H.R. Pufnstuf 1.11 – Dinner for Two, Please, Orson

After the last episode being a kind of humdrum runaround, this one’s properly silly and entertaining again. Witchiepoo is lonely, and sings that her phone hasn’t rung since 1910 and instead of catching men, she just catches colds. Bored and depressed, she zaps the Clock People’s time machine for no other reason than to “keep a hand in.”

At that moment, Grandfather Clock is trying to send Jimmy and Freddy back to the day before they came to Living Island, but the explosion instead ages them sixty years. An amnesiac Jimmy with a long white beard sets the flute down and wanders off in search of hot milk and cookies. Witchiepoo finds him in the forest, feeds him, names him Prince Charming, and plans to marry him.

I’m not quite sure how clued in Sid and Marty Krofft actually were to the counterculture (a reasonable question that I’ll revisit), and nor am I sure how the best-dressed drag queens of 1969 were doing their makeup, but the sight of Billie Hayes with hideously garish “wedding” makeup atop her witch makeup really is amazing. I kept waiting for RuPaul to show up and tell her to sashay away.

As in “The Golden Key,” by the way, this is an escape route that ends for no good reason. The time machine is repaired, and the lovestruck witch is turned into a baby, so what’s stopping Grandfather Clock from going back to Plan A and sending Jimmy back in time?

H.R. Pufntsuf 1.4 – The Mechanical Boy

It took two tries to watch this episode. We tried last night, but Daniel was too tired to pay attention. This morning, we gave it another shot and he enjoyed it. The episode introduces the bizarre Clock People, in their doubly-bizarre house. We met Alarm Clock in an earlier story; this one adds Grandfather and Grandmother Clock, and their granddaughter, Miss Wristwatch, who speaks in a Zsa Zsa Gabor voice.

In the 1980s, an outfit called Embassy Home Video released the first four episodes of this show on VHS tape, insensibly priced at $39.95 for two episodes, because we were all suckers in the 1980s, I guess. They released a few Krofft titles, and their tapes either had episodes 1 and 4 on tape one and episodes 2 and 3 on tape two, or, in some cases like Bigfoot & Wildboy, the second tape had three random episodes sausage-linked together as a single TV movie, with one set of credits.

Anyway, around 1990, some of my friends formed a filmmaking group called Corn Pone Flicks, and I joined their repertory company as occasional overactor. I was in charge of the team’s blooper reel, and I think that at various points people started deliberately blowing their lines to get on the thing a little more often. I soon got a little bored and, foolishly and egotistically, decided to pep things up a bit by throwing in random other film and video detritus onto the reel, including the first verse of this song. The reel, called The Abyss Gazes Also, was released around 1994 and I swear that, for most of the few hundred people who saw it, this clip of Pufnstuf was the first time they’d seen or heard of the character in years.

They also probably concluded that an entire verse was excessive, when one line would have done just fine. Philistines.