The Wonderful World of S&M

If TV's a vast wasteland, Sid and Marty Krofft are really cleaning up, recycling their Saturday morning dynasty

After that came Lidsville ("not to be confused with the Nitty Gritty Ville," as the show's Moog-saddled theme thankfully tells us) in 1971. This odd program featured a trespassing Mark, played by Butch Patrick (a.k.a. TV's Eddie Munster), in a magician's dressing room trying to divine magic's greatest secrets, only to fall into said magician's hyperactive hat. Like Jimmy, Mark's curiosity dooms him to a less-than-ideal place to spend puberty, a land where there isn't a babe in sight and everyone's an annoying hat. Luckily, we're spared the sordid picture of Mark hitting on Miss Party Hat as the show awards far more screen time to the villain Hoo Doo (played by future Match Game chuckler Charles Nelson Reilly). In an odd move, the Kroffts actually let the bad guy win every once in a while.

In an even odder move, Lidsville has characters with titillating names like Weenie the Genie and Raunchy Rabbit -- names that Hoo Doo took strange pleasure in saying over and over again. When Hoo Doo poses as a female bunny to trick Raunchy, a line in bestiality that never needed crossing is bunny-hopped over.

Land of the Lost featured the Marshall family crossing a time vortex that stranded them in a prehistoric world for the Kroffts' first dramatic series. Even with some of the cheesiest special effects this side of Gumby, Land of the Lost still managed to scare plenty of kids, thanks to Will and Holly's incessant screams. No child actor ever worked harder for the money than these two, running from the same film loop of a claymation Tyrannosaurus rex over and over (eight times in the episode included on the boxed set).

Tartan envy: The Bay City Rollers fizzled on S-A-T-U-R-D-A-Y morn.
Tartan envy: The Bay City Rollers fizzled on S-A-T-U-R-D-A-Y morn.
Krofft's Sigmund and the Sea Monster: A variation on the old "boy hides neurotic clump of sea sewage" formula.
Krofft's Sigmund and the Sea Monster: A variation on the old "boy hides neurotic clump of sea sewage" formula.

Unfortunately, the bad acting of Dad, played by Spencer Mulligan, ruins the whole show. Mulligan has one of those beagle faces that always makes him look like he's smiling even when he's supposed to be terrorized because the kids didn't semaphore signal back. "Holly! Will! Where are you?" he yells as the rains bounce off his Cheshire grin. Darn you, Dad!

According to Krofft, one of the numerous new projects he and his brother have in development is a Land of the Lost movie. Certainly there's room for expansion transferring Land of the Lost to the big screen. But how will it improve on big-budget dinosaur flicks like the Jurassic Park films? "I think the main thing is our film's going to have a story. The second Jurassic Park had zero story! Our characters, the family, are the important thing," says Krofft.

With four successful shows under their belts, the brothers went into overdrive. "We did four shows at one time, and that was bad. We were doing Land of the Lost in the second season, The Lost Saucer, we were doing Sigmund, and another one, probably Far-Out Space Nuts, and that was too much," recalls Krofft. "Anybody says they can do four things at once, they're kidding themselves."

One can sense the slackening level of quality control on Far-Out Space Nuts and The Lost Saucer as both shows shuttled TV sitcom has-beens through outer space.

The former starred Chuck McCann and a gray-haired Bob Denver. After two unsuccessful prime-time attempts by other producers to revive Denver's Gilligan role (The Good Guys, Dusty's Trail), the crafty Kroffts figured out the formula: Get Denver stranded somewhere, but make sure he's bunking with a fat guy.

The Lost Saucer was fueled by the star power of Jim Nabors/Ruth Buzzi. You've got to feel for these two, as you watch them fitted into costumes that make them look like human slot machines, and then having to go space truckin' with a chatty teenage girl and a precocious little black child making tasteless fried chicken jokes. Take away the Dorse (the half dog, half horse, of course, of course), and you have the formula for every family sitcom in the '80s. The oddest moment occurs when Ruth Buzzi bends forward and Jim recharges her battery with a hose. Maybe he thought about Rock Hudson while doing the deed.

The Kroffts, or rather their puppets, returned to the live stage in 1974, mounting a musical revue called Raquel Welch and the World of Sid and Marty Krofft. "The billing on the marquee took up the whole block," remembers Krofft. "We had all sorts of life-sized puppets of amoebas for Fantastic Voyage, we did spoofs on her movies like One Million Years B.C. I always tell people we were the only act to play Vegas, get 100 percent billing and we never had to be there. I think she was always bugged that we got all the good reviews and she'd walk by our dressing room and never saw us there."

Similarly, the Kroffts got top billing for The Krofft Supershow, which they executive produced but did even less work on. "We created 15-minute serials woven around Kaptain Kool and the Kongs," says Krofft of the fictitious rock group who dressed like Huggy Bear wanna-bes and hosted the show.

The Krofft Supershow was geared to younger kids with shorter attention spans and was almost entirely puppet-free. Most of these shows are also laugh-free if you're past the age of 7.

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