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
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 Starring:
- Big Damn Movie: Pufnstuf (1970), Land of the Lost (2009); 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.
- Easy Amnesia: Just about every single Krofft show has an episode like this.
- 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.
- 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: They were really the first to try this, before Disney even had walkaround characters at their theme parks.
- Puppet Shows
- 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.