This week’s package show look is at the 1970s Saturday morning series (and its package show spinoffs) “The Groovie Goolies.”
Produced by Filmation, this series debuted in 1970 on CBS as “Sabrina and the Groovie Goolies,” and aired for a season of 16 episodes. The hour-long show featured “Sabrina the Teenage Witch” of Archie Comics fame. It also featured the Goolies themselves, a group of hip monsters patterned after the old Universal horror film creatures.
After airing for a season, the two stars’ segments were spun off into their own half-hour shows (consisting of reruns), plus a package show for the Goolies. I’ll discuss each segment below.
Sabrina the Teenage Witch
Sabrina first appeared in animation in 1969, as part of “The Archie Comedy Hour.” Her segments on the show featured her usual shtick of using her magic to resolve problems, or dealing with the consequences of magic. Also appearing on the show were Aunts Hilda and Zelda, cousin Ambrose, and Salem. All of these characters resembled their then-current comics selves; the aunts dressed like traditional witches, while Salem was an orange-colored cat that couldn’t talk, but had limited magic powers. Running gags consisted of Reggie Mantle suspecting Sabrina of being a witch, and Mr. Weatherbee seeing the occasional results of Sabrina’s magic, but not believing what he’d seen.
Keeping with the limited animation, Sabrina usually activated her powers by tugging on her ear, plus Harvey’s car was a recolored/redrawn version of Archie’s jalopy.
After this series and her half-hour solo series, Sabrina’s next animated appearance was the final Filmation appearance of the Archie characters, the short-lived 1977 series “The New Archie and Sabrina Hour.” It wasn’t long before they opted to split the show into two separate half-hours, the bizarrely named “Archie’s Bang Shang Lollapalooza” and “Superwitch.”
Here’s the opening for Sabrina’s half-hour show.
“Groovie Goolies” featured the misadventures of various wacky monsters, who lived at “Horrible Hall.” The main monsters of the bunch were Frankie (a Frankenstein’s monster), Drac (a vampire who ran Horrible Hall), and Wolfie, a hippie werewolf. Similar to the Archies, they had their own band, with a musical number in each episode. The monsters also hung out with Sabrina.
In 1972, the Goolies got one of the most bizarre sounding animated crossovers ever, where they met the Looney Tunes. Warner Bros. licensed their characters to Filmation to appear in “Daffy Duck and Porky Pig Meet the Groovie Goolies,” a one-hour TV movie. I haven’t seen it, but I’d imagine it’s as weird as it sounds.
Post-original series, the Goolies got one more shot on TV, with their show’s reruns airing as part of the 1978 syndicated half-hour package show “The Groovie Goolies and Friends.” The “friends” consisted of other Filmation series that’d formerly aired on Saturday mornings, including:
- “The New Adventures of Waldo Kitty”: The fantasy daydreams (in animated form) of a live-action housecat. Aired here without the live-action portions.
- “Lassie’s Rescue Rangers”: The famous collie’s animated adventures.
- “The New Adventures of Gilligan”: Animated adventures of the “Gilligan’s Island” cast.
- “My Favorite Martians”: Animated adventures of the characters from the 60s sitcom “My Favorite Martian.”
- “M.U.S.H.”: An all-canine parody of “M.A.S.H.”
- “Fraidy Cat”: A cat that’s haunted by the ghosts of its previous eight (out of nine) lives.
- “Wacky and Packy”: A caveman and mammoth somehow swept into modern times.
Several of the above segments (“M.U.S.H.,” “Fraidy Cat,” and “Wacky and Packy”) first aired on the very short lived 1975 series “Uncle Croc’s Block.” This syndicated package show eventually ran its course, and all of these Filmation segments haven’t been seen much on TV since.
Here’s the Goolies’ half-hour opening.
On DVD/digital video
All of “Sabrina” and “Groovie Goolies” have been released to separate DVD sets. The backup segments of “Groovie Goolies and Friends” have largely not appeared on home video, save a few random episodes on compilation sets, or a few non-North American DVD releases. The Looney Tunes/Goolies crossover film’s also not on home video, and seems unlikely given rights-related issues between whoever owns the Goolies’ rights and Warner Bros.
As for who owns the Goolies these days, the Filmation studios’ original programming/creations (versus Sabrina, He-Man, etc.) are nowadays owned (via several company buyouts/transfers over the years) by DreamWorks. So in theory, Drac, Frankie, and Wolfie could make a comeback here in the 21st century on Netflix?