Dogs have done some pretty stupid shit for our entertainment. Toto, Air Bud, Beethoven, Lassie, Spuds Mackenzie—they may have been famous film and TV canines, but you do realize that they had no idea what they were doing, right? I’m sure some Hollywood actors often don’t, either.
Perhaps you are familiar with the popular film franchise, Benji. Its namesake was a small, golden mixed-breed pup whose wit and right-place-right-time arrangement allowed him to solve capers and protect those defenseless humans who truly needed him. As a result, Benji was a much-adored canine worldwide and his premiere 1974 film was a massive commercial success, which spawned an excess of sequels. Earlier this year, Benji made his streaming debut with a newly revamped, made-for Netflix film. I didn’t watch it.
But what you probably didn’t know is that in addition to being an acting dog, Benji also **allegedly** holds a world record. For scuba diving. Aired in 1981, Benji Takes a Dive at Marineland was a made-for-television special that follows the ever-so-lovable pooch as he ventures below the surface, to go where no dog has ever actually wanted to go.
While a ‘behind-the-scenes’ approach could have deemed worthwhile, there isn’t much to report back on this Benji special. It’s hosted by Lana Afghana, a dog-mermaid puppet reporter who is sexually attracted to our protagonist (played by a female dog, mind you). Joining Lana is Benji’s manager PW Pugit, a Boss Hogg-type bulldog (also a puppet). The story begins as Benji arrives by sailboat at Marineland of Florida, a marine mammal park on Florida’s Northeast coast - where the momentous dive will take place. Jesse Davis and the Mulberry Squares, a calypso band of singing fruits, take us into the film’s musical number “I Don’t Know,” containing the rather morbid lyrics “I don’t know can dog survive, when he takes a dive.”
The Mullberry Squares
What the fuck…
The most interesting character of the storyline is its villain Boris Todeth, a communist militia dachshund puppet who attempts to ruin the dive in the name of political ideals. He even goes as far as swim to the very bottom of a shark-infested tank to steal Benji’s custom scuba suit. The plan is quickly exposed, but it didn’t really matter anyway because there was barely any conflict to begin with.
Benji and Boris
Benji feeds dolphins
It all pays off when Benji takes his historic dive. What a beautiful moment. Did he realize how magical it was? Probably not. Was this a miserable experience for him? Very likely. Benji’s suit was specifically-designed for the television special, all the way down to the special hatch that was installed for treat rewards during training. Benji spent weeks practicing diving in a backyard pool in California and whatever that entailed, it was enough to prepare him to swim among the fishes of Marineland.
Watch Benji take a dive, after the jump…