H.R. Pufnstuf: The Complete Series
DVD | Box Set
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Relive the Saturday mornings of your youth with the first series from legendary producers Sid & Marty Krofft! When a boy names Jimmy finds himself stranded on Living Island with his magic gold flute Freddy, he is taken in by a talking dragon named H.R. Pufnstuf, who is the mayor of Living Island. Pufnstuf tries to help Jimmy escape, while at the same time tries to avoid the evil Witchiepoo who wants the magic flute all to herself.
Exclusive episode of Horror Hotel never-before-on DVD! Only one episode of Horror Hotel was created featuring everyone’s favorite Pufnstuf characters including Witchiepoo!
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Sibling puppeteer team Sid and Marty Krofft's first live-action TV series using life-sized puppets, you're sure to remember - if you're of the same generation as my sister and I - the boy named Jimmy and his magical talking flute (Freddy), who was lured onto a mysterious talking boat (which, as it turns out, was owned by an evil witch, Witchiepoo.) Under Witchiepoo's control, the boat shipwrecks onto Living Island (where EVERYTHING is alive), the location of her castle (with a living door and pillars), where she plans to take him prisoner and steal his flute. However, friendly dragon H.R. Pufnstuf (mayor of the island) discovers the plot and - with the help of Cling and Clang (short red and green furry 3-toed and deaf cavemen with faces resembling birds who're part of H.R.'s Rescue Racer Crew) - rescues Jimmy when he jumps from the boat and swims ashore, whisking him off to the only place on the island where Witchiepoo's magic is ineffective, H.R.'s cave.
Gosh - do you remember Witchiepoo's henchmen (Orson the vulture, Seymour the spider, Stupid the bat, and the skeleton guards), and the talking mushrooms who lived on her side of the island? How about Dr. Blinky the owl doctor/scientist and his sneezing house with its talking fireplace, test tube, candle, human skull, and books, or the walking/talking "Good Trees" (Hippie, Madame Willow, Chief Redwood, etc.) and "Evil Trees" (#1, #2 & #3)? Not to mention H.R.'s sister Shirley the actress (based on Shirley Temple), film director Max Von Toadenoff the Great (a toad), Judy the singing/dancing frog (based on Judy Garland), peddler Ludicrous Lion and his polka-dotted horse, living lollipop Pop Lolly and her cheese guards (along with the hippie ants who wanted free candy), Tick Tock the alarm clock, Grandmother & Grandfather clock, Miss Wristwatch, Lady Boyd and The Boyds (a band of singing birds), and the family of crabs. Oh - and how could I forget - The Winds (North/South/East/West), who would help H.R. blow Witchipoo out of the sky!
In 1969 my sister and I were innocents, oblivious to any winking going on among adults with this cartoon's purported veiled references to pot smoking (as was the case with Peter, Paul & Mary's "Puff, the Magic Dragon"), given the title of the character and the line in the theme song, "Can't do a little 'cause he can't do enough" - in both cases, those references have been denied. Regardless of whether or not there was any truth to them, H.R. Pufnstuf is a true cult classic when it comes to cartoons, and this DVD also includes downloadable vintage music as well as a coloring book, and a "never-before released episode of Horror Hotel from the Krofft Superstar Hour" featuring Pufnstuf characters.
So I thought, what the heck---I went ahead and viewed the discs before giving them as a Christmas gift. And I was surprised at just how well I remembered the show! It all seemed very familiar, despite the many years that had passed since I watched it. A handful of episodes contained musical interludes, and I remembered every single song after hearing just a few notes.
I was also surprised to find that there were only 17 episodes ever produced. It was shot in 1969, and the network just kept repeating these same episodes over and over---it was on television constantly for about five years. The producers definitely wanted to shoot more episodes for additional seasons, but the network was cheap and figured that kids would keep on watching the same ones. It's a shame, because storywise I think a lot more could have been done with the basic premise.
However, the following year the producers (the Krofft brothers) did at least shoot a feature-length film version of the show before the cast was let go and all the sets and costumes put into storage. I'll have to talk more about the film later...
So, how does this series hold up as an adult? Hmmmm.... It definitely has the sheen of nostalgia for me, though watching it now I have to wince a bit about how LOUD and over-the-top it is. And all the very silly slapstick doesn't do much for me; this was intended for a young audience, to be sure. So what's in it for an adult? Well, all the drug references---ha! Man, talk about psychedelic; you have to assume that everyone involved with this show knew their way around a bong (and more).
What I got a kick out of, however, was the fact that all of the costumed characters speak in voices based on classic Hollywood actors. So, it's fun trying to figure out just who everyone is supposed to be. (For instance, the talking skull is Boris Karloff, Judy the frog is Judy Garland, etc., etc....)
Due to the fact that yes, to my aged ears and eyes a fair amount of the show now is slightly annoying, I'm not sure it is something I'd watch over and over, but I would get a kick out of viewing little bits and pieces every now and again...
Oh, in conclusion I'll add that one of the chief pleasures of H.R. Pufnstuf for me was Billie Hayes' over-the-top performance as Witchiepoo. Okay, I'm contradicting myself---I've only now just said that I didn't care for the much-too-loud, much-too-broadly-played antics in this show! But for some reason I feel a great fondness for that character and the actress who played her. She isn't so much a witch as a clown in witch make-up; very silly, not scary.
It's good to know that Billie Hayes, at 82 years of age, is still around. I viewed a few fairly recent videos of her on YouTube---she seems so nice!