Big John, Little John


From Hollywood/Hills/6009:


Herb Edelman


Big John Martin

Robbie Rist


Little John Martin

Joyce Bulifant


Marjorie Martin

Mike Darnell


Ricky Martin

Olive Dunbar


Bertha Bottomly

Air Dates:

On NBC, from 9/11/76 - 9/3/77

Number of Episodes:


Plot Synopsis:

After taking a sip from a fountain of youth, John Martin changed from a 45 year-old school teacher to a 12 year-old. Because he only took a sip, the change was not permanent but the change was reoccurring and Martin had no control as to when the change would occur. John's secret was only known to his immediate family and to explain the appearance of the 12 year-old John, they claimed he was their nephew. Throughout the series, John tried to find a cure for his predicament, but he was unsuccessful in his attempts.


There were many connections between this show and the Brady Bunch: It was created and executive produced by Sherwood Schwartz, Lloyd Schwartz was the producer, Robbie Rist played Cousin Oliver on the last season of the Brady Bunch, and Joyce Bulifant was originally cast as Carol Brady (but was replaced by Florence Henderson). Rist returned to Saturday morning television in the 80s when he played Whiz on Kidd Video. Rist and Bulifant were also semi-regulars on the Mary Tyler Moore Show. Herb Edelman was probably best known for playing Bea Arthur's ex husband on the Golden Girls.

Episode Guides:

None found.


Sound America has the theme under the Themes/TV section.
The 70s Children's TV part of DeeT's 70s page also has it.

Images/Screen Captures:

None available at this time.


To my knowledge, the show hasn't been rerun since it aired. On DeeT's 70s page, one of the actors from the show posted a note asking for episodes of the show, because he had contacted the producer and even he didn't have any episodes. I haven't seen any episodes on trade lists, so it might be lost like a lot of the other non-Krofft or Filmation shows from that era.

From Yesterdayland:

Synopsis Schoolteacher John Martin discovered the fountain of youth in Florida. He drank from it, and nothing happened—until he was doused with water. Then, he turned into cousin Oliver from The Brady Bunch. Well, not exactly, but he did turn into a twelve-year-old boy played by the actor Robbie Rist. Sadly, this would happen every time he got wet, and it was a permanent condition.
John's wife and son knew of his dilemma, and would cover for the inopportune transformations with various stratagems. The family even went so far as to claim that “Little John” was actually John’s nephew. Co-workers and other observers were suspicious, but never learned the truth. There was one show where “Big John” attempted to confess what had happened to him, but he failed.
The show, which, incidentally, was created by Brady Bunch creator Sherwood Schwartz, was consistently crushed in the ratings, and only lasted one season.
Broadcast: 9/11/76 To 9/3/77 Studio: Redwood Prod/William P. D Network: NBC


US IMPORT, starring a Phil Silvers lookalike as a teacher in your average all-American high school who, due to an incredibly contrived exploring-in-jungle-drinks-from-fountain-of-youth mix-up ("and that magic water/was the thing that made him shrink" explained over-jaunty theme song), turns sporadically from balding, mid-forties geography (?) master into small, same-age-as-pupils-in-class-he's-teaching kid. To say it was a one-joke farce would be understating the case, but it was certainly no worse than post-Davenport Rentaghost, and small kids never seemed to tire of anticipating the moment when "Zap! He'll change, and rearrange, and he's Big John again!" Indeed. Shot, memory-enhancingly, on authentic 16mm film stock.