Friday, 15 April 2016

Is it My Body?

Pretty much unknown in the UK, Webster was an American situation comedy that aired on ABC from September 1983, until May 1987. Drawing heavily on the earlier show Diff'rent Strokes, Webster starred Emmanuel Lewis as a young boy who, after losing his parents, is adopted by his godfather (played by Alex Karras), and his socialite wife (Karras’s real life wife Susan Clark). Originally titled Another Ballgame and to be based around Karras’s character (a former NFL player), the show was quickly remodelled after an NBC studio executive saw Lewis in a Burger King advert and drafted him in to the show.

Webster was a huge hit, especially with kids, and Lewis immediately became a star. The shows popularity led to several spin offs, an hour long special starring Emmanuel Lewis in which he appeared with Sammy Davis, Jr. and Bob Hope, a Star Trek TNG crossover episode and – obviously – a number of records. Lewis released two singles in Japan (City Connection – which was actually released before he became a star on Webster - and Love is Dandan, both ‘sung’ in a mix of English and pigeon Japanese) and the ‘Must Have Recording for Every Parent and Child’ Good Secrets! Bad Secrets!, ‘the Important New Recording that teaches children how to AVOID molestation!’

Dear Lord! Why is it that American TV shows feel the need to ram a moral code down their viewers’ throats? Released in 1986 by Kid Stuff Records, the producers of the schlock may have had good intentions, but this whole album is just creepy, featuring a 20 minute story about Webster’s friend Todd who gets ‘tickled in places I don’t want to be tickled’ bookended by a brace of songs, Good Touch and It’s Your Body, both of which I’ve included for you below. You can find the whole thing on YouTube if you want. Don’t say I haven’t warned you.

Lewis – who was once close to Michael Jackson, the two having met on the set of the Thriller video - has continued to act sporadically, occasionally appearing on TV in reality shows and and in low budget movies.

I’ve also included the A-side of Emmanuel Lewis’s first 45, City Connection.



  1. 4/15/16 Wrote:
    One individual is to blame for placing serious messages and subtle storylines with dangers to children codes: the late Peggy Charren, a staff member of TV's safety council of the 1960's. Reacting to the violent deaths of Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy in 1968, Charren saw to it that parents controlled what children would see in TV shows, particularly Saturday morning cartoons with violent, aggressive overtones. Thus, not only she and her newly-installed NEA crew saw to it that old cartoons like Johnny Quest and Looney Tunes got censored by TV executives, she also saw the need for moral codes on television shows designed for family viewing, such as those nauseating special episodes that deal with drugs, rape, driving while drunk, and so on. By the time "Webster" hit the airwaves in 1983, her message for a safer society has been going on for 14 and 1/2 years. Not that it had any effect in toning down violence on TV or movies for that mattered. Two years before "Webster" debuted, then president Reagan got shot by a crazed sniper named John Hinckley Jr., who was obsessed with insanity over Jodi Foster, an actress that even did't know he existed. No, Charren's message did not change things much about violence on TV (TV is as much violent as it was in 1968, even more ever so.) Webster's recording career didn't help much matters, it was simply a cash-in on his TV show, even if he made records before his TV debut. Kid Stuff Records made plenty of weird records for children during the 1970's through the 1990's, the most WTF in forms of goofiness is a 1978 cash-in on Elvis Presley's 1977 death, titled "A Child's introduction to Elvis", complete with a freak Dutch Elvis impersonator Freddy Fuhortengaygen, and backed by an anonymous studio band billed as The Wild Honey Singers. This was a weird release aimed at children.

    1. Thanks for that info Rob. Apparently there's also a Child's Introduction to the Beatles too! *shudder*


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