The Harlem Globetrotters Popcorn Machine
Synopsis of Saturday Morning Show
In the 1970’s the Harlem Globetrotters defined professional basketball for much of the globe. The NBA was not quite yet flourishing, but these barnstorming hoop geniuses were selling out arenas all over the world. Millionaire Abe Saperstein formed the team in Chicago in 1927, and the Globetrotters brought a special brand of shenanigans and showmanship everywhere they performed. Their exposure was increased by many appearances on shows like ABC’s Wide World of Sports and The CBS Sports Spectacular, so it only seemed logical that they would branch out beyond the basketball arena.
Their initial animated series, The Harlem Globetrotters, was a ratings success, so after that show had run its course, CBS had the Trotters do an hour-long variety show pilot in prime-time. The show was picked up, but rather than air it in the evening, CBS returned the Globies to their old Saturday morning stomping grounds.
The show was now done as a revue, mixing songs, jokes, and socially conscious messages together into a half-hour funfest. Meadowlark Lemon served as the quasi-host, and Freddie "Curly" Neal was the goofy comic relief. The "Popcorn Machine" in the title referred to the graphics used to take the show in and out of commercial breaks, depicting basketballs popping like popcorn in a machine.
The Globetrotters accounted for themselves well in the acting segments, although they were never really asked to be more than the characters they portrayed on the basketball court. They were joined on the show by Rodney Allen Rippy, a young man who gained fame as "that cute kid from the Jack in the Box commercials." Avery Schreiber played Mr. Evil, a bad guy and all-around nuisance to the Globetrotters.
The show ceased production after only one season, with the second season consisting entirely of repeats, but the Globetrotters continued to work on Saturday morning, first on the packaged Go Go Globetrotters and later on The Super Globetrotters and The Godzilla/Globetrotters Adventure Hour.
Release History9/7/74 - 9/5/76 CBS
TV Sub Categorieslive-action
TV StudioFunhouse, Viacom
Television CastMeadowlark Lemon Himself
Freddie 'Curly' Neal Himself
Bobby Joe 'B.J.' Mason Himself
Tex Harrison Himself
Geese Ausbie Himself
Nate Branch Himself
Marquis Haynes Himself
Theodis Lee Himself
John Smith Himself
Rodney Allen Rippy Himself
Mr. Evil Avery Schreiber