Strap yourself in for a funny, bumpy ride as Disney recalls its Love Bug

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Before there was the Love Shack, and even before the Love Boat, there was the Love Bug (a.k.a. Herbie).

Herbie, for those who don't remember, or for those who just don't know, was a Volkswagen bug with a mind of its own in a series of slapstick Disney films.

In the original 1969 movie, Herbie adopted Dean Jones as his owner and helped stir up trouble--and romance.

"The Love Bug" sparked three sequels: "Herbie Rides Again," "Herbie Goes to Monte Carlo" and "Herbie Goes Bananas."

Jones--who was in only one of the movie sequels--went on to star in the 1982 Disney series Herbie, the Love Bug, which the Disney Channel will be featuring for five Saturdays, starting Saturday.

In Part 1, "Herbie, the Love Bug," Herbie and Jim (Dean Jones) rescue an attractive hostage from a bank robbery, then proceed to stop her mismatched marriage to a banker.

Subsequent episodes include "Herbie to the Rescue": Jim's driving school is shut down when Herbie interferes with a motor-vehicle inspection; "My House Is Your House": Jim's impending marriage is threatened when his fiancee Susan goes to inspect their new apartment and finds Jim there with an old girlfriend; "Herbie the Best Man": Susan's ex-fiancee ("MASH's" Larry Linville) builds a duplicate of Herbie and has Herbie hauled off to the auto crusher, and lastly, "Calling Dr. Herbie," in which Susan's son Robbie is in the hospital and requests to see Herbie, who has been impounded for wreaking havoc in a used-car lot.

"Herbie The Love Bug," Saturday 6-7 p.m., the Disney Channel. For ages 4 and up.

MORE KIDS SHOW

A benign, animated version of the classic story The Prisoner of Zenda (Sunday 3-4 p.m. Nickelodeon) tells the story of a future king drugged by an evil cousin with designs on the crown. A long-lost relative is the only hope the future king has. He agrees to an elaborate palace plan and realizes the scheme is more than he bargained for. For ages 3-8.

Olympic silver-medalist Elizabeth Manley stars in Back To The Beanstalk (Tuesday 8-9 p.m. Disney Channel), a "fantasy on ice" in which a wandering troubador retells "Jack and the Beanstalk" in a talking-blues style. In this version, Jack Jr. (Manley), son of Jack the Giant Killer, grows his beanstalk in a quest to find his father who disappeared seven years ago. Also stars Robin Cousins as Jack the Giant Killer. For all ages.

Anna Sewell's classic story, about a horse which is passed from owner to owner and a children's favorite for years, is brought to life in 1971's Black Beauty (Friday 7-9 p.m. AMC). Starring Mark Lester and Walter Slezak. For ages 6 and up.

Cinematographer Bill Davidson managed to engage the trust of a cougar mother who allowed him to film in detail the birth, growth and education of her kittens as well as her attempts to elude their father in Profiles of Nature: The Cougar (Friday, 8:30-9 p.m., the Discovery Channel). For ages 7 and up .

The Disney Channel will present the premiere of Marvin (Saturday 8:30 p.m.), an animated show about how rotund, red-haired baby Marvin and his pint-sized, feminist cousin Megan are entered into a baby contest. The competition includes Chrissy, a sweet Marilyn Monroe-type who has won every baby-beauty contest in the country. For ages 2-7.

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