Saturday Morning Hits
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Reviewed by Will Harris
he reputation of Sid & Marty Krofft took a bit of a hit last year when the movie version of their classic series, “Land of the Lost,” took a fascinating sci-fi concept and wasted some fantastic special effects by surrounding them with a seemingly never-ending series of lowbrow gags. But even as disappointing as the film may have been, it takes more than that to wipe out the decades of fond memories inspired by the Kroffts. The brothers’ various productions have been reissued repeatedly over the years, usually picking up a few new followers on each occasion, so perhaps we’ll see the same now that they’re releasing a new best-of collection: “Sid & Marty Krofft’s Saturday Morning Hits,” featuring a single episode from seven of their shows.
All of the usual suspects are in attendance, including “H.R. Pufnstuf,” “Sigmund and the Sea Monsters,” “The Bugaloos,” and “Lidsville,” all of which have seen release in complete series sets in the past. This, of course, doesn’t make it any less enjoyable to hear Witchie-Poo sing “Oranges Poranges” or for Johnny Whitaker to croon a tune to his sea monster pal Sigmund, and the camp value of the performances by Charles Nelson Reilly and Martha Raye on “Lidsville” and “The Bugaloos” remains utterly off the charts. The big sell for Krofft fans is the inclusion of previously-unavailable-on-DVD episodes of “Electra Woman and Dyna-Girl,” “Wonderbug,” and “Bigfoot & Wildboy.” All things being equal, I think I might’ve switched out “Wonderbug” in favor of an episode of “Dr. Shrinker,” but, you know, we all have our favorites. Conspicuously missing from the package, however, is “Land of the Lost.” One presumes this is because it’s currently still in the hands of Universal Studios, but perhaps it will fall back to the Kroffts at some juncture.
Now, here’s my problem with reviewing this disc: the older I get, the harder it is for me to defend the work of Sid & Marty Krofft beyond the value they have to me. I grew up on a steady diet of programs created by the brothers Krofft, and I still love each and every one of them. The farther away from childhood I get, however, the more I begin to understand why my parents shook their heads and walked away from the television whenever one of their programs came on. If you grew up with these shows, then you’ll probably always have a soft spot for them, but now when someone asks me how I can watch this stuff, I can only shrug and say, “Well, you know, I used to watch it when I was a kid…” It still makes me smile, though, and if you’re not afraid to let your inner child come out and play once in awhile, it may well have the same effect on you.
I’ve already made my five-year-old daughter into a “Sigmund and the Sea Monsters” fan, thereby adding another new follower to the Krofft camp. Of course, I’m also dooming her to a lifetime of having to try to explain to other people why they should worship at the altar of Sid and Marty, but hey, that’s what a dad’s supposed to do, right?
Special Features: There’s actually only one bit of bonus material, and it’s only a photo gallery. Granted, it’s a pretty interesting one, as it offers what’s described as “50 Years of Krofft Art,” including never-before-seen sketches and designs from the archives of various Krofft series. Overall, though, fans will be left wanting for the lack of any featurettes or commentaries. Let’s go with the presumption that Sid and Marty are saving the good stuff for the individual complete series sets, shall we?