In the 1970s, Canadian brothers Sid (born July 30, 1929) and Marty (April 9, 1937 – November 25, 2023) 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 signature production style: fantastic creatures, usually sporting 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 of their shows. And what do you mean, their work wasn't made on drugs?
Other Krofft series included The Bugaloos, Lidsville, Sigmund and the Sea Monsters, Land of the Lost (both the 1974 original and its 1991 revival), Far Out Space Nuts, The Lost Saucer, The Krofft Supershow (featuring several segments including Electra Woman and Dyna Girl), The Brady Bunch Variety Hour, D.C. 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 1971 lawsuit against the McDonald's Corporation. When the fast-food chain couldn't get the Kroffts to license H.R. Pufnstuf for use in their commercials, they blatantly plagiarized Pufnstuf to develop "McDonaldland" and its characters. The case went to trail in 1977, with both a district court and subsequent appeals court finding in favor of the Kroffts. For more information, check out this article at Cecil Adams' The Straight Dope, or this one at coolcopyright.com.
In 1976, they opened 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 complex, 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 Quirky Work 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.
In 2015, their Edutainment series for Nickelodeon Mutt & Stuff became an unexpected hit, resulting in a 40 episode first season order and the commissioning of a brand new special that saw the Mutt & Stuff cast visited by the Pufnstuf cast (and revealed that Mutt & Stuff himself is Pufnstuf's nephew). The mind boggles.
Tropes Associated with Sid & Marty Krofft:
- And Starring:
- H.R. Pufnstuf: And starring Billie Hayes as Witchiepoo
- Land of the Lost: And starring Spencer Milligan as Rick Marshall
- The Lost Saucer: Larry Larsen as The Dorse
- Far Out Space Nuts: Patty Maloney as Honk
- The Krofft Supershow, The Krofft Superstar Hour, and DC Follies: And featuring the magic of the Krofft Puppets
- Author Avatar: The second season of D.C. 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.
- Cool Car: A number of them in various series, but Wonderbug probably tops the list (though his alter-ego, Schlepcar, is The Alleged Car).
- 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:
- Sigmund and the Sea Monsters: Sid Krofft and producer Si Rose admit that Sigmund's family is pretty much copied after the Bunker family, with Big Daddy Ooze a sea monster caricature of Archie, and Sweet Mama as Edith.
- Far Out Space Nuts: Sid admits that this show is essentially Laurel and Hardy in space.
- Pryor's Place: Basically Sesame Street in Los Angeles instead of New York City; Richard Pyror playing various different color residents instead of Gordon, Susan, Bob, and Mr. Hooper; a half-hour plot instead of an hourlong scene interrupted by various different skits and inserts, and a Laugh Track.
- D.C. Follies: Transatlantic Equivalent to Spitting Image.
- As of 2012, Marty Krofft has said that he and Sid are in the process of starting up a new educational series that they flat-out said will be their version of Sesame Street.
- Easy Amnesia: Just about every single Krofft show has an episode like this.
- Expository Theme Tune: Many of their shows had this so children wouldn't be lost to the point where they were each about a minute and a half long.
- Expy: DC Follies is basically an American Spitting Image.
- 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.
- Non-Human Sidekick: A number of their human characters have one.
- People in Rubber Suits: The Kroffts were really the first to try this, before Disney even had walkaround characters at its theme parks.
- Revival: They've had many attempts at reviving their own work for newer generations, but their success has been mixed. Two revivals of Land of the Lost (1974) 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 Electra Woman and Dyna Girl (which got a pilot episode but wasn't picked up) and Family Affair (which had nothing to do with the original, but had obvious connections with cast member Johnny Whitaker) were in the works but ultimately led nowhere, and presently, movie remakes of H.R. Pufnstuf, Lidsville, and Sigmund and the Sea Monsters are in the works.
- It perhaps is not surprising that the sudden success of their 2015 Nick series Mutt & Stuff has kickstarted things, with a Mutt & Stuff/Pufnstuf crossover in early 2016. Meanwhile, Amazon's 2016 Pilot Season featured the pilot for a brand new Sigmund series, which was picked up for a single six-episode season.
- In Comic Con 2015 the Kroffts revealed a Bugaloos remake from the Bugaloos and they are communicating with a cable network so to speak, Also they hinted Cyndi Lauper would play Benita Bizarre, They also are looking into a remake of Lidsville.
- Electra Woman and Dyna Girl did eventually get a remake in 2016 as an eight-episode miniseries, though very little from the original show other than character names and costumes were kept.
- Surrounded by Idiots: Mostly the villains.
- Three Shorts: The Krofft Supershow featured three different Krofft shows as the main attractions for this musical variety show. Featured such shows like Wonderbug, Dr Shrinker and Electra Woman and Dyna Girl. The second season adding Magic Mongo and Bigfoot and Wildboy.