No, for the bajillionth time, Sid and Marty Krofft were not on drugs when they made their haunting Saturday morning shows. That's what they claim in interviews, and I have no reason to think otherwise. It just makes their oeuvre that much more impressive.
Like this week's show Lidsville. Instead of a fantastic premise, the Kroffts opted for some true-life inspiration. Young Mark is impressed by a magician's act. In fact, he's so impressed that he sneaks backstage afterward to see his magic hat to see how Merlo the Great pulled a rabbit out of it.
As soon as he picks up the hat, the room begins to glow and the hat grows insanely large. Intrigued, Mark climbs onto the brim of the giant hat to see what's going on. Alas, he falls in, seeing a kaleidoscope of bizarre images before finally landing unharmed in a strange place populated mostly by anthropomorphic hats.
See? That could happen to anyone.
Lidsville starred former Eddie Munster Butch Patrick as Mark, while the legendary Charles Nelson Reilly portrayed the evil Horatio J. Hoodoo, who terrorized the citizens of Lidsville while flying around in his (sigh) hatamaran. Helping Mark try to find a way home was Weenie the Genie, played by Billie Hayes, who was also Witchiepoo in H.R. Pufnstuf.
The show ran from 1971 to 1973, but there were only 17 episodes. That's a lot of chances for repeat viewing.
At its most basic, Lidsville was about a lost boy trying to get home. It might not have been the primary goal of each episode, but that was what Mark wanted. As far as we know, he never returned home, not unlike other beloved TV characters.
In actuality it was like watching a fever dream or acid trip. You can't say the Kroffts didn't have imagination. Most of their shows involve outlandish and colorful sets and characters. But still, I have to wonder how many kids got the crap scared out of them just during the opening credits.
Speaking of the opening credits, you eagle-eyed types might notice that Charles Nelson Reilly also plays Merlo the Great. That always made me wonder if Merlo was a disguise for Hoodoo while in our world.
That's probably overthinking it a bit, but I was a nerdy kid. A shock, I know.
You know the premise for the show is bizarre when you try to explain it to other grown adults. It's like trying to explain old videogames.
"OK, so in Burgertime, you play a chef who's trying to make gigantic burgers while avoiding attacks from people-sized hot dogs, fried eggs and pickle chips. To ward them off, you douse them with pepper. That stops them for a second."
It makes perfect sense until you say it out loud.
If, God help us all, they make a movie version of this, I think it would be interesting if instead of a kid's movie, they made it a dystopian nightmare, as cliche as it might be. Horatio Hoodoo (Johnny Depp?) wants to conquer Lidsville, so he travels to our world to perform magic shows in hopes of finding a kid fascinated by magic. He'd do all the hard work, and if something went wrong, the kid could take the fall for him. The ruler of Lidsville is a giant Kangol (voiced by Samuel L. Jackson, naturally), who tries to convert Hoodoo's apprentice and --
Sorry. Still overthinking this. I'm still a nerdy kid, I guess.