Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Saturday Morning's Forgotten Heroes: The Kids From C. A. P. E. R. (1976)

When NBC decided to toss aside all of their animated cartoons in 1992, they did so thinking they could recapture what ratings magic they had with live-action programming in the mid-70's. Unfortunately, even then, it was more of a short-term investment than long-term.

In 1976, NBC mounted a 3 hour block of live-action programming in back of long-time network standby The Pink Panther. Land of the Lost was in its 3rd & final season. William D'Angelo supplied NBC with Big John, Little John (a collaboration with Brady Bunch creator Sherwood Schwartz) & Monster Squad. The subject of this post, The Kids From C. A. P. E. R., had the most interesting pedigree.

Series creator Romeo Muller is better known for his work in animation, primarily with Rankin-Bass, and later as an independent producer. The late Don Kirshner, the genius behind The Monkees & The Archies in the 60's, was an executive producer, along with Alan Landsburg (In Search Of.....). Kirshner even called in Ron Dante, the singing voice of Archie Andrews, to sing the show's theme song. Dante at this time was becoming better known as a producer, working with Barry Manilow on his early hits ("Mandy", "It's a Miracle", etc.).

The concept behind the Kids was simple. They were a 4 man team of teen detectives who worked with the local police department. The acronym C. A. P. E. R. stood for Civilian Authority to Protect Everyone, Regardless. Wack, I know, but it seemed like a good idea at the time, didn't it?

With Kirshner on board, you knew a soundtrack album had to be part of the mix, and there was one. The theme song, unfortunately, wasn't included, but there was one single, "When It Hit Me (The Hurricane Song)". Sadly, the series was placed on hiatus just 2 months into the season because of poor ratings, due largely to airing around 12 noon (ET), where most series are doomed from the go because of affiliate disinterest, preferring to air syndicated programming to generate better revenues. C. A. P. E. R. would return in April of 1977 to burn off the remaining episodes before disappearing for good. There is a website devoted to the series, and maybe it'll turn up on DVD.

I never saw the show, so I can't give a fair rating. However, I will leave you with a video for "When It Hit Me", taken from an episode of the series, and done in much the same way they made in-show videos for The Monkees. John Lansing is "singing", but I'm not sure if he was the real vocalist. I doubt it.


Ivan G. Shreve, Jr. said...

I loved this show as a kid....both wacky and funny in a Monkees-type fashion, and in addition to the newcomers you had old pros like Roberts Emhardt and Lussier on hand. (But like the Monkees, my attention would wander during the musical portions of the show.) I would buy a DVD set at the drop of a hat only I'm worried it won't be as good as I remember it.

hobbyfan said...

So would I, Ivan, strictly for the sake of curiosity.