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H.R. Pufnstuf: The Complete Series (DVD Review)

9 Apr, 2011 By: John Latchem

Street 4/12/11
$24.99 three-DVD set, $34.97 collector’s set
Not rated.
Stars Jack Wild, Billie Hayes.

The deluxe boxed set of the complete series of “H.R. Pufnstuf” comes with a bobble head of the title character. Maybe it should have come with a joint. The trippy 1969-71 show definitely is on the short list of the most bizarre children’s shows ever made.

Perhaps that’s not surprising, considering it emerged from the same era that gave us Shaggy and Scooby-Doo. It’s just a necessity that kids shows have to be produced by grown-ups, and adults have to find some way to amuse themselves, right?

That leads us into what might be the best known property put forth by Sid and Marty Krofft Productions (other than “Land of the Lost”). The opening title sequence tells us all we need to know. A young boy named Jimmy (played by the late Jack Wild) is seen prancing around with a magical, talking golden flute. He finds a boat that promises to take him on an adventure, but it’s a trap hatched by the diabolical Witchiepoo (Billie Hayes), who wants to steal the flute. Jimmy manages to escape and washes up on a Wonderland-meets-Oz kind of place called Living Island, where he is taken in by the mayor, a bizarrely proportioned dragon named H.R. Pufnstuf (popular speculation in stoner circles holds that the H.R. stands for “hand rolled”).

So in each episode, the witch makes a plan to grab the flute, while Pufnstuff protects Jimmy and searches for a way to get him off the island.

The presence of Wild, who played The Artful Dodger in 1968 best picture winner Oliver!, turns the show into a kind of musical comedy, with lots of dancing and songs about friendship and other useful topics.

Whatever the origin of the show’s subtle drug references, “H.R. Pufnstuf” rarely fails to entertain, and this DVD set should prove an endless source of amusement for adult and child alike.

The set also includes a previously unreleased “Horror Hotel” episode (featuring Witchiepoo) from “The Krofft Superstar Hour,” as well as a downloadable coloring book with sheet music and photos from the show.

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