'Sigmund and the Sea Monsters': Marty Krofft says Amazon reboot has same 'heart' as the original series

Kimberly Potts
Writer, Yahoo Entertainment
Photo: Amazon

Parents who grew up loving the Sid and Marty Krofft classic Sigmund and the Sea Monsters have the chance to share a marathon of old and new gems with their kids: Amazon Prime Video is premiering its reboot of the Krofft brothers Sigmund on October 13.

The update features the same lovable characters from the 1973-75 series — brothers Johnny and Scotty, Sigmund, and Sigmund’s endearingly annoying brothers Blurp and Slurp. Johnny and Scotty are spending the summer with their aunt and cousin this time around, and they stumble upon the titular Sigmund, who’s still being pestered by his doofus brothers.

New to the action: A scene-stealing David Arquette as Captain Barnabus, a local sea captain who’s determined to prove that sea monsters do exist, and using Aunt Maxine’s crush on him to sleuth out his suspicions. Yahoo Entertainment talked to Marty Krofft about revisiting one of the Krofft brothers’ most beloved properties, how he likes creating for a streaming platform, and the Emmy-winning sitcom star he’s teaming up with for a new kids show.

Why did you and your brother Sid choose to reboot Sigmund, and why with Amazon?
I had lunch with [Amazon execs]Roy [Price] and Tara [Sorensen]. Roy said, “Give me all three shows [Sigmund, The Bugaloos, and H.R. Pufnstuf]. I said, “Let me think about it.”… I [ultimately] only gave them Sigmund. I’ve never done a streaming show. We started, it was like two-and-a-half years to work out all the details and everything. I figured, you know, we hadn’t done the streaming… I said, “Let’s see how this all works.”

Photo: Amazon

You’ve got to be real careful when you do a reboot, you know, because you don’t want to piss off the original audience… they’re all still there telling their kids to watch. It’s tricky. We stayed with the heart, the friendship of the show. We like the kids we cast. We did add a villain, David Arquette as Captain Barnabus, who was great, and who is also a pal. We’ve always had great villains in all our shows. That’s probably the big addition.

And then there’s Johnny Whitaker, who was the original Johnny. I put him in the [reboot]. His name is Zach in the show. All the kids that did my shows, I never have been able to get rid of them in all of my life. [Laughs]

Have you enjoyed making shows for a streaming platform? 
Well, we’ve only done two so far. We did Electra Woman & Dyna Girl, with Legendary and iTunes. It’s all about who you’re working with. The only big difference is you don’t know how many kids are watching. When you’re on a network, a Nickelodeon, you know more of what’s happening. [Here] it’s more of a mystery. I’ll tell you when it becomes not a mystery: when they pick you up. We’re in the first season so far.

How much has changed with how you do the puppets in the new version, or has it changed?
We added a lot of electronics. But basically, the characters are still warm, friendly, and funny. We have more of the animation done electronically, so it’s more of what’s happening now. You know, the kids look at our shows, and they’re going to either like them or not. I think the way we do our shows… they’re likable. They tell a great story. If you’re telling a great story, you can tell it through streaming and or a network or cable. If you don’t have a great story, you don’t have a good show.

What did Johnny think when he stepped onto this set and saw the new Sigmund universe?
He was great, has a great attitude. Listen, we created a role for him. He’s not only happy, he’s appreciative. It’s special. And it was great for me with David Arquette, who is very talented, who pulled it off. He said, “I want to be your house villain, every show you do.” I said, “You can play that many different roles?” He said, “I’ll figure it out.”

I’m assuming David was also a fan growing up?
Oh, yeah. He was. And then we became real close, him and his ex-wife (Courtney Cox), about, I don’t know, a number of years ago. The 40th anniversary of Pufnstuf, he and his wife hosted the event we held at the Museum of Television and Radio.

Was he one of the first people you went to when you decided to do the reboot then?
Well, I’ve got to tell you the truth. Our offices are at CBS in Studio City. I was going to the commissary, and I hear somebody calling out, “Marty! Marty!” It was David. I said, “Ha, where are you going?” He said … I don’t know what he said. But I said, “Why don’t you come to the office? We’ll sit down and talk.” It all happened right there. I said, “Do you want to do this show? We have a great part of a villain.” He says, “If I can pull it off, I’ll do it. I’ll be there.”

Photo: Amazon

You also have a great cover of the original Sigmund theme song, “Friends,” performed by The Roots. How did that come about? I’m guessing they’re Krofft fans, too?
They are big fans, but I’ve got to give credit to Nickelodeon. They told me, The Roots would like to do it. I said, “Okay, how do I do this?” They said, “Here’s the phone number.”

You said Amazon wants you to reboot some of your other classic shows as well. Are you considering it?
Well, yeah I think so. We just did a Bugaloos pilot at Nickelodeon. And we just did a [pilot] for a new show with Miyam Bialik. You know who that is?

Yes, the Blossom and The Big Bang Theory actress, and neuroscientist.
We did a science show for kids. We just finished it. That’s real special, and she’s really great.

Sigmund and the Sea Monsters premieres Oct. 13 on Amazon Prime Video

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