There are TV shows from my youth that, for better or for worse, I will always have a cultural memory associated with same. That feeling of getting up at 6:30 a.m. on Saturday morning to fill my brain with animated mush and Froot Loops for hours. Fun stuff.
One of those Saturday morning programs only lasted for about half a year … it didn’t even finish airing its original broadcast order.
It was a show called Muggsy.
The half-hour live-action drama featured two orphaned siblings, Margaret (the title character Muggsy) and Nick, as they move to an urban area and deal with gritty urban life.
Here’s one of the only surviving YouTube clips of this drama series.
So you get the gist from its opening credits.
This show was gritty. In one episode, Nick is mugged by a guy named “Stoney,” and Muggsy and her friends trace the mugger back because he left his monogramed hair pick behind in the mugging. That’s the one main episode I remember, and surprisingly, it’s the basis of the only other Muggsy clip circulating around YouTube.
Okay, so in looking at the show with 2018 eyes, you can definitely see that this program was made on the cheap. Trust me, I’ve seen Star Trek cosplay videos with a bigger budget. And if you’re wondering, that’s the “big city” of Bridgeport, Connecticut as the backdrop for Muggsy’s adventures – I can assure you that Bridgeport still looks this grimy and gritty. Ha.
This was the final half hour in NBC’s three-hour, six-TV-show Saturday morning live action block. If you made it through shows like Monster Squad and The Kids from C.A.P.E.R., along with a third-season episode of Land of the Lost (this is the “Uncle Jack” episodes, where the father disappeares and Cha-Ka the Pakuni now speaks decent English) and a godawful Sherwood Schwartz-produced sitcom called Big John, Little John (adult Herb Edelman changes into preteen Robbie Rist about three times an episode, with no rhyme or reason as to why, and tries to keep the two identities separate from each other), then MAYBE you saw an episode of Muggsy.
From what I remember about this show, it was like an Afterschool Special on mescaline. Muggsy and her brother lived behind a gas station in a large shipping pod that doubled as an apartment. Each episode dealt with drugs, gangs, even murder and extortion. Not exactly the type of childhood escapism you want on Saturday mornings.
Thirteen episodes were made, only twelve aired, and as of today the show has not appeared in any digital media form – DVD or otherwise – since its original airings in 1976.
Kind of a lost treasure here. A curiosity of the time, a snapshot of its era.