“Mathnet,” A Guy in a Monkey Suit, and Blackhawk: HOW THEY ALL CONNECT.

One of the shows I religiously watched growing up in the 1980s was SQUARE ONE TV, a math variation on SESAME STREET on PBS.

SquareOneTelevision

I probably learned more about math from that than I did in actual class.
My favorite segment was “Mathnet” a DRAGNET parody involving math.  I actually saw this before I saw DRAGNET reruns — one of the many examples of how I encountered parody before the original material.
Mathnet
Mathnet would be serialized across each week, with the five episodes telling one story over five segments.
The first one involved a gorilla committing crimes, which turned out to be a criminal named “Janos Prokedzian.”  Here’s the full story:
(yes, that’s Yeardley Smith from THE SIMPSONS as “Jane Rice Burroughs,” and yes, she’s using her Lisa Simpson voice)
That name always stuck with me as a great supervillain name.  I used it several times over the years in stories I wrote.
Well, I just found out where that name came from.
Mathnet would often do parodies of different bits of popular culture.  For example, one story involved a rock star clearly modeled on Bruce Springsteen who was kidnapped by a marching band leader named for John Philip Sousa.  Another involved the production of a Broadway show called “Anything Went,” which actually taught me a lot about how Broadway shows are produced, and how expensive it is to make one and make back the money on it.
Tonight, I was watching some inane sitcom on TV when I saw this odd credit: “Janos Prohaska as the gorilla.”
Opening Closing for  Dusty's Trail   Flop 70s sitcom with Bob Denver  - YouTube
RED FLAG!
A quick Google turned up that Prohaska was an actor who typically played animals in suits in different TV shows.  In fact, he was a couple  of the monsters on the original STAR TREK!
STDevil_inTheDark
And here’s the man without the monkey:
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A very crazy bit: In the 1980s, when comics creator Howard Chaykin rebooted the 1940s-era character Blackhawk, he revealed the character’s real name was…Janos Prohaska!
According to Wikipedia, this was in tribute, but I need to email Chaykin to confirm.
fullposter_blackhawk_1987chaykin_2922
So Blackhawk was named for a guy in a monkey suit.
It’s pretty amazing what boredom and Google can turn up.
I need to get some real work done now.

Published by Zack

Zack Smith is a writer and journalist. He has written for such web sites and publications as Newsarama.com, the Independent Weekly of Durham NC, Triangle Business Journal, Comic Book Resources and the Lynchburg News and Advance. He has a Master's in Journalism from the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism at Ohio University, and a degree in English with minors in Film Studies and Creative Writing from NC State University. He also writes children's books.

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