Sigmund and the Seamonsters is yet another of the live action Saturday morning television shows produced by the puppeteering team of Sid and Marty Krofft. It ran on NBC for two seasons, running from September 1973 to October 1975.
The inspiration behind Sigmund and the Seamonsters is almost as surreal as the show itself. On a day at the beach in La Jolla, California, Sid Krofft saw some seaweed floating up from a cave. Sid thought the seaweed appeared to be alive. Later, Sid would indeed bring that seaweed to life as Sigmund, the loveable sea monster. Sigmund, you see, largely looked like a walking ball of seaweed with tentacles, or at least a child-sized walking puppet version of a walking ball of seaweed with tentacles.
As the storyline of the television series goes, Sigmund was a lovable and affectionate sea monster, which, of course, is very unbecoming of a sea monster. Sigmund's uncles, upset at Sigmund's friendly demeanor, insisted that Sigmund leave their cave and not return until he had scared some humans, as any good sea monster should do. Sigmund then took to wandering the beaches alone, until one day Sigmund was found by two brothers, Johnny and Scott Stuart, while they were out surfing. They took him back home to live in their clubhouse and became fast friends.
Sigmund and the Seamonsters focused on the (mis)adventures of Johnny, Scott, and Sigmund as they tried to avoid Sigmund’s evil sea monster family, the Oozes. Big Daddy and Sweet Mama Ooze headed the family, functioning as the primary villains on the show. Big Daddy's brothers Burp and Slurp Ooze (Sigmund's uncles) were Big Daddy and Sweet Mama's henchmen, repeatedly attempting to kidnap Sigmund and take him back to their cave before he could further embarrass the family. Johnny and Scott also worked hard to keep Sigmund out of sight from Zelda, their housekeeper and guardian. Nosy neighbor Miss Eddels and Zelda’s boyfriend Sheriff Chuck Bevins rounded out the first season's cast.
In the second season, Sigmund found a magical seashell that summoned Sheldon, a bumbling genie who couldn't seem to get his spells to work properly. Sheldon was somewhat popular among the audience, so soon Sheldon’s nephew Shelby joined the show sometime in the second season. Also, in the second season, Zelda and her boyfriend left to be married, so she was replaced by a new housekeeper, USMC drill sergeant Gertrude. Inexplicably, Zelda's boyfriend Sheriff Chuck still popped up from time to time throughout the second season.
Billy Barty, who had a role in nearly every Krofft series produced, played Sigmund in costume and provided the character's voice. The show's stellar cast (for a Saturday morning ensemble puppet show) also included Margaret Hamilton, Mary Wickes, Scott Kolden, and Rip Taylor as Sheldon.
The real star of the show, though, was Johnny Whitaker, who played Johnny. Whitaker originally gained popularity in 1966 as Jody on CBS’ Family Affair. Whitaker was also well known for playing the title role in a Disney musical version of Tom Sawyer. Whitaker agreed to star on Sigmund and the Seamonsters under two conditions: that he be allowed to surf during the show, and that the show allowed him to sing. As a result, much of the show served as a showcase for Whitaker’s singing career, which spawned one full-length record, Friends, which featured the show's theme song and the surprisingly good title track.
For a couple of years, Sigmund and his gang of friends were a regular staple of Saturday morning television programming in the United States, and a particularly colorful example at that, as were all of the other Sid and Marty Krofft shows. Other shows similar to Sigmund created by the Krofft brothers include H.R. Pufnstuf, The Banana Splits Adventure Hour, The Bugaloos, and my personal favorite, Lidsville.