7/13/09

High Times on Saturday Morning

It’s hard to watch a Sid & Marty Krofft production today and not notice the trademarks of drug use. Except for the case of Land of the Lost, perhaps, their shows were trippy beyond measure with day-glow colors and fantastical landscapes and characters that had more in common with psychedelia than standard children’s programming.

A shining example of drug inspiration in Krofft productions is H.R. Pufinstuf. The reefer references abound. Here’s just a few:

1. Pufnstuf sounds a lot like "puffing stuff"
2. H.R. is believed to stand for "hand rolled"
3. H.R. Pufnstuf is the mayor - a code for marijuana
4. H.R. Pufnstuf is green with red hair - just like cannabis buds
5. The last line of the chorus at the beginning and end of the show can easily be taken as a pot reference: "H.R. Pufnstuf, can't do a little, 'cause you can't do enough!"
6. Witchiepoo makes food called "roach beef sandwiches"
7. Freddie the Flute gets turned into a "magic mushroom"
And so on. Read more on the subject in an article at Cannabis Culture.

Of course the same sort of thing has been said of “Puff the Magic Dragon” with his friend little Johnny Paper (i.e. rolling paper). The artists always deny the drug connection, but the belief persists nonetheless.

Of course, children’s programming is an easy target since it generally involves fantastical creations of some kind. Hell, even Mr. Rogers’ Make Believe Neighborhood could be construed as being a tad trippy. Daniel Strip├Ęd Tiger and X the Owl always kind of freaked me out. And haven’t we heard the same sort of thing in recent times about the Teletubbies?

A prime example of a children's show on acid is the 1970’s Dutch series Ti-Ta-Tovenaar. In this picture, Ti-Ta-Tovenaar is looking for a spell to turn strawberries into camels. Strawberries into camels?!? Also, when Ti-Ka (the lady above) plays her Magic Flute her monkey Tato appears. They must have been smoking some good stuff in Amsterdam back then. (A link to a full episode here. The image was found here on Flickr)

I guess the more appropriate question may be “What WASN’T drug influenced in the late sixties and early seventies?” Take a good long look at the clothes, the wallpaper, the music, the movies… drugs played a hand in nearly all of the cultural products of this era. Why would we expect anything else from children’s programming?

10 comments:

  1. Ah, gotta love it. I have to think they did use something for inspiration. I mean, "The Bugaloos"? "Sigmund the Sea-Monster"? And hey, maybe some 'inspiration' would have helped the 3rd season of "Land of the Lost" from being so poopy.

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  2. I really dig it though. This is my kind of stuff. Great post. Hope your week has started off groovy.

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  3. LOL that is funny and great stuff especially about puffnstuff!

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  4. Wings - Remember that scene in Up in Smoke where Cheech is hitting a massive joint then accidently chases it with a handful of acid?... That's what they needed to save the 3rd season of LOTL. Plus, you need Spencer Milligan.

    Keith - Thanks. Glad you like it. My week is actually off to a lousy start... but (as Loverboy once said) everybody's workin' for the weekend - and I'm no exception.

    Amy- Thanks. I'd love to see Sid & Marty Krofft take over a show that's on nowadays, like Grey's Anatomy, and give it a good LSD/Willy Wonka makeover.

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  5. I watched a bit of the Ti-Ta-Tovenaar video. Maybe it wouldn't have been so creepy if they were speaking English. The two puppets sure sounded like stoners to me.

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  6. According to the Kroffts the Drug refrences where purely coincidental and the trippy pychidelic look was just the style of the times,this is of course according to the Kroffts.Of coures this stuff is leaps and bounds better than todays kids shows.By the way are you familiar with the Krofft vs. Mcdonalds lawsuit?

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  7. I am. Although, I don't recall how it turned out. Seems like the Krofft bros had a legitimate claim.

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  8. Gotta love Sid and Marty Kroft's stuff. I've always thought that the original Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory movie contained several drug references. The part where they lick fruit flavored wallpaper...the giant mushrooms in the chocolate room...the room that gets bigger and smaller...the scene where Charlie and his grandfather float in the air after drinking soda pop. And of course, the infamous psychedelic boat ride where everyone sees scary hallucinations. Hmmm...you've just inspired me for a future blog post of my own!

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  9. That's funny, I don't remember that much action in Meatballs... maybe I saw the edited version.

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  10. LOL! Sir Gilligan, you are the best! I never could understand the appeal of those shows--I was 'hooked' on pufnstuf only because of the kid that played Jack. He was also the 'artful dodger' on that movie version of Oliver! (the musical with Oliver Reed as Sikes) But I thought Witchipoo could use a valium or three. I couldn't stand her voice. I was so naive back then!

    I don't think I've ever seen Up in Smoke in its entirety, I remember about the 'doby doobie', though!

    Meatballs was fantastic! One of my favorite movies still! And the soundtrack rocked! Joe, you saw the edited for TV version, the DVD showed a bit more edgier material! When we watched with our kids, there were a whole bunch of "I don't remember that scene in that"

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