|Remember when your mother told you not to sit too close to the TV or you’d ruin your eyes? We’re sure she meant well, but how else did she expect you to spot Waldo?
Where’s Waldo? brought the gangly, bespectacled boy in the striped shirt and ski cap to Saturday morning. Waldo was already the star of a best-selling book series by Martin Handford, wherein the title character was camouflaged somewhere inside a heavily detailed illustration. Readers were given a certain amount of time to spot Waldo’s distinctive form before moving on to the next illustration. The books were a smash success, leading to the creation of puzzles, video games, a Sunday comic strip, and this animated series.
The cartoon Where’s Waldo? went beyond the books’ original concept, giving its star a pair of companions and a slate of adventures. Waldo, girlfriend Wilma, and dog Woof traveled around the globe, solving mysteries and lending a helping hand wherever they could. With the help of his magic walking stick, Waldo could even travel through time if necessary. Evil Waldo lookalike Odlaw (spell it backwards) was the show’s villain, constantly plotting to steal the magic stick.
Waldo stayed true to the books’ premise by means of “Waldo’s Minutes,” during which the screen froze for a full minute so the kids at home could spot either Waldo or some clue to resolve the day’s adventure. The segment aired twice per episode, putting smiles on the faces of overworked animators everywhere.
Whether due to a decline in Waldo’s popularity or simply mothers’ enforcement of the TV buffer zone, Where’s Waldo? lasted only one season on CBS.