“WARNING This DVD may cause SEVERE nostalgia for 1973! Side effects include laughter, amusement and fun. Best when taken with cereal..” Thus says the label on the wrapper. If you’re old enough to remember this show, or young and curious, click Read More and read about Sigmund and the Sea Monsters: The Complete First Season.
This isn’t our typical fare – its more of a kids show than SF/Fantasy, but its got the elements and I grew up on this stuff, so here is a non-scoring review.
Sid and Marty Kroft came up with some of most bizarre kids shows imagineable, typically in fantastical settings that could best be described as something only a 60s hippy could dream up. Talking hats and flutes, dragons and witches, dinosaurs and fairies. With the possible exception of Land of the Lost, most of them were suitable for young kids, wit no real scariness to them. Sigmund fits in this class, about two boys who come across a small sea monster named Sigmund who was kicked out of the family cave. The boys take Sigmund in, hiding him from their aunt and neighbors while fending off his family, who are trying to get him back. Sigmund was arguably one of their most successful shows, as most would only last a a season – this made two.
The boys are played by Johnny Whitaker (child star best known as Jodie in Family Affair) and Scott Kolden (who became an acclaimed sound engineer in later years). It appears that part of this show was also to springboard Whitaker as a singer, as each episode features a song by him, but I don’t remember him having much of a career in signing at the time.
Mary Wickes (Sister Mary Lazarus in the Sister Act movies. who passed away in 1995) played the boys Aunt Zelda, who also acted as the housekeeper while the boys parents were away – which was always. I don’t know if it wa a production point in such shows to avoid having the parents around, and instead have a caretaker. Perhaps in case the adult actor got a bit too “big” for the part, they could more easily be replaced?
Guests included Margaret Hamilton (the wicked witch from The Wizard of Oz), Pamelyn Ferdin (various roles at the time – anyone remember Space Academy? And the original Star Trek episodes “And the Children Shall Lead”), and Jack Wild (from the earlier Kroft show H.R. Pufenstuf).
This DVD transfer is amazingly good considering this was made in 1973. The video is crisp, although in a few scenes it does appear washed out.
Krofft shows have never been acclaimed for top-notch acting or stories, but its a kids show – usually not a major requirement. Mary Wickes – and even Billy Barty within the Sigmund costume – at least added some level of professionalism on the set. But when more than half the cast are really puppeteers in costume, acting it pretty difficult. But compared to current blue screen and CGI methods of creating monsters, at least the actors could key off something.
The DVD set comes in s standard slipcase/folder, on 3 DVDs. They stack discs 2 and three in a double-holder. The slipcase has a raised impression of Sigmund on it.
The extras include commentaries on two episodes: One by Sid Krofft, explaining where the idea for Sigmund came from, and one from Johnny Whitaker and Scott Kolden. There are also on-screen interviews with the boys and with producer/write Si Rose, and “Johnny’s Jukebox”, which is all his songs in one video feature.
All in all, if you grew up in the 70s you’ll probably need to get this and relive your childhood. Don’t forget to pick up some Fruit Loops or Cheerios, and sit down on the floor next Saturday morning in your pajamas and watch away.
And there is room for new fans – my 5-year-old is asking when we can watch it again.