home on many imaginative and historical trips during each episode.

Actor Laurie Faso played the mustachioed and frizzy-haired host Marlo Higgins. Marlo was an employee of the L. Dullo Company who would work very late hours for his boss Leo Dullo. At night, Marlo would head down to the basement, and would secretly slip into a secret room though a revolving bookshelf and interact with his friend: a talking computer which he often called "Machine" (short for Magic Movie Machine). Together, the two friends would watch various film clips and had exchanged fun filled dialogue. The Magic Movie Machine had a screen that had wavy graph signs whenever it talked, and displayed short clips whenever it would play a film clip. The Machine had a big keypad with round, yellow number buttons, which Marlo would use to punch in a specific code to play a specific film clip. To start the film, he would then press a large orange, rectangular Start button, and the magic would begin. There's also this large steel door (similar to heavy steel doors found in a bank vault) to the side of the Machine's screen. This door was used in rare episodes, where Marlo is magically transported into the film he's viewing. One of the two most memorable episodes is when Marlo visits Japan to eat Sushi, and the other was visiting the US Nautilus Submarine.

Laurie Faso's career continued even after starring in Marlo and the Magic Movie Machine. Not many people know that he did voice-over work for popular animated series titles like Transformers and Monchichis. Even so, we will always remember Faso as friendly Marlo, who with the lovable Machine, made learning so much more fun.

Regular segments featured during the show:

What do you see from A to Z - The code for this feature was '456.' A letter of the alphabet would be chosen, and film clips of things beginning with that letter would be shown. The clip would begin shown completely covered up, and gradually uncovered until it is compleely revealed after 10 seconds. Presumeably, the audience would try to identify what is being shown as quickly as possible.

Magic Year, Magic Month, and Magic Day - Using a chosen date or year as the code and utilizing a special keypad added in a later season to enter months, Marlo and the machine would feature events in history occurring on a particular day (the same day in different years) or in a particular month or year.

The Pre-fame Game - Marlo always used the code '5460' to call up this film. Baby pictures of famous people would be shown and you would be given a chance to guess who they are before a more current picture is revealed.

What do you see from A to Z Hidden Word Game - The code was '4560.' Similar to above, except that each word would begin with a different letter, and after the picture is uncovered, its initial letter would be placed in a blank in a final word. At the end of the segment, the final word would be completely filled in.

Knock-knock Jokes - Marlo would use the larger keypad to enter the code '0000' to call up this film. A character on-screen would begin by saying "knock-knock", Marlo would answer "Who's There", and a knock-knock joke would be told.

Riddles - In a later season, the Knock-knock jokes were replaced by riddles, which Marlo would call up, again using the bigger keypad, by pressing '2222.'

The Birthday Game - A date would be chosen, possibly from letters sent in by fans having that birthday. Marlo would enter this month and day on the keypad. A film featuring famous people who shared that birthday would be shown.

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Vince said...

I do remember this show growing up, it was very informative and educational. The format kinda reminded me of a similar local show called "Rhoda and Me" starring Eddie Mercado who also interacted with a machine named "Rhoda".

ian said...

yeah i remember when he visited the submarine. galing talaga.

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