The Kids From C.A.P.E.R.

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The Kids from C.A.P.E.R.
Kids from CAPER promo still 1.jpg
Main cast from "The Kids from C.A.P.E.R."
Genre Saturday morning children's show
Created by Romeo Muller
Developed by Merrill Grant
Directed by Stanley Z. Cherry
Starring Steve Bonino, Cosie Costa, Biff Warren, John Lansing, Robert Emhardt, Robert Lussier
Country of origin United States
Original language(s) English
No. of seasons 1
No. of episodes 13 (list of episodes)
Production
Executive producer(s) Alan Landsburg, Don Kirshner
Producer(s) Stanley Z. Cherry
Release
Original network NBC
Original release September 11, 1976 – September 3, 1977
Chronology
Related shows The Monkees
External links
[www.kidsfromcaper.com Website]

The Kids From C.A.P.E.R. was a Saturday morning live-action television comedy series which aired on NBC from September 11, 1976, to November 20, 1976, and reran from April 9, 1977, to September 3, 1977. The show's title is clearly derived from the 60s spy-fi show The Man From U.N.C.L.E., and parodied different pop culture shows of the day, including The Monkees, Six Million Dollar Man, Shazam!, Scooby-Doo Where Are You! and their numerous imitators up to that point. All 13 episodes of the series were produced and directed by Stanley Z. Cherry; among the executive producers was Don Kirshner. Both Cherry and Kirshner had previously worked on The Monkees, Cherry having written the episode "Some Like It Lukewarm" in 1968, while Kirshner was the original musical supervisor for The Monkees until early 1967.

Although the show has not been released on video, there is an LP of most of the songs from the series, omitting "Baby Blue", "You're Under My Spell" and, ironically, the show's theme. The LP was released by Kirshner Records and Tapes in 1977. One of the songs from the series, "When It Hit Me (The Hurricane Song)" was released as a single; the song was also recorded by Rob Hegel (who co-wrote the song) for his 1980 RCA album. Two other album tracks, "Tit for Tat" and "Baby Blue", had both been co-written and previously released by Neil Sedaka on his 1975 album Hungry Years.

Overview[edit]

The "Kids from C.A.P.E.R." were a team of four teenage boys headquartered in the 927th Police Precinct in the fictitious city of "Northeast Southweston"; together they helped the police to solve unusual cases while they learned the ropes of law enforcement[citation needed] and forensics. The CAPERs communicated using "Caperband" Radios (walkie-talkies with a prominent "C" on them), and prospective clients contacted them via the Turquoise Telephone. Their headquarters was located in the Krelvin Building ("the tallest building in the world with no elevators").

The boys all wore brown belts with buckles emblazoned with a big letter "C" (Doc's buckle was presumably hidden underneath his vest). The group often traveled around Northeast Southweston in the "Big Bologna", a one-time hot dog vendor wagon converted into a mobile crime lab, though the giant hot dog display remains on the roof.

Every episode began with a silent comedy vignette, with a cast member in voiceover giving the "Secret Word", which was usually key to that episode's plot. At the end of each episode, another silent vignette would appear in which a "Caper Code" would be given in voice over; a series of letters and numbers such as "P3 E8 R19 C2" (TIME). This was presumably code for the next week's secret word.

Each episode would open with P.T. narrating what was about to happen. The team would then be visited by a girl who needed their help with a problem; in most episodes the girl would become attracted to a different member of the CAPERs. Each episode also featured a song which was performed by one of the CAPERs in a short and a long form at different points in the episode, though emphasis was never placed on the music itself. To wit, unlike the Monkees, the CAPERs did not consider themselves musicians and were never seen playing musical instruments.

A recurring gag during the series was the group's explanation of what the acronym C.A.P.E.R. stood for; when asked, the boys would all quickly stand at attention and reply in unison, "The Civilian Authority for the Protection of Everybody, Regardless!" followed by a four-part harmonization of "Ta-da", reminiscent of The Three Stooges' harmonized "Hello".

Characters[edit]

  • P.T. (played by Steve Bonino): "Cool and clever" (according to the theme's lyrics), P.T. was the founder and leader of the team and its youngest member. He often broke the fourth wall to provide narration, and showed a variety of skills and talents which varied by episode, most notably a superhuman sense of smell (he called his nose "Seymour"). He wore a safari-inspired outfit and rode a moped when not in the Big Bologna.
  • Bugs (Cosie Costa): Bugs was the "tough and feisty" one of the group (and also the shortest); he possessed superhuman strength and speed which he could summon only by looking at his hands, which made it easy to render him helpless if his hands were tied behind his back. A recurring gag is that whenever someone said the word "bananas", Bugs briefly devolved into an insane rage; the reason for this was never explained. When he snapped out of it (usually accompanied by a dinging bell), he would ask "What's Happening?", to which the others would invariably reply "Not Much!". Outside of the Big Bologna, Bugs jogged wherever he went; he wore an oriental-inspired outfit and a white sailor cap with a black "C" on the front.
  • Doomsday (Biff Warren): Despite being "all full of sunshine" to everyone around him, Doomsday believed he was bad luck to others, hence his nickname and dismal wardrobe (black hooded sweatshirt and pants). His childlike demeanor made him more susceptible to trickery, but what he lacked in brains he more than made up for in heart and determination. His personal mode of transportation was his skateboard, he had the gift of communicating with animals, and was always eating or at least thinking about food; his favorite dishes included hot fudge omelets, tuna fish burritos and pizzas with unusual toppings (the other CAPERs shared his quirky culinary preferences).
  • Doc (John Lansing): Doc had "the looks and the brains to catch the crooks". He was the oldest, tallest and most serious of the CAPERs, but occasionally showed a sense of humor that caught the others off guard. Though reserved and seemingly unaware of his charm and good looks, many girls found Doc irresistible. His outfit, a three-piece leisure suit and white shirt (with blue sneakers), suggested he came from a well-to-do family; to this end, rather than drive his own car, he rode in a chauffeur-driven limousine when not riding in the Big Bologna.

Supporting Characters[edit]

  • Sergeant Vinton (Robert Emhardt), a veteran policeman at the 927th, Vinton helped P.T. to create the CAPERs and is the team's mentor and adviser. Though he supported the CAPERs' efforts, he never balked at telling them when he thought they were in over their heads.
  • Kurt Klinsinger (Robert Lussier), a TV reporter who persistently pursued the boys in hopes of getting an exclusive. Klinsinger fancied himself an intrepid journalist, but was often more of a hindrance than a help to the CAPERs, and was usually the first one to scream for his "mommy" at the slightest sign of danger. Klinsinger was usually seen wearing goggles pushed up onto his forehead.
  • Mr. Featherstone, a shark puppet who lived a fishtank in their headquarters and also had a tank inside the Big Bologna. Mr. Featherstone only spoke in unintelligible gibberish which only the CAPERs could understand, but also possessed a navigational sense when riding in the Big Bologna.

Production Information[edit]

At the start of the 1976-77 television season, The Kids from C.A.P.E.R. was part of a three-hour block of six live action shows that aired Saturday Morning on NBC, alongside Land of the Lost, which was entering its third season, and four other new shows: Monster Squad; McDuff, the Talking Dog; Big John, Little John; and Muggsy. NBC shook up this lineup in late November, cancelling McDuff and putting The Kids from C.A.P.E.R. on hiatus. The Kids from C.A.P.E.R. returned on April 9, 1977, and replaced the cancelled Muggsy in the lineup. Neither C.A.P.E.R. nor any of the other three remaining shows returned to the NBC lineup for the beginning of the 1977-78 television season.

The pilot episode was refactored into a flashback episode in the full series: "Mummy's the Word", presumably to account for the changes in costume and set decoration. These changes are alluded to by lines of dialogue in the newer wrapper material episode, such as "Don't you remember the good old days, when the Big Bologna was blue?" and "Boy, you guys sure dressed funny in those days." The latter is said by Doomsday, the only character to retain his costume from the pilot.

The title sequence was reworked for the 1977 run to incorporate visuals from actual episodes; these were not present for the first run in 1976. The result is that the later titles are paced more in keeping with the theme music and contain more visual interest.

Episodes[edit]

No. Title Original air date
1"Too Much Time on Their Hands"September 11, 1976 (1976-09-11)
A girl scientist asks the CAPERs to stop a malfunctioning time machine before the bad guys catch up with them in the past.
2"Kids from H.Y.D.E."September 18, 1976 (1976-09-18)
A mad professor enlists his daughter into giving the CAPERs a box of fudge which, unknown to them, is injected with a formula that turns them into tap dancing monsters who do very naughty things.
3"Ghost from C.A.P.E.R."September 25, 1976 (1976-09-25)
A ghost haunting the police station turns out to be a magician called The Great Linguini, who enlists the CAPERs to help him find his lost love. But trouble arises when they return with three different women.
4"The Uncanny Nanny"October 2, 1976 (1976-10-02)
A girl asks the CAPERs to help her with an obnoxious boy who disappears after being handed over to the beloved Nanny Noony, who may herself be on the verge of a nervous breakdown.
5"Invasion of the Frankfurter Snatchers"October 9, 1976 (1976-10-09)
Dr. Franklin Stein and his daughter try to convince everyone that the town is being invaded by giant frankfurter aliens who hide in hot dogs and take over people’s minds. Their warnings are ignored until everyone (except P.T.) has been turned into hot dog zombies.
6"The Pieman's Pool"October 16, 1976 (1976-10-16)
The daughter of a famous pastry chef asks the CAPERs to investigate her father's latest delicacies; they explode, causing earthquakes!
7"King Cone"October 23, 1976 (1976-10-23)
While the CAPERs investigate a rash of ice cream thefts, they are asked to find a circus acrobat who was supposed to arrive at the same time as the circus' new gorilla King Cone (who just happens to love ice cream). Could the two cases possibly be related?
8"The Post Monster General"October 30, 1976 (1976-10-30)
When Bugs accidentally uses a collection of rare stamps to mail out invitations to the policeman’s ball, the CAPERs must recover them before the Post Monster General gets a hold of them.
9"The Terrible Tollman"November 6, 1976 (1976-11-06)
The Terrible Tollman hypnotizes nearly everyone into thinking the Roger P. Folkelman, Jr. Memorial Bridge is gone, and Doomsday (one of the few not hypnotized) is the only one who can stop the Tollman.
10"Dunga Gin"November 13, 1976 (1976-11-13)
The city's water supply is stolen just as two con men start selling GLOB Cola. The CAPERs suspect a connection between the two incidents, but get in peril while trying to find water.
11"Phantom of the Drive-In"November 20, 1976 (1976-11-20)
When a phantom begins scaring patrons away from Durkin Farbe’s Starlight Emporium Drive-In, the CAPERs are called to go undercover as drive-in employees, but they themselves end up getting captured by the Phantom.
12"Mummy's the Word"May 21, 1977 (1977-05-21)
The CAPERs reminisce about a past case, when they helped Selma Lee save her Egyptian mummy from two ruthless thieves out to steal the sarcophagus and its priceless jewels.
13"The Goodfather"November 13, 1977 (1977-11-13)
Everyone is confused when the city is hit by an "un-crime" wave; someone is feeding parking meters and committing a rash of "hold-downs" (rather than holdups) forcing money and jewels on unsuspecting victims.

[NOTE: Episodes #12 and #13 were the first to be filmed, as most of the main characters (except Doomsday) wore slightly different costumes; Doc wore just a T-shirt and blue jeans. Also, in these episodes, the Big Bologna was blue instead of the more common yellow in later episodes.]

External links[edit]