Left, Wilbur. Right, Adam.


Original medium: Television animation
Produced by: Little Adam Productions
First Appeared: 1964
Creator: Fred Ladd
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Adventures in exotic lands have garnered big interest with the younger set since the dawn of time. As the world became more fully explored and its scope for exoticism shrank, those lands …

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… tended to move into the sky. Space travel began, ever so slowly, to segué from sci-fi into reality during the 1950s and '60s, but never lost its hold on young imaginations. There was a buck to be made by telling them on TV about the transition, no matter how cheap'n'cheesy the production.

In the early '60s, producer Fred Ladd (Gigantor, M.A.S.K.) got hold a big pile of NASA informational films, showing what the space agency had or soon would have to offer the young technophile. But rather than present them exactly as they were, he sliced them up into five-minute episodes, framed with crudely animated sequences in which Little Adam and his even littler brother Wilbur talked about what the viewer would see. Ladd's Little Adam Productions syndicated them to local TV stations, which would air them as segments in those shows where a host would introduce old theatrical cartoons like Popeye and Tom & Jerry, and made-for-TV productions like Clutch Cargo and Col. Bleep. They first appeared on the air January 1, 1964. Adam's voice was done by John Megma and Wilbur's by Craig Seckler, neither of whom has done other cartoon work.

The Big World of Little Adam wasn't very well done and, consisting mostly of government documentaries, wasn't very entertaining either. It was a lot like children's educational programming back in those pre-Sesame Street days. It had only one thing going for it — it was inexpensive. Even more inexpensive than the average TV animation, and TV animation at the time was notorious for its small budgets. So inexpensive, even at the tiny level of popularity it achieved, 110 episodes were made before it ran out of steam. Syndication customers had the option of grouping them into half-hour shows, but there wasn't much interest in watching that much Little Adam in one sitting.

But the near future quickly becomes the recent past. Documentaries about real-life space travel, made years before anyone landed on the Moon, came to appear quaint within just a few years. As little as it cost to make, by the early 1970s, The Big World of Little Adam was no longer worth broadcasting. A few more years passed, and it was virtually forgotten.

This show inspired as many extra-media spin-offs and merchandised products as it deserved — that is, none at all. Today, it's occasionally glimpsed alongside Bucky & Pepito, in "Best of the Worst" retrospectives.


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Text ©2007 Donald D. Markstein. Art © Little Adam Productions.