THE SEA MON­STERS ARE BACK

The Hamilton Spectator - - GO - RICK BENT­LEY

It’s been 44 years since sea mon­sters made an ap­pear­ance in the sea of TV pro­gram­ming. The pro­duc­ing team of Sid and Marty Krofft launched “Sig­mund and the Sea Mon­sters” in 1973 as their fourth live-ac­tion Satur­day morn­ing tele­vi­sion se­ries. The tale of a friendly sea crea­ture and the two young boys who be­friend him came along af­ter the pro­lific pro­duc­ing pair had cre­ated “H.R. Pufn­stuf,” “The Bu­ga­loos” and “Lidsville.”

The Cana­dian broth­ers are now in their 80s but show no signs of slow­ing down as they have joined forces again with Sig­mund for a re­boot of the se­ries to be broad­cast by Ama­zon Stu­dios. The new tales of “Sig­mund and the Sea Mon­sters” be­gin to un­fold Oct. 13.

“You know ‘Sig­mund’ is one of our favourites,” Marty Krofft says. “It was one of our three favourites along with ‘Land of the Lost’ and ‘H.R. Pufn­stuf.’ Ex­cept for the sea mon­sters, ‘Sig­mund’ was the first re­al­ity-based se­ries we had done.”

“Sig­mund” joins two other se­ries the Kroffts are cur­rently pro­duc­ing: “Elec­tra Wo­man and Dyna Girl,” based on their 1976 se­ries that was part of “The Krofft Su­per­show,” and the orig­i­nal se­ries “Mutt & Stuff.”

The new ver­sion of “Sig­mund” fea­tures a much larger pro­duc­tion bud­get than the orig­i­nal.

“I would say the bud­get for the new ‘Sig­mund’ is about 12 times what we had for the first one,” Krofft said.

The one thing that hasn’t changed is the story. The new se­ries fo­cuses on two young broth­ers — Johnny (Solomon Stewart) and Scotty (Kyle Bre­itkopf) who save Sig­mund from dan­ger.

The Kroftts al­ways have looked for new young tal­ent be­cause they have not been trained so much they no longer come across as kids. The key to all of the Krofft pro­grams aimed at chil­dren was to make them as ac­ces­si­ble as pos­si­ble to young view­ers.

In the orig­i­nal se­ries, most of the threats to Sig­mund’s free­dom came from the house­keeper, played by vet­eran ac­tor Mary Wickes, who watched af­ter the boys while their par­ents were away. Now, it’s Cap­tain Barn­abas (David Ar­quette) who’s des­per­ate to cap­ture a sea mon­ster to prove his claims they ex­ist aren’t the rant­ings of a mad man.

Krofft points out that the vil­lains of their shows have be­come quite leg­endary — from Bil­lie Hayes play­ing Witchiepoo on “H.R. Pufn­stuf ” to Martha Raye’s Benita Bizarre on “The Bu­ga­loos.” The ex­ec­u­tive pro­ducer was able to get Ar­quette to be the lat­est vil­lain in the Krofft world be­cause he’s been a long­time friend.

The orig­i­nal se­ries ran for 29 episodes that cov­ered two sea­sons start­ing in 1973. Un­like the new ver­sion, the first “Sig­mund” had a mu­si­cal el­e­ment as star Johnny Whi­taker would of­ten break into a tune to ex­plain what he was feel­ing. Those mu­si­cal num­bers were writ­ten by Danny Janssen, Wes Far­rell and Bobby Hart. The orig­i­nal theme song has been up­dated for the new se­ries by The Roots.

Krofft doesn’t dis­miss the idea of a mu­si­cal num­ber or two in the new “Sig­mund” but that would most likely hap­pen when a sec­ond sea­son gets or­dered. For now, there are seven episodes in the first sea­son that they are us­ing to in­tro­duce the view­ers to the char­ac­ters.

There have been some tweaks made re­boot­ing the se­ries, from the more ex­pen­sive look to the lack of mu­si­cal num­bers. What hasn’t changed is the way the writ­ers were able to of­fer tales of is­sues about friend­ship, not judg­ing peo­ple, fam­ily and con­ser­va­tion with­out mak­ing the sto­ries too heavy.

“We never wanted to do ed­u­ca­tion,” Krofft says. “But we wanted to do re­la­tion­ships. We wanted peo­ple to see what it is like to be lik­able. We snuck all that stuff in. We have done that here, too. The re­la­tion­ships are all there. That is some­thing that is very im­por­tant.”

Af­ter “Sig­mund” sank slowly into the can­cel­la­tion sun­set, the Kroffts went on to pro­duce a long list of pro­grams for chil­dren and adults. Their cred­its in­clude “Far Out Space Nuts,” “Elec­tra Wo­man & Dyna Girl,” “The Donny and Marie Show,” “Pink Lady and Jeff ” and “D.C. Fol­lies.” Many of their shows fea­tured var­i­ous sizes of pup­pets be­cause of their back­ground in pup­peteer­ing.

“Sig­mund and the Sea Mon­sters” is the lat­est project by the Kroffts to get new life and there will be more. Krofft says nu­mer­ous pi­lots have been shot based on their past projects and new ma­te­rial and they are just wait­ing for a re­sponse from the net­works and/or stream­ing ser­vices.

AMA­ZON,

The new tales of "Sig­mund and the Sea Mon­sters" be­gin to un­fold Oct. 13, on Ama­zon Stu­dios.

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