Sid & Marty Krofft’s fourth family TV series premiered in the fall of 1973. It was called Sigmund and the Sea Monsters and, when I was a kid, I didn’t like it at all. It was the first Krofft show to get a second season, and the first Krofft show to invert their formula and bring a character from a fantasy universe into the real world, but I just cringed watching it as a kid.
When the cable network The Family Channel started running many of the Krofft series in 1996 (along with some very odd new interstitial shorts called Okie Dokie), I finally got this show. It’s really, really clever, full of puns and mumbled jokes and ridiculous insults. It’s downright fascinating from a production standpoint. The demands of the show called for entirely different puppet designs. Any mayhem that befell the costumed characters in all the Kroffts’ previous shows had to be carefully choreographed to avoid damaging the costumes. The Sea Monsters, however, are constantly in a tumbled tangle of tentacles. Whoever was unfortunate enough to be in the Burp and Slurp and Big Daddy suits were perpetually doing somersaults and pratfalls on top of each other. That’s probably the reason some of the characters changed color slightly in season two: the suits had to be rebuilt from scratch because they couldn’t take any more crashes into the sand-covered studio floor!
(Actually, there was a fire at Paramount during the second or third week of production on season two. It’s possible they had to remake some or all of the costumes after that, I suppose…)
So yes, I greatly enjoy Sigmund and would love to watch it again – the first season, at least, is in print and I might pick it up – but the target audience is my son, and I believe that he would really be troubled by this series. The problem is that Sigmund’s big brothers Burp and Slurp are just remarkably mean and cruel bullies, without any of the redeeming silliness of Witchiepoo, or without the identifiable “other” that marks bad guys as totally separate from good guys. Well, they’re endearingly stupid, but that’s not what I mean.
They’re family, and I know that Daniel would have a really hard time with that. Sweet Mama and Big Daddy also pose huge problems in my book; just the whole concept of a family being something so terrible that they throw you out and then keep screwing with you… he would hate that and the show simply would not be any fun for us to watch together at all.
Regrettably, therefore, we’re tabling Sigmund for the time being. We may or may not come back to it when he’s a little older (note: about two years later, we did), but first, we’ll check out something that the Kroffts’ competitors at Filmation were doing on CBS. I actually plan to watch a lot more Filmation than Krofft for this blog, since almost all of the live-action Filmation catalog was released on DVD at sensible prices. Almost all. Uncle Croc’s Block wasn’t, but I never watched that show anyway.
I hope that somebody will release or reissue Far Out Space Nuts and The Bugaloos and Horror Hotel and Electra Woman and Dyna Girl before my son gets too old… fingers crossed!