Wednesday, July 14, 2021

Saturday Morning Musical Kid's Shows of the 1960s and 1970s Part Three

In 1968 The Banana Splits Adventure Hour and The Archie Show debuted on Saturday morning on the American broadcast networks. The Banana Splits Adventure Hour was essentially a variety show featuring cartoons and musical segment with the show's hosts, the musical group The Banana Splits. The Archie Show was a cartoon based on the popular Archie Comics characters and included a musical segment in addition to two eight minute stories. The two of them ranked among the top rated cartoons of the 1968-1969 seasons. In doing so, they kicked off a cycle of musical kid's shows on Saturday mornings that would last for five years.

In the 1969-1970 season three cartoons debuted that incorporated music into the shows. There would be even more kid's show utilizing music that debuted in the 1970-1971 season. The first to debut could well have been the most bizarre show to have ever aired on Saturday morning. Lancelot Link, Secret Chimp was a live action spy parody that starred real, live chimpanzees. The show centred on secret agent Lancelot Link and his partner Mata Hairi who were agents for A.P.E. (the Agency to Prevent Evil). A.P.E.'s opponents were C.H.U.M.P. (the Criminal Headquarters for Underworld Master Plan), Lancelot and Mata reported to Darwin. Their major opponent on the show was Baron Von Butcher of C.H.U.M.P. The show owed a lot to Get Smart, with Bernie Koppell, who had played Siegfried on Get Smart, providing the voice for Baron Von Butcher. Stan Burns and Mike Marmer, who had written for Get Smart, created the show.

In addition to the spy parodies featured on the show, Lancelot Link, Secret Chimp also featured musical segments with The Evolution Revolution, an all chimp band consisting of Lancelot and his fellow chimps. The songs were written by Steve Hoffman. who would later work on The Muppet Show. An album, Lancelot Link and The Evolution Revolution, was released on ABC/Dunhill. The single, "Sha-La Love You," was a song originally written for The Grass Roots. Neither the album nor the single charted.

Lancelot Link, Secret Chimp debuted on ABC on September 12 1970. It ran for two seasons.

Debuting in the same time slot on September 12 1970, but on CBS instead, was a show that was not entirely new. In 1968 The Archie Show proved enormously successful, so much so that in 1969 it was expanded into The Archie Comedy Hour. Among the segments featured on the show were ones starring Sabrina the Teenage Witch. Sabrina had first appeared in Archie's Madhouse no. 22 (October 1962). Contrary to popular belief, Sabrina did not live in Riverdale alongside Archie and his gang, but in the town of Greendale. For the 1970-1971 season Sabrina was spun-off into her own show, Sabrina and the Groovie Goolies. The Groovie Goolies of the title were not Archie Comics characters, but instead characters created by Filmation. They consisted of parodies of the classic Universal monsters, including Drac (based on Dracula), Frankie (based on Frankenstein's monster), and Wolfie (based on the Wolf Man).

Drac, Frankie, and Wolfie had their own band, The Monster Trio, and they performed in musical segments on the show. What set Sabrina and the Groovie Goolies apart from other musical cartoons is that it featured guest bands each week. Among these were The Bare Bones Band (three skeletons), The Mummies and the Puppies, The Rolling Headstones (three anthropomorphic headstones), and The Spirits of '76. As might be expected, an album, The Groovie Goolies, was released on RCA/Victor. Two singles, "First Annual Semi-Formal Combination Celebration Meet-the-Monster Population Party" and "Save Your Good Lovin' For Me," were released, but neither charted. That is not to say no hits emerged from Sabrina and the Groovie Goolies. "Chick-A-Boom (Don't Ya Jes' Love It)," a song performed by The Rolling Headstones on the show, was reworked by Dick Monda (one of the musicians on the show)  and released it as a single in 1971. It reached no. 9 on the Billboard Hot 100.

Sabrina and the Groovy Goolies ran for one season. With the 1971-1972 season Sabrina the Teenage Witch was separated from The Groovie Goolies. Sabrina the Teenage Witch remained on Saturday morning, while The Groovy Goolies moved to Sunday for one more season.

On NBC, competing against the last half hours of Lancelot, Secret Chimp and Sabrina and the Groovie Goolies, was the live-action show The Bugaloos. The Bugaloos was produced by Sid and Marty Krofft and centred on the band of the title. The Bugaloos were four teenagers who wore insect themed outfits. They consisted of I.Q. (John McIndoe), a guitarist, Harmony (Wayne Laryea), the keyboardist, Courage (John Philpott) the drummer, and Joy (Caroline Ellis) on tambourine. They lived in Tranquility Forest, where they were constantly under threat from the witch Benita Bizarre. Supremely untalented as singer, Benita envied The Bugaloos. She lived in a gigantic jukebox from which she would blare her singularly unpleasant music.

For The Bugaloos over 5000 people were auditioned in the spring of 1970. Among those who auditioned for the show was none other than Phil Collins. The show's music director was Hal Yoergler, who wrote many of the songs for The Bugaloos as well. The show's theme was written by Norman Gimbel and Charles Fox, who not only wrote the song "Killing Me Softly with His Song," but the theme songs for such shows as Happy Days and Laverne & Shirley. An album, The Bugaloos, was released on Capitol Records. The single, "For a Friend," actually saw some success. It bubbled under the Billboard Hot 100, peaking at no. 118.

The Bugaloos ran for two seasons on NBC, with the second consisting entirely of reruns.

Following Sabrina and the Groovie Goolies on CBS was another musical cartoon, Josie and the Pussycats. The success Filmation had with The Archie Show in 1968 led rival Hanna-Barbera to try its own musical cartoon. To this end they contacted Archie Comics for one of their titles that could be adapted for just such a cartoon. The character of Josie had appeared in her own title since 1963. The comic book Josie was essentially a teen humour book, not unlike the Archie comic books, following the adventures of Josie and her friends in the small town of Midvale. In anticipation of the cartoon, the comic book Josie was retitled Josie and the Pussycats with issue no. 45 (December 1969). It was in that issue that Josie formed a rock group with her friend Melody and a new girl in school, Valerie. Additional members of the comic book's cast were Alan, the band's roadie, Alexander, the band's manager, Alexandra,  Alexander's twin sister and Josie's rival, and Alexandra's cat Sebastian.

Like the comic book, the cartoon focused on Josie and the Pussycats as they performed around the country. It owed a little bit to Hanna-Barbera's own Scooby Doo, Where Are You!, with the band solving mysteries, although theirs were not supernatural in nature as those on Scooby Doo, Where Are You! were.

Music was central to Josie and the Pussycats. The recordings were produced by La La Productions, who auditioned young women who could sing and  resembled The Pussycats on the cartoon. Cathy Dougher (also known as Cathy Douglas) was the singing voice of Josie. The singing voice of Valerie was Patrice Holloway, who had recorded singles for Capitol Records in the mid-Sixties and co-wrote the Blood Sweat & Tears hit "You've Made Me So Very Happy." Today the singing voice of Melody is perhaps the best known. Her voice was Cherie Moor, who would become better known as Cheryl Ladd on Charlie's Angels. An album, Josie and the Pussycats, was released on Capitol Records.

Josie and the Pussycats ran for two seasons on CBS. It was then reconceived as Josie and the Pussycats in Outer Space in 1972.

Opposite Josie and the Pussycats on CBS was The Further Adventures of Doctor Doolittle on NBC. 20th Century Fox had earlier produced the animated series Journey to the Center of the Earth, Fantastic Voyage, and The Hardy Boys in conjunction with Filmation. The Further Adventures of Doctor Doolittle was produced in conjunction with DePatie-Freleng. The show was loosely based on Hugh Lofting's original books and the 1967 20th Century Fox movie Doctor Doolittle.

In some respects the musical Doctor Doolittle (1967) might seem like unlikely inspiration for a cartoon. After all, it had bombed so badly at the box office that it very nearly bankrupted 20th Century Fox. That having been said, The Further Adventures of Doctor Doolittle resembled the movie very little. Indeed, Doctor Doolittle did not break into song every five to ten minutes. That having been said, it was not entirely without a musical component or else it would not be included in this post. A rock group consisting of a group of grasshoppers, fittingly called The Grasshoppers, lived in Doctor Dolittle's medicine case. At some point during each episode they would perform a song.

An album, Doctor Doolittle Presents The Grasshoppers, was released in Carousel Records and distributed by Bell Records. The songs were written by Doug Goodwin, who regularly composed music for DePatie-Freleng's theatrical shorts and cartoons.

The Further Adventures of Doctor Doolittle proved to be a bit more successful than the movie upon which it was based, managing to last two seasons on NBC.

Following Josie and the Pussycats on CBS was one of the odder musical cartoons to air in the late Sixties or the Seventies. Harlem Globetrotters followed the adventures of the famous exhibition basketball team. Each episode generally consisted of the Globetrotters becoming involved in some dispute, which would be settled by a basketball game.

It might seem as if music would not play a role in such a show, but in fact it did. Songs were played during the basketball games. Don Kirshner was the show's musical supervisor and he also produced the album that accompanied the show, The Globetrotters. The Globetrotters, was released on Kirshner Records and distributed by RCA Records. A single, "Rainy Day Bells" (a cover of a Neil Sedaka tune) , was released but did not chart. That having been said, the Globetrotters' version of "Rainy Day Bells" would become popular as Carolina beach music.

Before departing the 1970-1971 season and going onto part four in this series, I should mention a change that was made to a cartoon that had debuted in 1969-1970 season. Namely, songs were added to the chase scenes of the new, second season episodes of Scooby-Doo, Where Are You!. Like the songs on Josie and the Pussycats, these songs were produced by LaLa Productions. They were written by Danny Janssen and Austin Roberts. Austin Roberts recorded the songs, as well as a new version of the theme song. If it seems odd that Scooby-Doo, Where Are You! incorporated music into its second season episodes, it must be considered that the cartoon was originally conceived as a musical cartoon. Originally titled Mysteries Five it would have followed the adventures of a rock group who also solve supernatural mysteries. While in development the music angle was dropped and Mysteries Five evolved into Scooby-Doo, Where Are You!.

The 1970-1971 season was the peak of the cycle towards musical kids shows on Saturday morning television. Never again would as many musical children's shows debut on the Saturday morning programming block. That having been said, the cycle was far from over and many more musical kid's shows would debut in the next few years.

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