Saturday, May 26, 2018

Saturday Morning Cult-TV Blogging; Sigmund and the Sea Monsters (1973-1975): "The Monster Who Came to Dinner" (September 8,1973)

Sigmund and the Sea Monsters (1973-1975) is the first live-action Sid and Marty Krofft Saturday morning series to run more than one season. The program ran for two seasons and nearly thirty episodes on NBC, though its record for broadcast was soon usurped by Land of the Lost (1974-1977), which ran three years and forty three episodes.

Sigmund and the Sea Monsters remains beloved by young and old alike, and was recently re-booted for a six episode run on Amazon Prime. The original seventies series follows the adventures of two young brothers, Johnny (Johnny Whitaker) and Scott (Scott Kolden), who live near a beach, and discover a friendly, diminutive  sea monster named Sigmund (Billy Barty) near “Dead Man’s Cove.”

The boys bring him back home to their clubhouse. Notably, Sigmund is unlike the other sea monsters of his kind, because he doesn’t want to frighten people. Having run away from his family of origin, he finds a new family with Johnny and Scott, though he must stay hidden from the family housekeeper, the stern Zelda (Mary Wickes).  Johnny and Scott’s parents are “away” and never seen throughout the series.

Over the weeks and seasons, Sigmund’s sea monster family tries again and again to bring him back home (in part so the family’s rich uncle Siggy, Sigmund’s namesake, will leave the family his inheritance when he dies), and fail repeatedly.

The first episode of the series, “The Monster Who Came to Dinner,” establishes much of this premise. It begins with the boys carrying Sigmund home to their clubhouse on a surf-board, and nearly being run-over at a road intersection (a scene in the opening montage)

Meanwhile, Sigmund’s sea monster world is simultaneously established back in his family’s cave. The gruff, insulting Big Daddy (Sharon Baird) is voiced by Walker Edmiston, and is an obvious knock-off of All in the Family’s (1972 -1979) bigot-in-residence, Archie Bunker, right down to his memorable catchphrases “Dingbat,” “stifle” and (in the episode “Puppy Love,”) even the put-down “Meathead.”  One of the brothers, meanwhile, sounds exactly like Jim Nabor’s beloved Gomer Pyle, from the series of the same name (1962-1964).

We learn in this episode of the Krofft series that the monsters have “Shellovision” (instead of television) and watch their favorite channel: MBC (Monster Broadcasting Company.)  The series they watch in this episode is a knock-off of Sanford and Son (1972-1977) called “Serpent and Son.”  Since Sigmund and the Sea Monsters aired in 1973, both the Sanford and All in the Family references would have been considered very timely and relevant when the series first aired.

“The Monster Who Came to Dinner” may be Sigmund, himself, who nearly ruins a home-cooked dinner between Zelda and her beau, the local sheriff, Bevins (Jim Higgins), or it may be his namesake, Uncle Siggy, who comes to the family cave and is upset that his favorite sea monster, Sigmund, is nowhere to be found.

This episode, like so many episodes of Sigmund and the Sea Monsters ends with a song, sung by the boys.  In this case, the song is “Friends.” 

Next week, episode two: “Puppy Love,” but in the meantime, here’s a look at one series theme song:

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