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Tribute to "Hello Paradise" hosted by Joni Ravenna
A full article dedicated to looking back at a series so unique, yet under appreciated, on public TV.
Reality can bum you out, especially in relation to a TV series you seem to enjoy, despite the under-appreciated responses from the network's viewers. Even a few of my friends don't seem to know, or possibly care, how much I enjoy shows that don't get a lot of talk. Searching Hello Paradise stamped that ticket, and besides the official website of the company that produced it, Raven Productions, and their Wikipedia page, there's very little information, critiques and/or praise for this show. If I can recall clearly, having KVCR now called Empire PBS, public TV networks stopped airing and re-running the show around early 2018.
Hello Paradise: What's the show about?
Hosted by Joni Ravenna, it's very much, in their words, a "magazine-format" series touring and exploring areas of interest in Palm Springs, located in the lovely state of California. Ravenna, along with other guest hosts, review and venture into places that often attract both locals and tourists. The show also features interviews with celebrities, business and restaurant owners, and various people in the communities working to make a difference, spreading word of their companies and many other "tourist-y" places. It's only 30 minutes long, and its opening and closing soundtrack is the song "Just Like Paradise" by David Lee Roth. The show made its debut back in 2004, though according to their official IMDb page, no update has been made when the series ended. However, PBS often re-ran the show on weekdays.
While the show is a visual "magazine," there are times when the host(s) would explore and review eateries around Palm Springs, but it's no different than, say, Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives. I did enjoy the interviews and cooking tutorials from chefs, whipping up the best dish(s) in their restaurants. Along with chit-chatting about the venues, featuring VIPs and celebrities, this show basically defines your average show aired on a public TV channel. That's not to say it's worthy of being primetime, if it ever went that far, but the topic and exclusivity of its audiences make it a neat little show that you, otherwise, would enjoy in places or areas where you'd wile away the time. A show like this should also entice those wanting to travel and venture out to more places in California, besides the usuals being Los Angeles and San Diego.
What happened to the show? Did viewers (dis)like the show?
I contacted KVCR's programming department, personally (not contacted under the Media/Press Department, so contents of their email won't be published on this article). According to their program manager, Hello Paradise was surveyed to be the least appreciated, and lowest-rated, series in their network lineup. Granted, the series never sought any new episodes since its tenure, as mentioned previously, even their IMDb page hasn't been updated to this day. In addition, there hasn't been any new video clips or new [full] episodes uploaded to Raven Production's YouTube channel since April 24, 2015. To seal the deal, Joni Ravenna has officially retired from TV production, so no word from the production company if they plan to continue the show with a new host or confirm cancellation of the series.
What do I think of the show? You guessed it: I'm within the 1% of the audience who appreciates and is a fan of the show. I've perceived this show to be a "feel good" type of show—the kind where when you tune in, seeing folks having a great time makes you wish you were there. Also, despite all that went on during 2016, it was a rough landscape, despite everyone's anger, or praise, going on in the news, depending on how you felt, as the noise I felt was absolutely deafening. In response to that, tuning to a show like this gives me peace and comfort, knowing there's a beautiful and wonderful place I can visit and create some memories for my life's history (shout-out to Palm Springs Tours!). Given that that is my very reason I appreciation for this show is cheesy, it has an appeal that's unique for public TV, and something I almost can't find on cable in general (if there were such show, then I missed out). My love and admiration for this show that comes close would probably be Huell Howser, who, according to that same program manager responding to my email, still has a huge following up to this very day. I don't blame that notion one bit, as I, too, am a big fan myself (rest in peace, Howser), including other various cooking shows and the Let's Dine Out! series on public TV. Anyway, I find Hello Paradise to be a neat-looking series that covered majority of the venues, events and areas around Palm Springs, and despite the scorching heat the city experiences every year, it surely looks like a fun place to hang around in (I currently live in Los Angeles).
KVCR's program manager and his response to my inquiry was the whole reason I wrote and published this piece about Hello Paradise. What was supposed to be an article of fanatical praise, suddenly turned into a tribute, due to the show's defunct operations. It also hit me when Ravenna retired from TV, since I thought she was pleasant and sweet in interacting with celebrities and interviewing various people on the show. As for the other co-hosts and guest hosts, they were awesome and seeing them in their own segments was a nice touch. Pretty girls, such as both Paulina Sussman and Maranda Barskey did a great job hosting; Both are absolutely beautiful, too. If I'm not mistaken, I believe Paulina is the daughter of the show's executive producer Mitchell Sussman.
Anyway, that was why I began this page mentioning how hard Reality can strike you; Yes, some things must come to an end, as surely this pandemic has brought people into a lot of self-reflection, but you then hope for a better and fresher tomorrow. By the sound of the program manager's response, he wouldn't mind re-running episodes of Hello Paradise but, again, the viewers say otherwise.
With the advent of digital streaming, it's possible, if the show were to continue, to stream new episodes and/or stick with uploading them on YouTube. Online broadcasting makes sense because a handful of people will notice, whether it triggers an interest or not. As for TV network broadcasting, especially if a show has slim chances of being re-aired, it's very much "don't blink or you'll miss it" kind of showing. Whatever the case is, streaming new episodes will catch some eyes, but garnering view counts is another topic. Nevertheless, it's likely we may not see this show on air again, nor will any word leak about continuing this series.
If you're curious, I've embedded the full episode, uploaded by Raven Productions themselves on their YouTube channel, below as a sample of all I've talked about in this article:
(Funny how David Lee Roth sings the part, "And I don't want to go home." I wish I can rewrite the lyrics to sing, "And I don't want this series to end!")
As mentioned before, I could not find one—not one—website or blog talking about this show. I've searched on Google, Bing, DuckDuckGo and Ecosia, and have found nothing in relation. However, I did find that the producers of Raven Productions are Steve Peyton and Tom Stanford. I went as far as to write down and add names of the credits below, who worked on this series as well.
How'd you find out about this show?
I've already been a big fan of public TV, thanks to its documentaries and cooking shows—the sources that originally got me into the networks. I wanted to do some exploring, and while I've got a full article dedicated to the great Huell Howser himself, I wanted to expand my tastes. When I found out about this show, I was hooked and, as said before, it gave me those "feel good" vibes. Makes me wish a similar series would be produced for the city of Los Angeles, or even Las Vegas—my second home.
Here's another humorous part: I was going through older shows I recorded on DVD in a huge CD album I've tucked away for years. 'Lo and behold: I recorded a handful of Hello Paradise episodes on DVD! Only one thing: Not only was the quality of the format I recorded on resulted in terrible 'blocky' video, because I didn't think much of it at the time and assuming that new episodes were on the way and reruns are guaranteed, but one of my DVDs ended up not playing properly. Agh! Here's a picture for proof:
You're wondering why I marked a star (☆) on the DVD labeled "Hello Paradise 2." I did so because the recorded titles, numbered #5 through #8, were titles that are corrupted and won't play properly (thanks, Philips DVD recorder for not letting me know about any errors during DVD finalizing). As I played through the DVD, after all these years, surprisingly, title #5 played just fine, but titles #6 through #8 are guaranteed unplayable. With a total of 26 episodes recorded, only 23 of them are playable and watchable. (Upload them? Sadly, I do not have the permission, nor the rights, to do so. Here's hoping that this article generates enough interest to see the whole series either on YouTube or on an official DVD box.)
Anyway, the video above is from the company's YouTube channel and it looks far better than what I've recorded.
Speaking of DVDs, it'd be nice if KVCR/PBS could launch a Hello Paradise reunion and air a one-hour pledge inviting fans to purchase the whole series on DVD or Blu-ray, complete with their entire episode library. Once again, I'm not sure how many episodes were produced and released, but if it's enough to create a pledge, I'm all in! Yeah, I can dream but they do come true eventually, right? (Including my girlfriend, who watched and enjoyed the show having introduced it to her, we both may be the only fans expressing interest in such series to be released on DVD officially. Heck, it should entice the physical media collectors, and I'm sure it'll look good on their video libraries.)
I can go on, but this is about as much as I've raved about a show I loved that didn't win fans over, according to the KVCR's program manager. The future is uncertain, but it's probably for the best, given the situation currently. I want to thank Raven Productions, Joni Ravenna, all those mentioned on the credits below, KVCR and all of the public programming staff for broadcasting this underrated series. I didn't think much of Palm Springs until I watched the show, and instantly became a big fan, and would like to stop by and visit. I wish all episodes were available on a streaming platform, or even on their YouTube channel, but again, that's up to the production company. May this article serve as a link, or if I may boldly say, the link, to refer to when talking about or going over this show. Times change, TV viewers change and tastes change, and since I think this show deserves a second chance at being re-aired, or perhaps a reboot, know that I'm always here, in the event that any advancement(s) made in relation to this and will be welcome with open arms. However, Life goes forward, and that I will obey.
Once again, thank you to the entire staff that made the show possible! It may be a belated one, but mark this article to immortalize its legacy forever, and for all of our fans on this website, old and new. Thank you to all those involved in producing a wonderful show! It will live on in my heart (yes, I'm serious). I hope retirement is serving you well, Mrs. Ravenna! BIG thank you to all the staff involved.
Hello Paradise Credits:
Fred "The Hammer" Williamson
Eyewerks Animation & Design
M Gold One Productions
Special Thanks to:
Courtesy of Palm Springs Historical Society
All Rights Reserved
(Mind you, this is an article talking about the show Hello Paradise, and is not intended to be a review.)