|“||Doctor Shrinker! Doctor Shrinker! He's a madman with an evil mind.||„|
|~ The series' theme, pretty much summing it all up.|
Dr. Shrinker was the main antagonist in the short-lived series of the same name. The show was one of a group of roughly fifteen-minute spots on the children's Saturday Morning action-adventure-comedy anthology, The Krofft Supershow, created by 70's Saturday mavens Sid & Marty Krofft.
The premise goes that three young people were forced to land their plane on a remote island, only to be taken in by Dr. Shrinker and his diminutive assistant, Hugo. As one might expect from his name, the doctor subjects the trio to a shrinking ray, in order to test it for safety/functionality, and to demonstrate to potential buyers proof positive of its results. The three 'shrinkies' make their escape, and hope to make their way to a reversal device the doctor has locked away. As with many (if in fact not most) 'quest' shows of the time, cancellation meant that no resolution to their conflict was ever presented. Cancellation in this case meant not the end of The Krofft Supershow itself, but these segments' replacement with other fare.
For such a short-lived series, the gamut of tropes was run through. Given the situation, Gilligan-type hope spots were frequent, with the trio of young people (called teenagers, but they were flying a plane, so they must have been very late teens) coming frustratingly close to reversing their plight, only to have the Doctor's plans or random bad luck negate this. Also like Gilligan, occasional guests would throw their situation into chaos, once more never changing the permanent status quo. Hugo on occasion showed ambition beyond his station and resentment of the Doctor's bossiness. At least one occasion showed the old standby of a situation forcing the opposing sides to work together. At one point, Dr. Shrinker himself bemoaned the repetitiveness of it all, calling the pattern a vicious cycle. Impostors, illusions to deceive potential buyers (who the Doctor planned to give his victims over to) and even the shrunken person cliche of animal menaces round out the series. While not truly incompetent, Dr. Shrinker's grandiose nature and ego meant he outsmarted himself just as often as the Shrinkies did.
The sets were a standard mad scientist's laboratory and a dingy old house/castle, with the island a low-budgetary mix of forest and jungle. Dr. Shrinker and Hugo were played as large, scenery-chewing, evil-laughing hams in garb that suited a Mad Scientist and his loyal assistant. On the other hand, while being a kids show meant the trio wasn't going to suffer a bad end, they were likely in the worst potential peril of any Krofft protagonists this side of the Marshall Family in Land Of The Lost. Implicit in the show's premise was the thought that, if Dr. Shrinker ever decided he didn't need the Shrinkies anymore, their lives would not be worth much.
|“||I chase the Shrinkies. I catch the Shrinkies. The Shrinkies escape. It's a vicious cycle and it's driving me mad!||„|
|~ Dr. Shrinker, coming perilously close to shrinking the fourth wall.|
- Jay Robinson, a Shakespearean actor of some experience, played Dr. Shrinker. While talented, and with a resume that includes many classic films and TV shows of note, he was said to have a swelled head and be difficult to work with, this according to Wikipedia.
- Perennial 'little person' actor Billy Barty played Hugo. By contrast, most were overjoyed to work with him, and his talent for snarky takedowns endeared him to all who knew him. For a long while, he was the go-to for roles such as Hugo. (Source Wikipedia)
- While Dr. Shrinker is not forgotten, it is also not as well remembered as another short on the same series, Electro Woman and Dyna Girl.
- Actor Ted Eccles, one of the shrinkies trio, voiced The Little Drummer Boy in the classic Rankin/Bass Christmas special.
- Another shrinkie actor, Jeff Mackay, went on to the also short-lived but cult favorite Tales Of The Gold Monkey, where he played intrepid but hapless pilot/adventurer Jake. Unlike this series, Tales at least had a 'localized' resolution, wrapping up some plot threads while the broader adventure continued.