May 24, 2008


Dick Sutcliffe, 90, Dies; Began ‘Davey and Goliath’ (BRUCE WEBER, 5/25/08, NY Times)

“Davey and Goliath” was a stop-action animated show about a boy and his dog finding their way in a world of temptation, filmed by Art Clokey, the creator of Gumby, and his wife, Ruth Clokey Goodell, who were pioneers in the technique known as Claymation.

But the show was not their idea. In the late 1950s Mr. Sutcliffe, a former newspaper reporter, was living in Massapequa, N.Y., and working in New York City for the United Lutheran Church in America as a producer of newscasts and other ecumenical radio programming when he was asked for his counsel on a new project.

“The Lutheran Church was interested in using this newfangled thing called television to reach folks,” his daughter said. The show that the church had in mind was a minister delivering brief sermonettes, “and my father said, basically, ‘The theology is fine but it’s not good for television.’ ”

Instead, using his younger child, Michael, as inspiration, Ms. Sutcliffe said, “Dad asked himself, ‘What would I say to Mike about God? And how would I say it to him?’ And he came up with the idea of these little parables.”

Mr. Sutcliffe hired the Clokeys, wrote the first script and was the show’s first executive producer. The Clokeys eventually made 65 15-minute episodes of “Davey and Goliath” and a handful of long specials, the last one first broadcast in the mid-1970s.

The show, which the church initially provided free to television stations around the country, usually to be shown on Sunday mornings, was known for its high production values and crisp, unpredictable scripts (most of them by Nancy Moore), as well as for its serious lessons in Godliness.

Posted by Orrin Judd at May 24, 2008 7:39 PM

Meh, must be a Prod thing.

For me as a kid, there was a stark contrast between Sunday mornings, with only the wretched Davey on, and Saturdays, which were cartoon heaven.

The tv didn't often get switched on Sunday mornings. Those were some long hours before Abbot and Costello/sports programming began.

Posted by: Jim in Chicago at May 24, 2008 9:20 PM

Abbott and Costello. Wasn't it 11:30 to 1:00, WPIX? I always missed the beginning because of church.

I found all the Davey and Goliaths I could at the library to watch with my kids. Great show. One thing I found refreshing was it's not all goody-two-shoes. Davey had a real edge to him, often slacking around complaining or angry about something. I like the suburban with an urban core settings, too. Like Syd Hoff books. I'm dying to find the Easter episode.

Posted by: David Hill, The Bronx at May 24, 2008 10:11 PM

Yup, made for a good break after our Dad's stultifying sermons. Remember Wonderama?

Posted by: oj at May 24, 2008 11:06 PM

Vaguely. Or am I thinking of Big Blue Marble?

Posted by: David Hill, The Bronx at May 25, 2008 9:12 AM

All I can remember about Wonderama was the song "Does anybody here have an aardvark?"

Stop-motion animated people rank right up there with marionettes, ventriloquist's dummies, and clowns on the creepiness scale.

Posted by: ted welter at May 25, 2008 10:30 AM

Did someone say that Davey had an edge to him?

Posted by: ted welter at May 25, 2008 10:46 AM

Remember all the kids in the crowd and the contest where you tried to knock the balloon into the tub?

Posted by: oj at May 25, 2008 1:28 PM