Earlier in this blog, I mentioned how it took me until adulthood to warm to Sigmund and the Sea Monsters. When I was a kid, I didn’t enjoy it, and when I was in middle school – at the height of puffed-up, super-important, hyper-serious preteen stupidity – I really, really couldn’t stand this show. I would watch everything else in the syndicated Krofft Super Stars lineup in the afternoons, but when it was an episode of Sigmund, I’d suffer through it with all the blinkered lunacy of a touchy twelve year-old. (See also this earlier post about me flipping out over an episode of Batman at that age.)
(Incidentally, as po-faced, angry, easily embarrassed, and humorless as I was at twelve, I didn’t have nuthin’ on my older son when he turned twelve. He once went apoplectic when he heard Toho was making a new Godzilla movie, because the previous one had been called Godzilla: Final Wars, and that meant it was supposed to be the last one.)
Anyway, one day when I was twelve, furious, and stupid, I was probably set to start grumbling about how this stupid show would be improved if the sea monsters would eat Zelda when suddenly a caveman called Ook and his pet talking dinosaur, Unk-Unk, showed up after “a million years” of hibernation and kicked the Ooze family out of their caves, which was all wrong because everybody knows cavemen and dinosaurs didn’t live together and the dinosaurs were from 65,000,000 years ago, not 1,000,000. The writers, Fred Fox and Seaman Jacobs, were doing this deliberately to enrage me.
But honestly, the thing that infuriated me the most was Ook. Middle school maniac me could not understand why they would make a big fake puppet suit for the caveman when they could have just dressed an actor in a bear skin. That would be more “realistic,” I probably said before reading another adventure of Mack Bolan or some other pulp hero who would murder everybody in the Mafia, but would do so “realistically” by describing the caliber of his machine guns in lurid detail.
But that’s actually a good question. Why is Ook a mascot costume instead of an actor in a wig and makeup? Did the Kroffts build him for a minor league baseball team or something? The Culver City Cavemen, maybe? Or is it possible that these two were created for another TV series and “The Dinosaur Show” is a backdoor pilot for a program that was never made?
Whichever the case, I imagine that Ook and Unk-Unk were probably pressed into service waving at kids at the LaBrea Tar Pits or supermarket openings in southern California for a couple of years after this. I don’t think Ook was ever seen on television again; the Unk-Unk costume appeared at least once more, nine months later when the Kroffts produced the ridiculous NBC Saturday Morning Preview Revue, hosted by Little Jimmy Osmond.
Incidentally, here’s a frightening thought. If Ook and Unk-Unk did have a Saturday morning show picked up for the fall of 1974, then the Kroffts might not have had the resources to produce Land of the Lost. Good Lord, imagine a world without that show and seventeen episodes of these two characters instead.
And having said that… it’s a good thing we didn’t wait until our son is twelve and ridiculous to show him this. He absolutely adored it, laughed like a hyena the whole way through, and says that he loves this episode as much as the second one, the one with all the neighborhood dogs, and wouldn’t mind seeing more of Ook and Unk-Unk. There’s something to be said for actually watching a program when you’re in the target audience age.