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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 1.1 (2016 pilot)

Wa-hey! Of course Daniel and I sat down to watch this pilot this afternoon. It went up at Amazon Prime this morning (clicking the images should link you to Amazon so you can watch it yourself) and we just had a hoot enjoying it.

Considering that the Kroffts don’t have the greatest of track records in relaunching old properties (although, as I said the other day, I haven’t seen the new Electra Woman yet), there is every reason to be a little leery, but this worked completely beautifully. It’s silly and ridiculous and incredibly fun. It’s grounded in the real world, with some lovely location filming and an eyebrow-raisingly large clubhouse, and the new monsters look superb, retaining much of the original design with a lot more detail and different things that the operators and puppeteers can accomplish.

It’s also packed full of injokes for anyone who remembers the original well. Sid and Marty popped in, and so did Johnny Whitaker, “1973,” and the guitar part that opened the first theme tune, and it even credits Si Rose despite not really having a lot to do with the nuts and bolts of that original teleplay. The director is Jonathan Judge, teleplay by Garrett Frawley & Brian Turner.

The really big difference from the original series is that the principal adversary is a human played by David Arquette. He plays a salvage pilot called Captain Barnabas who insists that a sea monster ate one of his toes years ago. Instead of a busybody housekeeper from whom Johnny and Scott keep Sigmund, it’s their aunt, who dotes on the captain. And happily, there’s something for a girl to do in this one; Rebecca Bloom plays the boys’ cousin Robyn, who’s in on the secret.

Solomon Stewart’s Johnny is the pratfall-prone ringleader, and Kyle Harrison Breitkopf gets all the best lines as Scott. He had me laughing aloud a couple of times. (“What’s a net?” is a work of genius.) They kind of struggled to fit Bloom’s Robyn into things and give her a chance to shine, but she gets a great little scene, and Eileen O’Connell plays the clueless Aunt Maxine. There’s just a tiny, tiny bit of that Nick/Disney school in the kids’ performances – my daughter watched most of those programs from about 2002-2011, so I’ve seen a lot of that – but since this isn’t done before a studio audience, nobody’s playing to the rafters or being aggressively stupid as the boys in those shows are. This is a more grounded and believable environment, despite the supernatural premise, and the kids feel more like real people and not stage school talent.

Back in September, I explained that I didn’t plan to watch the original Sigmund with Daniel (here’s the story), so I’m glad he’s getting the chance here. Briefly, my issue is this: I’ve got no objection to the original series at all – unlike some of the ’70s Krofft shows, it definitely improved with age and time – but the downright delicious nastiness of the bullying Ooze family would really, really bother the heck out of my son. In this version, Blurp and Slurp are present, and stupid, and a little bit mean, but they don’t have that delightful, cruel spirit of the original, and they certainly never threw Sigmund out.

The danger in this pilot episode is being found by Captain Barnabas, and he does indeed trap Sigmund, to which my son immediately shouted “I don’t want to watch this,” followed immediately by a howl of laughter from a very well-timed gag. The slapstick throughout is perfectly kid-friendly, and Sigmund himself is of course instantly charming. He also loved Blurp and Slurp, who, thanks to modern special effects, can do things the original monsters could never do, and he was laughing at them, especially when they completely misunderstand the difference between trash and treasure.

At this stage, the show’s just a pilot, one of six kid shows under consideration. I really hope this goes to series. It’s got heart and brain and slimy defense mechanisms and I would love to see more. I’m not sure how long it’s available to stream, but definitely give it a play and, hopefully, a high rating!

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