With an immensely catchy opening theme and the cool ways they incorporated science into everyday situations, the 3-2-1 Contact crew became a staple in after school TV viewing. Most fans can still sing along to the theme song and all remember the show with nostalgic fondness. A few may even credit the series with instilling an early interest in science. All in all, the consensus is that they don’t make ‘em like they used to anymore.
The series was developed by the same creative team behind The Electric Company and aired on PBS stations from 1980 to 1988. The cast—Trini, Marc and Lisa, originally—played college students who met on campus to discuss science. There were many different casts over the years and the show’s format evolved, moving from a campus setting to a private residence basement to many varied locations. The most popular segment of 3-2-1 Contact was The Bloodhound Gang, a group of teenagers using science to solve crimes. Frequently, the crime at hand would be a real danger facing kids, like abduction. These sleuthing pieces regularly appeared at the end of an episode and mystery resolution often spilled over to subsequent episodes.
One memorable episode featured the band KISS in concert, where the show’s hosts learned about pyrotechnics. If there’s been a better marriage of science and rock ‘n roll since, we’re certainly not aware of it. In 1991, 3-2-1 Classroom Contact, an edited version of the series, appeared in schools across the nation as part of science instruction.
Reruns continued to air after the show’s cancellation, first on PBS and later, on the cable networks Noggin and Nickelodeon. 3-2-1 Contact was nominated for numerous awards and won many of them, such as a Peabody and more than a few Emmys.
If you were a regular viewer of this classic educational show, we want to hear from you! Share all your childhood memories of 3-2-1 Contact with us as we look back at a show that proved to many of us that science didn’t have to be boring.