Time for Timer

Time for Timer

"Time for Timer" was the collective title for a short series of public service announcements broadcast on Saturday mornings on the ABC television network starting in the early 1970s. The animated spots featured Timer, a tiny (often ranging on microscopic) cartoon character who represented the sense of "time" in the human body. Timer was in charge of when you felt it was time to eat, time to sleep, etc. In fact, he carried a huge pocket watch inside of him with would often set off an alarm whenever something was about to happen. Timer could be considered a person's "biological clock". Usually wearing a bow tie and top hat, Timer looked somewhat like a little yellow blob with long arms and legs, and a face. Being a body component, Timer may have been a sort of single-cell structure, like a more advanced ameoba. Timer also had limited magical powers, such as instant transporatation, which he often used to exit his host body from time to time if things got too exhausting. A wisecracker as well as a song-and dance man, Timer promoted healthy eating and personal hygiene using clever songs and animation.

Like ABC's "The Bod Squad" series, the segments never carried official titles, but are referred to by memorable catch phrases in the songs' lyrics. Perhaps most memorable was "I Hanker for a Hunk of Cheese" in which Timer, strangely recast as a cowboy with a thick Western accent, suggests "wagon wheels", "little cheese sandwiches" made with cheese slices and crackers as an easy and nutritious snack (when Timer prepares one on a kitchen counter, he rolls it down the counter on its edge and proclaims, "Look! A wagon wheel!"). Others included "You Are What You Eat" (a simplified explanation of nutrients and how the body uses them), "Quickie Breakfast" (leftovers and other premade foods as an alternative for kids who don't have time, or are unable, to cook breakfast), and "Sunshine on a Stick" (how to make ice pops with fruit juice, an ice tray, and toothpicks).

"Time for Timer" ran concurrently and interchangeably for many years with ABC's other educational spots, primarily "The Bod Squad" and "Schoolhouse Rock!". They generally appeared between cartoon programs on the hour and half hour marks interspersed with regular commercials.

Timer's voice was provided by actor Lennie Weinrib. The spots themselves were produced by the cartoon studio DePatie-Freleng Enterprises. During the final five seconds or so of each segment (sometimes the first 5 seconds), the following end credit appeared on the bottom of the screen:

:"An ABC Presentation:"Consultant: Dr. Roslyn B. Alfin-Slater:"UCLA School of Public Health"

Timer first appeared in the 1973 ABC after school special "The Incredible, Indelible, Magical, Physical Mystery Trip", where he was voiced by Len Maxwell. Timer also appeared in the 1974 ABC after school special "The Magical Mystery Trip Through Little Red's Head" (now voiced by Lennie Weinrib). In Mystery Trip, he was working inside the body of a man named "Uncle Carl". In Little Red, he was working inside the (Teenaged) Red Riding Hood. There is no explanation on why or how he changed his workplace.


In the season 4 episode of "Family Guy" titled "Petarded", Timer is portrayed as dancing around in his house singing the 'cheese' song at 3:30 a.m. When Peter shows annoyance at his behavior, Timer says cheerfully, "I just smoked a whole bunch of crack!"

There are two renditions of the "Hanker For A Hunk Of Cheese" spot. The first was in Timer's usual voice with a Western twang. The second, recast one had a different actor with a gruffer voice that is not quite as in sync with the animation.

In the episode "Sausage Fest" of "Robot Chicken", Timer filed an assault case against Chester Cheetah in a cat version of "The People's Court".

External links

*imdb title|id=0322745|title=The Incredible, Indelible, Magical, Physical Mystery Trip
*imdb title|id=0305786|title=The Magical Mystery Trip Through Little Red's Head
* [http://www.angelfire.com/retro/gartwo/ Education, '80s Style] Extensive collection of "Bod Squad" and "Time for Timer" videos in RealMedia format, available for download.
* [http://www.universityofcalifornia.edu/senate/inmemoriam/RoslynB.Alfin-Slater.htm Bio of Dr. Roslyn B. Alfin-Slater, UCLA nutrition professor and consultant to Time for Timer]

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