It’s hard to watch the HBO Max documentary Allen v. Farrow and see these stories that are being told. Whatever your opinion of Woody Allen – director, actor, New York City scion, pederast – this documentary is frightening.
To hear Dylan Farrow describe the grooming and mental manipulation she dealt with from Woody Allen … it’s heart-wrenching. Sickening.
And it makes this 1970 television series – of which Woody Allen was a participant – even more tone-deaf.
In 1970, NBC aired Hot Dog, a half-hour children’s educational series. The program featured stories on how various household items are made, with comedy bits from Jonathan Winters, Jo Anne Worley and – yep – Woody Allen. Here’s the opening and closing credits of a Hot Dog episode.
Yeah. Essentially, this was a kid’s version of How It’s Made. Woody Allen, along with co-hosts Worley and Winters, did comedy intros for each episode, and then a video would show how the item was made or crafted. Here’s an example episode on the manufacture of toothbrushes.
The show ran for one season, 1970-1971, and won a Peabody Award for its content. Eventually, NBC repackaged the series through their “NBC Educational Enterprises” outlet as a series of 16mm home movie episodes, which could be shown in school classrooms and church youth groups.
Shows like Hot Dog were part of an early attempt by TV networks to provide “educational programming” for kids. Over at ABC, there were shows like Make a Wish and Discovery, while CBS ran their short In the News clips inbetween cartoons. But yeah, seeing these programs now – even in the few faded, 16mm prints I could find on YouTube – are a stark contrast. Sort of like seeing that show where a serial date rapist was the host of an animated cartoon about a 400-pound teenager and his friends. Yeah, that one.
So yeah, there it is. Woody Allen’s foray into children’s entertainment.