Saturday, April 26, 2008

TV Rebels: Sid and Marty Krofft

The weekly Mini-DVD Review will be preempted today so we can bring you a special TV Rebels essay. As you all know, Solomon's Weekly Rant had its finale last week, so that is no more..but we will continue to have a mini-DVD review on Saturdays. Anyway, for today it is time for our monthly TV Rebels essay! We originally had special permission to publish the first 6 essays on TV shows and actors that will be featured in the upcoming book TV Rebels: 100 People and Programs That Shaped the Medium by authors Lou Orfanella and Oscar De Los Santos...now we have gotten rights to 6 additional essays, so we will be bringing you one each month until at least November! The book is in the works and will be released in 2009.

So without further adieu, we bring you the fifth essay of TV Rebels:

Sid and Marty Krofft: Psychedelic Saturday Mornings
by Lou Orfanella

Wacky witches. Talking flutes. Living hats. Land bound sea monsters. Rock and roll insects. Welcome to the world of puppeteers Sid and Marty Krofft, a place where Saturday morning children’s programming was more like a bad acid trip than a day with no school, cozy pajamas, sugary cereal, and endless cartoons.
The Krofft brothers first gained television recognition as costume designers for the 1968 NBC Saturday morning series The Banana Splits Adventure Hour. A production from the Hanna-Barbera animation studio, the program combined live action and animated segments, with the live action being a quartet of life-sized "animal" puppets who performed music and skits between the cartoons. A year later the Kroffts would break new Saturday morning ground with the first of a string of children’s shows that turned the genre upside down.
In September of 1969 NBC premiered the initial episode of H.R. Pufnstuf, a live action series with all of the colorful trappings and visually shocking images of an animated show. Dragon H.R. Pufnstuf is the mayor of Living Island. Young Jimmy, played by Jack Wild, fresh from a starring turn as the Artful Dodger in the Academy Award winning musical Oliver!, is whisked to the island in a storm where he, along with his magic talking flute Freddie is pursued by the evil Witchiepoo (Billie Hayes). Similarities to The Wizard of Oz may or may not be intentional, but at the very least, the Kroffts have drawn frequent accusations of embracing the drug culture of their era in their work, though they have denied such implications as often as Peter, Paul and Mary have done so with "Puff the Magic Dragon." Still for some the surreal inhabitants of Living Island conjure images of the opium that might have been derived from the poppy fields of Oz.
Names like Pufnstuf and Lidsville (a Krofft production for ABC in 1971 about a land where the inhabitants were all talking hats) have been pointed at as euphemisms for marijuana use. Addressing the contention, Marty Krofft says, "There might have been some double meanings there, but that's for the audience to figure out. But some people, they hear the name Pufnstuf and they're immediately thinking about pot. In a way, I think that's what they wanted it to be about" (Martindale 6). Add to the brothers' list of hits 1970's The Bugaloos about an insect rock and roll band, and 1973's Sigmund and the Sea Monsters (a sea monster befriended in captivity by two young boys) and the substance abuse accusations continued to fly. Sid Krofft adds, "A lot of people ask us if we were on drugs when we made these shows...Sometimes I tell them we were high-high on life-because life is the greatest drug there is. But we never, ever, did anything like that. These shows didn’t just come from smoking a little pot" (Martindale 6).
Largely what the Kroffts did was approach Saturday morning programming from a new creative angle. "What made the Kroffts' shows so unique was Their mix of colorful stage props, mesmerizing stories, enchanting musical scores, and a variety of fascinating live-action characters. Their costume designs that placed characters in full-body suits has been one of their most-recognized accomplishments" (Morgan 74).
Everything from PBS's Barney to the McDonaldland characters to stadium mascots may well have been inspired by the weird and way-out creations of Sid and Marty Krofft. Marty explains, "There were people in walk-around suits before Pufnstuf, before we got on, but I don't think anybody had done a whole shoe like that ever before...We were the first ones who took a live-action show and made like a living cartoon of it. That's what we did first" (Martindale 39).

Works Cited
Martindale, David. Pufnstuf & Other Stuff. Los Angeles: Renaissance Books, 1998.
Morgan, Bill and Greg Davis. Krofft-mania: Recapturing the magic of Saturday morning TV. Toy Trader. Feb. 2997: 74-77.


Sitcoms Airing Tonight

Wednesday, January 27

The Goldbergs - "Cocoon" (ABC, 8:00PM ET/PT)
Beverly enlists the help of Erica, who has recently declared pre-law as her major, to sue her cookbook publisher after finding her book in the bargain bin at a bookstore. Meanwhile, Adam and Pops bond while taking a trip on the wild side after Adam convinces Pops to fall back into some youthful adventures.

American Housewife - "Under Pressure" (ABC, 8:30PM ET/PT)
Greg ropes Katie into a double date with Principal Ablin (Jerry Lambert) and Maria (Julie Meyer) in an attempt to further his political aspirations. Meanwhile, Anna-Kat’s new found popularity at school proves to be overwhelming.

The Conners - "Promotions, Podcasts and Magic Tea" (ABC, 9:00PM ET/PT)
Darlene earns a promotion at Wellman Plastics, while Ben decides on a new career path. Meanwhile, Jackie tries an herbal tea leading to an emotional revelation.

Call Your Mother - "Quaran-Jean (ABC, 9:30PM ET/PT)
After the secret gets out that Jean came to L.A. to check on Freddie but not Jackie during quarantine, Jean plans a girls’ night for just her and Jackie to bond, but it doesn’t go as smoothly as planned. Meanwhile, Celia grows frustrated with Freddie always counting on his mother to take care of him and confronts him for taking Jean’s advice over hers.

Complete TV Listings


Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows (Week of January 25)

Wednesday, January 27

  • Leslie Odom Jr. (Central Park/Big Day) - Watch Leslie on Jimmy Kimmel Live! at 11:35pm on ABC.
  • Rami Malek (The War at Home) - Rami appears on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon at 11:35pm on NBC.
  • Billy Crystal (The Comedians/Soap) - Billy is a guest on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert at 11:35pm on CBS.
  • Stanley Tucci (Central Park) - Stanley will be on Late Night with Seth Meyers at 12:36am on NBC.
  • Adam DeVine (Workaholics/Modern Family) - Adam appears on The Late Late Show with James Corden at 12:37am on CBS.
  • Kyra Sedgwick (Call Your Mother) - Kyra chats with the ladies of The View on ABC at 11am ET/10am CT-PT.
  • Ted Danson (Mr. Mayor/The Good Place/Becker/Cheers) - Ted appears on The Ellen DeGeneres Show, so check your local listings.
  • Drew Carey (The Drew Carey Show/The Good Life) - Drew plays fan-favorite Clock Game for members of her VFFs for a chance to win cash and prizes on The Drew Barrymore Show, so check your local listings.
  • Nico Santos (Superstore) - Nico talks about the new season of Superstore on Rachael Ray, so check your local listings.
  • Yara Shahidi (grown-ish/black-ish) - Yara talks about Freeform's grown-ish on Access Daily, so check your local listings.
  • Gina Yashere (Bob Hearts Abishola) - Gina talks about Bob Hearts Abishola on The Wendy Williams Show, so check your local listings.


New on DVD/Blu-ray (September-January)

Young Sheldon - The Complete Third Season Mom - The Complete Seventh Season The Flintstones - The Complete Series (Blu-ray) Head of the Class - The Complete Second Season The Office - The Complete Series (Blu-ray)

09/01 - It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia - Season 14
09/01 - What We Do in the Shadows - The Complete Second Season
09/01 - Young Sheldon - The Complete Third Season (Blu-ray)
09/15 - Mom - The Complete Seventh Season
09/15 - South Side - Season 1
09/22 - Brockmire - The Complete Second Season
09/22 - Brockmire - The Complete Third Season
09/22 - Brockmire - The Complete Fourth Season
09/22 - Man with a Plan - Season Three
09/29 - The Bob Newhart Show - The Complete Series (2020 Release)
10/13 - The Jetsons - The Complete Series (Diamond Collection)
10/13 - Our Cartoon President - Season Two
10/23 - Some Mothers Do 'Ave 'Em - The Complete Collection
10/27 - The Flintstones - The Complete Series (Blu-ray)
10/27 - Head of the Class - The Complete Second Season (WBShop.com)
11/10 - Letterkenny - Seasons 5 & 6
11/10 - The Office - The Complete Series (Blu-ray)
11/10 - Schitt's Creek - The Complete Collection
11/17 - Carol's Second Act - The Complete Series
11/17 - Robbie - Season 1
11/24 - Corporate - Season 1
11/26 - Man with a Plan - Season Four
12/01 - The Neighborhood - Season Two
12/15 - Avenue 5 - The Complete First Season

More TV DVD Releases / DVD Reviews Archive / SitcomsOnline Digest


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