H.R. Pufnstuf

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.
This is your show on magic...

H.R. Pufnstuf, who's your friend when things get rough?
H.R. Pufnstuf, can't do a little cause he can't do enough.


First in a long line of surreal and sometimes disturbing offerings from Sid and Marty Krofft Productions.

To get an idea as to what you're in for, we turn to VH-1's "I Love the '70s" show (never mind that this show was aired in 1969), and their description of H.R. Pufnstuf:


"So, the deal with H.R. Pufnstuf is, Sid and Marty Krofft did a lot of drugs back in the '70s when they were given a TV show..."


For a more technical description, read on.

Jimmy, a young boy with a British accent and the world's most annoying speech impediment, is abducted by the sinister and disturbingly Oedipal witch Witchiepoo in a gambit to snatch his magical talking golden flute. Yes, really.


But Pufnstuf was watching too, and knew exactly what to do...


Jimmy is rescued by H.R. Pufnstuf, a large Muppet who serves as mayor of Living Island, a bizarre place where everything, "even the trees" are "alive". (The writers appear not to have understood the difference between "living" and "anthropomorphic"/"sentient".)

The short series (only seventeen episodes aired) followed the adventures of Jimmy, Puf and Freddie [the flute], as they made various attempts to smuggle Jimmy off the island while staying clear of Witchiepoo and her henchmen. A film version, featuring guest stars Martha Raye and Cass Elliot, appeared in 1970, a year after the show's premiere.

To say that H.R. Pufnstuf was disturbing is like saying the ocean is wet. There is just something almost seductively creepy about the whole thing, from Jimmy's constant prancing and the vaguely homoerotic relationship between boy, flute, and muppet, to the bizarrely twisted maternal figure of the witch, to the generally drug-induced artistic design of the costumes and sets. This is not a show to watch sober.

As a historical note, the basic design and characters of McDonald's "McDonaldland" commercials were blatantly plagiarized from H.R. Pufnstuf in 1971 after the Krofft brothers refused to license the Pufnstuf characters for use in a McDonald's commercial campaign. The Kroffts sued in 1973, and won the case in 1977. For more information, see this article at Cecil Adams' The Straight Dope, or this one at coolcopyright.com.

Tropes used in H.R. Pufnstuf include: