Saturday, November 5, 2016

The Lost Saucer (1975-76)

The Lost Saucer
Stars: Jim Nabors, Ruth Buzzi
16 episodes

The brothers Krofft - Sid and Marty - turned out a lot of TV shows way back when, most of them geared toward kids and most of them decidedly far out, if I may resort to the parlance of the day. Their better known shows included Banana Splits (1968-70), H.R. Pufnstuf (1969-70) and Land of the Lost (1974-77). But the sibling team also came up with lesser known fare such as The Bugaloos (1970-71), Far Out Space Nuts (1975-76) and Pryor's Place (1984). The last of these being a kid's show starring none other than Richard Pryor (yes, really). Also on the list of lesser known Krofft shows, The Lost Saucer.

The big name here was Jim Nabors, who, of course, was best known as the title character in Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C (1964-69). Also on hand was Ruth Buzzi, who made a name for herself on Rowan and Martin's Laugh-in (1968-73) and was a television mainstay for decades after that.

Here, Nabors and Buzzi portray a pair of androids - Fum and Fi - from the year 2369. They come to present day Earth to have a look see around the place. And make no mistake about it, they are androids, not robots. In the episode I watched one of the other characters made this mistake and was set straight, in due course. In any event, their essential androidness is conveyed quite convincingly by having them dressed in uniforms made of exhaust hoses from a clothes dryer that have been spritzed up with metallic paint.

Unfortunately, Fum and Fi have invited young Jerry and his babysitter, Alice, on to their ship to look around. Then when a crowd gathers, they get nervous and abruptly take off. Thrilling adventures follow as the group flits through time and space, trying to get the two passengers back home. Also, on hand - and here's some more of that Krofft weirdness - a floppy sort of creature named Dorse, who is a cross between a dog and a horse (Dorse...get it?).

The episode I watched - "894X2RY713, I Love You" - happened to be the very first of the bunch. Given that it was a Seventies kid's TV show that went into the tank in less than a season I wasn't expecting much - and that's about what I got. Nabors and Buzzi are capable enough but they aren't given much to work with and the set and costuming budget was presumably in the neighborhood of a couple hundred bucks.

The show often bought into the notion that kid's entertainment can't simply be entertainment and so many of the episodes strive to examine some issue and/or impart a message. In the series opener, which I managed to screen about half of, the gang turn up on an alien planet - or was it Earth in the future - I lost track. They are shocked to find that the inhabitants there wear some kind of bodysuit that covers their entire body and face and is stenciled with an ID number. Just as the body suited ones are shocked to encounter beings who recklessly display their faces and who aren't numbered.

My intention in writing about these obscure TV shows is to watch at least one episode of the series in question. I'd like to say that I always achieve this objective and I'd like to relate how "894X2RY713, I Love You" turns out but my resolve to forge on through it eventually wavered. If I had been a kid back in this era I might have found it more entertaining but that was then and this is now and I'm moving on.

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