3-2-1 Contact

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"Let's make contact!"
3! 2! 1! Contact is the secret, is the moment/When everything happens!
—Opening theme

This PBS series, created by the Children's Television Workshop, was the CTW's 1980s attempt to engage young viewers in science. The original series lasted from January, 1980 to November, 1988. Edited versions of older episodes were broadcast to 1992.

To that end, 3-2-1 Contact took the equivalent format of Sesame Street and adjusted it for a preteen audience with comedy sketches, cartoons as well as demonstrations of scientific principles not only on the set, but also in filmed segments in which the hosts went around America to explore interesting things about science.

However, the most popular section was "The Bloodhound Gang", about a private detective agency staffed primarily by kids due to the seemingly perpetual absence of their boss, Mr. Bloodhound. In a world where nearly every adult other than the arresting police officers appears to be a gullible idiot, the young sleuths find themselves busting frauds and other nonviolent crimes all around them with their knowledge of science (and, in one case, communication -- in one episode, the Gang visits a diner and the waitress appears able to read minds -- until The Reveal, which shows that it was all due to non-verbal hand-signals used commonly by the staff of many diners).

The show also had a tie-in magazine that ran about ten years longer than the original series (although it became rechristened as Contact Kids near the end of its publication).

Nothing to do with the 1997 movie with Jodie Foster.


Tropes used in 3-2-1 Contact include:
  • Mickey Mousing: The 1983-86 version of the intro does this.
  • Recut: A condensed version of the series, titled 3-2-1 Classroom Contact, was produced in 1992, after the original series was dropped from syndication.
  • Retool: The first version was of three college-age kids and a fancy college study-house, then there was a second version with younger kids in a plain basement playroom. The show was retooled a second time in 1986 (season 5), being hosted by David Quinn and taking place mainly on-location.
  • Scooby-Doo Hoax: The Bloodhound Gang exposed a few of these.
  • Sesame Workshop: Produced this show.
  • Sesame Street Cred: The first version had short spots of various stars and media characters explaining various scientific facts.
    • And yes, Big Bird did appear once.
  • Show Within a Show: "The Bloodhound Gang".
  • Synthesizeritis: Arguably, the 1987-1988 opening theme arrangement.