Sid & Marty Krofft’s Saturday Morning Hits (H.R.
Pufnstuf/Bugaloos/Lidsville/Sigmund & The Sea Monster/ElectraWoman
& DynaGirl/Wonderbug/Bigfoot & Wildboy/1969 – 1978/Vivendi
C+ Sound: C+ Extras: C Episodes: B
Saturday Morning Television boomed for the big three networks in the late
1960s, the Big Three networks, major movie studios and other production
companies took advantage of the opportunity to produce some of the best,
smartest and most entertaining series ever made was produced and much of it was
so good, the viewership far exceeded the audience originally intended. Some companies became huge, like, Hanna
Barbera, but a few were of the time and made the 1970s in particular great.
the companies we covered extensively was the animation company Filmation, which
eventually moved into live action series that also became classics. The other was from the house of Sid &
Marty Krofft. They produced live action
series, but like nothing anyone else had ever seen or was doing. Though Jim Henson made Sesame Street an all-time classic with his Muppets, the Kroffts
mixed their style of puppetry with actors who were either 1) in regular
clothes, 2) in costumes and/or make-up and/or 3) in giant puppet outfits where
you could not see who it was at all.
Crossing the fantasy genre, eventually capitalizing on the new look of
color videotape and adding elements of everything from comedy to action to
musicals, they created an entertainment dynasty like nothing before or since.
hits like Land Of The Lost, Far Out Space Nuts, The Lost Saucer, Dr. Shrinker and nighttime variety TV, they built Saturday Mornings
into a no holds barred children’s and consumer’s paradise, even pushing the
advertisers to make some of the most entertaining, classic TV commercials of
all time. Sid & Marty Krofft’s Saturday Morning Hits is the launch of
their catalog on DVD from Vivendi years after Rhino Records issued a good bit
of their material a long while ago in the format. Vivendi seems to be poised to finish what
Rhino began and this single DVD includes key episodes (usually the pilots) of
the following hits:
H.R. Pufnstuf was launched in 1969 and became a
huge hit with its Willy Wonka style and excesses, plus great set up for humor
and adventure as young Jimmy (Jack Wild) makes the famous mistake of going on
the wrong boat (a talking boat!) and landing up the victim of the evil
Witchiepoo (Billie Hayes) who wants his talking flute, so the boat takes him to
Living Island. Fortunately, it has a good-hearted
mayor (Lennie Weinrib as the title character) and the battle begins. Can Jimmy ever get back home? The theme song is a classic and the Kroffts
were on their way.
The Bugaloos (1970 – 72) is a rock band whose
members happen to be insects in a magic forest.
With a fun theme song and great cast including Billy Barty and Martha
Raye (wisely hired by the Kroffts despite her being bashed for pro-U.S. troop
comments during the Vietnam affair), who put the show over the top as the wild
villainess Benita Bizarre. Another hit
and classic, they joined The Archies and Josie & The Pussycats as Saturday
Mornings favorite new Pop/Rock acts.
Lidsville (1971 – 73) further refined the
Krofft approach with another clever scenario.
Butch Patrick (The Munsters)
plays the overly curious Mark, so impressed by a magician that he sneaks into
his dressing room and finds a giant hat.
Looking inside, he accidentally tips into it and lands up in the title
locale where the evil Horatio J. Hoodoo (the great Charles Nelson Reilly, best
known for stage comedy and the classic TV game show Match Game) runs rampant causing all kinds of trouble, but the
other citizens want to fight back including Weenie The Genie (Billie Hayes
playing against her Witchiepoo image) and we get two great theme songs this
Sigmund & The Sea Monsters (1973 – 75) has the title
character (Billy Barty) as the outcast of all the monsters, he does not want to
scare anyone in the opposite of what he is expected to do. A nomad in his own world, the young Stuart
Brothers (Scott C. Kolden and Johnny Whitaker of the TV hit Family Affair, on a roll at the time)
take him in as a best friend. Charming
and funny, the show has another classic theme song and at this point, the
Kroffts were unstoppable.
shows never before issued on DVD:
ElectraWoman & DynaGirl (1976) was part of an explosion
of female superheroes (including The
Bionic Woman, Wonder Woman and Secrets Of Isis) that offered one of
the few female duos in the history of the genre. Created by Joe Ruby & Ken Spears (Hanna
Barbara alums like the Kroffts who would go on to create their own successful
company), the show gloriously went bonkers with editing and cameras style of
the Adam West Batman, Bruce Lee Green Hornet and U.N.C.L.E. series, especially the canted angles creating the most
energetic Krofft series of all and another huge hit. Deidre Hall (Emergency!, Days Of Our
Lives) played ElectraWoman and Judy Strangis (Room 222) as DynaGirl were paired perfectly together, the cast
playing the villains were great and yes, they had another classic theme song
perfect for the superhero genre. Marvin
Miller narrated (in the way Producer William Dozier did on Batman and Green Hornet)
and Norman Alden backed them by building the cutting edge computer and video
technology from the secret Electrabase!
Wonderbug (1976 – 78) is a fun, underrated
show about three teens who find a dilapidated dune buggy in a junkyard and turn
the “Schlepcar” into the amazing super vehicle of the title. Of course, dune buggies were based on the
original Volkswagen Beetle and this vehicle joined Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and Disney’s Herbie – The Love Bug as part of a cycle of such tales of dead cars being
miraculously renewed and becoming the most desired car possible.
Bigfoot & Wildboy (1977) joined The Six Million Dollar Man and The Bionic Woman to be the earliest and
most entertaining in taking advantage of the Bigfoot craze. The first filmed show for Krofft since H.R. Pufnstuf, it was a major attempt
to have a hit like Filmation’s live action Shazam!
series and is their equal in many ways.
Wildboy (like Tarzan, who
Filmation made into a big hit animated series at the time) is an orphan who was
raised in the jungle, but in this case, it was by Bigfoot (Ray Young) and they
become a Lone Ranger/Tonto type superhero team.
It did well, but unfortunately, the company did not try to make more
such shows and never attempted to compete with Filmation this was again.
X 1 image on all the shows are pretty good, though some shots (especially on
the videotaped shows) have some video noise, video banding, telecine flicker,
cross color and harsh shots. At their
best, you can see how colorful and nicely produced the shows are, something
we’ll see more of as all the shows are on their way to DVD if things go as well
as they should. Pufnstuf and Bigfoot
have film prints that look so good, Vivendi ought to consider Blu-rays as
well. The Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono across
all the episodes sound good for their age, but there are moments where you get
some aged sound, distortion and other compression you would expect from some
shows. Still, they sound pretty good.
extra is an interesting one, 50 Years Of
Krofft Art showing all kinds of designs, much of it never shown
before. I hope this is the start of a
much-overdue Krofft revival. This is a
fun disc and a great intro for those who have never seen or enjoyed these
series before, so let’s hope much more is on the way.
- Nicholas Sheffo