May 23, 2020

LIDSVILLE


LIDSVILLE
(ABC, September 11, 1971-January 1, 1972)

Sid & Marty Krofft Television Productions




MAIN CAST:
Butch Patrick – Mark
Billie Hayes – Weenie the Genie, Witchiepoo
Charles Nelson Reilly – Horatio J. HooDoo, Merlo the Magician
Walker Edmiston – Raunchy Rabbit, Jack of Clubs, Bela, Boris, Imperial Wizard, Hiram, Admiral Scuttlebutt, Big Chief Sitting Duck
Lennie Weinrib – Mr. Big, Captain Hooknose, Rah-Rah, Colonel Poom, Mr. Chow, Pierre LeSewer, Scorchy, Tex, Tonsilini
Joan Gerber – Madame Ring-a-Ding, Mother Wheels, Nursie, Twirly, Little Ben
Sharon Baird – Raunchy Rabbit (performer), various
Angelo Rossitto – Mr. Big (performer), various
Joy Campbell – Nursie (performer), various
Felix Silla – Colonel Poom (performer), various
Van Snowden – Tonsilini (performer), various


            Lidsville is the fourth television show featuring the work of Sid and Marty Krofft, and the third made through their production company. It utilized their style of actors in makeup filmed alongside performers in full mascot costumes and puppets with voice actors supplying the voices. Lidsville followed the adventures of young Mark (Butch Patrick) after he falls into a magician’s hat and winds up in a land of living hats. The land was frequently terrorized by magician Horatio J. HooDoo (Charles Nelson Reilly, who also played the magician in Mark’s world) in order to extort money from them. HooDooo kept an eye on the populace via a TV-like eyeball called The Evil Eye, and travelled around in his top hat-like Hatamaran. HooDoo was alerted to Mark’s arrival and took an interest, believing Mark a spy. HooDoo would also actively prevent his attempts to return home when Mark stole the magic ring that contained HooDoo’s bumbling genie slave, Weenie (Billie Hayes, replacing an initially cast Billy Barty who fell ill before production).

Mark and Weenie the Genie.


            Lidsville was inspired by Sid Krofft’s large hat collection. One day he pondered what would happen if they came to life and exhibited their own unique personalities. It was the Kroffts’ most ambitious project at the time, boasting a tremendous assortment of both costumed characters and puppets. While a number of previous Krofft players were retained from the prior shows to play the characters when they were the focus of a scene, the sheer volume of these characters meant they had to hire additional support in the form of The Hermine Midgets or even children for any background characters. When the focus would shift characters between shots, the players had to trade costumes and, over the course of the show, often ended up playing multiple characters.

Citizens of Lidsville (from front left): Mr. Chow, Tex, Hiram and Little Ben, Weenie, Madame Ring-a-Ding, Scorchy, Nursie, Colonel Poom, Rah-Rah, Admiral Scuttlebutt, and Big Chief Sitting Duck.

The citizens of Lidsville, the Good Hats, included Colonel Poom (Felix Silla & Lennie Weinrib using a British accent), a pith helmet who was the de factor leader of the town; Rah-Rah (Jerry Maren & Weinrib), a football helmet who acted like a stereotypical “dumb jock”; Mother Wheels (Joan Gerber), an elderly motorcycle helmet always on her bike; Madame Ring-a-Ding (Gerber), a party hat who was the town social director; Mr. Chow (Weinrib using a Chinese accent), a chef’s toque with a Manchurian mustache that served as the town’s top chef; Tonsilini (Van Snowden & Weinrib), an opera hat that signs everything he says; Hiram (Walker Edmiston), a farmer’s straw hat often seen carrying around piglet Little Ben (Gerber); Admiral Scuttlebutt (Edmiston), an admiral’s bicorne that speaks in naval clich├ęs; Big Chief Sitting Duck (Edmiston), a feathered Indian chief’s hat that wears an Indian blanket; Twirly (Gerber), a beanie that can use his propeller to fly; Nursie (Joy Campbell  & Gerber), a nurse’s hat that serves as the town’s doctor; Tex (Weinrib impersonating John Wayne), a cowboy hat; Pierre LeSewer (Weinrib), a French beret that frequently popped out of the town sewers; and Scorchy (Weinrib), a fire hydrant that wore a firefighter’s helmet and serves as the town’s early warning system. Each of the Good Hats lived in a house that emphasized their personality.

HooDoo with the Bad Hats and Raunchy Rabbit.

            HooDoo had his own group of hats, called The Bad Hats. They consisted of Mr. Big (Angelo Rossitto & Lennie Weinrib), a gangster fedora that leads the group; Captain Hooknose (Weinrib), a pirate hat with a hook for a nose; Bela (Walker Edmiston, impersonating Bela Lugosi for which the character was named), a vampire-like tophat; and Boris (Edmiston, impersonating Peter Lorre), an axe-wielding executioner’s hood. HooDoo’s non-hat henchmen included Raunchy Rabbit (Sharon Baird & Edmiston), a dimwitted fez-wearing rabbit, and Jack of Clubs (Edmiston), a walking deck of playing cards that could speak from both Jack-of-Clubs faces. However, HooDoo wasn’t actually in charge as he answered to the Imperial Wizard (Edmiston).

HooDoo zapping.

            Lidsville debuted on ABC on September 11, 1971 after recording the entire show in a brisk 11 weeks. Many would come to note that the series was an almost superficial repackaging of H.R. Pufnstuff as it utilized a similar concept (it also bore a resemblance to the animated British program, Hattytown Tales). There was even an unsubstantiated report from 1974’s Film Fan Monthly saying that Mark Lester, who co-starred with Pufnstuff’s Jack Wild in Olvier!, was actually the original choice to play Mark in Lidsville. Also, Hayes reprised her role of Witchiepoo, the villain of that series, in an episode of Lidsville (playing a double role). However, one key difference is that while the lost boy lead of Pufnstuff seemed almost happy to be with his new friends, Mark, despite putting on a happy face, always had that underlying sense of just wanting to get home (which could have stemmed from that fact that Patrick had reservations about taking the role from the outset, and wanting to be done with the grueling shooting schedule). Also, HooDoo’s wickedness was on full display, making him seem like as genuine a threat as possible as network censors would allow.

The citizens of Lidsville tattle on HooDoo to his mother (Muriel Landers).

The series was written by John Fenton Murray, Warren S. Murray, Rita Sedran Rose, Jack Raymond, Larry Alexander, Marc B. Ray, Si Rose, Elroy Schwartz and Paul Wayne. Like other Krofft productions, Lidsville often featured a musical number in its episodes, with music provided by Les Szarvas; however, unlike those other shows, the music wasn’t always as well integrated into the narrative of the episode. The intro was filmed at Six Flags Over Texas, with the rest of the show being shot Paramount Pictures’ film studio in Los Angeles. Like previous Krofft shows, many had come to regard it as an acid trip—thanks to the abundance of colors used and weird characters—and suspected its name derived from the drug slang version of “lid”, rather than the slang for hat.

HooDoo taking Witchiepoo terrorizing in his Hatamaran.

Lidsville only ran for a single season, however it remained on the network through 1973, and then went over to NBC for another year of reruns. Horatio J. HooDoo would continue to make appearances in future Krofft productions, as well as ABC’s 1972 preview special, The Brady Bunch Meets ABC’s Saturday Superstars. However, Paul Gale would play the role in all further appearances as Reilly hated the costume and all the make-up required; a fact that was withheld from him when he took the role. The hat people also made an appearance in the 1973 Ice Capades, as well as the live stage show, The World of Sid & Marty Krofft Live at the Hollywood Bowl. The stage show was recorded and later shown as a television special; however, the Lidsville characters were removed from a 1990s Nick at Nite broadcast.

The Good Hats as depicted in the Lidsville comic.

Gold Key Comics published a 5-issue Lidsville comic that was a mix of original stories and episode adaptations. While the stories themselves were faithful to the show, very little else was. For instance, Weenie’s bumbling was toned down and his magic could only work when Mark rubbed the magic ring. Boris made no appearances outside of the covers. Jack of Clubs was depicted as being a singular card rather than a deck. The established residents of Lidsville had some noticeable differences in their appearance, and new characters unique to the comic made appearances. Other merchandise released for the show included two versions of a HooDoo and a Weenie Halloween costume by Collegeville, a tin lunch box from Aladdin, a magic slate and a an activity book, both by Whitman.

The complete series DVD.

In 1985, Embassy Home Entertainment released two volumes of episodes under their Children’s Treasures banner as part of The World of Sid & Marty Krofft video collection. The first episode was included on Rhino Home Video’s The World of Sid & Marty Krofft VHS collection in 1999, which was subsequently re-released to DVD in 2002. Rhino also released a single 2-episode VHS of Lidsville. In 2004, Rhino released The Complete Lidsville VHS collection under their Rhino Handmade banner, which was limited to 3,000 copies and retailed for an amazing $83.98. The following year, Rhino released Lidsville: The Complete Series to DVD. Later in 2005, Rhino released a stripped-down version of The World of Sid & Marty Krofft as Saturday Morning with Sid & Marty Krofft. In 2010, “Mark and the Beanstalk” was included on the DVD Sid & Marty Krofft’s Saturday Morning Hits by SMK Pictures.



MAIN CAST:
“World in a Hat” (9/11/71) – Mark falls into a magician’s hat and ends up in a magical world where the evil HooDoo believes he is a spy.

“Show Me the Way to Go Home” (9/18/71) – HooDoo attempts to stop Mark, Weenie and Poom from reaching The Golden Ladder.

“Fly Now, Vacuum Later” (9/25/71) – HooDoo uses a giant vacuum cleaner in order to swallow Mark and his magic carpet.

“Weenie, Weenie, Where’s Our Genie?” (10/2/71) – Weenie runs away and HooDoo captures Nursie and Scorchy as ransom for his return.

“Let’s Hear it for Whizzo” (10/9/71) – HooDoo evicts all the residents of Lidsville so Mark challenges him to a wizard duel.

“Is There a Mayor in the House?” (10/16/71) – Mark suggests the citizens should elect a mayor, so HooDoo attempts to rig the election.  

“Take Me to Your Rabbit” (10/23/71) – A lightning strike gives Raunchy Rabbit HooDoo’s magical powers.

“Have I Got a Girl for HooDoo” (10/30/71) – Mark tries to free Wilhelmina W. Witchiepoo from the spell that makes her infatuated with HooDoo.

“Mark and the Beanstalk” (11/6/71) – HooDoo disguises himself as Mark and attempts to use a beanstalk to escape to Mark’s world.

“Turn in Your Turban, You’re Through” (11/13/71) – HooDoo turns Mark into his personal servant by giving him Weenie’s powers.

“Alias, the Imperial Wizard” (11/20/71) – HooDoo kidnaps several of the hat people in order to plan a party for the Imperial Wizard.

“A Little HooDoo Goes a Long Way” (11/27/71) – Weenie gets sick just as the Bad Hats plan to overthrow HooDoo.

“Oh, Brother” (12/4/71) – HooDoo’s good twin brother visits and confusion abounds.

“HooDoo Who?” (12/11/71) – HooDoo ends up with amnesia.

“The Old Hat Home” (12/18/71) – HooDoo crashes a charity event and advances the ages of all in attendance.

“The Great Brain Robbery” (12/25/71) – HooDoo lures the good hat people into his Brain Wash machine so they’ll be his army against the Imperial Wizard.

“Mommy Hoo Doo” (1/1/72) – HooDoo’s mother comes to visit and the citizens of Lidsville try to convince her that her son is a baddie.

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