WPIX, channel 11 in New York City, had a long, proud history of being an independent station with locally-produced programming and various branding evolutions. When the WB came into existence in the mid-90s, it affiliated with that network until it merged with UPN to become the CW, and it currently airs CW programming.
In recent years, however, the station has stepped away from more traditional CW branding, reviving its Pix and a variant of its “Circle 11” logo. More importantly, there’s been an effort to embrace its history and find ways to bring back some of its classic programming.
The Yule Log, a tradition that ran for decades in the PIX independent years, came back a few years ago and has again become a mainstay. Chiller Theatre, which was a late night staple, saw annual revivals for a few years, which one year brought back original host Zacherley, and another featured Elvira in classic form.
The station’s embraced its history to the point of creating a WPIX archives Twitter account, where people can note what they miss and their archives department will see what they can find, as well as a microsite featuring old clips.
It’s this exploration of their archives that led them to find a 1981 holiday special for “The Magic Garden,” a children’s TV show that ran for an extended period on the network. Carole and Paula still work together today, and receive a warm reception from the many adults who grew up watching them. While only about 50 episodes were taped, all in the early 70s, the episodes reaired regularly for more than a decade.
This year, joining the Yule Log on the station’s Christmas lineup, Carole and Paula’s Christmas special will air for the first time since its original airing. Carole and Paula were interviewed and will be hosting the special. It’s another example of a TV station connecting to their viewers in a personal way, by bringing back old memories and building upon them. While “The Magic Garden” was before my time, it’s exciting to see the special get a new airing.