Saturday, August 05, 2017

Saturday Morning Cult-TV Blogging: The Bugaloos: "The Love Bugaloos" (October 10, 1970)

In “The Love Bugaloos,” Sparky (Billy Barty) develops a crush on a pop star firefly, Gina Lola Wattage, and Joy (Caroline Ellis) arranges a meet-up between the lightning bugs.

Unfortunately, Benita Bizarre (Martha Raye) is also hatching a nasty scheme. She realize that if Gina doesn’t show up for her gig on Peter Platter’s show, he will need Benita to replace her. Benita thus captures Gina, and plots to make her TV debut.

Sparky finds his courage by taking on Funky Rat and rescuing Gina.  When it comes time to go on, however, Gina is unable to perform, and the Bugaloos must step in.

This episode of The Bugaloos (1971-1972) sees Sparky finding his courage to romance a firefly pop star who talks like Mae West, but is named Gina Low Wattage (Gina Lollobrigida).  One running theme in the series is about Sparky’s lack of courage/bravery in the face of danger.

Funky Rat also gets a large role in the episode, and he’s a nutty character in both concept and design.  

Today, I don’t think a Nazi rat would likely be considered an appropriate character on a kid’s show, but that’s what Funky Rat is, essentially. Sure, he’s a variation on Max Von Meyerling (Erich Von Streiheim) from Sunset Boulevard (1950), the butler to faded star Norma Desmond (Gloria Swanson). 

But he also assumes the catchphrase of Arte Johnson’s Nazi soldier (from Laugh-In [1966-1973]): “Verrrrry interesting,” and wears a uniform.  I don’t particularly find the costume, or the shtick very funny, but I am amazed the series got away with cribbing Johnson’s catchphrase.

Here’s the song of the week: “It's New to You:”

Next week: “If I Had the Wings of a Bugaloo.”

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