Square One TV

PBS (ended 1992)
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  • Episode Guide
  • S 5 : Ep 35

    Episode 535

    Aired 11/6/92

  • S 5 : Ep 34

    Episode 534

    Aired 11/5/92

  • S 5 : Ep 33

    Episode 533

    Aired 11/4/92

  • S 5 : Ep 32

    Episode 532

    Aired 11/3/92

  • S 5 : Ep 31

    Episode 531

    Aired 11/2/92

  • Cast & Crew
  • James Earl Jones

    Chief Thad Green (Seasons 1-2), Booming Announcer Voice (Season 3)

  • Gary Owens

    Lt. Dirk Niblick

  • Larry Cedar

    Various Roles

  • Barbara Feldon

    Anonymous Narrator (Season 1)

  • Beverly Leech

    Kate Monday (Seasons 1-3)

  • show Description
  • Mathman, your mission is to explore the Square One TV guide at TV.com. You will explore the guide, taking in the details about the show and contributing any information you may have about the show if you so desire. But beware the evil Mr. Glitch. He will eat you if you navigate away too quickly. Square One TV was a PBS series dedicated to making math fun. Airing daily on most PBS stations, this show was full of pop-culture parodies, great music, excellent skits and so much more. Much like The Electric Company, a celebrated phonetics series of the 1970s, Square One TV went from one concept to the next. The series had occasional celebrity guests, such as talented musicians and even magician Harry Blackstone. Legendary announcer Gary Owens became a regular in the second season, voicing Lt. Dirk Niblick, who helped his friends understand certain sales traps. The most recognized element of Square One TV, appearing at the end of each episode, was "Mathnet," a parody of the show Dragnet. Each Mathnet case lasted for one week (or five episodes) of the show and featured detectives George Frankly and his partner Kate Monday (Pat Tuesday in Seasons Four and Five) solving a fictional crime through the use of math. A big part of Square One TV seemed to be its devotion to The University of Michigan. Pac-Man parody Mathman wore a Wolverines helmet; programs in the third season made estimates based on the Michigan Stadium; Lt. Dirk Niblick's mother was a Michigan fan, and so on. It was all within reason: Square One TV's executive producer, the late David D. Connell, graduated from The University of Michigan in 1953 and the show's senior producer, Jim Thurman, is from the UM class of 1957. Square One TV was a production of the Children's Television Workshop, known today as Sesame Workshop. Some major changes came to the show in Season Four: the opening theme music and credits as well as the closing credits were changed, many new segments were added and the Mathnet series moved permanently from California to New York. The series was continued till the end of its fifth season and then canceled, much to the disappointment of its many fans. The show continued in repeats on most PBS stations until 1994 and then left the airwaves pretty much entirely... until it was picked up by the satellite/cable station Noggin. But Noggin took the show off along with a bunch of other Sesame Workshop shows in May 2003, so now Square One TV isn't on any station any more. Special thanks to Brian Hilley for information on segments that Noggin cut out when they showed the program. Noggin also aired some episodes of "Mathnet" on a program called Phred on Your Head. Still looking to watch some Square One TV? Look for online videos, check your local library (including any inter-system loan setup they may have) and GPN --- a great resource for this and other classic shows, including Ghostwriter and 3-2-1 Contact. Note: Square One TV only showed credits at the end of each five-episode run. Guest stars will be credited, to the best of the editor's abilities, for only those episodes in which they appeared, but special crediting notes (such as actors credited by a different name) will only be shown for every fifth episode. Special thanks to RantinAnton and Curtis Olmsted for their help in adding information to this guide. May the math be with you!moreless

  • Trivia & Quotes
  • Quotes (94)

    • Infinity Singers: Add one to it!

    • George: Mathnet, Frankly. Could you say that a little slower? ... No, not that slow.

    • Kate: Maybe we're not looking at this problem in the right way.

    • George: Three monkey robberies in less than an hour? It's a jungle out there.

    • George: All this monkeying around can't be good for business.

    • Kate: Let's roll.

    • Kate: Is there a back door there? Store-worker: There is now.

    • George: Did you notice anything unusual about the monkey?

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    Notes (97)

    • The following skits in this episode do not appear in the version of this episode shown on the cable/satellite channel Noggin: "News Interruption," "Mathman" "Oops - Subtraction" and two of the "And On..." segments, including one that followed the display of the PBS logo. Additionally the "Infinity" trick on the PBS logo was lost by Oct. 1989, when PBS changed its closing ID animation.

    • Includes a segment at the end showing what's coming up on the next episode. This continued throughout the first season of Square One TV, but was dropped afterwards.

    • This first Square One TV episode introduces several recurring skits including "Mathman" (very popular, appeared throughout all five seasons of Square One TV), the "Bureau of Missing Numbers" (an occasional skit that continued throughout the series) and the first ever episode of "Mathnet." It also featured two musical numbers, which were very common on the series.

    • The character of Jane Rice Burroughs is played by Yeardley Smith, an actress probably best known as the voice of Lisa Simpson on "The Simpsons." Interestingly, although she was playing a young girl, Yeardley Smith was actually about 23 when this episode aired.

    • Beginning with this episode, a segment is shown after the opening of "Mathnet" detailing what happened in the previous episode. This is still different from future segments in the series in which these segments detailed stuff that happened not just in the previous episode, but in all the previous episodes in the case. The caption "COURTESY YESTERDAY'S SHOW" appears in white at the bottom of the screen in these segments and Kate Monday does a voiceover description of the events.

    • The following skit in this episode does not appear in the version of this episode shown on the cable/satellite channel Noggin: "Nine, Nine, Nine." The segment in this episode showing what happens in the next episode is also edited by Noggin.

    • Normally in every "Mathnet" episode that follows the first episode of the case, there's a segment detailing what happened in the previous episode(s) after the opening monologue. There is no such segment in this episode.

    • At the beginning of the Mathnet episode (after Kate gets done talking about everything that happened in the previous episode) watch for a bag with the logo "CTW Sesame Street." Children's Television Workshop, the company who brought viewers Square One TV is also the company behind Sesame Street. They're known today as Sesame Workshop.

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    Trivia (17)

    • A "bread" sandwich was an interesting solution to the sandwich dilemma, but there was actually several other solutions. They could have combined just meats, which would have made a ham and turkey sandwich. Or they could have combined just cheeses, giving them Swiss and provoloni, Swiss and American and finally provoloni and American. They could have also made a super sandwich consisting of ham, turkey, Swiss, Provolone, and American. Using ALL possible combinations, they could have easily made APPROXIMATELY three times as many sandwiches as their competition (32 to be exact), The Well-Bread Caterers.

    • In Blandstand, Josie's top half may dematerialize, but her shadow remains the same until the next camera shot.

    • Kate delivers her opening intro for "Mathnet" in an unusually fast, rushed pace.

    • The Mathnet case was originally called "The Problem of the Absent Ape." By Episode 105, it had changed to "The Problem of the Missing Monkey."

    • Steve Stringbean has perfect pitch, but Rimshot Harris does not. In singing Touch-Tone notes, Rimshot is way off-key (and so is George's Touch-Tone telephone).

    • The date on the bill from Crusty's Garage contradicts the computer display at the Next to the Last National Bank. And at the hearing, the date given by the prosecutor also doesn't coalesce.

    • After Mathman wisely rejects 3/4 (which is more than 1/2), the middle of the screen says 2/3, which doesn't come up until the end of this segment. This flaw was corrected, however, when an edited version of the skit aired in Episode 338.

    • George Frankly works out a percentage problem on his calculator. At the end, he adds 20 cents to three dollars and shows the calculator display: "3.20" That is not what a calculator would display. Traditionally, the end zero of a decimal is not used. What George gets is "3.2," so he types in "3.20" and shows it to the truck driver.

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    Allusions (20)

    • "Mathnet" is an obvious parody of the well-known TV series "Dragnet" (1951-1959 and 1967-1970). The theme music and opening narration to "Mathnet" are a close copy of "Dragnet"'s, and the name of Kate Monday (and later, Pat Tuesday) is a nod to Dragnet's Sgt. Friday. The mug shots shown at the conclusion of each week-long case, as well as the voice-over describing the criminal's fate, are also parodies of "Dragnet."

    • Jane points out that Grunt wouldn't run away without his Fay Wray doll. Fay Wray is an actress best known for her role as Ann Darrow in the classic 1933 film King Kong, a story about a giant prehistoric gorilla who kidnaps the woman and then runs amok in New York City. Given this background, it makes sense that Grunt feels attached to his Fay Wray doll!

    • The character Jane Rice Burroughs is a double allusion in this ape-themed Mathnet case. "Rice Burroughs" is a reference to Edgar Rice Burroughs, the creator of Tarzan. "Jane" is almost certainly a reference to Tarzan's true love, Jane.

    • George Frankly: (answers phone) Mathnet. (brief pause) Who? Scarlet? No, this isn't Kate. It's Frankly, Scarlet, and I don't give–oh, General Scarlet.
      This was the first Mathnet mystery ever filmed, and it shows why Monday's partner was named Frankly. Many have the incorrect assumption that Gone with the Wind ended with the line "Frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn."

    • Carnival Barker: (to ten-year-old boy) Get outta here, kid, ya bodda me.
      For the spinner sketch, Cris Franco revised the role of Sid Stone's carnival barker, a standard on Milton Berle's Texaco Star Theater in the early 1950s. In those years, Ken Shapiro played the boy who got in the barker's way. No idea who the boy was in the spinner sketch. If you have this information, please submit it.

    • Mae East: "I am the neighborhood superspy..."
      Mae East is a parody of the name of the singer Mae West.

    • Chief Thad Green: Judge Hoffman. George (wincing): The Hanging Judge?
      The name Judge Hoffman brings to mind Julius Hoffman, who presided in the case against the Chicago Seven. But the nickname "Hanging Judge" was the nickname of Isaac Charles Parker, who spent more than 20 years on the bench at Fort Smith, Arkansas.

    • Norman Mailbag: You didn't read my book.
      Norman Mailbag was revealed to have frequently visited Merle Fish in his prison cell. This was all according to the legend, as novelist Norman Mailer was strongly guided by a jailhouse writer named Jack Henry Abbott. Indeed, Saturday Night Live satirized the Mailer-Abbott relationship on October 3, 1981 with a short film called "Prose and Cons."

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  • Fan Reviews (6)
  • Previously Hated math!

    By georgettehardy, Nov 20, 2013

  • Math hurts.

    By cactusjack39, Feb 13, 2009

  • Number games, songs, cartoons, special guests, and oh, the glory that was Mathnet. One of the best educational shows of all time.

    By Lokar, May 12, 2006

  • Highly educational

    By lightning_kf, Apr 04, 2006

  • I grew up with this show. It made math surprisingly enjoyable. With math scores down and all, they should being it back.

    By sarysa, Aug 24, 2005

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