Filmation’s Groovie Goolies was created by the team behind The Archie Show to take advantage of CBS’ success of Scooby-Doo. It first appeared in 1970 as Sabrina and the Groovie Goolies before becoming its own series in 1975 and then moving into syndication in 1978. It was a classic Saturday morning children’s show that had everything a kid could want. Classic horror monsters were the stars, and given cute nicknames like Drac, Frankie, and Wolfie. They lost their power to frighten by appearing in lavish color and in silly skits filled with slapstick and bad puns.
The humor and pacing of Laugh-In was a big influence, so it’s no surprise that one of the main writers, Jack Mendelsohn, worked on both shows. Goolies opened with a gag where Drac is in bat form trying to fly into the castle. After an unsuccessful attempt, he said, “This place is driving me batty.” At some point, Frankie would get shocked and deliver his catchphrase, “I needed that.” They even incorporated Laugh-In‘s joke wall into a recurring sketch called “Weird Window Time.”
Each episode had two musical numbers of bubblegum pop. One performed by the big three and the other by bands with names such as The Rolling Headstones and The Mummies and The Puppies. Similar to The Archies’ “Sugar, Sugar,” a Top 10 hit was spawned in 1971, “Chick-A-Boom!” by Daddy Dewdrop, a pseudonym for the Dick Monda, the show’s music executive.
I have a very vivid memory of the show’s visuals from when I was a child, but a lot went unnoticed by my young, entertained mind. I was surprised to learn they only created 16 episodes. They ran 12 episodes the first season and then added four more. Because it was so expensive to create the shows, they just reran the series repeatedly. Some segments of animation were used frequently, especially during the music numbers. I had no idea that Larry Storch and Howie Morris were the two main voices. Storch did Drac, Fatso, and I think Hagatha the Witch, while Morris did Wolfie as a hippie, Frankie sounding like Boris Karloff, and The Mummy sounding like Ed Wynn.
Disc 3 contains extras for fans that want to learn more about the show and its origins. Two episodes have commentary tracks with the creators, producer Lou Scheimer and writer Mendelsohn. When placed into a DVD-ROM, all 16 scripts can be accessed as well as the Series Bible. There is a sing-a-long, an explanation of how Filmation Studios formed, and an image gallery containing early character sketches and PSA scripts about not doing drugs. They are too goofy to be effective:
Frank: Drac, why do they call marijuana, “grass”?
Drac: Because it’s best to keep off it!
There’s a 45-minute “Docu-Comedy,” which is a misleading designation because the comedy is groan-inducing. That, along with the production values, made the feature appear to be something from cable access. It’s twelve minutes before anything interesting happens, but it is saved by interviews with Scheimer, Mendelsohn, and Fred Silverman, who was head of Daytime Programming for CBS at the time. Other people with connections to horror are involved, such as Forrest J. Ackermann, Alice Cooper, and Ron Chaney, grandson of Lon Chaney Jr., but they were just fans of the show and don’t have much to add.
Groovie Goolies: The Saturday Mourning Collection is a fun collection of goofy antics for kids of all ages.