Excessive Excursionist

My life- in 2D.

H.R. Pufnstuf- Drugs For Kids

It’s where I live most of the time- in my head, of course. The 70’s. The perfect decade. AKA “My Childhood”. It was a very turbulent time as far as politics, but gave us some of the best music, TV and overall pop culture. From time to time, and in totally random fashion, I’ll post something here from said decade to hopefully stir a memory for you as well……

The first post on this subject will be my favorite Saturday Morning show from the time- HR Pufnstuf.

But first- Everybody sing!

H.R. Pufnstuf,
Who’s your friend when things get rough?
H.R. Pufnstuf
Can’t do a little cause he can’t do enough.

Once upon a summertime
Just a dream from yesterday
A boy and his magic golden flute
Heard a boat from off the bay
“Come and play with me, Jimmy
Come and play with me.
And I will take you on a trip
Far across the sea.”

But the boat belonged to a kooky old witch
Who had in mind the flute to snitch
From her broom broom in the sky
She watched her plans materialize
She waved her wand
The beautiful boat was gone
The skies grew dark
The sea grew rough
And the boat sailed on and on and on and on and on and on.

But Pufnstuf was watching too
And knew exactly what to do
He saw the witch’s boat attack
And as the boy was fighting back
He called his rescue racer crew
As often they’d rehearsed
And off to save the boy they flew
But who would get there first?

But now the boy had washed ashore
Puf arrived to save the day
Which made the witch so mad and sore
She shook her first and screamed away.

H.R. Pufnstuf,
Who’s your friend when things get rough?
H.R. Pufnstuf
Can’t do a little cause he can’t do enough.

H.R. Pufnstuf,
Who’s your friend when things get rough?
H.R. Pufnstuf
Can’t do a little cause he can’t do enough.

This little gem from brothers Sid & Marty Krofft was their first of many live- action Saturday Morning shows- usually combining actors with a lot of live “cartoon” characters in some funkified costumes,  in a realm full of psychedelia.  This could and would, consequently- scare the living shit out of some kids. Thankfully, my upbringing and inner-cool overlooked that possibility.

The basic story was that of Jimmy (Jack Wild- may he rest in peace), a Londoner pre-teen with a Cockney accent thicker than Charlie Sheen’s black book, who comes to the US as a result of his fathers business firm. This is all briskly explained in the 1970 feature film, simply titled “Pufnstuf”, but never in the T.V. series (which is weird, considering the series was actively playing before and during the movie production and release). Jimmy is obviously deemed an outcast by the other kids (those meanies), and gets kicked out of the school band (he played the flute). When Jimmy is all alone and is at his lowest point, voila!- his flute transforms into gold and starts talking to him. Freddie (as he so eloquently introduces himself) instantly becomes Jimmy’s new best friend.

A solid gold, talking flute with a diamond skin condition- the way Punstuf calls it.

Jimmy and Freddie then go frolicking through the meadow, singing songs and partying- the only way “a boy and his magical golden flute”® can. A talking boat calls out to them for a ride on the seas, so of course, they go. One problem- this is nothing more than a fiendish plot conjured up by none other than Wilhemina W. Witchiepoo- more affectionately known by her moniker, simply Witchiepoo. Witchiepoo has a hard-on for Freddie Flute. I mean, it’s GOLD, people- and what woman, witch or no witch, doesn’t like gold? Witchiepoo, from the sky above- riding her “Vroom Broom” (a souped-up, kick-ass, mechanically- engineered, rocket-powered broom- that incidentally,  seats two comfortably) turns the nice talking boat into an evil one, which grabs Jimmy and tries to hold him until the witch can get her hands on the flute.

So now you have the basic plot- which is recurrent throughout both the series and movie. But now, back to the story.

Jimmy, with Freddie in shirt pocket (Freddies “home sweet home”), wash to shore after wrestling away from the evil boats grasp. He is rescued by the Mayor of Living Island, none other than HR Pufnstuf who is, at best, some kind of dragon. He also sounds like a flamboyant Gomer Pyle.

Pufnstuf’s job- along with the rest of the good guys residing on Living Island (including such characters as Keystone Cops Cling & Clang; Horsey, the polka-dotted horse; Dr. Blinky, the inventor owl; Ludicrous Lion, and more) is to keep Witchiepoo and her evil sidekicks Orson The Vulture and Seymour The Spider, from grabbing the flute.

Some of the above-mentioned characters, in all their mind-altering glory:

Jimmy & Pufnstuf with Ludicrous Lion & Horsey

Cling & Clang

Seymour & Orson

The show was REALLY intense as a kid. Overly- colorful, and fantasy- driven backdrops, along with every inanimate object turned animated (trees, books, mushrooms, etc.), made for a severely trippy show. That, and the fact that I was usually sugar-zinging on 3 bowls of Quisp by 8 in the morning (that’s for another day). Every episode would throw in a groovy tune, usually sung by Jimmy, that would get the toes tapping. The show was so creative overall, and even though it’s been rumored to have drug references (ya think?)- that’s something the Krofft Brothers vehemently deny to this day. According to folklore,  “H.R.” supposedly stood for “Hand Rolled”. Hmmmm, let me think about that.

Besides, to the typical 7-year old, they wouldn’t catch the references anyway. To them, it’s of a strictly fantasy nature. Aren’t most kid’s shows like that anyway? Think, more recently- The Teletubbies. Someone HAD to be doing some serious hallucinogens to come up with that- and it would not surprise me in the least if I learned that the Teletubbies creators were die hard “Puf” fans as kids.

The show obviously made a lasting impression on my fellow baby-boomers, because it’s being re-released in a special edition, boxset DVD. Click below to order on Amazon. If you have kids, it’s a must-get. Don’t you want them as mentally-stable as you are?

Yeah, I’ll be getting it. It’s where I live. Now, where’s my Quisp?

See ya next week!

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5 responses to “H.R. Pufnstuf- Drugs For Kids

  1. kelly March 28, 2011 at 5:00 PM

    One of my favorite shows when I was a youngin’. This rocks!

  2. Ilene Kaminsky March 29, 2011 at 3:35 PM

    Than you my friend for making the day brighter: for you have cleverly redefined the definition of the word “redundant” by describing HRP’s voice as a “flamboyant Gomer Pyle.” I did not know what HR stood for, so thank you for clearing this up for me – I adore this sort of party-enhancing mind minutia. One point of contention, Mr. Silverstein: I sorely disagree with your clearly Qwisped-up misogynistic interpretation Witchiepoo’s hunt for the golden flute. Think more about the interpretation and perhaps ’tis not gold the witch craved but the gold in the flute may have represented something more contiguous with the rest of your deconstruction instead. Also a nod of gratitude for the head’s up on the special edition boxed DVD set – I know our warped household will be the proud owners of one said boxed set pronto.

    • Excessive Excursionist March 29, 2011 at 4:19 PM

      Wow Ilene- I didn’t realize that my interpretation of Witchiepoo would be misconstrued as misogynistic. I was merely extemporizing what I thought was obvious- chicks dig jewelry. I, in no way meant to insult, or disrespect Women’s Lib as a whole. I love all women- especially the hot ones.

      And it’s Quisp. 😉

      • Ilene Kaminsky March 29, 2011 at 5:08 PM

        Okay, Quisp-y, as a fellow North Miami Beach denizen I can attest that gold adorned even those with the Y chromosome. Especially yellow gold: Tommy Bahama or Nat Naste shirts open to the mid-waist with chains and hair entwined interestingly by the wind that whips the chests extended over the wheel of the long nosed boat or car. The only cool gold I recall had an HR quality to it, not the kind that held the Chai.

        I rest my case: Diamonds are a girl’s best friend 😉

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