Remember that one day when you could wake up without an alarm? When you would get your favorite bowl of cereal and sit between the hours of 8 and 12? This is a blog dedicated to the greatest time of our childhood: Saturday mornings. The television programs you watched, the memories attached to them, and maybe introducing you to something you didn't realize existed. Updated every weekend.
the success of various live-action Saturday morning programs on other networks,
NBC decided to get in on the action for the
1976 season by commissioning five new shows that would air together with the
final season of The
Land of the Lost. Among those shows was music producer Don Kirshner’s
latest attempt at recapturing the success he once experienced with The Monkees.
Publicity shot of (clockwise from top): Doomsday, Doc, Bugs and P.T.
from C.A.P.E.R. (a play on The Man from U.N.C.L.E.)
were four apparently duly-deputized teenagers that operated in the back room of
the 927th police precinct in the town of Northeast Southweston that
dealt with unusual cases. The founder and leader was P.T. (Steve Bonino),
described as “cool and clever” by the show’s theme, who was the youngest
member, provided fourth wall-breaking narration during a case, and possessed a
superhuman sense of smell (he named his nose “Seymour”). Bugs (Cosie Costa) was
the “tough and feisty” one possessing superhuman strength and speed (so long as
he could see his hands), who tended to devolved into a brief insane rage
whenever anyone said “bananas”. Doomsday (Biff Warren) was a childlike ray of
sunshine who believed he brought bad luck to others (hence the name and dark
wardrobe), was always hungry and could communicate with animals. Doc (John
Lansing) was the oldest, smartest and best-looking member of the team who was
generally always serious (and when he did show his humorous side, often caught
others unaware). The Kids all wore “C” belt buckles and communicated via “Caperband”
radios (Mego’s Star Trek communicators with some minor
alterations). They travelled around in a former hot dog vendor truck dubbed the
“Big Bologna” (as it still had a giant hot dog on its roof). Inside the truck
dwelled Mr. Featherstone; a shark in a fish tank (portrayed by a puppet) that
provided navigational assistance and who spoke in gibberish only the Kids
understood. Their mentor and adviser was Sergeant Vinton (Robert Emhardt), who
fully supported them but didn’t shy away from trying to ward them off of
A girl arrives to turn C.A.P.E.R. on...to a case.
would begin with a silent comedy vignette and a member of the cast telling the
audience via voiceover a “secret word” that would prove key to the plot. That
would be followed by P.T. narrating what was about to happen before a girl came
in looking for their help. In most episodes, that girl would also become
attracted to a different member of the team. They would proceed to investigate
the case with the occasional interjections by P.T. Similar to The Monkees, the
cases and actions of the characters were over-the-top and silly; played for
laughs rather than any kind of narrative seriousness. Reporter Kurt Klinsinger
(Robert Lussier) would tag along looking for an exclusive. He fancied himself
an intrepid journalist, but quickly turned coward when trouble arose. At some
point, one of the Kids would break out into song; however, none of them were said
to be in a band (unlike other Kirshner-involved projects) or able to play an instrument.
Another silent vignette ended the episodes with a voiceover providing a “C.A.P.E.R.
Code” that, when broken, would indicate the next week’s secret word. A running
gag featured the group standing at attention and proudly explaining their
acronym as meaning “The Civilian Authority for the Production of Everybody,
Regardless!”, followed by a four-part harmonization of “Ta-da!”
was banking on the notion that C.A.P.E.R. would prove a huge success.
Ads were taken out for the show touting it up, as well as the promise
of a massive merchandising campaign including toys,
dolls, foods, accessories, and a decoder pin to transcribe the secret code.
They were featured prominently in NBC’s Smilin’ Saturday Morning promo
bumpers, advertising theirs and other shows. The teen magazines that
covered the show extensively began a little friendly “rivalry” between C.A.P.E.R.
and ABC’s Kaptain Kool and the Kongs,
as well as passed along the possibility of their networks considering giving
both a prime-time
version. However, all of that seemed unlikely as C.A.P.E.R. suddenly
disappeared from the NBC airwaves in November as the network did a massive
Shot from the very first scene filmed which showcases the Kids' different attire.
Tiger Beat Stardid some digging into the
disappearance of the show, which left two episodes unaired. As they
reported in their March 1977 issue, the last two episodes were actually the
first two episodes filmed for the series and executives felt they didn’t
quite live up to the standard of quality the rest of the show set. It turned
out that between the wrapping of those episodes and production on the third
episode of the season, some changes were made to the costuming, set design and
the Big Bologna (originally colored blue, as was pointed out in the flashback
song cue). It was decided to film all-new scenes to establish those episodes as
flashbacks. The series returned in early 1977 with a new intro that included
clips from episodes that allowed it to flow better with the theme, and all
episodes aired. However, come the 1977 fall schedule, it was once again gone;
officially cancelled by the network along with all of their live-action
offerings from the previous season.
The album cover.
As for the
merchandising blitz? Very little was actually released for the show—especially not
the decoder rings. What did get released was an album of the
show’s songs (minus two episode songs and the theme) by Don Kirshner Music through
Columbia/CBS Records, as well on 8-track and a single
containing “When It Hit Me” and “Ridin’ a Rainbow”. Despite promoting more
toys, Ideal only released the Big
Bologna as part of their Micro Mighty Mo line. To date, none of the episodes
have been made available on official home video. Two episodes and various clips
do exist online from fan recordings, as does the preview special.
“Too Much Time on Their Hands” (9/11/76) – C.A.P.E.R. is
tasked with stopping a malfunctioning time machine before criminals catch up to
them in the past.
“Kids from H.Y.D.E.” (9/18/76) – A mad scientists slips C.A.P.E.R.
a box of fudge laced with a formula that turns them into naughty tap-dancing
“Ghost from C.A.P.E.R.” (9/25/76) – A magician haunting the
police station asks C.A.P.E.R. to find his lost love, unfortunately they end up
producing three different women!
“The Uncanny Nanny” (10/2/76) – C.A.P.E.R. must find an
obnoxious boy who disappeared after being handed over to Nanny Noony, who is on
the verge of a nervous breakdown.
“Invasion of the Frankfurter Snatchers” (10/9/76) – A
warning about aliens hiding in hot dogs taking over people’s minds is ignored
until everyone but P.T. becomes a hot dog zombie.
“The Pieman’s Pool” (10/16/76) – A famous pastry chef’s
daughter asks C.A.P.E.R. to figure out why his latest delicacies are exploding
and causing earthquakes.
“King Cone” (10/23/76) – C.A.P.E.R. must solve a rash of ice
cream thefts while figuring out why a new gorilla arrived at the circus without
the acrobat who was accompanying him.
“The Post Monster General” (10/30/76) – C.A.P.E.R. must
retrieve the rare stamp collection Bugs accidentally used to mail out
invitations before someone else can snatch them.
“The Terrible Tollman” (11/6/76) – Only Doomsday knows a
bridge isn’t gone when the Terrible Tollman hypnotizes the entire town.
“Dunga Gin” (11/13/76) – C.A.P.E.R. investigates the rise of
a new cola drink just as the city’s water supply is stolen.
“Phantom of the Drive-In” (11/20/76) – C.A.P.E.R. goes
undercover to put a stop to the phantom haunting the drive-in.
“Mummy’s the Word” (5/21/77) – C.A.P.E.R. recalls a past
case where they stopped thieves from making off with valuable Egyptian
“The Goodfather” (8/13/77) – C.A.P.E.R. investigates an
“un-crime” wave where money and jewels are being forced onto people rather than
being taken away.
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