Saturday, March 15, 2008

Saturday Morning Fever: Wonderbug

Remember the days of getting up at 7 or 8 on a Saturday morning, enjoying a bowl or two of some sugar-coated cereal that was sure to have your dentist seeing dollar signs regularly, and staying in your PJs until almost noon to watch your favorite kiddie programs? In this brand new periodic feature (Saturday Morning Fever), we are going to join Sherman and Mr. Peabody in the Wayback Machine for some kid-vid from back in the day.

First up is a show that could be described as a cross between "The Mod Squad" and "The Love Bug"... the 1976-1978 live action comedy/fantasy "Wonderbug". Airing as one of the installments of "The Krofft Supershow", "Wonderbug" told the story of three teenagers-Barry (David Levy), Susan (Carol Anne Seflinger), and C.C. (John Anthony Bailey) who were shopping around for some wheels at the local junkyard when they stumbled upon a beat up dune buggy aptly named Schlepcar. They soon discovered that when they squeezed the horn on Schlepcar, it was magically transformed into Wonderbug! A forerunner to KITT on "Knight Rider", Wonderbug's talents/features included being able to think, fly, and talk (although it's voice didn't sound like a grumpy doctor from St. Eligius hospital). Together with Barry, Susan, and C.C., Wonderbug saw to it that the truth and justice triumphed over the forces of evil.

One of the things that sticks out to me about "Wonderbug" was it's running joke where Susan (the brains of the trio) would come up with an idea to save them from impending doom. Barry would then say he had a better plan and go on to repeat almost word for word what Susan had just said; after which C.C. would give Barry all the credit. I'll bet this drove the girls who watched this show crazy.

Of the three stars, John Anthony Bailey was the most visible before and after "Wonderbug". He guest starred as Florida's nephew Cleatus in a memorable episode of "Good Times" in 1975. He later appeared as Fonzie's pal "Stix" Downey in two episodes of "Happy Days" during the 1975-1976 season. Beginning in the mid 1980s, Bailey starred in several porn movies. Using the name Jack Baker, he appeared in such epics as "Sex 5th Avenue", "The Color Black", "Great Balls On Fire", and "Boomerwang". According to imdb.com, he died of cancer on my birthday (November 13) in 1994 at the age of 47.

During my freshman year of college, me and a bunch of guys were in somebody's dorm room watching the cinematic classic "Let Me Tell Ya 'Bout White Chicks". I was stunned when I recognized one of the actors as Stix from "Happy Days" and C.C. from "Wonderbug"! I wasn't mad at him though... after all, he had to eat just like the rest of us.

Below is the opening to "Wonderbug":

3 comments:

Pop Art Diva! said...

Ah, Sid and Marty Kroft - these two were the geniuses of kids programming - Remember H.R. Puffinstuff?

BTW - I got your radio station on waiting for your show!! At least I think I did it right - had to download winamp and then drag the file off the radio station into the winamp icon!

BookMama said...

I remember that show! Thanks for the reminder. I love all these trips down memory lane.

Malcolm said...

Pop Art Diva: I definitely remember H.R. Pufnstuf. That was probably my introduction to Sid and Marty Krofft. Btw, I am glad that you were able to catch part of my show last week. Sorry that you missed the Elvis double shot though.

Book Mama: I knew I wasn't the only one who remembered "Wonderbug", lol. I am glad that this post brought back some memories for you.

 
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