Krofft Works

There's plenty of magical musical Krofft moments if you're willing to pay collectors' prices

H.R. Pufnstuf

You could fetch a pretty penny if you had the seven-inch TV soundtrack album containing songs like "Mechanical Boy" and the Witchiepoo anthem "Oranges Smoranges." Freddie the Flute's Herbie Mann impersonations notwithstanding, most of the musical content of Pufnstuf was handled by Jack Wild, who had three singles, "Some Beautiful," "Wait for Summer" and "(Holy Moses) Everything's Coming Up Roses," released during the show's heyday, although none rose higher than No. 92 on the Billboard Hot 100. Casting Jack Wild as the show's human star Jimmy filled the teen-idol void vacated by Monkee Davy Jones, who also played the Artful Dodger on Broadway. Another Artful Dodger from a London production who was turned down for a role by the Kroffts was a young actor/musician named Phil Collins. Too bad they didn't encourage his genesis into a Bugaloo; they really could've used a backbeat -- even his.

The Bugaloos

Collector's gold: Early Pufnstuf vinyl.
Collector's gold: Early Pufnstuf vinyl.
The Bugaloos: A bee group in every sense of the word.
The Bugaloos: A bee group in every sense of the word.
Johnny Whitaker: A voice flatter than Beach Boy Mike Love.
Johnny Whitaker: A voice flatter than Beach Boy Mike Love.

This insect sect spawned a very hard-to-find, even harder-to-listen-to album on Capitol and probably inspired the 1970 Don Kirshner film Tomorrow, about a futuristic English rock quartet that hasn't got wings but does sport a black guy, a blond guy, a brunette guy and a girl who barely sings above a whisper named Olivia Newton-John.

Lidsville

The first Krofft show not to spin off a record. The only music element in the show was the Hat Band, who played six-second bursts of song that sounded like the "Macarena." Although one of the show's stars, Butch Patrick, would go on to form a punk-rock band in 1983 called Eddie and the Monsters that released a single called "Whatever Happened to Eddie?"

Land of the Lost

Michael J. Fox was turned down for the role of Will (maybe because he can't sing, as the disastrous rock pic Light of Day proved). A would-be teen idol by the singular name of Wesley could sing but didn't become all that big. No Wesley records reach the marketplace, nor does the banjo-driven theme about the Marshalls' routine expedition that turns into the "greatest earthquake the world has ever known." True to Steve Martin's credo, you just can't be sad when there's banjo music playing, Deliverance notwithstanding. The incidental music for the show was scored by Jimmie Haskell, the string arranger for Simon and Garfunkel's "Bridge Over Troubled Water." Some troubled waters -- the show's opening featured the Marshall family shooting down what are supposed to be raging rapids but that don't contain enough H2O to fill a water balloon.

Sigmund and the Sea Monster

The age-old formula of "boy hides animal from his pet-forbidding parent" is taken to new extremes. Here it becomes "boy hides neurotic clump of sea sewage" in his garage. Johnny Whittaker sings "Friends," the Beach Boy pastiche serves as the theme to this show and he manages to do it with a voice even flatter than Mike Love's. A soundtrack album of the same name exists, if your older brother or sister didn't fling it out the window. Songs were written exclusively for this show by Bobby Hart, Danny Jannsen and Wes Farrell, who between them have the musical careers of the Monkees, the Partridge Family, the Brady Bunch, Bobby Sherman and Josie and the Pussycats to answer for. In keeping with the Monkees' Fab Four borrowings, the outro song to Sigmund, "Gotta Run, Gotta Hide," was essentially "Got to Get You Into My Life" if Lennon and McCartney had written it for Ringo to sing.

Dr. Shrinker

Whatta theme! "Dr. Shrinker, Dr. Shrinker/He's a madman with an evil mind." Sort of sounds like an Ozzy lyric. Speaking of head-bangers, in one episode Gordie is struck on the skull a mind-shattering nine times to either induce amnesia or bring his memory back.

Wonderbug

The formula: The Mod Squad meets The Love Bug. One of Wonderbug's co-stars played Sticks Downing, the black drummer in Richie Cunningham's band on Happy Days, which explains why the Wonderbug theme is the whitest music known to man. Incidentally, this show features a gag that must really tickle kids' funny bones, as it's used in at least three of the shows here. Someone in the gang comes up with a plan which is discounted by the lead character who then comes up with the same identical plan and decides that it's a brilliant idea! I'll tell you what's brilliant. After coming up with a plan to foil the microfilm-smuggling spies and save the world, all three teens yell "Right on!" in unison. This move would later inspire future Krofft stars Donny and Marie to blurt out "Aloha tropical fruit" at the exact same millisecond.

Pryor's Place

Perhaps the most fantasy-driven element in Pryor's Place doesn't involve the Kroffts' puppetry. Which best illustrates fantasy to you?

1. That there's an Asian female cop on a beat doing breakdance moves.

2. That Ray Parker Jr. is singing the theme without moving his lips.

3. That a comedian can burn himself up free-basing, release groundbreaking comedy albums like That Nigger's Crazy and Bicentennial Nigger, and host a kids' show four years later.

 
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