The Lost World Of Sid & Marty Krofft, Part 6
The Lost World Of Sid & Marty Krofft, Part 1
The Lost World Of Sid & Marty Krofft, Part 2
The Lost World Of Sid & Marty Krofft, Part 3
The Lost World Of Sid & Marty Krofft, Part 4
The Lost World Of Sid & Marty Krofft, Part 5
The Krofft Supershow/The Krofft Superstar Hour/The Bay City Rollers Show limped to an end in 1979, and apart from one improbable project in 1984, Sid and Marty Krofft were effectively out of the Saturday morning business.
Fortunately they already had other irons in the fire. Sid and Marty had dabbled in the variety genre as early as 1972, with the special Fol-De-Rol, a repurposing of some Poupees de Paris puppets and acts. The following year brought The World Of Sid And Marty Krofft Live At The Hollywood Bowl, featuring a gaggle of performers from Pufnstuf, Lidsville and Sigmund, plus the kids from The Brady Bunch, making this a gathering on the scale of the Rat Pack summit.
The Kroffts and the Brady Kids – minus Eve Plum, but plus the parents – teamed up together again in 1976 for the surreal spectacle of The Brady Bunch Variety Hour.
Sid and Marty were working more in this mode, producing specials for Raquel Welch and Bobby Vinton, as well as the annual “Saturday Morning Ppreview” specials for ABC. And then there was their first weekly variety show, the massively successful The Donny and Marie Show. Built around two squeaky-clean mormon siblings from Utah (joined in later seasons by the rest of their family), the show featured highly-polished renditions of contemporary songs, a troupe of ice-skaters, and, well…
Sid and Marty were let go when the show moved production from Hollywood to Orem, Utah. For a followup, then-NBC president Fred Silverman thought they were the right choice to produce the ill-fated Pink Lady And Jeff. He was half-right: they were the right choice to produce, but the show was just…wrong.
Mie and Kei were an incredibly successful singing duo from Japan – the “Pink Lady” part of the title – who Silverman thought could headline a show on NBC. One problem: they didn’t speak english. Hence the casting of comedian Jeff Altman – the “Jeff” part of the equation – to help fill the airtime when they weren’t singing. The three spent every installment engaging in painfully scripted banter, which Mie and Kei had to learn phonetically, always culminating in Jeff getting pulled into a hot tub with his gratuitously bikinied co-stars.
Pink Lady and Jeff ran for five weeks before disappearing like a half-remembered fever dream.
Sid and Marty bounced back from this fiasco, producing Barbara Mandrell and the Mandrell Sisters for NBC, which even found airtime for some classic Krofft puppetry. But Mandrell’s vocal strain ended the show in 1982, and the overall decline of the variety show as a viable option meant it was NBC’s last foray into the genre to date.
Sid and Marty’s output dwindled through the 80s. Their last foray into saturday morning was Pryor’s Place, featuring the unlikely sight of Richard Pryor interacting with a cast of puppets and kids. It lasted one season.
Sid and Marty’s only other series that decade was DC Follies, an American take on the British hit Spitting Image. Fred Willard was the live-action star, welcoming puppet versions of contemporary celebrities to his fictional bar for satirical sketches. DC Follies went two seasons, but being syndicated, it never held a time slot long enough to build a following.
Beyond that, their TV output gets even spottier: 1991 saw an inferior remake of Land Of The Lost, which featured slightly better special effects, but lacked the mythology, the intelligence, and the general weirdness of the original. That same year saw the pilot for an even more inferior reboot of Electra-Woman and Dyna-Girl for the WB, in which Markie Post played the heroine as a promiscuous, alcoholic burnout. This pilot is available on YouTube, but I haven’t been able to bring myself to watch it.
And in 2002, for some reason, they were credited as producers of a remake of the late-60s sitcom Family Affair (which had starred future Sigmund star Johnny Whitaker – perhaps that’s the connection?), that was notable only for the casting of Tim Curry as Mr. French.
And that’s about it, apart from a handful of other specials and pilots that aren’t even available on YouTube. They made a few forays into film; besides the Pufnstuf movie, they produced Side Show, a TV movie loosely based on Sid’s experiences in the circus, and Middle Age Crazy, a midlife-crisis farce, neither of which have ever been released on DVD.
But for Sid and Marty Krofft, the story is never over…
Tune in tomorrow, when it all comes to a head!