The Lost World Of Sid & Marty Krofft, Part 4
Time to get to the good stuff. Most of the videos are “Krofft Kwikies,” bite-sized re-edits of Krofft shows that are perfect for, say, embedding in the blog post of a webcomic.
After providing the costumes for Hanna-Barbera’s The Banana Splits characters, Sid and Marty created their first original kids’ show, H.R. Pufnstuf.
Pufnstuf set the template that many Krofft shows would follow: average kid accidentally gets transported to a fantasy world built around a really specific conceit, to face off against a comically inept villain. The show was an instant success, and even led to a movie in 1970.
The Bugaloos was a Krofft-esque take on The Monkees; a band of four British-accented teens with insect wings living in Tranquility Forest, “The Last British Colony,” where they played surprisingly decent bubblegum pop and faced the machinations of Benita Bizarre, hammed up by Martha Raye. The Bugaloos holds a special place for me; Joy was my first TV crush.
Lidsville returned to the Pufnstuf formula, with a kid named Mark (played by former Eddie Munster Butch Patrick) falling into a magician’s hat into a world made of hats, where the buildings are hats, and where the people are also hats, unless they’re people. Or puppets. Look, just…
Lidsville and H.R. Pufnstuf are the two shows people commonly point to as “proof” that the Kroffts must have been “pufn” some “lids” themselves. They addressed this question at San Diego Comic-Con in 2012, admitting that they didn’t exactly “just say no” when offered various substances, while not-exactly-admitting that drugs had any involvement in the creation of the shows. I tend to give them the benefit of the doubt, because, listen, that’s where the culture was at the time. Back in 1971, you could go ahead and create a show where everybody is a talking hat, and nobody would bat an eye.
Because they were stoned.
Sigmund and the Sea Monsters inverted the formula, by having a young sea monster get exiled from his sea monster family and get taken in by two suburban kids (including Family Affair‘s Johnny Whitaker – they did like their former sitcom kids). Hilarity ensued as the boys tried to keep Sigmund’s existence hidden from their housekeeper and the local sheriff. They also kept him hidden from his sea monster brothers, who were constantly trying to bring him back home – which was odd, since they were the ones who exiled him in the first place.
Land Of The Lost was the most ambitious Krofft show yet; despite the rubber dinosaur puppets, and the handful of styrofoam sets dressed with fake foliage, Land Of The Lost employed science fiction writers including Theodore Sturgeon and David Gerrold to build a mostly-consistent mythology. Even as other Krofft shows receded in my childhood memories, some of Land Of The Lost‘s indelible imagery stayed with me; the dinosaurs tromping through the Lost City of the Altrusians, the Flying Dutchman sailing on dry land, and whatever the hell this creepy thing was that Holly saw from the Pylon.
Far Out Space Nuts was a much sillier foray into science fiction, with a post-Gilligan Bob Denver co-starring with meant-to-remind-you-of-The-Skipper Chuck McCann as two NASA technicians accidentally blasted into space. The show may be best-remembered for the line from the opening that elegantly set up the premise: “I said LUNCH, not LAUNCH!”
The Lost Saucer had a similar setup to Far Out Space Nuts, but seemed to be equally taking inspiration from Doctor Who, with two time-traveling androids accidentally taking two kids from earth tripping through time and space in a malfunctioning vessel. Many 70s kids remember “Dorse,” the hybrid dog/horse, as well as Nabors and Buzzi’s malfuctioning-robots schtick.
Most of the Krofft shows only went a single season, usually due to economic constraints; only Land Of The Lost made it to three seasons, even weathering the loss of lead actor Spencer Milligan along the way. But each of them had a long life in syndicated reruns, keeping Sid and Marty in high demand. By 1976, their shows were at the peak of their popularity, and as they opened The World Of Sid & Marty Krofft in Atlanta, they debuted a new kind of show…