You know, Saturday mornings just aren’t the same when you’re a grownup. Too many responsibilities. Too many chores. Boring stuff on the telly (save for the marathons of shows or an overabundance of programs on your DVR... but that’s something else entirely.)
I’m missing the pace and entertainment of the Saturdays of my childhood. Pajamas and cereal and cartoons. No homework. No endless youth sporting events. No pressure, save maybe to help Daddy in the yard. (Man, I HATED that. Even as a kid, I knew outdoor manual labor was not for me. Damn weeds in the sidewalk cracks. Ugh. But it was fun to get those teeny little snails and whip them at my brother. And when the ornamental cherry bushes were sporting fruit... look out! Incoming!)
I'm in the mood to take a ride in the Wayback Machine with Mr. Peabody and Sherman to the time...
...when all cereal that was worth anything had sugar in its five top ingredients list...
...when your pajamas had feet in them...
...when you had to actually get up off your bean bag chair to change the channel, unless you had a younger sibling to do it for you...
...when cartoons and kid shows ruled the morning airwaves. Good cartoons. Cartoons with no educational or social value save for entertainment, Schoolhouse Rock, Fat Albert and earnest Bill Cosby notwithstanding.
... when counterculture for our generation was defined as the World of Sid and Marty Krofft...
Y’all. This shit was wild. Seriously. Skippy. Trippy. Hippy.
Live action shows with crazy premises and over-the-top characters (C’mon. Martha Raye and Charles Nelson Reilly both had parts on Krofft Saturday morning programs. Those two totally define over-the-top...WHAAAAAAAAAA! *throws confetti*)
Combine these shows with their WTF? messages and psychedelic special effects with a cadre of kids hyped up on sugar cereals and... well, it's a miracle we all survived and/or didn't end up in some cult with Patty Hearst. Bless the innocence and cynicism-free essence of 1970s youth. There's a rant in there someplace, but that's for another time.
I’m simply going to let the show opening to a few Krofft classics speak for themselves... the storytelling theme songs; the costumes; the hysterical special effects -- it’s all there, just like you remember it.
Enjoy. And pass the Super Sugar Crisp. I’ve still got milk in my bowl. (But I call dibs on the Archies record on the back of the box. That’s all mine, baby.)
Fun fact: my elementary school nickname was Janey-poo, after the illustrious Witchy-poo. And yes, that was a term of endearment -- I was a charming young lass. So there.
And seriously -- did any of y'all cavort around with a magic flute wearing an Australian bush hat or jump on board a talking boat like Jimmy did? All I could hear in my head when he got on board was "STRANGER DANGER!" That boat = the white panel van of the high seas.
OK, I lied. I'm going to speak a little for these clips as well. After watching them, how can I not? That would involved waaaaay too much self-control for this hour. Especially for these next couple of clips...
Martha Raye as Benita Bizarre. More awesome than I have words to describe. Benita Bizarre is SO my new drag name, replacing Clams Casino.
Land of the Lost
I never watched this one myself -- what's up with the dinosaur thing? -- but I had friends who LOVED it. Still do. And who can do a pretty fair sleestack imitation.
There is so much goodness in this, it overwhelms me. The Tidy-Bowl-Man-esque special effects! One-named WESLEY, who was all over my Tiger Beat magazines at the time.
Apparently, Wesley's secret SECRET passion was the gents. Needless to say, that tidbit didn't get past the Tiger Beat editorial board. Wait -- do you think there really was a Tiger Beat editorial board? Can you imagine those discussions: "We've really featured David Cassidy a lot. Let's throw that Danny Boneduce a bone and give him a two-page spread." "Donny in tight pants: yay or nay?" "Leif Garrett has no talent, so let's milk that cow as long as his looks hold up! "
Sigmund and the Sea Monsters
Johnny Whitaker (Jody from Family Affair!) Mary Wickes (classic character actress!) Burp and Slurp and Sweet Mama Ooze (best character names ever!)
There were apparently two themes for this show. Here's the other, peppier one:
They "let" Johnny Whitaker sing both of these. His agent really worked miracles with that contract. My ears. My ears.
I always loved Sigmund's family. His mom, Sweet Mama, and George Costanza's mom Estelle. Separated at birth.
Three words. Charles. Nelson. Reilly. Fabulous. Even in this hot weird mess.
The pitch meeting for this show must have been classic. "We need something worthy of CNR's talents. Anyone have any suggestions?"
And PS: If your show needs a nearly two-minute-long theme song to set up the premise of the plot, it might be just a little convoluted. Or you should put down the blunt.
And now I'm craving a bowl of Alpha-Bits, my favorite cereal of the time. This bowl of Kashi I'm eating while writing this and watching The Golden Girls. Not quite doing it for me. Stupid grownup stuff.
PS: Couldn’t resist including this quote from Marty Krofft, from an interview in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. He was asked, point blank, about the relationship between drug use and his shows:
We've heard that for 35 years. We did not intentionally do anything related to drugs in the story. People thought we were on drugs. You can't do good television while on drugs. People never believe you when you say that, but you can't. The shows were very bright and spacey looking. They may have lent themselves to that culture at the time, but we didn't ascribe that meaning to them, and I can't speak to what adults were doing when they were watching the shows. We just set out to make a quality children's program.