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A young boy named Jimmy has in his possession a magic flute named Freddie that can talk and play tunes on its own. One day he gets on a magic talking boat that promises to take him on an adventure. The boat happens to belong to a wicked witch named Witchiepoo, who uses the boat to kidnap Jimmy and take him to her home base on Living Island, where she hopes to steal Freddie for her own selfish needs. Fortunately Jimmy is rescued by the island's mayor, a six foot dragon named H.R. Pufnstuf. After Jimmy is rescued by Pufnstuf and his two deputies, Kling and Klang, his adventures begin as well as his attempts to get back home. Written by
Brian Washington <Sargebri@att.net>
H.R. Pufnstuf....Who's your friend when things get rough?
This was one psychedelic children's show. In all,it was a memorable fantasy-musical adventure fiasco of a series that was filmed on a Hollywood studio lot-at Paramount Studios,and in turn was the first of several Sid and Marty Krofft Productions to be produced for Saturday Mornings. The executive producers were Sid and Marty Krofft themselves along with producer Si Rose,who was also the head writer for several episodes and also the producer-writer for several classic television shows which included "McHale's Navy","The Ghost and Mrs. Muir","F-Troop","My Three Sons","The Doris Day Show",and later with "The Dukes Of Hazzard".
The children fantasy-adventure series "H.R. Pufnstuf" had all the standard tricks associated with the production company,including fantastic costumes,brightly colored and outrageous noisy comedy. The action centered on prepubescent Jimmy,the only human seen on the show,who sail out one day with his talking flute Freddy in his shirt pocket. The evil and menacing and ugly Witchiepoo,however,who coveted the magic flute puts a spell on Jimmy's boat causing it to crash on Living Island. Once there,Jimmy is rescued by the island's leading citizen,an amiable dragon named H.R. Pufnstuf and is adopted by the other adorable denizens of the island including Blinky the wise owl,Cling and Clang,the midget cops,and Four Winds,a breeze with a human visage. All of them worked to keep Jimmy and his high-pitched nervous flute out of the clutches of the evil and diabolical Witchiepoo. However,Witchiepoo's plans constantly ran afoul of her incompetent help. On the plus side was her Vroom-Broom,a gandy contraption featuring a umbrella-shaded seat for the witch and a bathtub sidecar for her goofy vulture sidekick Orson. Unfortunately,Orson was part of Witchiepoo's problem as were Seymour the yellow spider and Stupid Bat. The fearsome(and sometimes frightening)looking Evil Trees and the Mushrooms were supposed to be the scary part of the show,but in turn was very effective in producing a scare tactic not only for little kids,but older teenagers in mind who were watching the show.
As for the show itself,the series "H.R. Pufnstuf" made a superstar out of British actor Jack Wild--who in turn before his television debut was see as the "Artful Dodger",who in turn was magnificent in his singing and acting talents in Carol Reed's 1968 Oscar-winning musical "Oliver",based on the characters from Charles Dickens' great novel. On the show however,you got to see some of the great musical talent that Jack Wild had and it shows with his singing and dancing abilities as well as his acting techniques. Not bad for a child actor though. Also mentioned here is the talents of Billie Hayes as the evil Witchiepoo. Her character was not only menacing but absolutely hilarious to boot,and it shows in some of the episodes. One funny lady. Bit of trivia about the show--"H.R. Pufnstuf"-only actors Jack Wild and Billie Hayes were the only human characters on the show--the rest of them were actors in costumes and their acting abilities were supplied by voice characterizations namely from the talents of Lennie Weinrib(who was one of the head writers for the show),Walker Edminston and Frank Welker.
When "H.R. Pufnstuf",made its premiere on NBC-TV on September 6,1969, the show became an immediate hit with not only with kids,but adults as well. The series lasted three seasons on the network until the final episode on September 4, 1971. Only the first season had original episodes. Seasons two and three were repeated episodes from the first season. During the height of the 1969-1970 season,"H.R. Pufnstuf", was a ratings winner and a smash hit with its audience--mainly with the audiences that consisted of children and its connection with the Saturday Morning audience. The show scored the highest ratings ever in the history of the network,and ousted the competition of other shows airing in the same slot on ABC and CBS. "H.R. Pufnstuf",was the most successful Saturday Morning series on NBC,and the only show besides the animated "The Pink Panther Show" and the live-action adventure series "Skippy:The Bush Kangaroo",to do so during the 1969-1970 season.
Only 21 episodes were produced for this series. After the phenomenal success of the show,Sid and Marty Krofft took "H.R. Pufnstuf",to the next level,and in 1970 Universal Pictures produced a feature length film version called "Pufnstuf",with Jack Wild,Billie Hayes,and Cass Elliott. After the show was cancelled in 1971,repeated episodes of the series were shown on Saturday Mornings on ABC-TV from September 16,1972 to September 1,1973 and from there moved to Sunday Mornings from September 9,1973 until the last repeated telecast on September 1,1974.
After the success of the show,actor Jack Wild went into oblivion never to be heard from since,with a exception for several appearances of children's shows during the remainder of the 1970's and 1980's. He is longer with us. A great talent on a great show.
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