Wednesday, June 24, 2009

The Creators of the Original Land of the Lost & Other Stuff

If you’ve seen the Land of the Lost movie you may be wondering what all the fuss was about. Why did anyone care about this remake of a bad show that was already remade on TV once before? (Not to mention that the basic plot was already 100 or so years old.)

The answer: Because those of us who grew up on the original couldn’t get it out of our heads if we tried. Now could we get H.R. Pufnstuf out of our heads. Nor Sigmund and the Sea Monsters. Nor Donny & Marie. Nor any of the other Krofft shows which seemed to be on endless repeat on Saturday mornings in the 70s.

There’s a lot of weird stuff out there today, but is there anything weirder than Lidsville? Go ahead and Youtube it. See? That’s jacked up. Next, try the Banana Splits. Then Pink Lady and Jeff. You can see why these shows stayed with us. How could we ever forget them?

A little bit more YouTubing and maybe even some Netflixing will give you a peek into the uber-strange world of Krofft TV. Your guide to making this trip -- and I do mean trip -- is “Pufnstuf & Other Stuff” by David Martindale.

This book, made with the co-operation of the Kroffts, takes you through shows after show: Dr. Shrinker, Wonderbug, The Bugaloos, The Brady Bunch Hour and on and on. It’s an encyclopedia of whacked out ideas, like: let’s make a Richard Pryor show … for kids! (They really did it, too.)

And it’s full of fascinating tid-bits. For instance, the boy on the show, Will, was played by a young actor who also had a part on a soap opera: “In the mornings, I would be over at Days of Our Lives, crying about my girlfriend’s latest illness. Then I’d rush over to Land of the Lost and yell, ‘Run, Holly, run! There’s a dinosaur.’”

The good news about this book is that the author really knows his “& Stuff” and asks all the right fan boy questions. The bad news is that it does feel way too “authorized” by the Kroffts. Surely Martindale has more to say about these shows, but if he has anything snarky to say he mostly keeps it to himself.

Still, it’s an essential guide to one of the strangest chapters in TV history.


Ms. Yingling said...

Wow. I will HAVE To look at this. I think Lidsville was my favorite, although ElectraWoman and Dynagirl had more campy charm. I think the Kroftts must have subliminally changed our brain chemistry, or else how could we have watched this stuff? (Other than being primes with the Banana Splits...)

david elzey said...

Every time I tell my daughters about how different things were when I was a kid they go "Yeah, yeah, and you had to walk barefoot to school in the snow." So then I have to dig up some old Kroft shows on YouTube. Then their jaws drop. It's even more astounding to them than the realities of my pre-digital childhood.

a. fortis said...

Sounds interesting. I was a little too old for most of the Krofft stuff but the two that still played when I was a kid were Land of the Lost and The Great Space Coasters. (I still make the occasional Gary Gnu joke...)

Alex Bledsoe said...

Joy on "The Bugaloos" was the first girl I thought was pretty. I was certain my folks knew what I was thinking, I couldn't even watch the show with them in the room. I was probably seven.