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

Sunday, May 22

The Simpsons - "The Sound of Bleeding Gums" (Fox, 7:00PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
Lisa meets the son of the late musician Bleeding Gums Murphy -- and attempts to improve his life.

Duncanville - "Plumbdog Millionaire" (Fox, 7:30PM ET/PT)
Jack and Duncan want to increase their wealth and status, so they make a local plumbing commercial.

The Simpsons - "Poorhouse Rock" (Fox, 8:00PM ET/PT)
After Bart humiliates him at church, Homer finally teaches his son to admire his dad -- until a visit from a magical, singing janitor changes everything.

The Great North - "Papa Don't Fiend Adventure" (Fox, 8:30PM ET/PT)
The Tobins spend Father's Day weekend at an RV park and uncover the identity of the Fiend of Family Land; Moon meets a skunk; Judy thinks she's found a new love.

Bob's Burgers - "Some Like It Bot Part 2: Judge-bot Day" (Fox, 9:00PM ET/PT)
When Tina's family read her erotic friend fiction, they find out what she's up to and try to stop her.

Family Guy - "Jersey Bore" (Fox, 9:30PM ET/PT)
Peter attends a business conference in Atlantic City with Preston; Stewie helps Chris prepare for his role in Adam West High School's rendition of "Romeo and Juliet."

Complete TV Listings


Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows (Week of May 16)

Friday, May 20

  • Glen Powell (Scream Queens) - Watch Glen on a repeat of Jimmy Kimmel Live! at 11:35pm on ABC.
  • Fred Armisen (Schmigadoon!/Los Espookys/Forever) - Fred appears on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon at 11:35pm on NBC.
  • Bob Odenkirk (The Larry Sanders Show) - Bob is a guest on a repeat of Late Night with Seth Meyers at 12:36am on NBC. He will also be on ABC's Good Morning America sometime between 7-9am.
  • Bobby Moynihan (Mr. Mayor/Me, Myself & I) - Bobby appears on a repeat of Late Night with Seth Meyers at 12:36am on NBC.
  • Josh Gad (Central Park/Avenue 5/The Comedians/1600 Penn/Back to You) - Josh talks about the animated series Central Park on LIVE! with Kelly and Ryan, so check your listings.
  • Vanessa Lachey (Truth Be Told/Dads) - Vanessa guest co-hosts LIVE! with Kelly and Ryan, so check your listings.
  • Julia Louis-Dreyfus (Veep/The New Adventures of Old Christine/Watching Ellie/Seinfeld/Day by Day) - Julia appears on The Ellen DeGeneres Show, so check your local listings.
  • Michael Rapaport (Atypical/The War at Home) - Michael guest hosts The Wendy Williams Show, so check your local listings.
  • Zooey Deschanel (New Girl) - Zoey will be on Tamron Hall, so check your local listings.
  • Britt Lower (Man Seeking Woman/Big Lake) - Britt is a guest on a repeat of The Drew Barrymore Show, so check your local listings.
  • Alfonso Ribeiro (In the House/The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air/Silver Spoons) - Alfonso appears on ABC's GMA 3: What You Need to Know at 1pm.


New on DVD/Blu-ray (February-May)

ALT= Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C. - The Complete Series (2022 Release) Brooklyn Nine-Nine - The Complete Series (Blu-ray) Head of the Class - The Complete Fourth Season Becker - The Complete Series (2022 Release)

02/08 - Last Man Standing - The Complete Ninth Season
02/22 - Everybody Hates Chris - The Complete Series (2022 Release)
02/22 - Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C. - The Complete Series (2022 Release)
03/08 - Brooklyn Nine-Nine - Season Eight
03/08 - Brooklyn Nine-Nine - The Complete Series (Blu-ray) (DVD)
03/15 - Head of the Class - The Complete Fourth Season
03/15 - The Proud Family - The Complete Original Series - Anniversary Collection
03/22 - The Honeymooners Specials - The Complete Collection
03/29 - Rick and Morty - The Complete Seasons 1-5 (Blu-ray) (DVD)
03/29 - Young Rock - Season One
04/05 - Up All Night - The Complete Series (Blu-ray)
04/26 - The Danny Thomas Show (aka Make Room for Daddy) - The Complete Fourth Season
04/26 - Jackie Gleason TV Treasures - 70th Anniversary Collection (including Honeymooners Rarities)
05/03 - No Activity - Season Three
05/31 - Becker - The Complete Series (2022 Release)
More TV DVD Releases / DVD Reviews Archive / SitcomsOnline Digest


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04/27 - Freeform Orders Single Drunk Female Season 2 & New Series While You Were Breeding; Peacock Brings Back Wolf Like Me
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