TVOntario's online archive, including Prisoners of Gravity!

TVOntario, a public broadcaster in Ontario, Canada, has released an enormous archive of its programming online. There's even some very funny and awkward video of me with bad hair in the mid-1990s, before I cut processed carbs out of my diet and lost 80lbs (alas, the episodes of Bits and Bytes, a computer show that my dad appeared on in the early 1980s don't appear to have been archived). Best of all is the collection of Prisoners of Gravity clips -- this being just about the best TV show ever made about science fiction literature.

Welcome to TVO's Public Archive! (Thanks, InfoDocket, via Submitterator!)


  1. What — no ‘Read All About It!’? So disappointing.

    We are missing an opportunity here to scare a new generation of Canadians to death / improve their grammar.

    1. I wrote to them about Read All About It and they replied saying “Thanks for the note. I love the show too and it is in the works to get it online. However, I can’t really set a date because the clearing process can be unpredictable. “.

      If you’re desperate to watch some episodes, there’s a full archive of low-quality VHS caps of seasons 1 and 2 here:

      (there’s some ancient scripting on the page that made it not work in Firefox just now, but IE9 renders it correctly.)

      1. I’m so happy to hear a positive reply about Read All About It! I remember writing them years ago and got this as an unfortunately sad reply:

        ——– Original Message ——–
        Subject: Re: Older television series
        Date: Mon, 23 Jun 2003 08:55:51 -0400
        From: Audience Relations 2
        To: xxxxxxxxxx@xxxxx.x

        Dear Viewer,

        Thank you for your enquiry. Unfortunately, the series Read All About It,
        Readalong , Fables of the Green Forest and Parlez Moi are no longer
        available to air. The broadcast rights to these series expired some years
        ago also, there are no plans to renew the rights to air again.

        Sorry to disappoint you.


        Audience Relations

        1. Hi,

          I’m a producer at TVO. We’re working to see what rights we can clear on old programs. There are more videos to come, and hopefully some of the ones you mentioned will be among them.

    You don’t look like you had 80lbs to lose.

    Your statement that “In a Sylvester Stallone movie the rebels would use the internet”, seems pretty prescient right now.
    However, your description of why the internet is unregulatable is pretty far off. You never mention the possibility of blocking ips.

    Also, did you just describe the internet as a series of tubes? :)

  3. Oh wow. I remember this show. Used to watch it all the time. Rick Green (Commander Rick) was also a member of The Frantics. I wonder if Four on the Floor is available online…

  4. There’s a lot of very good stuff there, thanks so much for pointing this out!

    There’s an “Imprint” episode that I was hoping to find, that doesn’t seem to be there — it’s one where Daniel Richler interviews the art critic Robert Hughes.

    In my recollection, Richler asks some reasonably straightforward, slightly naive ice-breaker question, and Hughes replies, not maliciously but with an air of disappointment, that “that’s possibly the most asinine question I’ve ever heard,” and then proceeds to answer it.

    The part I absolutely cannot recall is what the question was. As an ice-breaker, though, it worked — Hughes got up to speed immediately, and the rest of the interview actually went quite well.

    It’s about 50/50 whether that happened and just isn’t in the archive, or whether I’m transposing some other recollection on to it…

  5. Bits and Bytes, LOVED Billy Van and Luba Goy. Great quotes like “I can’t believe that all this information, words and letters, can be contained in a normal audio cassette.”

  6. From the end credits: “Next week on Second Nature: Gays In The Military. Is it a question of human psychology or morality? Many senior officers feel homosexuals are sinners, and only straight men have the moral right to kill people. – Plus, the health risks of video games. Is that why so many teenage boys have overdeveloped muscles in one arm?” – Funny stuff!

  7. Duh, that’s the one in the post. That’s what I get for RSSing on my phone and then going straight to comments on the laptop… My “ooh” still stands, however.

  8. Fabulous show for the young geek in the pre internet age. It’s also a good snapshot of the state of geekery at the time.

    I highly recommend a visit to YouTube.

  9. I love Prisoners of Gravity. I watched it during the original run, mostly hoping they’d mention one of the comics or fantasy series I liked (which mostly they didn’t because most of what I liked at that age was crap). Then I watched the reruns when I was fairly newly into reading SF, and used it as a reading list generator. I watched reruns on Space nearly every morning while it was on (occasionally taping them). And, every once in a while I check to see if a new one has popped up on Youtube… and then I not only watch it, but also list the people interviewed and on what topic on my livejournal, so that if I ever want to find a specific bit again, I can do so easily. (Not trying to self-plug, but if anyone would find them useful, you can find them at there’s a few entries that aren’t related to PoG, but most of them are. I never got around to making a dedicated tag).

    Most of these I’ve already got from Youtube, but I’ll be looking over the ones I haven’t in the next few weeks.

    Thanks, submitter, and thanks CBC!

    1. Thanks, submitter, and thanks CBC!

      Um, try thanking TVO rather than CBC. They’re similar but different organizations.

      1. Err, right, I knew that, if I stopped to think. Must have got crossed wires, because as I was typing this up, I actually had my TV on CBC.

  10. I can’t wait till they upload “Read all about it” that show was messed up, but seeing old eps of “Today’s Special” and “Polka Dot Door” (POLKAROO FTW)makes me very happy. Looks like I’m going to get my nostalgia fix for the next week.

  11. I want Timothy Pilgrim!

    Also Secret Railroad, but that’s Quebecois originally. Also unlikely from my childhood: Doctor Snuggles (Dutch), Simon in the Land of Chalk Drawings (British), Jeremy (Polish), and Mysterious Cities of Gold (French). Snuggles and Cities are at least available on DVD.

    Wasn’t C.U.C.U.M.B.E.R also TVO? The only clip I’ve seen since is on youtube, a Martin Short guest appearance. Readalong had some trippy puppets, as did the art show VisionOn. Billy Van’s Eureka would be nice.

    And of course, as has already been said, the scifi and spooky trappings of Read All About It.

  12. Wicked! thanks Cory, another awesome post.

    I read an article about people going to the TVO studio viewing room to watch old episodes of P.O.G., I thought at the time it was a shame they werent all available online.

    Its great to see TVO make these available, the interviews are terrific.

    Keep up the good work Cory!

  13. Cory – You’re neither funny nor awkward in the interview. On the contrary, you are startlingly poised and on point considering how young you were when the interview took place. Both you and your colleague turned out to be pretty accurate in your assessments, too.

    I have to give you special commendation for your description of the Internet as a series of pneumatic tubes. Your anticipated Senator Ted Stevens by a decade!

  14. Cory, thanks for the plug. Hopefully we’ll be adding more episodes as time goes on. But it’s fun to be able to access those shows and recall how much fun they were to work on.
    Gregg Thurlbeck
    Prisoners of Gravity

  15. I’m a teacher and would love to have my students see Read all about it! Think of all the activities we could do. Not to mention how things used to be way back in the 80’s.

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