Friday, June 10, 2011

HR PufnStuf, "The Magic Path."

Well, I thought it might be an interesting project to review all of HR Pufnstuf.  We'll see how far this nonsense will go on.  So won't you dear readers turn the page and join us in the magic lands of Living Island!

So logically enough the first episode "The Magic Path," begins with the series introduction and opening song.  It's a catchy song and the landscape here is lovely, I believe it was shot at Bear Lake.  Anyhoo, the song gives the basic plot of the show without going much into origins.  Why does Jimmy have a magic flute?  Why does Witchie poo want it?  The song doesn't say, but it's ok as I said it's a catchy catchy tune.  I love the refrain that HR "can't do a little because he can't do enough."  If I had a company that would be my mission statement.  I also love the line "BUT WHO WILL GET THERE FIRST!" said with great drama.  It definitely got stuck in my head and I can tell you that suddenly saying "BUT WHO WILL GET THERE FIRST!" at the checkout line will give you looks.
um... carrying on...

Cozy but a bit of a fixer upper

So we start the show proper at PufnStuf's cave/house/lair.  It's sort of housey on the outside, but definitely cavey on the inside.  It certainly has sort of a cozy lived in look ala Bedrock style. 
This is Jimmy.  Our hero.  He's played by Jack Wild.  Don't look up his career it will just break your heart.  As played by Jack, Jimmy is both brave and polite, adventurous and caring.  He's also willing to break out in song at the drop of hat.  He can also rock a yellow shirt like no one's business.
This is Freddy the Talking Flute.  Jimmy's friend and the reason why he's now stuck on Living Island.  Pufnstuf calls him a "Talking gold flute with a diamond skin condition."  Frankly, as a kid I found Freddy really really creepy.  I never trusted it and would have never put that thing in my pocket.  It should be noted that to get the water out Jimmy wrings Freddy as if he was foam rubber and not gold.  He really is magic!!
And this is Pufnstuf.  He has a little shingle that declares him Mayor of Living Island.  He's a good sort and is also very polite (I like that Sid and Marty Kroft emphasized the politeness of the two main heroes.), and he has a certain folksy charm with just a hint of Andy Griffith.  He's trying to explain the situation to Jimmy you know Living Islands and witches etc.  Frankly, though I'm distracted by the laugh track which is cranked to "11." 

The upshot of things is that they should go see Dr. Blinky about how to get Jimmy home.  Pufnstuf confides that Dr. Blinky is part of his "Anti Smog, Pollution, and witch comittee."  I like how the dark arts are considered in the same league as dirty water.  I do find though it sounds similar to a certain Comittee of Public Safety.  Luckily Pufnstuf is obviously a good guy so we don't have to worry about heads rolling.
ok, ok who ordered the genetic hybrids of penguins and Harpo Marx??
Though in case of the two pictured above, I'd certainly be willing to make an exception.  The two idiots are Kling and Klang and they act as PufnStuf's deputies.  Yes, Pufnstuf hires mute idiots to be his deputies.  I fear very much for Jimmy's chances to go home.
These two idiots main job is to run Pufnstuf's Rescue Racer.  It appears that one steers on the top and the one on the bottom presses the peddles.  I suspect Pufnstuf's wisdoms all the more now that I see his means of transport is a vehicle that he is two big to be able to drive himself.  Instead he hangs off the back as if it was a steam powered chariot.  It should also be noted that its small wheels mean that even a pebble could cause this thing problems.
obviously having a witchie poo in it is disagreeing with this castle
Meanwhile, we are now at Witchie Poo's castle of darkness and dry ice fog.  It's a suitable creepy place with a nice creepy face.  Why doesn't Pufnstuf's place has a face?
hermoine never had these problems...
Inside Witchie Poo is keeping an eye on Pufnstuf and Jimmy through a mutated view master as her two hench beasts, Orson the Vulture and Seymour the Spider, look on and hench about.  Witchie Poo is confident she'll get her prize even as her wand malfunctions.  It's odd that Witchie Poos technology seems to be of a better grade than her magic.  By the way, Witchie Poo is played by Billie Hayes and she does so with great cackling delight.
The tree is wearing glasses because it's embarrassed not because it's a stereotypical hippie...
Pufnstuf and Jimmy had to leave the dubious comforts of the rescue racer to go through the forest to get to Dr. Blinky's house.  Unfortunately, it is the forest of comedic stereotypes.  There's a hippy tree, and an injun (it would be too demeaning to label this thing a native american tree) tree for example.  Jimmy is amazed by the talking trees and I just want them to stop talking.  I guess I should be happy there is no dog wood present.  Pufnstuf says everything talks on Living Island.  Perhaps true but do they make sense?  Actually there are four things I know that don't talk.  Pufnstuf's cave, Kling, Klang, and the rescue racer.  What's up with that?  Is Pufnstuf helping the handicap by hiring every mute on the island?  Or maybe it's a mayoral perk to have a little peace and quiet.
the living bit is cool, but why does every house on this side of the island look like it was put together by Pa Kettle on a three day bender??
So finally we get to Dr. Blinky's house and it appears to have a cold.  One sneeze nearly blows Jimmy away with hurricane velocity.  Maybe Dr. Blinky is the only thing keeping this house from the wood pile, but still my confidence in the good doctor is currently slim indeed.
I think I'll stick with Kindle

So Inside the house, and isn't creepy going inside a living thing, we encounter more living things.  Living books, a living skull (um maybe undead would be better term here) and a living candle.  They all make a fuss over Pufnstuf but he's on an important mission so he can't chit chat with knicknacks.  We find that Dr. Blinky is an owl, so of course we go through an abbott and Costello number involving "who" before we get to business.  Oh before that, Dr. Blinky demonstrates his skills by causing an accidental explosion in a living test tube (easiest the worst job of Living Island outside of the talking toilets).  Poor poor Jimmy.  Anyway, Dr. Blinky says Judy Frog knows a secret magic path off the Island but the Witch has captured her.

Ok, wait a moment.  Now admitedly there's a certain dream logic at work here which is code for "don't think about it," but this goes beyond even that.  Why didn't Judy ever tell anyone else where the magic path was before she was kidnapped?  Why did the Witch kidnap her?  Why is this news just now reaching Pufnstuf?  How long ago did this happen?  Definitely it raises a lot of questions that never get answered.   What we get is Dr. Blinky's anti witchcraft potion.  One would wonder why they don't just spray down the entire island with it.  One would wonder that, except that it explodes like a sodium frog off the high dive. 
always make sure your entourage never looks as good as you...

Witchie Poo doens't seem worried at all by this development and in fact delegates Stupid Bat to watch over Pufnstuf and Jimmy.  When you have a person in your organization named "Stupid Bat," maybe you should consider a reorganization.  Any, Stupid Bat is indeed mind numbingly stupid unable to literally tell up from down.  He flies off in the most unconvincing manner ever.  Magic!
Meanwhile Jimmy and Pufnstuf are now on the bad side of the island.  Everything is dark and dank and ugly and all it needs is some hookers (living hookers I guess) to be complete.  Anyway, Jimmy and Pufnstuf somehow think they can sneak in dispite the fact that everything in the island can see and talk.  Sure enough, trees (EVIL trees) see our friends and contact Witchie Poo then commence "Operation Capture Heroes."  They foiled by Stupid Bat and sure kicks to the roots.

Well at least Witchie is a hands on leader.  After seeing them bungle it, she gets into her Vroom Broom (which is far cooler than the rescue racer) and flies on over.  She then teleports in and freezes our hero in place after they loose the anti witch potion.  The ease which Witchie does this makes you wonder why she doesn't rule everything.
They defreeze back in Witchie Poo's dungeon.  It's fairly cool looking place but decor is always a second consideration when one is locked in a dungeon.  Jimmy has the blues so he starts singing a rather lovely song about wanting to go back home when...
hello my baby, hello my darling, hello my ragtime girl
...they are joined in song by Judy Frog.  The gold glitter is a bit much and where in the hey is that microphone plugged into?  Other that she's a fun and enthusiastic character.
So in spite of their plan being a total failure they have in fact suceeded.  All they need to do is to figure out how to get out of the dungeon.  Freddy the flute (who was hiding in one of Pufnstuf's rolls of fat [ewww]), has a plan.  He has Jimmy take him to the nearest window and Freddy starts to sing.  By the way this is the window in question...
worst.. security... ever
First off this window barely needs breaking out of.  It looks like a child could pull those bars out.  Certainly that would be easier to try first than to try to shatter the bars sonically.  Freddy can't do alone but with the help of Judy the shatter iron bars.  Remind me not to go to their concert.  Meanwhile, Witchpoo hears the noise and realizes no one frisked the prisoners for magic flutes.  She runs down to the dungeon but it's too late.  The gang is gone like disco.

A sidebar here.  We see above a living door inside of a living castle.  And then we see living skeletons.  So, are the skeletons of the people of Living Island also separately alive, thinking their own thoughts?  Do they bide their time for rest of the body to die so they can be free to run around?  Ewwwww.
yeah, flip THIS house...
Escaping from the castle they are taken to the magic path by Judy.  Apparently it is either in the bad area controlled by the witch or mere inches away.  Finally there they are at the Magic Path....
yeah the SECRET magic path
Nice sign.  Wow, how could anyone miss a big glowing path WITH a sign?  They needed Judy Frog for this?  Before we can question this, Witchie poo suddenly appears and with a zap
the path is toast.  Well again I am in awe of Witchie Poo's magic.  Perhaps Jimmy should just bow down now and beg for mercy.  But wait.  It's the rescue racer manned by idiots.  Wait!  Witchie Poo suffers wand malfunction and is ran down by the rescue racer.  Wait!!  She's running away to the vroom broom to get her back up wand.  Things look bad for our crew when Pufnstuf remembers tonight deus ex machina.  He calls to the living four winds for help.  Just enjoy folks...

special guest appearance by John Wayne

yeah.. the east wind

sort of disturbing south wind

they couldn't find a stereotype for the north wind I guess...

 The four winds get together and blow.  Blowing seems to be the major power of this episode.  Pufnstuf tells freddy to "Blow Freddy blow," and now the Four Winds are blowing Witchie Poo to hell and back.  So remember kids, when in trouble BLOW.  Witchie has been defeated and everyone dances even though Freddy and Jimmy are still stuck on Living Island.

Better luck next week Jimmy!!
The house band that plays at the end
 So ends with a fun refrain of the main theme as sung by the "Boyds."  Jimmy and Pufnstuf come out at the end and ask everyone to come back next week.  That's the show, it's bright colorful and fun.  It also doesn't make a lick of sense, but that's cool.  I definitely will try to review them all Dear Readers.  Until then...
"See you next time."


  1. I enjoyed reading this review! The part about Freddy hiding in Pufnstuf's rolls of fat made me laugh out loud. XD

  2. This episode has so much from the wizard of oz blended in. Judy frog is a tribute to Judy Garland. Witchiepoo is inspired by the wicked witch of the west, and the magic path is the yellow brick road.

    Thanks for getting the name of witchiepoo's vehicle correct. Many call it the Broom-Broom instead of the proper Vroom Broom.