Whenever I find it hard to sleep, all I have to do is watch the above Goodnight Kiwi video - which ran for nearly 20 years on New Zealand TV - and it instantly makes me drowsy. Not because of that groovy, lounge-lizard version of Hine e Hine, or even because of the quiet, subdued animation. It makes me drowsy because that little clip is still telling me that the day is finished, and it's time to go to bed, because there is no more telly.
The idea of all-night TV was a totally foreign concept when I was a kid. There were only two TV stations in NZ until 1990, both part of the public broadcaster, and when the Goodnight Kiwi clip came on, usually just before midnight, it was followed by nothing, until TV started up again in the morning (although Breakfast TV was also a foreign concept).
When I was a teenager, and staying up as late as I could, that would generally mean the end of the day, and it was time for bed. You could always stay up later and watch a video, but when a beloved cartoon icon is settling down for the night, it makes sense to join him and his cat in slumber.
That blessed closedown of the broadcast was eventually replaced by the cash grab of terrible, terrible infomercials, and night-owls and other insomniacs could watch awful steak-knife demonstrations all night long.
A screen full of nothing was better than that, and also brought some much needed closure to the day. When it feels like life is hectic and never-ending, there was something soothing about the nothingness that followed the full-stop of this little cartoon. It was time to recharge, and start up again tomorrow.
Goodnight, Kiwi. Goodnight everybody.
Originally posted on the Tearoom of Despair on February 28, 2020. Good night.