The Bugaloos in Tranquility Forest.
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of episodes||17|
|Producer(s)||Sid and Marty Krofft|
|Running time||0:22 (per episode)|
|Distributor||CBS Television Distribution|
|Original release||September 12, 1970 – September 2, 1972|
The Bugaloos is an American children's television series, produced by brothers Sidney Krofft and Martin Krofft, that aired on NBC on Saturday mornings from 1970 to 1972. The show features a musical group composed of four British-accented teenagers, who live in fictional Tranquility Forest. They wear insect-themed outfits with antennae and wings which allow them to fly, though on occasion, they are shown flying on surfboards. They are constantly beset by the evil machinations of Benita Bizarre, played by comedian Martha Raye. Bizarre, being untalented and ugly herself, is covetous of the Bugaloos' musical prowess.
Production and airing
Touted as the British version of The Monkees, The Bugaloos attracted more than 5,000 young actors and actresses to audition for the show's four lead roles, each having to demonstrate aptitude in dance, singing, and acting. Among those auditioning in spring 1970 were Elton John's future manager John Reid, and Phil Collins, who joined the art-rock band Genesis later that year.
Reid and Collins had been two of the three finalists for the role of "I.Q." given to Scottish musician John McIndoe. "If one of those guys had gotten it instead of me, rock-'n'-roll history might have changed," McIndoe later joked. "Whenever I see them, I say, 'Hey guys, you were lucky you didn't get the part.'"
The show was taped in Los Angeles, California. Seventeen episodes of the series were produced. Like its predecessor H.R. Pufnstuf (1969), The Bugaloos ran for only one season (1970–1971), with reruns airing the following year (1971–1972). Following production of the first, and only, season, the Kroffts tried shooting for a second season, and also had a movie deal in the works with Columbia Pictures. However, miscommunication between the Kroffts and the actors resulted in them returning to England that December against the Kroffts' wishes. As a result, a potential second season was ultimately scrapped, along with plans for a movie which was shelved due to the bankruptcy of Columbia Pictures.
Like most children's television shows of the era, The Bugaloos contained a laugh track. Cast members John Philpott and Caroline Ellis discussed its usage while viewing an episode of the show for DVD commentary.
Actor / Character Name / Role In the Band
- Wayne Laryea / Harmony (a bumblebee) / keyboards
- John Philpott / Courage (a ladybug) / drums
- Caroline Ellis / Joy (a butterfly) / percussion, lead and backup vocals
- John McIndoe / I.Q. (a grasshopper) / guitars and lead vocals
Supporting characters were:
- Sparky (portrayed by Billy Barty, in the first of many roles he would play from the Krofft Brothers), a firefly whom The Bugaloos took in - voiced by Walker Edmiston a la Frank Fontaine
- Nutty Bird, local messenger who periodically delivers messages to and from the Bugaloos
- Peter Platter, a DJ for radio station KOOK in nearby Rock City
- Mike, Peter Platters's smart-alecky talking microphone
- Magico The Magician, magician & hypnotist extraordinaire
- Gina Lolawattage, firefly singer & actress who becomes smitten with her #1 fan, Sparky
- Bluebell Flower, a giant talking flower who alerts the Bugaloos of impending danger, such as Benita's latest schemes, serving as their "alarm bell."
- The Grapevine, a bunch of talking grapes who aid Bluebell in giving the Bugaloos the latest bad news — a visual take on the hit Motown song "I Heard it Through the Grapevine."
Though peace-loving and hippie-like, The Bugaloos are pursued by an ugly, evil, jealous old crone named Benita Bizarre (Martha Raye) who lives in a gigantic jukebox, and uses it to broadcast her own brand of blaring, obnoxious, unpleasant "music." A dreadful singer, she is furious at the popularity of The Bugaloos's more melodic, upbeat sound, and she plots elaborate, unsuccessful schemes to destroy or enslave them.
Benita is aided by two bumbling henchmen, the anthropomorphic speakers Woofer and Tweeter (Joy Campbell and Van Snowden), and her chauffeur and chief flunky, the German-accented Funky Rat (Sharon Baird). She frequently makes use of a powerful ultrasonic weapon called the Stereo Zapper, which can render its victim unconscious in seconds.
Raye also appeared the same year in the HR Pufnstuf movie as Boss Witch. The Funky Rat costume was also used for essentially the same role (Boss Witch's Chauffeur).
The show's music director was Hal Yoergler, who also wrote many of the show's songs and produced the Bugaloos album released in 1970. The title song's lyrics were written by Norman Gimbel, and its music was composed by Charles Fox. Gimbel and Fox were also the songwriters of "Killing Me Softly with His Song" and the theme songs to films and programs such as Last American Hero ("I Got A Name," sung by Jim Croce), Happy Days, Laverne and Shirley, and The New Adventures of Wonder Woman. A cover of the Bugaloos theme performed by Collective Soul is included on the 1995 tribute album Saturday Morning: Cartoons' Greatest Hits, produced by Ralph Sall for MCA Records.
The Bugaloos released an album in 1970 (Capitol Records ST-621), featuring studio-recorded versions of some of the songs performed on the show. The track list is as follows:
- "If You Become a Bugaloo"
- "The Senses of Our World"
- "For a Friend"
- "It's New to You"
- "Fly Away With Us"
- "Older Woman"
- "Just the Memory Stays Around"
- "Gna Gna Gna Gna Gna"
- "Castles in the Air"
- "The Bugaloos (Theme Song)"
One single was released in conjunction with the album: "For a Friend"/"The Senses of Our World" (Capitol 2946). "For a Friend" charted as a minor hit. Billboard Bubbling Under week of December 18, 1970 #118 for one week.
The track "Just the Memory Stays Around" did not appear in any episode, and is available only on the LP. The LP was re-released on CD in January 2000 by Vivid Sound in Japan and in 2006 by Cherry Red Records of London.
The Bugaloos recorded 15 songs. In addition to the 11 that appear on the released album, four additional songs appeared on the television show, but remain unreleased:
- "I'm As Happy As Can Be"
- "I Really Love You"
- "Flicker Town"
The music of the Bugaloos suffered the same typecasting fate which met the music of The Partridge Family, despite excellent production values in both cases. "Just the Memory Stays Around", "The Senses of Our World" and "Castles in the Air" (not to be confused with other songs of the same title) deserve particular note. Their lyrics were far above typical children's television fare:
"Let your heart see the colors all around you, and the darkness that you fear will disappear... (from "The Senses of Our World")"
"Even when you're down on the ground, let a part of your heart reach for castles in the air... (from "Castles in the Air")"
|1||"Firefly, Light My Fire"||Sparky the firefly is hit by a car carrying aspiring but untalented singer Benita Bizarre. The Bugaloos find him and take him in as one of their own, only to rescue them when Benita forces them to be her backup band.||September 12, 1970|
|2||"The Great Voice Robbery"||Benita swaps her voice with Joy's.||September 19, 1970|
|3||"Our Home Is Our Hassle"||Benita takes a liking to the Bugaloos' home in Tranqulity Forest, and proceeds to move in.||September 26, 1970|
|4||"Courage, Come Home"||When Courage loses his memory, Benita convinces him that he is her nephew, Melvin.||October 3, 1970|
|5||"The Love Bugaloos"||Sparky falls in love with female firefly Gina Lolawattage.||October 10, 1970|
|6||"If I Had The Wings Of A Bugaloo"||Benita plots to steal I.Q.'s wings for herself.||October 17, 1970|
|7||"Lady, You Don't Look Eighty"||Benita schemes to know the secret of Joy's youthful appearance after a misunderstanding causes Benita to believe that Joy is actually 80 years old.||October 24, 1970|
|8||"Benita The Beautiful"||Benita devises a fiendish plot to win Peter Platter's beauty contest.||October 31, 1970|
|9||"Now You See 'Em, Now You Don't"||The Bugaloos turn themselves invisible after Benita adopts Sparky in a plan to take credit for his new song.||November 7, 1970|
|10||"Help Wanted - Firefly"||The Bugaloos come to Sparky's aid after he takes the fall for Benita's act of radio-station sabotage.||November 14, 1970|
|11||"On A Clear Day"||Benita pumps smog into Tranquility Forest in an effort to drive the audience away from a Bugaloos concert and over to her own.||November 21, 1970|
|12||"Today, I'm A Firefly"||Sparky finally learns to fly, and he quickly puts his skills to good use, rescuing the Bugaloos after they are shrunk and trapped inside a music box.||November 28, 1970|
|13||"The Bugaloos Bugaboo"||Disguised as an agent, Benita tricks Sparky into writing a song for her to perform at Peter Platter's "Battle of the Bands" concert.||December 5, 1970|
|14||"Benita's Double Trouble"||Benita kidnaps Peter Platter and takes over as DJ. But I.Q. disguises himself as Benita in an effort to foil her scheme.||December 12, 1970|
|15||"Circus Time At Benita's"||Benita interferes with the Bugaloos' plan to hold a circus by kidnapping Magico the Magnificent.||December 19, 1970|
|16||"The Uptown 500"||Used-car dealer Way Out Wheeler stages an auto race, pitting the Bugaloos against Benita. The stakes are raised, however, when she kidnaps Sparky and threatens to harm him if the Bugaloos win.||December 26, 1970|
|17||"The Good Old Days"||Benita buys Tranquility Forest and evicts the Bugaloos. But Joy, disguised as a fortune teller, tries to show Benita the error of her ways through a series of clips from previous episodes.||January 2, 1971|
The complete Bugaloos series was released on DVD in May 2006 by Rhino Entertainment. The set contained all seventeen episodes, with audio commentary on the pilot episode from creator Sid Krofft and director Tony Charmoli. Cast members John Philpott, Caroline Ellis, and John McIndoe also provided audio commentary on some episodes and participated in interviews. Also included were a video jukebox with a selection of songs from the episodes, a photo gallery, and a Bugaloos Interactive I. Q. Test, hosted by John "I. Q." McIndoe.
At Comic Con 2015, Sid and Marty Krofft revealed they were looking into creating a reboot of the television series. They also hinted Cyndi Lauper would play Benita Bizarre.
In Popular Culture
The Bugaloos are the binding childhood memory that the two main protagonists in the film The Tao of Steve discover as they begin to bond, as Syd (Greer Goodman) and Dex (Donal Logue) find out that they both had Bugaloos stickers on their respective childhood Josie and the Pussycats lunchboxes.
The Bugaloos was mentioned in an episode of Jeopardy as a question on the show in 2002
- CD liner notes: Saturday Mornings: Cartoons’ Greatest Hits, 1995 MCA Records
- Dave Itzkoff. "A Band With the Life Span of an Ant." The New York Times, July 30, 2006, page 28, column 1.
- Phil Collins listing on imdb.com  (Accessed October 17, 2007)
- Mike Hughes. "Phil Collins on 'Live By Request.'" The Seattle Times, October 1, 1998, page E4.
- http://www.bigempire.com/gooden/taoofsteve.html Bugaloos
- http://old.post-gazette.com/movies/20000908tao.asp Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Review, The Tao of Steve - Cool rules: 'Tao of Steve' teaches a state of mind