Last time I submitted A Name That Trauma, it was identified within 24-hours. Let’s see if folks can beat that!
Okay – so there was this TV show on daytime PBS during the early 90s. Probably between 1990 and 1994. I watched this on either Vermont Public Television or New Hampshire Public Television. I don’t think this was a regionally-produced show because the local stations were always pretty strapped for cash. The show was all about mathematics. We’re talking weapons-grade math: geometry and algebra. Stuff that was way too complex for my puny child mind to comprehend. (Stuff that’s way too complex for my puny adult mind too, but I digress…) The bulk of each episode consisted of a bland, polo-shirt-and-moustache, middle-aged-dad sorta guy interviewing teachers and mathematicians.
Here’s where the trauma comes in: each episode also featured prologue and epilogue segments with robotic versions of Sherlock Holmes and Watson attempting to thwart Professor Moriarty. These segments were rendered in very primitive, early 90s computer animation, and Holmes and Watson looked like blocks on wheels with spindly ball-and-socket limbs. The Holmes robot had a pipe and a deerstalker cap. The Watson robot had a moustache. Moriarty had a black fedora, a dracula-esque cape, and sharp claws. I found the claws to be a particularly frightening detail.
Every episode had a pattern. Moriarty would lure Holmes and Watson into a math-inspired trap and Holmes would apply the concepts taught in the episode’s mathematics lesson towards a solution. Piece of cake. Done in one. But then, during the epilogue, Moriarty would spring a SECOND trap, leaving Holmes and Watson in LETHAL DANGER. And then the show would end. It would just END.
I can’t emphasize this enough. Every. Single. Episode. Ended with Holmes and Watson utterly trapped and about to die. One episode ended with Holmes and Watson at the mercy of snarling sphinxes with glowing red eyes. Another episode ended with Holmes and Watson getting chased by howling yetis. They were trapped in claustrophobic mazes, collapsing tombs, avalanches, and rising floods. It was nightmarish. The whiplash between middle-aged-math-dad boredom and the inevitability of death was extremely upsetting. The fact that Holmes and Watson would reappear in the next episode didn’t give me any comfort. It was as if they were reborn just to die all over again. Cruel, infinite deaths.
Hope some fellow PBS kid is able to identify this!