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Category:    Home > Reviews > Comedy > Action > Adventure > Fantasy > Musical > Superhero > TV > Sid & Marty Krofft’s Saturday Morning Hits (H.R. Pufnstuf/Bugaloos/Lidsville/Sigmund & The Sea Monster/ElectraWoman & DynaGirl/Wonderbug/Bigfoot & Wildboy/1969 – 1978/Vivendi DVD)

Sid & Marty Krofft’s Saturday Morning Hits (H.R. Pufnstuf/Bugaloos/Lidsville/Sigmund & The Sea Monster/ElectraWoman & DynaGirl/Wonderbug/Bigfoot & Wildboy/1969 – 1978/Vivendi DVD)


Picture: C+     Sound: C+     Extras: C     Episodes: B



As 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.


One of 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.


Besides 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 time.


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.



And from 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! And Isis 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.



The 1.33 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.


The only 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


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