Today's Special

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.
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From left to right: Jodie, Sam, Jeff and Muffy.
"First it's a mouse who talks in rhyme, and then a computer, not to mention the mannequin upstairs with the magic hat running around!"
Sam Crenshaw

A Canadian television show that ran in the 1980s. It ran from 1982 to 1987 and was broadcast on TV Ontario. It is best remembered for being one of the earliest staples of Nickelodeon — and at times, for being really freakin' weird.

The setting was a department store in an unspecified city (presumably Toronto, where the show was filmed). The show centered around the people (human and otherwise) who worked there during the overnight shift. The employees of the store included Jodie, who set up the displays in the children's department, Sam Crenshaw the security guard (played by a puppet), and Mrs. Pennypacker (another puppet introduced in one of the later seasons). They were joined by the far stranger nocturnal residents of the store: Jeff the mannequin, Muffy Mouse (another puppet), who spoke in rhyme and had a little penthouse within the store, and TXL Series 4, Sam's Do-Anything Computer and who also plays quizzes and participation games with the viewers in between segments. Another character in the show is the Mime Lady. While she is not an in-store character, she participates in TXL's games.

The aforementioned Jeff is such an unusual character, he deserves his own paragraphs. Every kid's show has an obligatory character meant to be the young audience's representative in the show's fictional world, but Jeff was an especially bizarre example. He is a mannequin, in the shape of an adult man, who was brought to life by wearing a magical hat created by a magician named Waldo The Magnificent. Thing is, his personality and mannerisms were that of a small child. So in other words, this show's Big Bird equivalent was a Man Child who lived in the store and was taught about everyday things and the world in general (ie, in one episode, the other regulars had to explain to Jeff what brooms were for, and in another, how umbrellas work).

Being a bit of a Cloudcuckoolander, Jeff also had to be reminded not to remove his own hat, as this turns him back into a mannequin. Fortunately, saying the magic words "Hocus Pocus Alamagocus" brings him back to life. Unfortunately, Jeff could never leave the store, due to the conditions of the magical hat (it only works inside the store). In some episodes, it is said that if he ever stepped foot off the store grounds, he would stay a mannequin forever (but not always; it should be noted that the "rules" of the hat were fairly inconsistent). Any episodes that took place outdoors had to provide a Hand Wave to work around this. (Pretty dark for a kids' show, eh?)

For a certain generation of young adults, this show often comes right after Zoobilee Zoo and/or The Noozles in conversations that start, "Oh my God, do you remember...?"

More information can be found at this very extensive fansite.


Tropes used in Today's Special include:
  • Alien Animals: XL7-Zed is the descendant of mice who traveled to the moon in search of green cheese (of course) and later colonized a planet they call Squeakonia.
  • All Animals Are Domesticated: To an extreme in Muffy's case. But there was also a strange episode where a police officer is looking for his department's mascot who is lost in the store — turns out he's a Mountain Lion...
  • Arbitrary Skepticism: Jodie borders on a Flat Earth Atheist at times.

Jodie: There's no way a magical Blue Cow could appear in my store! Isn't that right, rhyming mouse and self-aware statue?

Jodie: Jeff, I know how much your wish means to you. But really, how much fun could you have with two sandwiches and an invisible mouse?

    • There's a subtler example in "Adventure", where Jeff is the only one who won't quit in the effort to rescue Waldo, no matter how dangerous things get. After all, he owes his life to Waldo.
  • Innocent Innuendo: And it is painfully innocent, given that it's from Jeff, in the episode "Trash".

Jeff: Well now, TXL, how do we turn you on? I've never done this before. What button do you suppose I press?

  • Kryptonite Factor: If Jeff loses his hat, he changes back into a mannequin. He also cannot leave the store or he'll stay a mannequin forever.
  • Magical Computer: TXL. Just make sure you press the right buttons or unsuspected chaos could happen.
  • Magical Incantation: Hocus Pocus Alamagocus.
  • Magical Land: Visited in the episode titled, naturally, "Adventure". The department store, to some degree.
  • Master Computer: TXL is the security computer for the whole store.
  • Mouse World: Planet Squeakonia, which was colonized by the talking mice, is a very literal example.
  • Naive Newcomer: Jeff, due to only being alive during the overnight shifts, but somewhat subverted since he's one of the show's core characters.
  • Portrait Painting Peephole: These paintings are in the Haunted Castle in "Adventure."
  • Rhyming with Itself: Muffy, who must have been painful to write dialogue for.
  • Running Gag
    • Waldo never getting Sam's name right, and his magic always going awry.
    • Sam pressing the wrong buttons on TXL, resulting in hilarious havoc.
  • Ship Tease: There was a little bit between Jeff and Jodie, but given that the target audience really wouldn't be interested in such things it was never really mentioned.
  • Shout-Out: Quite a few. One of the best is in "Adventure", where a castle is warned to house "Dungeons & Dragons" (the whole episode plays out like a role-playing game).
    • Sam makes some of his own, also from "Adventure":

Jeff: What do you suppose lives in this creepy castle, anyway?
Sam: Oh, Dracula, Frankenstein, Darth Vadar, they're all probably roommates.