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

Monday, May 25

The Neighborhood - "Welcome to the Bad Review" (CBS, 8:00PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
Dave puts his professional conflict mediator skills to the test when he offers to help Calvin find out why his employees are quitting. Also, Marty devises an elaborate plan to help him earn a date with his new upstairs neighbor.

Bob Hearts Abishola - "Nigerians Don't Do Useless Things" (CBS, 8:30PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
While Bob waits for Abishola to make the next move, her Auntie Olu and Uncle Tunde make it hard for her by stalking him.

Complete TV Listings


Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows (Week of May 25)

Monday, May 25

  • Ariana Grande (Sam & Cat/Victorious) - Watch Ariana on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon at 11:35pm on NBC.
  • Retta (Parks and Recreation) - Retta appears on a repeat of Late Night with Seth Meyers at 12:36am on NBC.
  • Rebel Wilson (Super Fun Night) - Rebel is a guest on a repeat of The Late Late Show with James Corden at 12:37am on CBS.
  • Rob Huebel (Medical Police/Transparent/Burning Love) - Rob will be on a repeat of A Little Late with Lilly Singh at 1:35am on NBC.
  • Keegan-Michael Key (Friends from College/Playing House/Gary Unmarried) - Keegan-Michael appears on a repeat of Conan at 11pm on TBS. He will also be on The Talk on CBS at 2pm ET/1pm CT-PT.
  • Marcia Gay Harden (Trophy Wife) - Marcia talks about Barkskins on ABC's Good Morning America sometime between 7-9am and on The Talk on CBS at 2pm ET/1pm CT-PT.
  • David Spade (Rules of Engagement/8 Simple Rules/Just Shoot Me!) - David talks about The Wrong Missy on LIVE! with Kelly and Ryan, so check your listings.
  • Mark Consuelos (Alpha House/Hope & Faith) - Mark guest co-hosts LIVE! with Kelly and Ryan, so check your listings.
  • Kevin Hart (The Big House/Undeclared) - Kevin appears on The Ellen DeGeneres Show, so check your local listings.
  • Tracy Morgan (The Last O.G./30 Rock/The Tracy Morgan Show), Ryan Gaul (The Last O.G.) and Dante Hoagland (The Last O.G.) - Tracy, Ryan and Dante are guests on a repeat of Tamron Hall, so check your local listings.
  • Ramy Youssef (Ramy) - Ramy talks about Ramy on ABC's Good Morning America sometime between 7-9am.
  • Jerry Seinfeld (Seinfeld) - Jerry will be on Access Daily, so check your local listings.
  • Terry Crews (Brooklyn Nine-Nine/Are We There Yet/Everybody Hates Chris) - Terry talks about America's Got Talent on NBC's Today in the 9am hour.


New on DVD/Blu-ray (January/February/March/April/May)

My Three Sons - The Fifth Season - Volume One Martin - The Complete Series Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt - The Complete Series Step by Step - The Complete Seventh and Final Season The Good Place - The Final (Fourth) Season

01/02 - My Three Sons - The Fifth Season - Volume One
01/02 - My Three Sons - The Fifth Season - Volume Two
01/14 - Veep - The Final (Seventh) Season (Blu-ray)
01/14 - Veep - The Complete Series (DVD)
01/21 - Hangin' with Mr. Cooper - The Complete Third Season (WBShop.com)
01/21 - The Mindy Project - The Complete Series (Blu-ray)
01/28 - Ballers - The Complete Fifth and Final Season
01/28 - Ballers - The Complete Series
01/28 - The Mindy Project - The Complete Series (DVD)
02/04 - Martin - The Complete Series (WBShop.com)
02/11 - Step by Step - The Complete Sixth Season (WBShop.com)
02/18 - Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt - The Complete Series (Blu-ray)
02/25 - Better Things - The Complete Third Season
03/17 - Crashing - The Complete Third Season (Blu-ray)
04/07 - Cheers - The Complete Series (2020 Release)
04/14 - Police Squad! - The Complete Series (Blu-ray)
04/14 - The Righteous Gemstones - The Complete First Season
04/21 - Step by Step - The Complete Seventh and Final Season (WBShop.com)
05/19 - The Good Place - The Final (Fourth) Season
05/19 - The Good Place - The Complete Series - Collector's Edition (Blu-ray)
05/26 - Silicon Valley - The Complete Series
More TV DVD Releases / DVD Reviews Archive / SitcomsOnline Digest


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05/12 - Remembering Jerry Stiller of Seinfeld and The King of Queens; HBO Max Announces Santa Inc.
05/11 - Fox Upfront 2020-21: Fall 2020 Schedule; CBS Orders Three New Series for 2020-21
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04/29 - Pop TV to Air One Day at a Time Animated Special; NBC Summer 2020 Monday Nights Announcement
04/28 - NBC Announces Summer 2020 Staples; BET+ Announces Tyler Perry Single-Camera Series Premiere Date
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