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Big John, Little John 

A middle-aged schoolteacher transforms into a 12-year-old boy at inopportune moments.








Complete series cast summary:
Herb Edelman ...  Big John Martin 13 episodes, 1976
Robbie Rist ...  Little John Martin 13 episodes, 1976
Joyce Bulifant ...  Marjorie Martin 13 episodes, 1976
Mike Darnell ...  Ricky Martin 13 episodes, 1976
Olive Dunbar ...  Bertha Bottomly 13 episodes, 1976
Kristoff St. John ...  Homer 3 episodes, 1976
Cari Anne Warder Cari Anne Warder ...  Valerie 3 episodes, 1976
Stephen H. Cassidy Stephen H. Cassidy ...  Stanley 3 episodes, 1976


Junior high school science teacher John Martin, on a vacation in Florida, drinks from the legendary Fountain of Youth allegedly discovered by Ponce de Leon. A few weeks later, he transforms into a 12-year-old version of himself. The change is temporary, but from then on, John proceeds to randomly switch back and forth from "Big John" to "Little John" and back again at unexpected moments. John's wife and son were in on the secret, explaining "Little John" away as their nephew, but the struggle to keep John's secret made up most of the show's humor. Miss Bottomly was the matronly school principal who harbored Dr. Bellowsesque suspicions about John. Written by Marty McKee <mmckee@soltec.net>

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Release Date:

11 September 1976 (USA) See more »

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Technical Specs


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Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


Referenced in Enough Said (2013) See more »

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User Reviews

Above the norm for a live-action Saturday Morning show that lasted one season from the creator of Gilligan's Island and The Brady Bunch
12 January 2010 | by rcj5365See all my reviews

During the decade of the 1970's,there was a period of Saturday Mornings that basically dominated children's television. Apparently,you have a choice of the usual animated shows or the shows that was entertaining but also appealing to older children and adults well. Some of these live-action shows were a bit hokey,but fairly decent.

D'Angelo Productions was just that...a low-budget company that was catered to live-action shows that were part either comedy or the usual action-adventure routine that was designed to be shown to children for Saturday Mornings. Under the production of William D'Angelo,his production company cranked out a bunch of these shows during the 1970's. Shows like the action-adventure,mystery suspense series like "Westwind", "Thunder","Run,Joe Run!",and not to mention the usual live-action comedies too like "The Monster Squad","McDuff,The Talking Dog",and not to mention "The Kids From C.A.P.E.R" that were all over the Saturday Morning landscape of television during the 1970's. Most of these shows lasted no more than one season on the air.

But the one show that stood out from all the rest was the short-lived comedy series "Big John,Little John",which was one of the more forgotten children's shows. This was the best project Sherwood Schwartz ever worked that lasted one season for NBC-TV from September 11, 1976 until August 30, 1977. This series came from the genius of Sherwood Schwartz,who brought us "Gilligan's Island",and "The Brady Bunch",and this was his only attempt at doing a live-action comedy series for the Saturday Morning crowd,mainly directed at older children and adults. Just as "Gilligan's Island" was a sitcom variation on "Robinson Crusoe",this show spoofed Ponce de Leon's Fountain of Youth mythology. "Big John,Little John" starred Herb Edelman(who was best remembered as Murray the policeman in the 1968 theatrical feature of "The Odd Couple" that starred Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau,and was also remembered as Stanley Zbornak,Dorothy's jinx of an ex-husband on "The Golden Girls")as "Big" John,a junior high school teacher who takes a trip to Florida. Thirsty and exhausted,he gulps some water from a brook which transforms him into---wouldn't you know it---turns him into 12-year old "Little John",played by Robbie Rist(the Brady Bunch's jinx of a cousin Oliver,and Ted Baxter obnoxious genius of an adopted son on "The Mary Tyler Moore Show",and Suzanne Pleshette's nephew of a brat on "The Bob Newhart Show").

However,the effect comes and goes unpredictably,with "Little" John reoccuring at the most inappropriate times. What makes things worst is that "Little" John appears in junior-high school as teacher "Big" John's nephew,even though the school principal and other students(who are extremely slow-REALLY)never catch on that to this as they see the two "Johns" in the same place at the same time. Yeah,this was a silly concept,but there's an inherent cheesiness to it,not to mention within some of the plots contrived into the episodes. As with any Sherwood Schwartz production,there's a great theme song summing up the plot,and the opening and closing credits of the show showing the younger versions of Edelman,and the older versions of Rist,that basically look NOTHING AT ALL like either of them. Not only Sherwood Schwartz helm the duties as producer but also was one of the writers for several episodes along with his son Lloyd Schwartz,but brought along for this series the writing them of R.S. Allen and Harvey Bullock(who were writers for the animated series "The Flintstones",and also for "The Andy Griffith Show")to serve as executive producers along with Schwartz.

"Big" John's wife is played by actress Joyce Bulifant(who was a regular panelist during the 1970's on the CBS' daytime game show "Match Game" with Gene Rayburn as was also Murray's loyal and faithful wife Marie Slaughter on "The Mary Tyler Moore Show"),who originally was signed on to play Carol Brady on "The Brady Bunch",not to mention Schwartz brought on the Zucker brothers and Jim Abrahams to contribute to the writing and other material for this show. "Big John,Little John" was scheduled on Saturday Mornings at a later time so that it would appeal to older kids and adults,but due to the competition against the animated "Scooby Doo",the live-action series was off the air by August of 1977,after 22 episodes.

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