Terror from Beyond the Daves is pleased to welcome guest writer, William Taylor, sharing memories of his childhood horror host.
He debuted on the New Orleans airwaves in the late 1940s on WWL radio before transitioning to WWL-TV on January 3, 1959 as a scientist “of the higher order” whose weekly experiments (wrapped around the horror movie presentation) in his laboratory would potentially revolutionize the world as we knew it…maybe. His name is Momus Alexander Morgus and he worked out of the Old City Ice House in the Crescent City and is assisted by Chopsley who always wore a hood because the good doctor once tried to do dental surgery on him but Chopsley inhaled too much laughing gas & his face collapsed, but there’s still hope one day it can be properly reconstructed. He was further assisted by his talking skull computer E.R.I.C. (Eon Research Infinity Computer).
I first knew about Morgus through my father in the early 1980s when WWL-TV did a 25th anniversary special featuring the legendary personality and my interests were further gathered when I found Morgus also did the weather each weekday afternoon throughout the 1960s which was also wrapped around an experiment of the day (later on my college degree was in atmospheric science-meteorology). However, I still had not seen a full Morgus episode until I got the news in the fall of 1986 that the great doctor was returning to the airwaves with new episodes starting in January 1987 to be aired over WGNO-TV (taped at WDSU-TV). “Happy Days are here again” kept playing in my mind that I would finally get to see those great experiments that so many had the pleasure of watching for so long.
The first episode I remember watching was about the B.U.B.A. machine (Bionic Ultra Body Analyzer) where you simply stood straight & a hula-hoop shaped ring would pass around your body, determine what was wrong & then would disperse a liquid medicine. It seemed to be going well until the “DNA” (Doctors & Nurses Association) showed up with a picket line to protest this machine would put them out of business, in the end two of the protesters wound up tampering with the machine & caused it to malfunction, ruining a great invention with Morgus having to pick up the pieces.
Morgus had a great connection with his fan base from the beginning because he knew his audience well. When the show started the popularity largely took off because of an old concept called “Ballyhoo” where fans were more than willing to play along with each show’s plot. So much so that a few months into 1959 during one of his live telecasts (the show wasn’t pre-taped until sometime late in 1960) he asked fans to come outside the TV station where he was going to throw off the roof a dummy that resembled (I believe) the abominable snowman and the people literally packed the streets to the point where traffic couldn’t pass, a legend was further solidified.
Fans also connected well with Morgus because of big goals and those sometimes not-so-good results because those aspects are all too common to grown-ups and kids alike who would like to be their own success story one day. Even more importantly, Morgus made science fun, so many of us wish we could have had a school teacher like him show us everything from how the Bernoulli principle demonstrates wind increasing in strength when it blows between two buildings to Boyle’s law where Temperature goes up air pressure usually goes down.
He made weather forecasting informative & enjoyable at the same time, he wouldn’t allow his landlady Mrs. Fettish to push him around when he was late for the rent, and most importantly he let the audience at home feel good about themselves because through science he proved that we are all human, capable of great things and the occasional boo-boo along the way.
Morgus was once described as being a modern parallel to classic literature’s Don Quixote & his assistant Chopsley as Sancho Panza. However, Morgus was truly an original all his own. His scientific endeavors may not make the International Science Hall of Fame but he’ll forever be placed in the hearts of those that could only wish they could qualify as a member of the Higher Order.
And who says science has to be boring?