Bigfoot and Wildboy 2.3 – Birth of a Titan

If you recognized the guest monster this week, you’re doing better than me. That’s Carel Struycken, who would later appear in Twin Peaks and the ’90s Addams Family movies, as “The Titan,” one of his very first credited roles. He looks so young that even though he was 29 or 30 when he made this, our son asked “How are a couple of teenagers from middle school supposed to steal plutonium?” So why’s he been painted red and given a clown wig? Well, he gingerly touched a plutonium bar and the room filled with smoke and he looked like that. Every time we reach what must surely be the silliest thing in any of these episodes, they up and prove me wrong.

Our son wasn’t impressed. He liked the other two, but this one left him bored. He could have been building worlds in Minecraft.

That’s the last of the Bigfoot and Wildboy episodes that we’ll watch for the blog. Home-taped copies of the first season can be found on YouTube, since The Krofft Supershow was repeated by a Cox cable conglomerate. Six of the twelve episodes of the second season were released on home video: five on VHS and one on DVD. I never ran across the remaining six when I was tape trading, and they haven’t made their way to YouTube yet. I wonder whether we’ll ever see them.

Bigfoot and Wildboy 2.11 – Outlaw Bigfoot

Regular readers know that we mostly adhere to a no-bootlegs rule here – although we’re going to cheat in about three months – and I’ve already posted about the one and only episode of Bigfoot and Wildboy that’s ever made it to DVD back in 2016. But then I was rearranging the closet and stumbled upon my old VHS copy of three other episodes from the show’s second season. I bought it from the dearly missed Oxford Books on Atlanta’s Pharr Road in the mid-nineties.

Embassy Home Video, under the Children’s Treasures banner, released two volumes of several different Sid & Marty Krofft shows in 1988. Most of these sets contained the first four episodes of various shows, but Bigfoot and Wildboy got a really weird release. Embassy’s two tapes of this show skipped season one entirely – these were the sixteen episodes that co-starred Monica Ramirez and were each about 12 minutes long – and jumped to season two, with Yvonne Regalado. The first tape contained the first two installments, but the second has slightly edited copies of what appears to be episodes 11, 7, and 3, linked together into a 72-minute TV-movie.

(A misfiring synapse suggests to me that there was one other Krofft show that Embassy Video might have presented this way, with three linked-together episodes on the second volume. I may be wrong, but if I ever confirm that, I’ll edit this post.)

If our son, at age five, was a little small for such an outre program as this, at nine, he’s at the prime age. This is a dopey program for kids, and even though we’ve left the tech behind, he had a lot of fun with this. “I’m already tired of the slow motion,” he told me, which might provide a clue as to why he’s revisited several shows and movies we’ve watched together, but has let the eight seasons of Bionic action collect a little dust. Later on, the two villains use a laser to make the boulders that Bigfoot throws at them vanish. No ray on the film, and no explosion, because those cost money, they just edited the film to make the big rock disappear. “Okay, that is a stupid laser,” he snorted.

“Outlaw Bigfoot” concerns two villains played by a pair of omnipresent seventies TV villains, Sorrell Booke and John Milford. Taking advantage of the least competent armored car delivery guards in the world, Milford plants a recording of Wildboy yelling for help underneath the truck, so that Bigfoot will stop the truck, scare the guards off, and rip open the back door. Then the baddies can steal some plutonium once he leaves. Bigfoot himself is not as unbelievable as these dimwit guards. It’s perfect pablum for kids, and amusing silliness for those of us old enough to know better.

Bigfoot and Wildboy 2.10 – Return of the Vampire

Bigfoot and Wildboy is a very unusual example of a Krofft show that got a second lease on life. It started as the dramatic, cliffhanging installment of the second season of The Krofft Supershow in the 1977-78 season, with sixteen two-part episodes comprising eight stories. These featured Monika Ramirez as a character called Susie, who assisted Bigfoot and Wildboy as they defended “the great northwest” from a variety of alien, supernatural, and super-scientific threats.

ABC asked the Kroffts for another season of twelve half-hour episodes, even as they lost the overall variety show that was Bigfoot and Wildboy‘s home to NBC. More on that tomorrow. Then, weirdly, ABC put the twelve half-hours on the shelf and didn’t screen them until the tail end of the 1978-79 season, burning them off in the summer instead of promoting them in the fall. I’ve always been curious about this. It feels like petulant retribution for the Kroffts decamping their successful program to another network.

Of course, Bigfoot was never bigger than in the 1970s. Kids today – like ours – have no frame of reference for what a bizarre icon of popular culture Bigfoot was back then. Ours also had no prior experience with the 1970s shorthand for showing a character running really fast by having the character run in slow motion. He’ll be seeing that again in the future, you can bet. Bigfoot made as much sense as the lead character in a 1970s kids’ show as a dune buggy did. It was the seventies, man.

The twelve half-hour episodes of Bigfoot and Wildboy, which saw Yvonne Regalado replace Ramirez as another character, Cindy, hint at what Shazam! and Isis might have been like with supervillain threats. Each week, Bigfoot (Ray Young) and his human pal Wildboy (Joseph Butcher) save the land from space invaders, babbling subterranean magic-users, low-rent Incredible Hulk knockoffs, mummies, and, in this episode, a vampire countess played by pretty Deborah Ryan. (You remember her from KISS Meets the Phantom of the Park; she was the one who figured that rock bands keep track of all the members of the audience, as opposed to, you know, venue security.)

I was a little disappointed that Rhino picked a slightly atypical episode of the show. Most episodes that I’ve seen were filmed on 16mm almost entirely on location, but this one is mostly a studio venture set in a labyrinth of caves. On the other hand, that worked perfectly for our kid, who was scared out of his wits by the vampire and her plans, and the feel of getting lost underground in a “jigsaw puzzle” of tunnels. This was one of the scariest things he’s ever seen, even though it follows the tame rules of children’s TV and doesn’t allow the vampire to bite anybody onscreen, and has her power cut off by the lid of her box, which isn’t referred to as a coffin. She certainly isn’t staked through the heart. That didn’t matter; he was scrunched up in a tight ball with his head under the blanket for about the whole show.

While neither Butcher nor Regalado had very many acting parts, Ray Young stayed pretty busy until his death in 1999, usually playing really big, mean-looking people. I’m afraid the casting director this week sort of worked against him by hiring Mickey Morton – Solomon Grundy in Legends of the Superheroes – as one of the human servants of the vampire. Everybody in these shows should be looking up at Bigfoot, not meeting the actor’s sight line!