It’s true that I wear Krofft blinders and adore most of the company’s output beyond reason, but there are three of their shows that I just don’t enjoy: Lidsville, The Lost Saucer, and this ridiculous show, Dr. Shrinker.
In the 1975-76 season, ABC was really pleased with the numbers they were getting from Krofft productions, both on Saturday morning with Saucer and in prime time with their first variety show, Donny & Marie. So for the 1976-77 season, ABC ordered a blend of the two: a variety show for kids with different comedy and adventure programs within it. The Kroffts had actually started their Saturday morning careers building the suits for another example of the format in 1968: The Banana Splits Adventure Hour.
The first season of The Krofft Supershow was comprised of edited repeats of Saucer along with three new series: Electra Woman and Dyna Girl, which we watched earlier this year, Wonderbug, and this comedy adventure, which starred Jay Robinson as the maddest of all mad scientists. The Supershow was hosted by a kid-friendly band of five glam rockers called Kaptain Kool and the Kongs, and their interstitial segments, musical numbers, and comedy bits were taped at the Omni complex in Atlanta, where the Kroffts were losing money in an ill-fated indoor amusement park, while all the actual shows were, of course, taped in Los Angeles.
So, cast-wise, we’ve got Jay Robinson, finding one note and playing it precisely and without any others in his repertoire, as Dr. Shrinker, the “madman with an evil mind,” and Billy Barty as his assistant Hugo. The unfortunate “shrinkies” are all-American Brad, played by Ted Eccles, his girlfriend B.J., played by Susan Lawrence, and her brother Gordie, played by Jeff MacKay, who later went on to star in several prime-time shows in the next decade. Everybody argues with each other, nobody is happy, and I have always found this show to be tedious. Even as a kid, I questioned why Dr. Shrinker needed to recapture “the shrinkies.” He doesn’t actually need them anymore, not to “prove” that his shrinking ray works, does he? All he has to do is take the weapon to the next mad scientist convention and shrink something else.
But we’re watching this with my kid, and he enjoyed the daylights out of it. The example installment on this Rhino sampler set is an amnesia episode, but I guess our son hasn’t seen enough of these yet to find them tiresome. He was captivated, concerned for “the shrinkies,” jumped up and giggled during the climactic chase, and went upstairs singing the theme song. Whaddaya know?
Incidentally, a couple of years after this show, writer Mark Evanier worked with Jay Robinson on another Krofft show, about which more in a couple of weeks. When Robinson died in 2013, Evanier penned one of his fascinating obituaries about the actor, which includes a remarkable incident where Robinson had a lengthy “come to Jesus” talk with one of the Bay City Rollers. Hollywood’s a strange place.