If you weren't a kid in the '70s, you really missed something special: The world of Sid and Marty Krofft. The upcoming release of the new "Land of the Lost" movie has been hitting my nostalgia button big-time. I'm not sure I'm interested in seeing the Will Ferrell movie, but it has made me reflect back on all the shows I used to love. And, of course, it makes me want to sing the "Land of the Lost" theme song.
My favorite Krofft show had to be "Lidsville." (Watch the theme song here.) This show about a boy who goes to a magic show and ends up falling into another world through the magician's hat was absurd in the best way possible. Almost all the characters were hats. That's right, it was a show about talking hats. Even better it gave "Munsters'" refugee Butch Patrick another chance to be on TV, as Mark, the boy who gets lost in the hat, and featured Charles Nelson Reilly as magician Horatio J. Hoodoo. Yes indeed, there was much more to Reilly's career than his stint on "Match Game." It's hard to believe that this classic show only ran for one season.
|"H.R. PuffnStuff" will make you want to sing and dance.
"H.R. Pufnstuf" was another odd delight. (Watch the theme song here.) Jack Wild, who played the Artful Dodger in "Oliver!", starred as Jimmy, a boy who has a magical flute named Freddie, and who is enticed to board a seemingly magical boat, only to find out it's controlled by the evil Witchiepoo (Krofft favorite Billie Hayes). Luckily, Jimmy is rescued by the inhabitants of Living Island, including H.R. Pufnstuf, an orange dragon -- though I always thought he was a frog when I was a kid.
I even remember going to see the big-screen version of "Pufnstuf" in 1970 (Mama Cass Elliot played a small role) in a local theater that was packed with kids eating candy cigarettes, Bottle Caps and Chuckles. The film is currently out of print, but a DVD release is in the works.
I watched all the rest, too. "Sigmund and the Sea Monsters" (watch the theme song here) reminded me of my Southern California upbringing, and featured Johnnie Whitaker, best known for playing Jody on "Family Affair."
The "Bugaloos" had arguably the best theme song (watch it here), and featured a rock band that had members named Joy, Courage, I.Q. and Harmony. It practically dripped of all things 70s. Other series included "Far Out Space Nuts" and "The Lost Saucer," which featured both Jim Nabors and Ruth Buzzi. Set wackiness factor to 10.
Then there was "The Krofft Superstars," (watch that ultra-trippy theme song here), which included "Dr. Shrinker," "Wonderbug" (watch theme), "Big Foot and Wild Boy" (watch theme), and "Electra Woman and Dyna Girl."
If you want to get a sense of the acting on these shows, check out this scene from "Electra Woman and Dyna Girl." It's about at the level of Adam West's old "Batman" TV show. In other words, just right for small kids.
As a teenager, I definitely wondered if the Kroffts, who actually lived in my neighborhood, had indulged in some substances to inspire their shows. But the duo once told USA Today, "No drugs involved. You can't do drugs when you're making shows. Maybe after, but not during." Still the implication helped add to the show's coolness cache.
Both Kroffts are still alive and well and recently spoke to the New York Times about trying to get some of their other series to the big screen. They actually said they'd like to see Johnny Depp take on the role of Witchiepoo. Sounds perfect for Depp.
Were you a Sid and Marty Krofft fan? Share your memories below.