Category Archives: sigmund and the sea monsters

Sigmund and the Sea Monsters – 1.6 and 1.7

I can’t believe it’s over already! Since we don’t watch enough modern television to warrant subscribing to any streaming services before now, and since I’ve always preferred to slowly enjoy episodes over the course of several nights, I’m not really a “binge” kind of person. For anybody who stops by this post in the future, I’m writing this on the weekend that season two of Stranger Things dropped, and I’ve seen death threats levied at anybody who posts spoilers today or tomorrow. I guess I’m a little old-fashioned.

Well, we hope that’s not going to be all. These new episodes were incredibly entertaining and we laughed out loud several times during each one. These last two are also really good. Episode six, “Sigmund and the Sand Castle Contest,” sports a dual plot, with Sigmund belching up so much of his defensive “blue goo” for use as a fixative in the kids’ sand castle that he becomes ill, while Slurp adopts one of those Roomba robot vacuums as a pet, also called Slurp, and panics when the batteries run out and he needs a human pet “fixer.” In episode seven, “The Treasure of Sigmund’s Madre,” the kids all have to negotiate with the sea monsters for a huge drum of gold coins in the hopes of raising money to keep Aunt Maxine’s restaurant afloat.

I hope the show’s done well. I don’t know how Amazon measures these things, but I think it is certain to appeal to modern kids, if our six year-old’s response is anything to go by. He loved this completely and I hope we’ll get some good news about a renewal soon. The series does end on a small cliffhanger, which is really the only complaint I have about the whole shebang; I really wish that producers would not do that unless they’re certain they’ve been picked up for another run. So renew ’em, Amazon, and ask for ten or thirteen new episodes next time!

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Sigmund and the Sea Monsters 1.5 – The Squid Stays in the Picture

So in this delightful episode, Maxine and some of the community’s grownups attempt to stage an intervention for Barnabas and his sea monster obsession. At the same time, the kids are making a camcorder monster movie that starts as a giant monster spectacle but the lead actor is uncomfortable in the role and would rather be a detective. It shouldn’t have surprised me that Sigmund, as “Ace Coolstone,” would wander into the intervention while all the grownups were distracted, but it did, and it was hilarious.

This is a great little series. I confess that I kind of miss Blurp and Slurp’s nastiness and malevolence, but they remain engaging because they’re so stupid. And Kyle Breitkopf is hysterical in this one as a school-age acting coach, helping Sigmund into character. Great stuff all around.

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Sigmund and the Sea Monsters 1.4 – Robyn Has a Gift

Well, the grouch in me has to complain that this episode is a little more treacly than I’d prefer. At its core, it’s about Robyn not feeling as though she fits in or is good at anything, and needing some reassurance from her mother that she’s special regardless. Modern day children’s television tends to hammer these lessons in without any kind of subtlety. I’m not complaining “Oh no, a moral,” I’m saying “Don’t stop the mayhem for a moral; we’ll figure it out.”

And that’s a particular shame this week, because otherwise this is really, really funny. Again, the grouch in me wishes we could have enjoyed the chaos that could have erupted in an art gallery, because that’s where the plot is going before Robyn saves the day. Otherwise, this episode is a real joy. I absolutely loved Robyn drafting Blurp and Slurp to help with her project, and Sweet Mama’s failed attempt to apply some passive-aggressive guilt on her idiot offspring is hilarious. I really loved Robyn ripping off the monsters when they demand higher payment, and the monsters being stupid enough to think they got the upper hand.

But while the opportunity for chaos never completely forms, the appearance of several massive sand centipedes is fantastically funny, and leads to a brilliant bit of comedy when Sigmund very casually explains the difference between poisonous and venomous. I do adore the way Sigmund is so casual about weird things in this show. At one point, he explains that if the tips of his tentacles are ever sore, he just bites them off and waits for them to grow back. It’s a funny detail made hysterical by Drew Massey’s delivery of the line. I didn’t realize Massey had played Sid the Science Kid. I suddenly hear the similarities!

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Sigmund and the Sea Monsters 1.3 – Dibs

I wasn’t quite as taken with this episode as I was the previous two. The story’s about Sigmund misunderstanding the concept of “dibs,” thanks to Johnny’s incompetent explanation of the rule, leading to a rash of petty thefts of very silly items around Dead Man’s Cove. But this should have escalated into mayhem, and it doesn’t. Johnny’s solution to the problem is agreeably amusing, but at its core, this is a story about paying attention to little brothers. I’d appreciate a little more lunacy before giving us a heavy-handed moral.

On the other hand, while David Arquette’s Captain Barnabas is the lone note of lunacy in this story, it does lead to a climax that our son enjoyed, in which all his neighbors humor him by “agreeing” with him using “air quotes.” I’m not entirely sure that Arquette’s performance is entirely in sync with his much more natural co-stars, but it can lead to some funny moments.

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Sigmund and the Sea Monsters 1.2 – Finding Sigmund

Last summer, I sat down with our son to watch the pilot (episode 1.1) of the remake of Sigmund and the Sea Monsters and we crossed our fingers that Amazon would pick it up. The first season of six episodes launched last week, and tonight, we bade my long-suffering spouse to watch the pilot with us (“There isn’t going to be any singing, is there?”) and then we watched the second episode.

It’s absolutely lovely. My son and I laughed all the way through both episodes, and I even caught an occasional chuckle from the grown-up who sat between us. It’s still the greatest thing in the universe when Scott asks “What’s a net?”

There’s an interesting inversion in the setup for this version of the series. In the original, the Ooze family threw Sigmund out, largely because Sigmund was unable to scare anybody, and spent the show trying to get him back. Here, it looks like Sigmund will still live with his family because these sea monsters are afraid of humans and afraid of being captured. While David Arquette’s character, Captain Barnabas, is mocked by everybody in Dead Man’s Point, the Oozes think that he’s a dangerous monster hunter.

I also found it interesting that Sweet Mama appears to be a single mother, raising all three monsters by herself. She seems to be a more generic sitcom mom, and not an impersonation of Bea Arthur like the Sweet Mama from the original show. On the other hand, I haven’t actually watched any sitcoms since Friends; she could be a direct impersonation of anybody on TV in the last (wow) fourteen years and I wouldn’t have a clue!

Anyway, click the image above to start streaming the series from Amazon Prime yourself. We’ll be watching the show over the next couple of weeks and you should definitely join us!

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Sigmund and the Sea Monsters 2.6 – Pufnstuf Drops In

As we wrap up our “best of” batch of Sigmund, here’s a pretty obvious pick from the show’s second season. The show had some very weird production shenanigans. They decided to add a character: a sea genie called Sheldon played by the irrepressible and ridiculous Rip Taylor. Much confetti was thrown. Sheldon is, like Barbara Eden’s Jeannie, mostly competent, but prone to a comedic mistake or three before saving the day.

They were apparently in production of the first episode when there was a massive fire at the studio, destroying sets and costumes and throwing their calendar into disarray. I suspect that they had to build new suits for the monsters, and the delay meant that Mary Wickes was not available for the full run of twelve episodes. Zelda is in about half the episodes; in the seventh, Fran Ryan steps in as a temporary replacement housekeeper, Gertrude. Even stranger, that episode also introduces Sheldon’s nephew, Shelby. Shelby is played by Sparky Marcus, who was omnipresent in the mid-to-late seventies. He was the kid brother in Freaky Friday and was one of the Bad News Bears. I don’t know why they thought that after six episodes with a genie, they needed to add a cute Cousin Oliver, but they did it anyway.

Halfway through this run, Sheldon tries to conjure up a dragon to scare Blurp and Slurp away permanently and brings in H.R. Pufnstuf. Everything about this is bizarre. For starters, H.R. Pufnstuf is actually credited as an actor in the opening credits. Seriously, there’s the screen with Billy Barty and the four suit puppeteers, then a screen for Pufnstuf, then a screen for Special Guest Star: Rip Taylor.

Even weirder, Scott recognizes Puf, and Dr. Blinky, who arrives at the end. Now hang on a minute. If he knows them from watching a TV show, then did that program star Jack Wild? But the boys don’t say “We thought you were just a TV show,” which is what you, dear reader, would probably say if a fictional character showed up in your clubhouse. A couple of episodes previously, Sheldon accidentally whammied Paul Revere into the present (and if that’s not actually the sort of thing Jeannie always did, it’s absolutely the sort of thing that happened often on Bewitched!) and this episode treats Pufnstuf exactly like that. “Hey, he’s not supposed to be here, so send him home!” No explanation about how they know who Puf is, they just do.

Anyway, since our son doesn’t pay attention to the onscreen credits, he was so hyped up about Sheldon and Sigmund talking about a fire-breathing dragon that I was worried that Pufnstuf would disappoint him. It did give him a delightful moment of confusion and then he laughed all the way through it. Honesty, however, compels me to admit that his favorite bit was a godawful joke about trees and bark. Our son sat on the floor tonight – ours are hardwood – and he just pounded the daylights out of it with laughter.

Overall, it’s a cute episode. It is definitely nowhere close to being as gleefully malevolent and hilariously mean-spirited as the great Pufnstuf / Lidsville crossover, although the sight of Sweet Mama plopping an enormous apple in Puf’s mouth in anticipation of cooking him is pretty funny.

Mentioning Sweet Mama brings up a question I can’t wait to have answered. This will be the last episode of the original Sigmund we will watch together and blog about – my wife is breathing a sigh of relief – but we’ll certainly be writing about the new series when it is available. The Kroffts’ social media team has been aggravatingly quiet about it, but according to actor Kyle Breitkopf’s Facebook, they wrapped production on the first season last week. (And Scott Kolden will be showing up in some form, as Johnny Whitaker did in the pilot.)

If you watched the new pilot (as we did last year), then you know that it didn’t have the Ooze parents in it, just Sigmund, Blurp, and Slurp. I wonder what Big Daddy and Sweet Mama will be like. In the original, Big Daddy is clearly Carroll O’Connor as Archie Bunker, and Sweet Mama is Bea Arthur as not-really-all-that-much-like Maude, but these characters are ancient history for today’s kids. Have they given them the same characterization, or will they be updated for today’s audiences? I really can’t wait to see.

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Sigmund and the Sea Monsters 1.16 – The Wild Weekend

A couple of years ago, we watched the episode of Batman that had Chad and Jeremy in it, and I wrote about that old Hollywood habit of presenting faded hitmakers playing themselves as major celebrities. Jack Wild certainly wasn’t major, and absolutely not in Hollywood.

After the Pufnstuf film, Jack had gone back to England. It looks like he appeared in four films in Europe and an episode of the long-running BBC drama The Onedin Line, none of which were mainstream hits in the US, over the next three years. His bubblegum pop music career had tanked, and there was the really sad and unfortunate problem that Wild’s reputation for partying really, really hard had preceded him and he wasn’t getting any offers from American companies. However, Zelda, and, bizarrely, Sweet Mama are starstruck by Jack Wild, who bumps into Johnny and Scott on the beach taking a break from the “rat race” of making movies and wants to spend a quiet weekend without the studio knowing where he is.

I really liked Sweet Mama recognizing Jack from Oliver!, the only film named here. She knows him from “those foreign human movies on The Late, Late Show,” and Jack makes a cute joke about the Artful Dodger when he’s escaping. But really, John Fenton Murray’s story is the Kroffts giving a fading star of their acquaintance another chance to grab the spotlight, this time spending half an hour shirtless in a denim vest for the preteen girls to enjoy. Jack Wild needed the Kroffts more than they needed him. You’ll notice Jack wasn’t invited to be a special guest star on Donny & Marie. Not even on Pink Lady.

Our son didn’t recognize Jack; he’s not all that good with faces anyway, and it’s been quite a few months since he’s looked at any H.R. Pufunstuf. We told him who the guest star was and he was very pleasantly surprised. I guess, however, that since the fictional character of Jack did not actually say anything like “You know, three years ago, I played a kid stuck on an island with weird monsters kind of like this,” we can pretend that this fictional character of Jack had, instead, made dozens of hit movies at that Hollywood studio. I’ve often said that Jack Wild’s deterioration and long demise is a horrible shame and a real waste of a great talent. It’s nice to pretend for a few moments that in the fictional universe of Sigmund and the Sea Monsters, there are a whole mess of great and fun Jack Wild movies, because there, he was the star that he should have been here.

Besides, in the fictional universe of Sigmund and the Sea Monsters, H.R. Pufnstuf isn’t a TV show. Stay tuned.

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Sigmund and the Sea Monsters 1.15 – The Dinosaur Show

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.

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