In October, 2009, I read a blog entry on "The Kids from C.A.P.E.R. by TIME’s TV critic James Poniewozik. I remembered quite a bit of this show and I replied to his post. He, in turn, made a NEW entry in his blog here: http://tinyurl.com/yzqjq4p
This is what I wrote, slightly revised, thanks to a page that didn't exist until recently, the wonderful "C.A.P.E.R Project" at http://www.kidsfromcaper.com:
Before I go on at somewhat uncomfortable length about "The Kids from C.A.P.E.R.", I remember a small detail about "Ark II "; it featured a super-intelligent chimp named "Adam" (get it? get it?). Funnily, I remember one of his lines, "They no catch me! I run!"
Real smart monkey. Reeeeal smart.
In any case, as a fellow who watched this show regularly, C.A.P.E.R. stood for "Civilian Authority (for the) Protection (of) Everyone, Regardless", which was ALWAYS succeeded by a four-part sung "Ta-da" by the Kids, and an air-guitar/scat solo by P.T., which was usually truncated. This is the first version of the theme song. Later shows had a few different sequences, including all of them doing a sped up Can-Can.
Does it bother anyone else that three of the four of the Kids not only sing, but sing in double-tracked voices?
Two running gags were that if Bugs heard the word "bananas" he would go well...bananas. This happened every episode. "Doc" was brilliant and even though he was the one that the ladies liked, he was fairly unaware of his animal magnetism. Sometimes (I think), women would look into his eyes and strings would swell on the soundtrack and they'd go into some sort of love trance.
They solved crimes in their home town of "Northeastsouthweston" a name a shade too long for its sign, the "on" extended past the borders of the sign and they drove around in their truck, "The Big Bologna". Another regular character was a reporter that had an authoritative voice, yet lived with his mother. All episodes began with a segment with no dialog, just sight gags, a conceit that is certainly absent from current kids TV. And yes, like the Monkees, all of the episodes featured a song. I can recall "A Hero in the Movies" and "Riding a Rainbow".
Here are the episodes and what little I can recall from them:
"Dunga Gin" - A girl named Ginny with a penchant for DUNGArees. She also wanted to be a member of the Kids. All I can recall is that she danced with P.T. at the end of the ceremonious "Ta-daaaa". She's a better girl than I am. I mean that she..I'm a man and Kipling's line was...oh, skip it.
"The Postmonster General" - A villain. He was the only Black person I can remember from the show. He did have my favorite line of the show, "I've got to beat those kids to the punch. Or better yet, punch those kids to the beat! (singing) 'I'm so nasty, I'm so nasty'". Well, when I was twelve, I was a-laughin'.
"The Uncanny Nanny" - This one was about the town's favorite babysitter, Nanny Noony. She minded everyone, including the reporter (when Mother leaves town, she minds him). So beloved is she, the Kids have a song about her. As Doomsday sounds a bell note with his nose, they sing in a faux-operatic manner, "Sweet Nanny Noony/Nanny Noony is nice!" She, however, is tired of her perfect image and looks as if she is on the verge of snapping if someone else brings along another "sweet" child, she says that she doesn't know what she'll do. Nevertheless, someone does bring a boy to her, who is a brat. Fearing that she will do something horrible to him, the Kids find that he was not mistreated, but severely disciplined. She made him do chores, suspecting (rightly) that he was not just a brat, he just needed direction. Upon finding this out, the Kids reprise their song to her, over her protests:
Kids: (singing) "Sweeet Nanny Nooo-nee..."
NN: You've convinced me!
Doomsday: Not yet!
Kids: "Nanny Noony isssssssssss...."
NN: You've convinced me!
Doomsday: Not yet!
From what I gleaned from the Internet Movie Database, some of the episodes were written by Romeo Muller, who also wrote for the "Jackson 5" cartoon show as well as "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer", which is to say that the gags held up pretty well, considering the benign neglect that '70s kid shows suffered from at the time.
Having re-watched "The Phantom of the Drive-In" on YouTube, I was annoyed by the laugh track and applause track, but the episode held up reasonably well (and I even remembered one of the last lines!), even though I wouldn't show it to a twelve year-old, for fear of boredom and, let's face it, there are better kid shows nowadays. Not all, but some are better. It was fairly obvious that Kirshner was trying to re-create the Monkees' success, but it was a better attempt of this formula than the "New Monkees" from what I have been able to glean, NM having left the air before I got a chance to watch it.
Like Mr. Memory of "39 Steps", this took a long time to remember, but I'm glad I got it off my chest.
So, whatever happened to the class of '76? (according to iMdb)
Steve Bonino (P.T.) didn't seem to do much acting past 1980, but did do some soundtrack work as recently as 2003, so I guess he could and can actually sing. He has a website:
Cosie Costa (Bugs): Acted as recently as 1996 on film. He also starred in the abominable series, "California Fever", which if I remember correctly featured a battle of the bands in one episode between "Four on the Floor" and "Rest Room"; you can guess who won. "Babylon 5" fans may remember him as "Abbut"
If you want to or must see a bit of "California Fever", go here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cKQOrcpuR9U it's the episode I remember. The promo actually blows the ending, in which "Rest Room" loses the battle of the bands and are wheeled out of the club, which is astounding, seeing that no one unplugged their instruments and, hey, who builds stages on wheels that aren't in parades?
I remember too much! Must...bathe...unclean...
Biff Warren (Doomsday) - No credits past 1980 and if the iMdb is correct, passed away from AIDS in 1993, making a woman named Phyllis a widow. He was on "As the World Turns" as "Mark Stevens". Started singing at the age of 11.
John Lansing (Doc): The only "Kid" with a 2009 credit, albeit with a fourteen year gap before that. In a weird coincidence, he and Costa have both been on "Walker: Texas Ranger", in different episodes. He was "Anthony" on "Laverne and Shirley" for three episodes.