HR Pufnstuf: “The Magic Path” ( 1969)
Time to enter the wackazoid world of producers Sid and Marty Krofft, the men behind The Banana Splits and all- round pioneers of mental kids’ telly. Billowing from the bong fumes of the ’ 60s, HR Pufnstuf mixes live action and puppetry like an unwise chemistry experiment. V: Are we going to be watching anything from after I was born? Nick: Think of it as archaeology. Ian: “The Magic Path”? It sounds like a leaflet handed to you at a train station by a crazy- eyed religious person… Jordan: I’m guessing nobody gets roasted alive in this. Munchkin- sized teen hero Jack Wild is shipwrecked on Living Island. Look, there’s the mayor, a smiley but sad- eyed yellow dragon by the name of HR Pufnstuf. Yes, Pufnstuf. Note: insert obligatory “Were they all on drugs?” comment here. Jordan: Is that supposed to be a dragon? V: That is not a dragon! It’s a rejected Muppet! Ian: He’s an even less convincing mayor than Boris Johnson. V: His googly eyes don’t quite match up! Too disturbing! And why is this dragon wearing go- go dancer boots? Rich: This is just a guess, but I think Pufnstuf is a man in a suit. Jack Wild proudly shows us “My pal Freddy, the only talking flute in the world.” Nick: I bet he uses that line on all the girls. Cut to the lair of Witchiepoo, the show’s cackling, broom- riding villainess. Rich: She’s not as scary as the witch in Chorlton And The Wheelies. Jordan: Or Rita Repulsa from Power Rangers. Ian: She’s more Grotbags. Witchiepoo’s scheming with a bunch of tatty hench- monsters named Orson Vulture, Seymour Spider and, magnificently, Stupid Bat. They flap and shamble with all the menace of unloved toys. Ian: These guys are like rough concept sketches for Pacific Rim, at the back- of- the- envelope stage. Adding to the head- tripping weirdness is the fact that everything on Living Island is, well, alive. Walls, chairs, doors… Eyes! Eyes everywhere! Jordan: Why has everything got a face? Ian: I hope the toilet hasn’t got a face. I’d be constipated for weeks. A talking castle. Creepy trees with glowing yellow peepers. A dancing frog in gold trousers. It’s like being injected into the crumbling mind of a burned- out hippy. Rich: I’d like to see what this looked like written down on paper. Nick: It was never written down. It was scraped from Satan’s navel. Ian: Is this the island from Lost? It would make sense if we see the Dharma symbol… “See you next week!” says Jack Wild, cheerily, as puppets jig dementedly. No, kids! Save your minds from this madness! Ian: HR Smokin’crack.
Yep, HR Pufnstuf is a dragon. Apparently.
There’s no cure for pinkeye, kids.
We’re not even going to try to explain this.
And the less said about this the better.