By Daniel Lodge
Sigmund and the Sea Monsters began in 1973 as a Saturday morning children’s television series produced by Sid and Marty Krofft. It was a live-action show that centered on two brothers who discover a friendly young monster named Sigmund and his brothers Slurp and Burp, brought to life by costumed actors. The Beat had the opportunity to sit down with Marty Krofft and David Arquette in a round table interview to discuss the 1970s cult classic revival, which launches on Amazon this fall.
Are kids different today from the ones you made the original Sigmund for?
Krofft : They’re a little bit more sophisticated because of all the electronics and all of the technology. So you have to be real careful because our thing, we never had the money to do that. So we always put it into the talent. So you’ve got to be careful. You’ve just got to get the shows on the air, because the audience is the final word. Sometimes the buyers, they don’t get it. But at Amazon they got it. They were happy to have us.
David, I understand your character is different from the original show. Your character wasn’t on the original show?
Arquette: This is a new character. I loved the villains in all the Krofft shows. So to be able to be in the same room or history books is quite a thrill. I play Captain Barnabas, who is this salty sea captain, and he believes that sea monsters are real, and he’s going to prove it. So I chased the sea monsters around… It’s a real fun cat and mouse game.
What are you most excited for kids to see?
Arquette: The creativity they bring to their productions is just so beyond anything that’s out there. It’s a really family-friendly show. Something you can watch with your kids and get a good laugh, and parents can enjoy it too.
Krofft: It’s hard to pinpoint what the audience really likes, because it’s always different. With our shows, there’s no middle ground. We either have radical fans, or nobody knows who we are… But I think that we are lucky that we must have the creativity to really win. Because we only did 20 pilots in our whole career. And we got 19 on the air. And 18 were hits. So that’s a pretty good batting average. But no one cares about that. It’s what we’re doing right now. If you want to keep doing this thing, you have to have thick skin.
What’s the most fun thing about playing a bad guy?
Arquette: I have this whole back story in my head that he read Moby Dick and it completely changed his life, so he’s got this kind of affectation of a salty sea captain. He almost sounds English at times because he’s so obsessed with this world.
Krofft: This creativity begins when you go to rehearsal and you have a table read. You don’t know what you have. So this is where you find the fine-tuning of these characters. We stick with likable, whether it’s a villain or not. If you don’t have a cast that’s likeable, the audience goes bye-bye. The kids are smarter than the adults.
What’s it like filming the show? Do you work off of each other?
Arquette: When we started shooting the series, I came back and I was doing some scene, and I got a note from Marty: “Less evil. Tell David to be less evil.” So that was actually a really great note because he’s hunting these sea monsters, but you don’t want to scare children.
Krofft: We shot at the beach, which is difficult, and we shot on the stage. But on the pilot we shot on location. Believe it or not, we have more people working than a lot of the sitcoms. It takes 100 people to do the show.