Creator: Sid & Marty Krofft Productions
In the 1970s, Sid and Marty Krofft were to live-action children's TV what Hanna-Barbera
was to animation. Their first series, H.R. Pufnstuf
, debuted in 1969 and established their production style: fantastic creatures, usually with thick fur or oversized heads; a "stranger in a strange land" motif; fearsome but comical villains, and clever wordplay and visual gags. Of course, not all of those elements appeared in all Krofft shows. And what on earth do you mean, their work wasn't made on drugs?
Other Krofft series included The Bugaloos
, Land of the Lost
, Far Out Space Nuts
, Sigmund And The Sea Monsters
, Electra Woman And Dyna Girl
, The Brady Bunch Variety Hour
, DC Follies
, and the infamous Pink Lady And Jeff
. Before producing series on their own, the Krofft brothers designed the costumes for Hanna-Barbera's The Banana Splits
Possibly the most interesting piece of Krofft history was their 1973-77 lawsuit against the McDonald's
corporation. When it couldn't get the Kroffts to license H.R. Pufnstuf
for use in McDonald's commercials, the hamburger chain blatantly plagiarized Pufnstuf
to create "McDonaldLand" in 1971. For more information, see this article
at Cecil Adams' The Straight Dope, or this one
During the mid-1970s, they had a theme park in downtown Atlanta, called The World of Sid and Marty Krofft
, notable for being the world's first indoor amusement park; it closed within six months. The facility that housed it, the Omni International, was later bought by Ted Turner and became the new HQ for CNN
, the CNN Center.
Bob Odenkirk and David Cross' Mr. Show
parodied the What Do You Mean, It Wasn't Made on Drugs?
nature of their productions in a sketch about Sam and Kriminy Kraffft, a pair of producers showing the unaired pilot for their show The Altered State of Drugachusettes
Tropes Associated with Sid & Marty Krofft:
- Amazing Technicolor Population
- And Now For Something Completely Different: They seemed to try just this every few years or so. For example, after a string of high-concept fantasy series, but the mid-1970s, they made a transition to producing campy variety series; this lasted up through the 1980s, when they made another switch to more comedy-based programs.
- And Starring:
- Author Avatar: The second season of DC Follies featured puppet caricatures of Sid and Marty, who were usually featured during the episode's closing, either arguing with each other, or bantering with the other puppets.
- Bad Bad Acting: Many of the Kroffts' later shows suffer from this. The Krofft Supershow alone is chock-full of it.
- Big Damn Movie: Pufnstuf (1970), Land of the Lost (2009). Interestingly, both were handled by Universal, which had nothing to do with any of their series; supposedly, reboots of Pufnstuf, Lidsville, and Sigmund are in the works, with different studios, including DreamWorks and Sony.
- The Cast Showoff: Most Krofft shows have at least one character or actor who falls into the category.
- Cool Car: A number of them in various series, but Schlepcar (aka Wonderbug) probably tops the list.
- Does This Remind You of Anything?: Some of the Krofft shows obviously draw heavy (perhaps a little too heavy) influence from other shows, such as:
- Easy Amnesia: Just about every single Krofft show has an episode like this.
- Expy: DC Follies is basically an American Spitting Image.
- Large Ham: See The Cast Showoff above.
- Laugh Track: When the Kroffts brought on veteran producer Si Rose to help them with H.R. Pufnstuf (and he eventually executive produced a majority of their earlier shows), Rose persuaded them to use a laugh track, reasoning that a funny show without a laugh track was a handicap. The Kroffts were skeptical at first, but eventually agreed, and as such, most Sid and Marty Krofft productions (save for both versions of Land of the Lost, since they were more dramatic) contain one.
- Lying Creators:
- Up until The New Tens, both Sid and Marty were said to be fifth generation puppeteers, both of whom continued the family legacy of puppeteering from their father, who had been the owner/manager of the Krofft Theatre in Athens, Greece (where Sid was born), resulting in their names being changed from Cydas and Marshopopoulos Yolas to Sid and Marty Krofft. Afterwards, both Sid and Marty finally confessed in an interview that their father was not a puppeteer, and was, in fact, a clock salesman, and that the story of them carrying on their father's work was concocted by their then-publicist.
- Around the same time, Marty also finally admitted that (after years of fan speculation) yes, the title H.R. Pufnstuf was, indeed, a blatant reference to drugs. Marty still swears, however, that he and Sid have never done any drugs while creating their shows, and claims the idea behind the name came more from a childish sense of humor and wanting to see if they could get away with it and slip it past the network censors. Considering NBC thought the title was reference a powder puff rather than reefer smoking indicates they pulled it off.
- No Celebrities Were Harmed: Most Krofft shows have characters like this; some specific examples include the Ooze family from Sigmund And The Sea Monsters being modeled after the Bunkers.
- DC Follies alone takes it up a notch, as the entire cast of the show (aside from Fred Willard as himself) were life-sized puppet caricatures of politicians and celebrities who were in the news at the time.
- Non-Human Sidekick: A number of their human characters have one.
- Our Dragons Are Different
- People in Rubber Suits: The Kroffts were really the first to try this, before Disney even had walkaround characters at its theme parks.
- Puppet Shows
- The Revival: They've had many attempts at reviving their own work for newer generations, but haven't been too successful at it. Only two revivals of Land of the Lost saw the light of day (a new series in 1992, which wasn't as successful as the original, and the Big Damn Movie of 2009, that was a trainwreck); throughout the 2000s, new versions of ElectraWoman & DynaGirl and Family Affair were in the works (the latter they had nothing to do with the original, but had obvious connections with castmember Johnny Whitaker), and presently, movie remakes of H.R. Pufnstuf, Lidsville, and Sigmund And The Sea Monsters are in the works.
- Shoot the Money: Mainly because networks gave them rather small and meager budgets, while their characters and settings cost millions of dollars to create.
- Surrounded by Idiots: Mostly the villains.
- Stop Trick
- Unintentional Period Piece: At least Sid thinks so.
- Word of Dante: Many have said that the Kroffts sued McDonald's for ripping off H.R. Pufnstuf with their McDonaldLand concept, when this is actually false. In a 2000 interview for the Archive of American Television, Sid and Marty said that McDonald's commissioned them to create a McDonaldLand for their commercials, which they began doing, then halfway through the creating process, McDonald's told them they decided to pull the plug on the project, so the Kroffts stopped their art department, and that was that... until the McDonaldLand commercials began popping up on television a few months later, without the Kroffts' knowledge, which led to the lawsuit.
- You Look Familiar: The Kroffts had a tendency to use some of the same actors in various different shows of theirs. For example:
- Billie Hayes played Witchiepoo in H.R. Pufnstuf, then later played Weenie the Genie in Lidsville.
- Lennie Weinrib did a number of character voices (most notably Pufnstuf) and also played the titular Magic Mongo from The Krofft Supershow.
- Jack Wild was immortalized as Jimmy from H.R. Pufnstuf, but he also portrayed himself in the special The World of Sid & Marty Krofft at the Hollywood Bowl and an episode of Sigmund and the Sea Monsters.