Video Digest: March 2, 2007

Ah, youth: Telelvision shows from the psychedelic days, when Sid and Marty Krofft brought us Land of the Lost, HR Pufnstuf, Sigmund and Sea Monsters, The Bugaloos, and Electra Woman and Dyna Girl.

Last week, Video Digest brought you classic regional commercials of the ‘70s and ‘80s. It was a smorgasbord of egg-laying eagles, rapping spokespeople, and beautiful Mount Airy Lodge. A few of you sent in gems from your own traumatized childhood, and I’d love to see more. Please send any regional commercial jewels to . Now that we’ve tackled the ads, let’s take a look at the meat to our sandwich bread. The hot dog to the bun. The cocaine to our crack pipe. In other words, the shows of our youth. In other words: Sid and Marty Krofft.

These days, there’s a lot of chatter about wacky children’s shows. I can’t actually confirm this chatter, but I assume that’s what those urban parents are arguing about on their baby message boards: the goofball Wiggles, the psychedelic Teletubbies, the hypnotic Lazytown. Well, things were a whole lot weirder in the ‘70s. And I dug it.

Sid and Marty Krofft were puppeteering siblings who produced a spate of trippy children’s shows during the ‘70s. My favorite was a slice of something called Land of the Lost, in which an American family was transported to an alternate prehistoric era in the middle of a camping trip. They made friends with this chimpanzee man named Cha-ka. At the Austin paper where I used to work, there was a music writer who had decoded Chaka’s language. He spoke Cha-ka. There was a name for it. According to Wikipedia, it’s Paku. Anyway, this paper-doll cutout intro was so scary and exciting to me that I practically pissed my Osh Kosh overalls. The last frame, where the dinosaur consumes the camera? The Jurassic Park of its time.

The first Krofft show was HR Pufnstuf, debuting in 1969, a series that has certainly given slacker comedians a few punchlines over the years. There was a magic island. There was a puppet dressed like a drag queen. There was a talking flute named Freddie. Basically, it had everything.

What I always confuse HR Pufnstuf with, however, is Sigmund and Sea Monsters, which was the show I loved almost as much as Land of the Lost. I totally wanted a sea monster, which is one more reason why I need to apologize to my mom next time she calls. “Waah! Screw hamsters, mommy. I want a sea monster.”

And then there was The Bugaloos. Ah, the Bugaloos. Like the Patridge family with insect wings.

Though it only lasted one season in its initial run, Electra Woman and Dyna Girl had a huge impact on my childhood psyche. I was always running around the neighborhood, tasering people and stringing them up with Christmas lights. I hadn’t watched EWADG since my youth, so in this clip, I was struck by the following: a) I totally forgot that Electra Woman was Deirdre Hall, aka Days of Our Lives’ Marlena; b) I totally love that the costumes were apparently bought at Ricky’s, the New York City wig store, and that the scary spider lady is wearing an air conditioning filter on her head; and c) Don’t miss TV veteran Norman Alden as Prof. Frank Heflin. Now, go save the world, girls. But do it fashionably.

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