Today's Special

Last updated
Today's Special
Created byClive VanderBurgh
Starring Jeff Hyslop
Nerene Virgin
Bob Dermer
Nina Keogh
Country of originCanada
No. of seasons7
No. of episodes122
Running time20 Minutes
Original release
Network TVOntario (Canada)
Nickelodeon (United States)
ReleaseSeptember 1, 1981 (1981-09-01) 
July 1, 1987 (1987-07-01)

Today's Special is a Canadian children's television program produced by Clive VanderBurgh at TVOntario, originally broadcasting 120 episodes from 1981 to 1987. Much of the series was set in a department store, based on Simpson's then-flagship location in Toronto. Some store sequences were shot at the Queen Street West and Yonge Street store after hours. The show ran on TVOntario in Canada as well as Nickelodeon in the United States. Reruns of the series continued into 2000 on stations such as PBS affiliates (most of which stopped airing by the mid-1990s) in the United States and on Treehouse TV in Canada.



In the children's department of a major department store, each night when Jodie arrives for work, she carries a mannequin (Jeff) upstairs, where Muffy says the magic words "hocus pocus alimagocus!" This brings him to life.

Many early episodes focused on a tangible object as a subject, such as hats or costumes, with the show revolving around teaching about it. Later episodes dealt with more complicated ones, such as the episode "Wishes" dealing with sacrificing one thing for another, "Butterflies", which deals with death, or "Phil's Visit", which dealt with alcoholism.

Short films, often less than a minute long, were often inserted as breaks in the episode's main plot, narrated by Robyn Hayle (the same actor who provided the voice of TXL). These included Mime Lady segments, animated quizzes designed to test a child's observation, narrated storybooks, and popular nursery rhymes (which an unseen Muffy would introduce with "And now I'd like to introduce a nursery rhyme by Mother Goose").

Many episodes featured one or more one-time visitors to the store. Some would cause problems for the characters, while others would befriend them and help solve their problems. These visitors included the characters' friends or family, people coming to the store to do their jobs, people brought there by magic ("Treasure Hunts", "The Queen of Hearts"), bizarre, non-human characters ("Space", "Sam and the Robot"), and real-life celebrities ("Opera", "Trash"). Magic was important to many episodes, and the characters sometimes would have an adventure that involved it.

Cast and characters

Recurring characters


Season 1

No.TitleOriginal air date
S01E01"Hats"1981 (1981)
S01E02"Snow"1981 (1981)
S01E03"Noses"1981 (1981)
S01E04"Family"1981 (1981)
S01E05"Camping"1981 (1981)
S01E06"Pets"1981 (1981)
S01E07"Sleep"1981 (1981)
S01E08"Balloons"1981 (1981)
S01E09"Soup"1981 (1981)
S01E10"Costumes"1981 (1981)
S01E11"School"1981 (1981)
S01E12"Games"1981 (1981)
S01E13"Trains"1981 (1981)
S01E14"Water"1981 (1981)
S01E15"Books"1981 (1981)
S01E16"Fruit"1981 (1981)
S01E17"Gardens"1981 (1981)
S01E18"Shoes"1981 (1981)
S01E19"Hair"1981 (1981)
S01E20"Hands"1981 (1981)
S01E21"Brushes"1981 (1981)
S01E22"Night"1981 (1981)

Season 2

No.TitleOriginal air date
S02E01"Dance"1982 (1982)
S02E02"Movies"1982 (1982)
S02E03"Circus"1982 (1982)
S02E04"Halloween"1982 (1982)
S02E05"Opera"1982 (1982)
S02E06"Television"1982 (1982)
S02E07"Food"1982 (1982)
S02E08"Summer Camp"1982 (1982)
S02E09"Building"1982 (1982)
S02E10"Work"1982 (1982)
S02E11"Eyes"1982 (1982)
S02E12"Records"1982 (1982)
S02E13"Homes"1982 (1982)
S02E14"Play"1982 (1982)
S02E15"Birthdays"1982 (1982)
S02E16"Soap"1982 (1982)
S02E17"Friends"1982 (1982)
S02E18"Music"1982 (1982)
S02E19"Wood"1982 (1982)
S02E20"Flight"1982 (1982)

Season 3

No.TitleOriginal air date
S03E01"Cousins"1983 (1983)
S03E02"Police"1983 (1983)
S03E03"Moving"1983 (1983)
S03E04"Tears"1983 (1983)
S03E05"Pianos"1983 (1983)
S03E06"Our Story (1)"1983 (1983)
S03E07"Our Story (2)"1983 (1983)
S03E08"Travel"1983 (1983)
S03E09"Newspapers"1983 (1983)
S03E10"Cookies"1983 (1983)
S03E11"Dinosaurs"1983 (1983)
S03E12"Adventure"1983 (1983)
S03E13"Imagination"1983 (1983)
S03E14"Temperature"1983 (1983)
S03E15"Smiles"1983 (1983)
S03E16"String"1983 (1983)
S03E17"Wild West"1983 (1983)
S03E18"Space"1983 (1983)
S03E19"Christmas (1)"1983 (1983)
S03E20"Christmas (2)"1983 (1983)

Season 4

No.TitleOriginal air date
S04E01"Changes"1984 (1984)
S04E02"Dreams"1984 (1984)
S04E03"Lost and Found"1984 (1984)
S04E04"Boxes and Boxes"1984 (1984)
S04E05"Hospitals"1984 (1984)
S04E06"Butterflies"1984 (1984)
S04E07"Sharing"1984 (1984)
S04E08"Storms"1984 (1984)
S04E09"Babies"1984 (1984)
S04E10"The Sea"1984 (1984)
S04E11"Vacations"1984 (1984)
S04E12"Cars"1984 (1984)
S04E13"Treasure Hunts"1984 (1984)
S04E14"Wheels"1984 (1984)
S04E15"Ears"1984 (1984)

Season 5

No.TitleOriginal air date
S05E01"Songs"1985 (1985)
S05E02"Daisies"1985 (1985)
S05E03"Jeans"1985 (1985)
S05E04"Hello Friend"1985 (1985)
S05E05"Waldo's Hat"1985 (1985)
S05E06"Letters"1985 (1985)
S05E07"Heroes"1985 (1985)
S05E08"Grandmothers"1985 (1985)
S05E09"Being Alone"1985 (1985)
S05E10"Help!"1985 (1985)
S05E11"Buttons"1985 (1985)
S05E12"Sam's Speech"1985 (1985)
S05E13"Dancing Shoes"1985 (1985)
S05E14"Storybooks"1985 (1985)
S05E15"Going Out"1985 (1985)
S05E16"Fun"1985 (1985)
S05E17"Jeff"1985 (1985)
S05E18"Jodie"1985 (1985)
S05E19"Muffy"1985 (1985)
S05E20"Sam"1985 (1985)
S05E21"Live on Stage"1985 (1985)

Season 6

No.TitleOriginal air date
S06E01"Stuffies"1986 (1986)
S06E02"Late"1986 (1986)
S06E03"The Blue Cow"1986 (1986)
S06E04"A Date for Sam"1986 (1986)
S06E05"Teeth"1986 (1986)
S06E06"Trash"1986 (1986)
S06E07"Wishes"1986 (1986)
S06E08"Phil's Visit"1986 (1986)
S06E09"Junior"1986 (1986)
S06E10"Secrets"1986 (1986)
S06E11"Moods"1986 (1986)
S06E12"Fire"1986 (1986)

Season 7

No.TitleOriginal air date
S07E01"Mrs. Pennypacker's Problem"1987 (1987)
S07E02"The Queen of Hearts"1987 (1987)
S07E03"A Runaway Spell"1987 (1987)
S07E04"A Visit to the Opera"1987 (1987)
S07E05"Sam and the Robot"1987 (1987)
S07E06"Mrs. Waldo"1987 (1987)
S07E07"Rich and Famous"1987 (1987)
S07E08"Ice Cream"1987 (1987)
S07E09"Bedtime"1987 (1987)
S07E10"Locks"1987 (1987)
S07E11"Memories"1987 (1987)

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Jason Marsden</span> American actor

Jason Christopher Marsden is an American actor, director and producer, who has done numerous voice roles in animated films, as well as various television series and video games. He is best known for his voice roles as the official voice of the Disney character Max Goof, since 1995, Chester McBadbat in The Fairly OddParents, Chase Young in Xiaolin Showdown, Nermal in The Garfield Show and the title character in the Tak and the Power of Juju video game trilogy from 2003 to 2005. He is also known for voicing Thackery Binx in Disney's cult classic film Hocus Pocus (1993).

<i>Polka Dot Door</i> Canadian childrens television series

Polka Dot Door is a Canadian children's television series which was produced by the Ontario Education Communications Authority from 1971 to 1993. The series features two hosts who speak directly to the home viewing audience.

<i>Sesamstraat</i> Dutch version of the American childrens television series Sesame Street

Sesamstraat is a Dutch television series in the Netherlands, and a localized version of the U.S. children's program Sesame Street. In its early days, the show was broadcast in Flanders (Belgium) as well. It is the second longest-running foreign adaptation of Sesame Street without interruptions, behind only Sesamstraße. It targets children between 3–7 years old.

Pinwheel is an American children's television series that was the first show to air on the then-rebranded Nickelodeon, as well as the first to appear on its Nick Jr. block along reruns until 1990. The show was aimed at preschoolers aged 3–5. It was created by Vivian Horner, an educator who spent her earlier career at the Children's Television Workshop, the company behind PBS's Sesame Street. The show was geared to the "short attention span of preschoolers," with each episode divided into short, self-contained segments including songs, skits, and animations from all over the world.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Nikki Tilroe</span> American actress and puppeteer (1941–2005)

Nikki Tilroe was an American actress, dancer and puppeteer. She is best known for her work as the "Mime Lady" on the children's television series Today's Special. She also operated Muppets on the TV show Fraggle Rock and played "Beaver" on Cucumber.

<i>Dumbos Circus</i> American TV series or program

Dumbo's Circus is a live action/puppet television series that aired on The Disney Channel beginning on May 6, 1985 to May 25, 1986. and featured the character of Dumbo from the original film. Reruns continued to air until February 28, 1997.

<i>Hocus Pocus</i> (1993 film) 1993 film by Kenny Ortega

Hocus Pocus is a 1993 American Halloween comedy film directed by Kenny Ortega from a screenplay by Mick Garris and Neil Cuthbert, and a story by David Kirschner and Garris. It follows a villainous comedic trio of witches who are inadvertently resurrected by a teenage boy in Salem, Massachusetts, on Halloween night.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Merlin the Magic Mouse</span> Warner Bros. theatrical cartoon character

Merlin the Magic Mouse is an animated cartoon mouse, who starred in five Warner Bros. Looney Tunes shorts late in the series, from 1967 to 1969. The first cartoon was Merlin the Magic Mouse, directed by Alex Lovy.

This timeline of magic is a history of the performing art of illusion from B.C. to the present.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Abra Kadabra (character)</span> Comics character

Abra Kadabra is a supervillain appearing in American comic books published by DC Comics. He first appeared as a villain of the Flash in 1962.

<i>Transylvania 6-5000</i> (1963 film) 1963 animated short film in the Merrie Melodies series directed by Chuck Jones

Transylvania 6-5000 (1963) is a Warner Bros. Merrie Melodies animated short directed by Chuck Jones. The short was released on November 30, 1963, and stars Bugs Bunny. It was the last original Bugs Bunny short Jones made for Warner Bros. Cartoons before Jones left for Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer to found his own studio, Sib Tower 12 Productions. It was his second-to-last cartoon at Warner Bros. before moving to MGM, and the second-to-last Warner cartoon in 1963.

Nina Keogh is a Canadian puppet builder, voice actress and puppeteer. She is a former member of the Academy of Canadian Cinema and Television, Canadian Actors' Equity Association, UDA, and is an ACTRA member since 1968. She was on the board of directors for ACTRA and the Children's Broadcast Institute. She has worked for TVO and CBC Television. She is best-known for playing the role of Muffy the Mouse in TVO's 1981-87 TV series Today's Special, which was shown worldwide including on Nickelodeon in the United States. Her father, John Keogh, played Howard the Turtle in Razzle Dazzle. Keogh retired from the television business in 1999 to become a professional painter.

<i>Noddy</i> (TV series) Canadian-American television series

Noddy is a live-action/animated children's television series based on Enid Blyton's children's book series of the same name featuring the animated episodes from Noddy's Toyland Adventures. The show was broadcast from 7 September 1998 to 11 December 1999 and broadcast on TVOntario and CBC Television in Canada.

<i>The Banana Splits in Hocus Pocus Park</i> 1972 television film

The Banana Splits in Hocus Pocus Park is a 1972 live-action/animated television film made by Hanna-Barbera featuring the characters from The Banana Splits television series. Mixing live action sequences shot at Kings Island amusement park in Cincinnati, Ohio, with animation, the film follows the Banana Splits as they attempt to rescue a young girl who is kidnapped by a power-hungry witch.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Sarah Jessica Parker</span> American actress (born 1965)

Sarah Jessica Parker is an American actress and television producer. She is the recipient of numerous accolades, including six Golden Globe Awards and two Primetime Emmy Awards. Time magazine named her one of the 100 most influential people in the world in 2022.

Qumi-Qumi is an animated series created by Toonbox, best known for the Cut the Rope cartoons. From November 2012, it premiered on Multilandia (Multimania) and Carousel. On October 14, 2013, it began broadcasting on the channel STS. The series was developed with the financial support of the Government of Moscow, and since 2011 with the support of Film Foundation. It is based around a small comic book from 2005 that eventually made it into a small music video in 2007, and eventually into a full-fledged cartoon in 2011, Qumi-Qumi tells of three different tribes: the magic-based tribal Jumi-Qumi, the science-based capitalist Yumi-Qumi, and the militaristic and communistic Shumi-Qumi. Three young outcasts of each tribe, Juga, Yusi, and Shumadan, manage to break out of their social norms and become close friends. The speech of the characters is a gibberish language known as Tarabar peppered with Russian phrases. Many plots relate around Juga and Shumadan's crushes on Yusi and trying to interact with their respective tribes despite their own faults.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Sam Richardson (actor)</span> American actor, comedian, writer, and producer

Sam Richardson is an American actor, comedian, writer, and producer. He is best known for playing Richard Splett in the HBO political comedy series Veep (2012–19), co-creating and co-starring in the Comedy Central comedy series Detroiters (2017–18) alongside Tim Robinson, and for playing various characters in the Netflix sketch show I Think You Should Leave with Tim Robinson (2019–present), Aniq Adjaye in the Apple TV+ series The Afterparty (2022–23), and Norville "Shaggy" Rogers in the Max series Velma (2023–present). In 2022 and 2023, he was nominated for the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Guest Actor in a Comedy Series for his performance as Edwin Akufo in Ted Lasso, winning the 2023 award in this category.

<i>Hocus Pocus 2</i> 2022 film by Anne Fletcher

Hocus Pocus 2 is a 2022 American Halloween comedy film directed by Anne Fletcher, written by Jen D'Angelo and produced by Walt Disney Pictures. It is a sequel to the 1993 film Hocus Pocus and the second installment in the Hocus Pocus franchise. The film stars Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker, Kathy Najimy, and Doug Jones reprising their roles, with Sam Richardson, Whitney Peak, Belissa Escobedo, Tony Hale, and Hannah Waddingham joining the cast in new roles.

<i>Hocus Pocus</i> (franchise) Disney media franchise

Hocus Pocus is an American media franchise consisting of two films, a sequel novelization, and other Disney media and merchandise. The series was created by David Kirschner and Mick Garris.


  1. "Sam and the Robot". Today's Special. Season 7. TVOntario.