Professor Morlock spin-offs

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Professor Morlock Live

This picture is a rare treat for hard core Morlockians.

When the Morlock franchise had apparently died out after “The Ghost of Professor Morlock,” Jesse Merlin tried to make ends meet by doing a pathetic show called “Professor Morlock Live” at kiddie matinees of old Morlock movies. Aided by a “beautiful assistant” (usually the current girlfriend of the guy whose couch he was sleeping on) and a transient in a cheap gorilla suit, he would go onstage and do shtick witha Professor Morlock ventriloquist dummy (a popular toy for young boys fter the original “Professor Morlock” opened) , perform a few bad magic tricks and exchange stiff “spooky” dialogue with the assistant for twenty minutes, ending inevitably by transplanting the girl’s brain into the gorilla.

Merlin admitted in his autobiography that the initial performance of this show was the reason for his first suicide attempt.

The Professor Morlock Bunch

An attempt to introduce the Professor Morlock character to a new generation came with the Hanna-Barbera animated cartoon “The Professor Morlock Bunch,” in which the professor led a group of kids and a massive but friendly gorilla named Brains on adventures to save the ecology. It was quickly discovered that the Morlock character didn’t translate well to the new medium as the professor would inevitably perform horrific experiments on the children during every episode which left them tragically disfigured or dead, and the show lasted only one season.

Desperate for money after failing to find work after his type-casting as Morlock, Jesse Merlin voiced the character to the delight of hardcore fans. Tom Ackerman was also slated to voice occasional guest appearances as Morlock’s evil henchman Ruprecht, but his addiction to reefer made him too unreliable for employment and he was replaced by veteran voice actor Don Messick. Ackerman supported himself at the time by submitting himself for medical experiments and by selling oral sex to Japanese businessmen.

Love American Style: Love and the Mad Scientist

One of Jesse Merlin’s few non-Morlock roles during the period between "The Ghost of Professor Morlock" and the series reboot was an installment of “Love American Style” titled “Love and the Mad Scientist.”

Because of Merlin's close friendship with Arnold Margolin, producer of the anthology series, he was cast as a mad scientist whose laboratory is visited by a woman who needs directions (Barbara Feldon). He drugs her and chains her to the wall of his torture chamber with the intention of cutting her arms and legs off but falls in love with her instead. In an hilarious twist ending, she winds up cutting off HIS arms and legs.

The episode was a huge success and Merlin was nominated for an Emmy Award for Best Guest Actor in a Comedy Series for it (losing to Nipsy Russell for a guest shot on "Sanford and Son"). But he was still shackled to his long-term studio contract and since executives remained angry about his walking out of "The Testament of Professor Morlock," they blocked any opportunities which came from Merlin's appearance. “

Love and the Mad Scientist” is included on the special features of the DVD of “The Bride of Professor Morlock.”

Professor Morlock on Ice

After the unexpected social phenomenon of the rebooted “Professor Morlock” franchise, there were many spin-offs. One of the less successful ones was “Professor Morlock on Ice” in which a skater in a Jesse Merlin mask chased around a skater playing ace investigative reporter Janet Lawton in her underwear until he finally transplanted her brain into a skater in a gorilla costume.

The skaters found the Merlin and gorilla masks impossible to see through and as a result there were so many injuries that the ice was saturated with blood after every performance. The show lasted only about six months.

The Professor Morlock Christmas Special

Of far greater success was “The Professor Morlock Christmas Special,” in which Morlock (Jesse Merlin) is surprised on Christmas Eve by a group of carolers. He proceeds to torture them and perform experiments on them until they wind up either dead or horribly mutilated.

The special continues to be a Yuletide staple.

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