The 1970s were a halcyon time to be a kid with unrestricted TV access, especially on Saturday mornings — and much of the credit goes to brothers Sid and Marty Krofft, who blended puppetry, comedy, fantasy, and their own bizarro sensibility to create some of the trippiest children’s entertainment ever. With a big-budget adaptation of Land of the Lost now in theaters (see review), Sid, 79, and Marty, 72, look back at a few of their greatest hits. Gen-Xers, get ready to hum some theme songs.
H.R. Pufnstuf (1969)
The Kroffts’ breakthrough — about a boy who travels to a magical island —became a cult hit among college students and hipsters (including the Beatles) thanks to its surreal, psychedelic look and alleged drug references. ”When the show went on, all the people we knew who were druggies said, ‘How’d you get away with this?”’ says Marty. In fact, Sid insists, ”the title came from ‘Puff, the Magic Dragon,’ which was a big song then.”
One of the Kroffts’ oddest creations — and one of the weirdest kids’ shows in history — centered on a boy trapped in a land of talking hats, where he’s menaced by an evil magician. ”I was lying in my van one day after a run and I had about 20 hats in there, and I said, ‘Damn, every kind of hat has a different personality!”’ Sid remembers. Again, the title was widely seen as a coded reference to ”lids” of marijuana. ”A lid is a hat!” Sid protests.
Sigmund and the Sea Monsters (1973)
The Kroffts’ series about two brothers who discover a strange but lovable sea creature and hide him in their clubhouse was inspired by a moment of reverie on a Southern California beach. ”Sid was down in La Jolla and he saw this tremendous seaweed in the ocean,” says Marty. ”He brought the seaweed back to the office, and that was Sigmund.” Notes Sid, ”It was the same kind of concept as E.T., but way before.”
Land of the Lost (1974)
A father and his two kids hurled into a mysterious world of rampaging dinosaurs — with hairy sidekick Cha-Ka (Chaka in the film) and sinister, lizardlike Sleestaks thrown in for good measure — made the Kroffts’ biggest Saturday-morning hit a favorite for many a child of the ’70s. ”Oddly enough, the first title the show had was Lost,” Sid recalls. ”We said, ‘What does that mean? It needs a place.’ That’s how it wound up being Land of the Lost.”