Saturday, July 08, 2017

Saturday Morning Cult-TV Blogging: The Bugaloos: "Firefly, Light My Fire" (September 12, 1970)

In Tranquility Forest, the Bugaloos -- Joy (Caroline Ellis), Harmony (Wayne Laryea), John Philpott (Courage) and I.Q. (John McIndoe) -- come to the rescue of a Firefly named Sparky (Billy Barty), who was nearly run-down by a negligent driver.

That driver is Funky Rat (Sharon Baird), chauffeur to failed musician/celebrity Benita Bizarre (Martha Raye). 

After a local DJ, Peter Platter refuses to play Benita's latest album, the villain offers to make the Bugaloos stars. They refuse her offer, and admonish her for nearly killing Sparky.

Benita captures the band, and threatens to kill Joy -- on a giant turn-table, no less -- unless the Bugaloos comply. 

Sparky, who does not know how to fly, gains the confidence to help his newfound friends.

The Bugaloos (1970 - 1972) is the live-action Saturday morning cult-TV series from Sid and Marty Krofft that aired after H.R. Pufnstuf (1969-1970) and before Lidsville (1971-1972). Many have compared it to The Monkees, as the series involves the wild adventures of a young band. In this case, however, the Bugaloos are all British.   The Bugaloos are all played by dewy, attractive young people

In broad strokes, all three of these series feature notable similarities. 

Each strongly features a notable villain played by a familiar (established) face, whether Witchie-Poo (Billie Hayes), Benita (Martha Raye), or Hoodoo (Charles Nelson Reilly).  These villains almost always create the tension/action of the week by doing something dastardly.  In all cases, they also risk stealing the show away from the protagonists. 

 Each of these villains is, likewise, associated with a vehicle, or mode of transport: the Vroom Broom, Benita's car, and the hataram.

Finally, each colorful series is set entirely in a fantasy land inhabited by fantasy creatures. Here, the Tranquility Forest is the setting, and is inhabited by Peter Platter, a bunch of talking grapes (!), and a talking flower. 

Also like the other two series, The Bugaloos only ran for one season, and for a little more than a dozen episodes. Despite the short runs, all of three series are remembered by fans, even today.

The Bugaloos, however, is the only one of these three  Sid and Marty Krofft early-seventies series that does not feature a hero attempting to return home from the fantasy land. Instead, the Bugaloos are happy residents of Tranquility Forest.  

Also it's interesting to note that The Bugaloos features a "first" or "initial" story, while H.R. Pufnstuf and Lidsville both depict their first episode in the series' opening montage, via theme song. In "Firefly, Light My Fire," the Bugaloos have their first experience with Benita Bizarre, and also meet Sparky for the first time.

If Lidsville focused on the world of hats, The Bugaloos, uniquely, focuses on a world of music. Benita Bizarre is desperate to be a successful, beloved singer, and is constantly trying to manufacture a hit song.  She lives in a giant juke box in the forest.  

By contrast, the Bugaloos have beautiful singing voices, and absolutely no desire to be famous. They are creatures of nature, and live in the forest, not in an artificial domicile. They just want to be left alone to enjoy their lives.  Because of the focus on music, every episode in the series features at least one song. Many of these are quite memorable, and some even climbed the music charts in the early disco decade. 

In this story, the Bugaloos sing about "The Senses of Our World," and Benita croons a much less appealing tune about "supersonic sneakers."

Next week: "The Great Voice Robbery."

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