Saturday, August 12, 2017

Saturday Morning Cult-TV Blogging: The Bugaloos: "If I Had the Wings of a Bugaloo (October 17, 1970)

In “If I Had the Wings of a Bugaloo,” Benita Bizarre (Martha Raye) becomes obsessed with the act that the Bugaloos possess wings, and can fly.

She hires Funky Rat’s sister, Brumhilda, to make her bat wings, but they fail to give the diva the lift she wants.  She realizes that she must steal the wings of a bugaloo if she wishes to fly.

Benita goes to Tranquility Forest, pretending to be Heddy Ho-Down, and tricks I.Q. (John McIndoe) into coming with her back Uptown to her jukebox.  The other Bugaloos attempt to rescue him, but are trapped in Fly Paper!

The Bugaloos (1970-1971) crosses a threshold this week that Lidsville (1971-1972) also crossed at about the same point during its run. Specifically, the villain here officially becomes the most intriguing personality on the series, and the most-utilized character too.

Here, Martha Raye’s Benita Bizarre motivates all the action, and appears in virtually every scene. The Bugaloos are a practical after-thought, appearing only for the routine (and weekly) capture/rescue business.

What’s intriguing about Benita is that she is not an out-and-out monster, like Witchiepoo or Hoo-Doo. Instead, she’s a (fairly-typical) “D” list celebrity. She’s self-obsessed, narcissistic, and a bit pathetic. She’s a diva, a Norma Desmond-type, who cares only about her own self-glorification.  This week, she motivates the action because she wants wings, and wants to fly.

That desire just hits her, and because she is rich, and infamous, ostensibly -- and surrounded by yes-men -- she tries to get them.

In this way, The Bugaloos is actually about something more than bug-people on a sub-textual level: the quest for continuing fame, and the way that some people can’t let it go. Last week, I mentioned Sunset Boulevard (1950), and yes, The Bugaloos is a Saturday morning version of that story, as seen through the unique eyes of Sid and Marty Krofft.

This week, however, Benita goes from being merely misguided and narcissistic to monstrous, as she tries to cut off I.Q.’s wings, an act which can’t be undone.

The scene of surgery is actually fairly gruesome. I.Q. lays stomach down on a table, wriggling to break free from restraints, while Funky Rat reads from an instruction manual (Do It Yourself Surgery) and takes a giant clipper to the Bugaloo.  Fortunately, the surgery is never completed.

This week, there are two songs to make note of. Benita -- as Heddy-Ho-Down -- sings one for I.Q. before capturing him.

And The Bugaloos sing about “friends…if you need someone to help you…”

Next week: “Lady, You Don’t Look Eighty.”

1 comment:

  1. You should review Sunset Boulevard.