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Big John, Little John 

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






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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
Stephen H. Cassidy Stephen H. Cassidy ...  Stanley 13 episodes, 1976
Kristoff St. John ...  Homer 11 episodes, 1976
Cari Anne Warder Cari Anne Warder ...  Valerie 4 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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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-average live-action Saturday morning show
25 October 2005 | by ajm-8See all my reviews

The best forgotten TV project Sherwood Schwartz ever worked on, it ran on NBC on Saturday mornings during the 1976-77 season. Just as "Gilligan's Island" was a sitcom variation on "Robinson Crusoe," this show spoofed Ponce de Leon's Fountain of Youth mythology. Herb Edelman (best remembered as Bea Arthur's jinx of an ex on "The Golden Girls") plays "Big" John, a junior high school teacher on a trip to Florida. Thirsty, he gulps some water from a brook which -- wouldn't you know it -- turns him into 12-year-old "Little" John, a/k/a Robbie Rist (the Brady Bunch's jinx of a cousin Oliver, and Ted Baxter's genius adopted son on "Mary Tyler Moore"). However, the effect comes and goes unpredictably, with "Little" John reoccurring at the most inopportune times. "Little" John appears in junior high as teacher "Big" John's nephew, though the principal and other students are slow (make that real, REAL slow) to catch on that they never see the two Johns in the same place together at the same time.

Yeah, it's a silly concept, but there's an inherent cheesiness to it I love. As with any Sherwood Schwartz TV production, there's a great theme song summing up the plot, and the opening credit sequence showing the younger versions of Edelman (or, if you will, the older versions of Rist) look NOTHING AT ALL like either of them, as if Schwartz is winking at us and saying, "I'm not taking the premise seriously, either." Some other bits of BJLJ trivia: "Big" John's wife (it's a Sherwood Schwartz kiddie show from 30 years ago, remember, so the grown wife/12-year-old husband theme NEVER EVER EVER gets exploited) was played by Joyce Bulifant, Murray's loyal wife Marie on MTM and the actress Schwartz originally signed to play Carol Brady on "The Brady Bunch," and Schwartz brought on the Zucker brothers and Jim Abrahams to contribute material to this show, around the time they were completing "Kentucky Fried Movie" and beginning work on "Airplane!" The complete series is going to be released on DVD in the fall of 2009 -- it's definitely worth a look.

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