Beyond the junior-sized Jupiter: A nostalgic Sci-Fi sampling for kids from yesteryear.

As a child coming of age in the decade of the 1970’s, children’s programming was crucial for me and other adventurous tykes looking for futuristic escapism particularly if you had science fiction leanings or harbored the appreciation for fantasy that removed you from the world of other silly-minded kiddie fare that did not cater to your particular tastes.

Nowadays, babies of the sixties generation (listen up all you 43 to 52-year olds out there in the cosmos) in the year 2012 can look back to a time when eating your soggy cereal and watching the television for some of your favorite sci-fi/space-age animated and/or live action packed programming on Saturday mornings was the required norm. Of course the majority of us now have either young children or grandchildren that have emulated our previous agenda for sci-fi related kiddie capers on the small screen.

For the sake of my fellow middle-aged misfits that were part of the polyester period where cartoons that took us to strange worlds or live action shows were innocuously fun and goofy-minded, let us reminisce about some of the futuristic fare that we pondered while wearing our footie pajamas and enjoying the entertainment value of our youth-oriented TV habits. Children of ALL ages are welcomed to recall our treasured day care dalliances courtesy of the Lucky Seven selections below:

Rosie the Robot is here to serve you kiddies of yesteryear…not just to cater to Elroy and Judy Jetson!

THE JETSONS: As the space-age counterpart to the prehistoric family The Flintstones, the out-of-this-world charm of The Jetsons was actually a product of the early 1960’s but was popular enough to spill into the 1970’s (and beyond) for TV-viewing youngsters to engage in the technological advanced utopia of patriarch George Jetson and his colorful family in Orbit City. In addition to The Jetsons’ family unit was Rosie the robotic housekeeper and their pet Astro the dog. George Jetson’s boss, Cosmo G. Spacely, was an employer for the ages as he oversaw the operations at Spacely Space Sprockets. Although clueless to a fault, George Jetson had a brilliant mind and we did not mind watching him at work or at the Skypad Apartments where he resided.

JOSIE AND THE PUSSYCATS IN OUTER SPACE: Just the thought of nodding your head to the infectious opening theme song of Josie and the Pussycats in Outer Space makes one appreciate singing curvaceous cartoon cuties and their galloping galaxy confrontations. Josie, Valerie and Melody (along with hangers-on Alan, Alex and Alexandria and smirking cat Sebastian) explored the mysteries of outer space while keeping us entertained with the bubblegum tunes that we looked forward to hearing each and every week. Personally, I couldn’t help by hiding my immense crush for the cerebral Valerie (easy folks…after all…I was just an impressionable kid!)

SIGMUND AND THE SEA MONSTERS: This 1973-75 children’s television series (produced by Sid and Marty Krofft) wasn’t so much heavy into sci-fi as it was a tacky fantasy about a couple of brothers named Johnny and Scott Stuart that discover and befriend an affable sea monster named Sigmund after he is dismissed from his family for not having the ability to frighten people while living in the sea. The boys end up hiding Sigmund at their house trying to avoid the watchful eye of their housekeeper Zelda. In the meanwhile, Sigmund’s sea monster siblings Burp and Slurp are out to take Sigmund back and make him carry out the family business of frightening folks.

LAND OF THE LOST: Another live action sci-fi/fantasy children’s escapist entertainment from the creative side of Sid and Marty Krofft’s stable of kiddie-friendly imagination, Land of the Lost told the tale of the Marshall family (father Rick and his teen son and daughter Will and Holly) as they are trapped in a primitive universe inhabited by cavemen-type personalities known as Pakuni along with dinosaurs and other creatures of that primate-induced era. Land of the Lost was notable in that many well-known science fiction figureheads had contributed ideas and storylines to this challenging kiddie showcase that was surprisingly inventive and chilling.

PARTRIDGE FAMILY 2200 A.D.: This early 70’s cartoon was the spin-off from the 1970-1974 ABC family sitcom about the singing group The Partridge Family. At the time children’s television was under the scrutiny of being considered too violent and edgy. Thus, TV executives had the idea to water-down some of the cartoon chaos by reinventing some of the day’s top family prime time shows into animated series to satisfy the parental criticism. Hence, The Partridge Family got the green light to take on its hokey cartoonish form and base their star-studded adventures in space where the Hanna-Barbera collaborators provided innocent music and cockeyed alien mayhem.

MISTER PEABODY AND SHERMAN: Actually, Mister Peabody and Sherman characters originate from the 1960’s animated series Rocky and Bullwinkle from that program’s Peabody’s Improbable History segments. Mr. Peabody was a brainy and bespectacled dog who had a tag-along in the form of his equally bespectacled and inquisitive human boy sidekick Sherman (this was a reverse play on the “boy and his dog” cliché). Both Mr. Peabody and Sherman used the WABAC machine as a means to travel back in time to experience historical happenings as Sherman (and children in the audience) can learn from the ancient encounters. Mr. Peabody was a canine “Know-It-All” and he certainly was received much better than your stuffy grammar school history teacher.

THE GREAT GAZOO from THE FLINTSTONES: The setting for The Flintstones may have taken place in Bedrock thousands of years before the sophistication of established civilizations. But that didn’t stop the pesky and well-articulate Great Gazoo the Martian from dropping by and becoming the space-aged sidekick for pre-historic pals Fred Flintstone and Barney Rubble, huh? Again, Gazoo is more so a cosmic cartoon character created by 1960’s television but that did not stop the diminutive antennae wonder from putting a smile and curiosity look on little rug rats’ faces, correct?

It is so sad that the minors of today cannot boast the memorable sci-fi children’s programming that we oldsters enjoyed with so much relish and recollection. Perhaps I am wrong and mistaken? If so, what is your assessment about this matter at hand?


Frank Ochieng has contributed film reviews to SF Crowsnest off and on since 2003. He has been published in other various movie site venues throughout the years. Ochieng has been part of The Online Film Critics Society (OFCS) and had written film reviews for The Boston Banner newspaper (USA) and frequently is a media/entertainment panelist on WBZ NewsRadio 1030 AM on "The Jordan Rich Show" in Boston, Massachusetts/USA.

4 thoughts on “Beyond the junior-sized Jupiter: A nostalgic Sci-Fi sampling for kids from yesteryear.

  • Frank, hope you realize that the Flintstones were visited by the Great Gazoo, not Kazoo.

  • JeffConn…thank you for pointing out my careless oversight in identifying THE FLINTSTONES’ Martian sidekick as “Kazoo”…it was indeed “The Great Gazoo” as you correctly indicated. Sometimes old age can really make a writer careless! (smile) Thanks for reading the column nevertheless.
    –Frank Ochieng

  • Wow that did bring back a lot of memories. And you are correct Frank that the kids of today missed out on some great cartoons. What a wonderful time to grow up in. The Boomerang Channel is allowing our kids and grandkids to enjoy some of the classic cartoons from yesteryear. Thank goodness there are TV channels that want to keep the nostalgic cartoons alive. Nice article!

  • Thank you, Tam:

    Yeah, memories of sci-fi oriented kiddie fare for folks over age 40 are needed in the wake of today’s children’s programming that is too aggressive, cynical and technologically sophisticated. The simplicity and innocuous spirit of the kids’ TV selections of yesteryear were ideal for the time that we appreciated Saturday morning cartoons that registered with fun and a goofy-minded consciousness. Again Tam I appreciate your generous feedback.


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