DVDizzy.com | DVD and Blu-ray Reviews | DVD & Blu-ray Release Schedule | Upcoming Cover Art | Search This Site

"Sigmund and the Sea Monsters" Season One DVD Review (2011 Vivendi Release)

Sigmund and the Sea Monsters: Season One DVD cover art - click to buy from Amazon.com Sigmund and the Sea Monsters: Season 1 (1972-73)
Show & DVD Details

Creators/Producers: Sid Krofft, Marty Krofft, Si Rose / Director: Richard Dunlap

Writers: John Fenton Murray, Si Rose, Rita Sedran Rose, Jack Raymond, Warren Murray, Milt Rosen, Donald A. Ramsey, Fred Fox, Seaman Jacobs

Regular Cast: Johnny Whitaker (Johnny Stuart), Mary Wickes (Zelda Marshall), Scott Kolden (Scott Stuart), Billy Barty (Sigmund Ooze), Sharon Baird (Big Daddy Ooze, Woman at Phone Booth), Paul Gale (Slurp Ooze), Larry Larsen (Blurp Ooze), Van Snowden (Sweet Mama Ooze), Walker Edmiston (voice of Sigmund Ooze, Big Daddy Ooze, others; Dr. Cyclops, The Wolfman, Mr. Pruitt), Sidney Miller (voice of Sweet Mama Ooze, others; Buzzer Berman)

Recurring Characters: Joe Higgins (Sheriff Chuck Bevans), Pamelyn Ferdin (Peggy), Margaret Hamilton (Ms. Eddels), Joe Giamalva (various sea monsters)

Credited Guest Stars: Stephen Ciccarelli (Leroy), Jack Wild (Himself)

Running Time: 404 Minutes (17 episodes) / Rating: Not Rated

1.33:1 Fullscreen (Original Aspect Ratio) / Dolby Mono 2.0 (English)
Subtitles: None; Not Closed Captioned; Extras Not Captioned or Subtitled
DVD Release Date: September 6, 2011 / Season 1 Airdates: September 8 - December 29, 1973
Suggested Retail Price: $29.93 / Three single-sided, dual-layered discs (DVD-9s)
Black Keepcase in Cardboard Slipcover

Buy Sigmund and the Sea Monsters: Season One DVD from Amazon.com

Maybe it doesn't compare to Jodie Foster's 1976 (in which she starred in Taxi Driver, Bugsy Malone, and Freaky Friday) or Shirley Temple's 1935 (when she headlined the hits Curly Top and The Littlest Rebel), but Johnny Whitaker's 1972 was one of the more impressive years put in by a child actor.
Having spent five seasons playing Jody Davis on "Family Affair", the curly redheaded boy proceeded to launch a feature film career at the Walt Disney studios, appearing in The Biscuit Eater, Napoleon and Samantha (with Foster, Michael Douglas, and a lion), and Snowball Express, all before turning 13.

The following year looked even better, with Whitaker starring in the title role of the Sherman Brothers musical Tom Sawyer (casting Foster, of course, as Becky Thatcher). That fall, Whitaker returned to television in the Krofft Brothers' Saturday morning children's sitcom "Sigmund and the Sea Monsters". That would be about it for Whitaker's show business career, with him hitting puberty, doing two years of Mormon missionary work, and getting out of the industry shortly after the drug overdose death of his young "Family Affair" co-star Anissa Jones.

Though Whitaker's filmography has grown a tiny bit in the past thirteen years, his childhood success is forever etched into the public consciousness, in large part due to those two sitcoms. "Family Affair" came to DVD starting in 2006 from MPI Home Video. The sillier, more fantastical "Sigmund" saw its first season hit DVD a year earlier from Rhino. That set went out of print and now fetches a pretty penny in the secondhand market, but it won't for long, because early next month, "Sigmund" becomes the second Krofft Brothers series given a box set by new video partner Vivendi Entertainment. The studio releases Season One, 17 episodes on three discs, with some exciting bonus features.

Two brothers (Johnny Whitaker and Scott Kolden) befriend a friendly young sea monster in the 1970s Krofft Brothers television series "Sigmund and the Sea Monsters." The Ooze family -- seen here: Big Daddy, Slurp, Blurp, and pet lobster Prince -- are bad enough to not want Sigmund with them, but harmless enough to not frighten young Saturday morning viewers.

Though plenty of sitcoms have been founded on improbable ideas, the premise of "Sigmund" is about as preposterous as any, or at least any not produced by the Kroffts. Two brothers, Johnny (Whitaker) and Scott Stuart (Scott Kolden, whose handful of acting credits include the short-lived Garry Marshall sitcom "Me and the Chimp" and the 1973 Disney TV movie Mystery in Dracula's Castle with Whitaker), meet and befriend Sigmund (accomplished little actor Billy Barty hidden inside rubber and voiced by Walker Edmiston). He's a young sea monster, a little shorter than them and a lot more green. His hair resembles kelp. For arms and legs, he has eight tentacles. And he speaks perfect English. That only seemed right in the minds of Sid and Marty Krofft, brothers whose distinctive, colorful, low-tech, high-concept musical fantasy dominated Saturday mornings in the 1970s.

A typical episode of "Sigmund" finds Johnny and Scott having to hide Sigmund from the humans in their life and from his abusive fellow sea monsters, who are always looking to retrieve him. In fact, that is about how every episode plays out. On the human front, there is Johnny and Scott's spinster housekeeper Zelda (Mary Wickes, on a small screen kick in the midst of her over 50-year film career), her big-eating love interest Sheriff Chuck Bevans (Joe Higgins), and sparsely-seen, irritable neighbor Ms. Eddels (Margaret Hamilton, The Wizard of Oz's Wicked Witch of the West). As far as the titular sea monsters go, Sigmund's nasty family, the cave-dwelling Oozes of Dead Man's Point, is comprised of Big Daddy, Sweet Mama, and half-wit older brothers Blurp and Slurp. They talk like Archie Bunker, Gomer Pyle and other familiar TV characters of the era.

"Sigmund" is broad and punny. In the first episode alone, the Ooze family gives us such phrases as "shellevision", "seahorsin' around", "tippy tentacles", and "Shello?" The show feels very dated now, both in its creative sensibilities and in its unsightly presentation. This was the Kroffts' fourth series and from what I've seen of their output, the brothers seemed to lower their quality standards with each passing year. Their first and probably most popular creation, 1969-70's "H.R. Pufnstuf", holds up pretty well, having been shot on film and on fanciful sets. Later works, made for their 1976-78 hour-long "The Krofft Supershow" anthology, are threadbare in their tastes, shot cheaply on location with little regard for production values. It seems miraculous that such programs can even withstand getting transferred to DVD, which might explain why few episodes have been.

A little more than halfway into her 50-year acting career, a second-billed Mary Wickes plays the boys' fair housekeeper Zelda. Johnny Whitaker concludes nearly every Season 1 episode with a tender song.

"Sigmund" ranks among the better shows of the modest Krofft canon. It's stupid, crudely produced, and likely unwatchable for a good amount of the general population. But it is also fun and harmless, plus there is some value in seeing what passed for Saturday morning entertainment in the early 1970s. None of those qualities can adequately substitute for actual memories of watching it on NBC in between "Star Trek: The Animated Series" and "The Pink Panther Show", possibly with a soggy cereal bowl nearby. Maybe if you don't know this show, but retain some fondness for its Krofft contemporaries, like "Lidsville" and "Land of the Lost", you'll be able to enjoy it at least to the same extent that I recently enjoyed "California Dreams." For everyone else, "Sigmund" will play like far-out monstrosity.

Almost every episode, the monstrosity ends with a Johnny Whitaker song, because everyone loves a ginger teen who thinks he can sing and is surrounded by people who share the same belief enough to hand him a new number each week. Music and lyrics team Bobby Hart and Danny Janssen separately wrote for the Partridge Family, Josie and the Pussycats, Lulu, "Scooby-Doo, Where Are You!", and The Monkees.

The DVD arranges the episodes by production order, which jives with the faint bit of continuity employed here.

Sigmund (Billy Barty) falls for Fluffy the dog in "Puppy Love." You say it's puppy love, they say it's full grown. With stilts and make-up, Johnny (Whitaker) has Frankenstein drop in for a visit to the Ooze cave.

Disc 1

1. The Monster Who Came to Dinner (23:53) (Originally aired September 8, 1973)
Johnny and Scott move Sigmund into their clubhouse and have to hide him from Sheriff Bevans and from Slurp and Blurp, who try to retrieve Sigmund to make an appearance for rich Uncle Siggy.

2. Puppy Love (23:49) (Originally aired November 10, 1973)
Sigmund falls in love with Fluffy the dog.
To get Sigmund to return home, Slurp dresses up as his favorite actress.

3. Frankenstein Drops In (23:23) (Originally aired September 15, 1973)
Blurp, Slurp, and Big Daddy kidnap Scott, forcing him to do Sigmund's old chores and wait on him. To get him back, Johnny dresses up like Frankenstein('s monster).

4. Is There a Doctor in the Cave? (23:26) (Originally aired September 29, 1973)
A sick Sigmund requires medical attention, which returns Johnny to the Oozes' cave, where he is held prisoner.

5. Happy Birthdaze (23:52) (Originally aired December 1, 1973)
Sigmund's attempt to clean the boys' house for them ends with him captured by his brothers.

6. The Nasty Nephew (23:52) (Originally aired November 3, 1973)
Johnny and Scott have to entertain their nephew Leroy (guest Stephen Ciccarelli), a boy who, naturally, gets mixed up with the sea monsters.

Sigmund discovers a popular singing voice, as the Stuart brothers play guitar on his radio contest-winning song performance. "I'll get you, my pretty and your little sea monster, too!" Margaret Hamilton thrice appears as nosy neighbor Ms. Eddels.

Disc 2

7. Monster Rock Festival (23:52) (Originally aired September 22, 1973)
Sigmund forms a rock band with Scott and Johnny to enter a radio contest. When he wins, collecting his check anonymously becomes a challenge.

8. Ghoul School Days (23:51) (Originally aired October 6, 1973)
While Johnny and Scott are at school, a guilty Sigmund runs away from home. Meanwhile, concerned employees of both the boys and the sea monsters' school pay their families a visit.

9. The Curfew Shall Ring Tonight (23:50) (Originally aired November 17, 1973)
Sheriff Bevans and Sheriff Schreck institute curfews for humans and sea monsters, respectively, which Sigmund violates to replace Zelda's favorite salad bowl.

10. Sweet Mama Redecorates (23:51) (Originally aired October 13, 1973)
Blurp and Slurp steal the Stuarts' furniture and replace it with their own.

11. Make Room for Big Daddy (23:52) (Originally aired December 29, 1973)
After breaking their own shellevision, Blurp, Slurp, and Big Daddy watch Sigmund's, creating a noise situation for Ms. Eddels.

12. It's Your Move (23:54) (Originally aired November 24, 1973)
A storm hits the area, instilling fear in Sigmund, as he is supposed to return to his family's cave.

On Halloween night, Zelda (Mary Wickes) reasonably mistakes Sigmund for a trick-or-treater in a costume. British actor Jack Wild can think of no better way to spend his weekend than baring his chest for Johnny and Scott.

Disc 3

13. Trick or Treat (23:54) (Originally aired October 27, 1973)
Johnny and Scott go trick-or-treating. On his own, so too does Sigmund, who winds up caught by Blurp and Slurp.

14. Uncle Siggy Swings (23:55) (Originally aired December 22, 1973)
Uncle Siggy visits Sigmund, where he develops a crush on Zelda.

15. The Dinosaur Show (23:21) (Originally aired December 15, 1973)
Caveman Ook and his dinosaur reclaim their cave, displacing the Oozes to trouble Sigmund, Johnny, and Scott while Zelda is away.

16. The Wild Weekend (23:51) (Originally aired October 20, 1973)
Movie star Jack Wild (of Oliver! and, more importantly, "H.R. Pufnstuf" fame) spends the weekend with Johnny and Scott. He gets caught up in Blurp and Slurp's efforts to retrieve their Sweet Mama's pet lobster Prince.

17. Boy for a Day (23:55) (Originally aired December 8, 1973)
Leading up to Uncle Siggy's luau, Sigmund is hit with a severe case of amnesia and believes he's a human boy. This episode unveils a new, more explanatory opening title sequence, which would be used for Season 2.

Johnny (Whitaker) and Scott (Kolden) spend most of their time covering for Sigmund and retrieving him from his abusive family. A caveman and his dinosaur take over the Ooze family cave in "The Dinosaur Show."

VIDEO and AUDIO

"Sigmund" was shot on low-grade video, a medium that has aged it poorly. The DVD's 1.33:1 presentation includes some video glitches, lines on the screen comparable to what you might find on a homemade VHS recording, only these are brief and fleeting. More noticeable than that, there is the soft, blurry appearance and garish lighting of 1970s television, which seems to cover everything with a layer of film and reduce detail to the bare essentials. I don't doubt that reasonable efforts have gone into sprucing up picture for the DVD, but it would take Criterion Collection-type devotion to get this looking decent by today's high home video standards.

The Dolby 2.0 mono soundtrack is also kind of weak, with the lo-fi recordings carrying more baggage and distance than most television of any age. You should still be able to make out the dialogue just fine, which helps to deal with the unfortunate lack of both subtitles and closed captioning, which Rhino's 2005 First Season DVD also went without.

Over thirty years later, Scott C. Kolden and Johnny Whitaker remain friends, although the sea monsters may be smaller than you remember in this 2005 retrospective interview. Including these eleven Johnny Whitaker songs in MP3 format, the DVD basically gives you a "Sigmund and the Sea Monsters" soundtrack free with your DVD purchase.

BONUS FEATURES, MENUS and PACKAGING

"Sigmund" fares better in the extras department than the vast majority of yesteryear TV DVDs. The supplements begin with a Sid Krofft audio commentary on Disc 1's premiere episode "The Monster Who Came to Dinner."
Though not too screen-specific, this is more memorable than most commentaries. The older Krofft brother speaks slowly and fondly about the series, beginning with a retelling of the real beach incident that gave birth to it. He also talks about the cast, his influences, Krofft puppetry, The Wizard of Oz, and the movie version of "Sigmund" presently being developed (I'll believe it when I see it... although shockingly, DreamWorks Animation did recently announce a Lidsville movie).

Stars Johnny Whitaker and Scott Kolden reunite to talk about Disc 2's "Make Room for Big Daddy" and Disc 3's "Boy for a Day." Their tracks are more casual and comical, offering a mix of production memories and refreshing sarcasm while always relating to what's onscreen. The show is undoubtedly more entertaining with these grounded, salient, and fun actor commentaries covering most of the soundtrack.

Those who would like to see Misters Whitaker and Kolden all growed up get to do so in Disc 3's on-camera interview of the former child stars (20:54). With sea monster plushes sitting on their laps, they reflect on the show, their careers, the Kroffts, Billy Barty, the double takes of Mary Wickes, Margaret Hamilton, Donny Osmond's kissing prowess, and their favorite episodes. It's a really fun retrospective.

All of the aforementioned items are carried over from Rhino's box set. Not carried over from there is an 8-minute interview with "Sigmund" co-creator/producer Si Rose and a "Johnny's Video Jukebox" compiling Whitaker's songs from the season. The former is missed and its absence is strange.

Two additional extras are newly offered here.

Most uniquely, we get eleven MP3s of original Johnny Whitaker songs from the series, another benefit of the Kroffts' independent ownership. Encoded at 160 kbps and running 16 minutes on the dot, they unimpressively sound like they've been recorded off the DVD. Given this treatment here are opening theme "Friends", closing theme "Sigmund and the Sea Monsters", "Can't Get You Off My Mind", "Day and Night", "It's Up to You", "Keep It a Secret", "Lovin' Ain't Easy", "Monster Rock", "Running Around in Circles", "Stealing Home", and "The Magician."

Sid (left) and Marty Krofft pose for photos with H.R. Pufnstuf between them at a 2010 Los Angeles event documented here. The DVD's lightly animated menu strikes a sunny tone fitting of the Kroffts and their early fantasy series.

Finally, we get a 16:9 short (5:39) documenting H.R. Pufnstuf's appearance at a November 2010 screening of the movie Pufnstuf at Los Angeles' American Cinematheque. Living Island's dragon mayor poses for pictures. Then, Sid and Marty Krofft share some recollections with host Olivia Munn and a half-full theater screening the Pufnstuf film. Things wrap up with the brothers signing autographs. This obviously would be more relevant on last spring's Pufnstuf complete series DVD, but it's welcome here as well.

Employed five times on the three discs, the concise, creative main menu plays the final minute of the theme song (opening credit car horns and all) while Sigmund plays guitar and sun rays rotate. Episodes are divided into five chapter stops, allowing for a quick skip of the substantial opening titles sequence and brief end credits.

The DVD is packaged in a standard Eco-Box keepcase with a swinging tray holding the first two discs. The case is topped by a cardboard slipcover repeating everything below.

This sight of a serious Johnny and Sigmund approaching the cave can only mean that Scott needs rescuing. The Ooze family -- Slurp, Big Daddy, Blurp, and Sweet Mama -- have far less success with singing than their runaway son/brother Sigmund.

CLOSING THOUGHTS

If you remember "Sigmund and the Sea Monsters" over 35 years after it left the air, then chances are this Krofft Brothers sitcom holds a great deal of meaning to you. That is practically a prerequisite for really enjoying it now, although revisiting this simple show could very well taint your golden memories of it. "Sigmund" is technically crude and almost painfully broad, but I can see '70s kids liking it in a so-bad-it's-good way (the very thing that seems to have kept the Krofft names remembered all these inactive decades later).

Vivendi's DVD puts the show back in print, retains the very good extras from Rhino's release, and adds some nice treats. While picture and sound are pretty bad, the original production is probably largely responsible for that. If you're interested in owning this season, this is the best way to do it. Now, let's see if the studio follows through and releases the 12-episode second season, which has never surfaced on DVD.

Support this site when you buy Sigmund and the Sea Monsters: Season 1 now from Amazon.com

Buy from Amazon.com

Related Reviews:
H.R. Pufnstuf: The Complete Series (Collector's Edition) Sid & Marty Krofft's Saturday Morning Hits
Johnny Whitaker: Napoleon and Samantha The Biscuit Eater Snowball Express
Mary Wickes: White Christmas The Hunchback of Notre Dame The Mickey Mouse Club Presents: Annette
The Muppet Show: Season One Dinosaurs: The Complete First and Second Seasons Fraggle Rock: Scared Silly
New: The Best of California Dreams Punky Brewster: The Best of Season Three How the Toys Saved Christmas
The Boys: The Sherman Brothers' Story Babes in Toyland (1961) Forever Funny: T.V. Sets

DVDizzy.com | DVD and Blu-ray Reviews | New and Upcoming DVD & Blu-ray Schedule | Upcoming Cover Art | Search This Site

Search This Site:

DVDizzy.com Top Stories:

Reviewed August 25, 2011.



Text copyright 2011 DVDizzy.com. Images copyright 1973 Sid & Marty Krofft Television Productions, Inc. and 2011 Vivendi Entertainment.
Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.