One of the best bonuses to come out of the original streaming explosion is the launch of tons of new content for kids and family, and that includes a few throwback titles, like Amazon‘s Sigmund and the Sea Monsters.
The original show first aired when I was about two, and was part of a larger Sid & Marty Krofft world that became an integral part of ’70s culture. While there is much to be said for both incarnations of the wacky, family adventure, the best recommendation you can probably give for either is that the spirit of the Krofft effort is fueled by such a childlike imagination that you’re going to end up with something fun. For good or ill, the new effort feels like transporting yourself back in time, not just because the production isn’t exactly updated, but also because the mindset behind the creation isn’t different. Hopefully, most people will see that as a good thing.
In this version of the show, two brothers, Johnny (Solomon Stewart) and Scotty (Kyle Breitkopf), live in a tourist-centered beach town that hypes the legend of sea monsters in order to draw crowds. They soon find a real sea monster, Sigmund, and they not only have to keep him a secret generally, but they have to stay one step ahead of Captain Barnabas (David Arquette), who is desperate to prove that there really are sea monsters. Their cousin Robyn (Rebecca Bloom) helps them keep their secret, and that’s naturally complicated by Sigmund’s lack of experience with the world of humans, as witnessed by such predicaments as calling “dibs” on random things.
The show is wonderfully comical and makes an effort to mix all the best features of the original show with some updates in the approach. It looks a little odd, and it’s certainly narrow in its range of ages, but with the success of other shows (like Annedroids – which is brilliant), it’s no wonder that this turns out to be a great time to wonder if we need advanced special effects to win over younger audiences.
The kids are wonderful, the antics sufficiently screwy, and the adventures give rise to opportunities for the audience to figure out how to get around whatever the difficulty of the day might be. The plots are something along the lines of equal parts Three’s Company staples and (pre-acknowledgment) Snuffaluffagus scenarios, and (much like the original) the charisma of the kids pulls everyone along far more than anything else.
It’s as hard to explain the appeal to the zaniness inherent in anything connected to Sid & Marty Krofft as it ever was, but there is a kind of joyous magic that makes its way to the screen, not because the sea monster costume can fool young enough kids, but precisely because it can’t. It’s that springboard and appeal to imagination, mixed with dialog and scene construction that makes you think a group of kids are in the writing room, that makes a show an instant favorite.