Sunday, May 24, 2009

Groovie Goolies – the Saturday Mourning Collection – review

Directed by: Hal Sutherland

First aired: 1970

no plot to spoil

Ahh… rose-tinted glasses, which look back to a halcyon past. The simple pleasures of childhood brought into focus… and all that…

I remember Groovie Goolies as it aired, in the UK, during the Banana Splits and, whilst I didn’t remember details as such,
I had a fondness for the funky, kid friendly monsters that made up the gang. However, what I hadn’t realised was that the Goolies were a spin-off of Sabrina (Jane Webb) the Teenage Witch, who appears in the Groovie Goolies and who, herself, was a spin off character from the Archie Comics.

So I sat down with this 16 episode box set and as Frankie (Howard Morris) was struck by lightning and intoned “I needed that” memories started trickling back. But memories be damned there was still the fondness… that was until the rose tint peeled and I realised that what I was watching might have been ace when I was 10 but at close to 40 it wasn’t cutting mustard and had aged very badly indeed.

The Groovie Goolies takes place at Horrible Hall and primarily focuses on Drac (Larry Storch), Frankie and Wolfie (Howard Morris). Drac is a little inept and uptight, Frankie is rather dim and clumsy, whilst Wolfie is a hipster who likes to surf and drive around in the wolf-mobile. They also perform together as a band – one song per episode, but I’ll get to the music.

The supporting cast include Mummy (Howard Morris), the witch Hagatha and the Vampira like Bella La Ghostly (both voiced by Jane Webb), the child monsters Ratso (Larry Storch), Batso (Larry D Mann) and Huntleroyd. There are also Bonepart the skeleton and the two headed Dr Jekyll and Hyde (all voiced by Larry D Mann), as well as some lesser recurring characters.

However, you will notice that, unusually, I have not put 'contains spoilers'. There are no spoilers as there were no primary plots. There were bad puns that could today, likely, be found on lollypop sticks or inside Christmas crackers and situations that were set ups for the bad puns – no more and no less. It was essentially a cartoon set up of pun/catchphrase comedy with an adult laugh track.

Each episode had two songs. One was ‘played’ by the Goolies and the other by one of a few guest bands such as the Rolling Headstones (I told you the puns were bad) or the Mummies and the Puppies. As for the songs… Well, when I watched the monster based episode of the Monkees I was struck by just how good the Monkees track was… okay it was pop but it had aged well and was catchy. Scooby-Doo musical interludes are notable as there is a story based chase going on. These were bland little pop ditties that had imagery designed to complement the monster themed song, and I really hated every moment of the songs.

Now I am probably being too harsh… disappointment will do that… for as I sat with barely a titter passing my lips my son sat with me rolling with laughter (at least in parts, some jokes didn't work for him because clearly he was too young to get, say, the Mummies and Puppies reference). This is the difference, he is twelve and the bad puns work for that age.. I am not and they don’t.

Readers who remember this with the same hazy recollection I had might think I am being awfully unfair. There are those who rewatched it, I am sure, who managed to maintain a childhood attachment to the show. Personally I felt it failed the test of time. 2.5 out of 10 reflects the fall of childhood memories and the smashing of a rose tint, though the show is of mild TV history interest.

The imdb page is here


João Seixas said...

I bought this set as soon as it came out. I remember watching it when I was a kid and I just loved this show. I find your reaction totaly understandable as I'm still trying to muster enough courage to watch it... I too fear the rose tinted glasses will shatter...

Taliesin_ttlg said...

Hey João Seixas... hopefully you won't find they shatter and that I have just become too old and cynical