4

Square One TV was a television show on public television in the United States from 1987-1994, designed as "an innovative way to introduce young people to the exciting world of mathematics." At least in the early seasons, most of each episode was formatted as a sketch comedy show, with a cast of players performing various math-related sketches. As with Monty Python's Flying Circus, many of the sketches were implicitly or explicitly tied to the television medium. There were game shows (both scripted game show sketches involving the cast members; and real mathematical game show bits featuring child contestants), fake dramas (such as "The February March of History" in the very first episode), and music videos like on MTV.

The music videos covered just about every conceivable genre: country, glam rock, jazz, doo-wop, surf rock, rhythm and blues, salsa, synth pop, and rap, among others. Normally, the cast members performed the songs, possibly with some extras in the background. (Re-watching a bunch of these now, I see that Beverly Mickins, Larry Cedar, and Reg E. Cathy were definitely the best singers of the group.) However, in later seasons, they sometimes got actual recording artists to appear; the rap video above is one of several on the show featuring The Fat Boys, with the regular Square One cast members providing backing vocals and playing the background characters in the video. Similarly, the synth pop video is one of a couple done by The Jets.

One music video, however, was strikingly different from all the rest. The video for the song "Change Your Point of View" features a performance by Cedar as a middle-eastern wizard singing about problem solving methods. There are several things that distinguish this music video from the others. It begins in media res, with two kids who the opening announcer acts as if the viewer would have seen before (even though that was not the case). Tied to this is the fact that the video has a narrative structure not usually present in music videos; the wizard's appearance out of thin air and ability to rotate an standing obelisk before the kids' eyes cannot be attributed to the usual fantasy-like atmosphere of a music video. Finally, it features a significant cast of characters around the bazaar where it begins, not drawn from the show's usual players.

My question is whether there is any information out there about why this video is so different. Was it just an exploration of a different style, which was never repeated, for cost or other reasons? Or were the two kids meant to be recurring characters at some point? I wondered about this stuff back when this segment first aired; and, having stumbled across it again recently, I thought, given the definite fantasy aspects of the video, I should ask about it here.

1

Depending on this video's air date, it could be from Remember the time video by Michael Jackson, which came out in 1992.

  • 1
    Please explain this answer a bit more. Are you saying the Square One music video was inspired by MJ? – Skooba May 31 '18 at 18:29
  • It's possible. Same type of setting and the magic tricks – FourtyNineTimesAte May 31 '18 at 18:59

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.