Saturday, February 20, 2016

Top 5 Saturday Morning Live Action Television Shows - Saturday Morning Weirdness

The first thing I wrote for our Saturday Morning Weirdness was about my favorite cartoons and that was fitting because when I think of Saturday Mornings, my mind goes straight to Scooby Doo, Thundarr and the Super Friends.  After writing it, however, I realized that for me, that was only half the story.  I was also a huge fan of live action Saturday Morning shows and in some cases, liked them even more than their animated brethren.  Sure, they could be low production, cheesy affairs with stars that were washed up times three, but that was part of their charm.  So, here is my list of my personal Top 5 Saturday Morning Live Action Television Shows...I hope you enjoy it.

5. Captain Noah and his Magical Ark

Depending on where you grew up, you may not have ever heard of this show, but if you grew up in the Philadelphia area from 1967-1994, you surely know of dear, old Captain Noah.  It was created and starred W. Carter Merbeier and his wife Patricia as Captain and Mrs. Noah and while it was started as a religious program (you know, Noah and all), it quickly became a children's show that was wildly popular.  It had puppets, cartoons and songs and celebrity guests including Charles Barkley and Elvis.  Because it was so popular with the kids in Philadelphia, the Phillies debuted the Phillie Phanatic during a show and I can still remember watching that show.  So, this pick goes to Captain Noah, but is also reserved for any local show that you fell in love with as a little kid.

4. Sigmund and the Sea Monsters

When I mentioned up above that a bunch of these shows were a low production and cheesy affair, I was thinking mainly of this show.  A bunch of guys in really bad rubber suits running around in a sea monster version of Cinderella doesn't sound like much fun, but it was.  It was so much fun and I loved every minute of every episode.  There were only 29 episodes, but this Sid and Marty Krofft show sticks with me to this day.  The story of two brothers (including superstar in little Jim's mind, Johnny Whitaker) and their friendly little Sea monster, Sigmund (played by Billy Barty), trying to stay out of trouble and out of sight was so good and when I made the connection that nosey neighbor Mrs. Eldels was the Wicked Witch of the West (Margaret Hamilton) my mind went crazy.  While some may say it doesn't hold up, I just watched an episode before doing this article and loved it as much as ever.

3. Land of the Lost

Another Sid and Marty Krofft classic, the backstory was told in the opening theme:

While I always wondered what the hell the expedition was all about and why they didn't go with the dad's first name, Rick, the minute I saw that intro, I was hooked.  This was a time in my life where I was so into both dinosaurs and stop motion animation (or "Dynamation") so how could Land of the Lost not be a favorite of mine?  Add to that one of the most vile and evil bad guys ever, the Sleestak, and it's no wonder it was one of the longest running Sid and Marty Krofft shows ever.  When I picked this show and did my minimal research (I am a lazy man), I was amazed at the writers involved... Larry Niven, Theodore Sturgeon,Ben Bova,and Norman Spinrad among others. That's is pretty impressive stuff right there.

2. Pee Wee’s Playhouse

Of all these shows, Pee Wee's Playhouse is the newest one and if truth be told, I may have been too old to be watching it. Screw that, it was so good that I didn't care one bit. I was already a Pee Wee fan from his HBO special and I have to admit, the first time I watched it, I was just curious as to how Paul Reubens was going to take his inappropriate 50's kid's television homage and play it straight. Well, he showed me by giving kids a show that kept the spirit and fun of those old shows and turned it up to eleven. Pee Wee was everywhere and truly deserved all the acclaim he got. After one great movie (and a good sequel), it all came crashing down with that...incident. I am on the side that people were a bit too harsh on the guy, but you have to watch yourself and while it's a shame, there is plenty of Pee Wee to go back and watch. I know that Reubens is involved in a revival right now, but when I want my Pee Wee fix, I go back and watch an episode of the show or pop Pee Wee's Big Adventure into the DVD player and laugh my behind off.

1.The Krofft Supershow

This is another very personal choice for me. The Krofft Supershow was a Sid and Marty Krofft children's variety show that ran for two seasons, but my love was for the first season specifically. When I think of glam rock, Kaptain Kool and the Kongs slide somewhere between T. Rex and David Bowie and while that sounds ridiculous, it's 100 percent true. While I liked Electrawoman and Dynagirl and the Lost Saucer reruns, it was all about Wonderbug and Dr. Shrinker for me. Wonderbug was a fun version of Herbie the Love Bug and Speed Buggy and Dr. Shrinker was just an awesome adventure with an evil scientist and some teens in the wrong place at the wrong time. In fact, Dr. Shrinker may be in my top 100 shows of all time and it only had sixteen episodes (that were only fifteen minutes long). Once they dropped Dr. Shrinker for the second season, I was out. Some of the cast came back later for the Lost Island show on the Krofft Superstar Hour, but they changed Dr. Shrinker to "Dr. Deathray" and that show was a complete mess.

Well, there is my list of Top 5 Saturday Morning Live Action Television Shows and I'm off to put on my footsie pajamas, pour a big bowl of cocoa pebbles and watch some Dr. Shrinker.


  1. You must be old as balls- I don't remember any of these shows except Pee-Wee. This must have been where Eric had nothing to contribute, because i don't remember much for Saturday morning live-action shows outside the TNBC shows that would get bounced around from their weeknight slots, like Hang Time, City Guys, etc. etc. Maybe i just stopped paying attention to live-action shows, because to me they were either the sports shows or the national geographic and jack hanna shows, which i didn't want to see on Saturday mornings... who wants to learn, when you can watch cartoons?!?!?!

    1. Oh you mean like in this amazing article about "The Other Saved By the Bells" that I wrote last week?

      For my part, I remember all of these shows except for that Capt. Noah shit. Looks like some ol' Soupy Sales type business. The Sid & Marty Kroftt shows were so demented, but I'd say none more than H.R. Pufnstuf--that was the one with the British kid and a talking whistle, right?

    2. oh, man. i forgot about all those other Saved by the Bellses... OOF! How many times did they have to recast that show with original cast analogues and realize halfway through casting that these wooden and attractive 20-somethings would never light the same spark as the first Bayside High kids, and bring in Skreech like he was the saving grace of that damn show???

      and don't even get started on HR Puff-puff-pass. that show had to be stonier than the Mad magazine editorial offices and the high times green room (see what i did there???) combined!

  2. Pee wee is the only one I recognize, and I've heard of land of the lost but every other one a complete mystery.

    1. I know, I am an old man. Most of the others were lat 70's stuff