A green humanoid and his horse slide and gallop respectively through a shoddily organized library. Together they genre jump through space and time, visiting notable figures and, like Lidsville, perpetuating racial stereotypes. But those particular episodes are reserved for the dollar bins at Save-a-Lot.
The above description could probably be used to describe almost half of the movies in the dollar bin at Save-a-Lot though.
Art Clokey’s Gumby is one of the first works of claymation to hit the airwaves. It is also one of the most imaginative shows to date. A few simple concepts guiding the general premise of the show led to countless scenarios that transcended the temporal limitations of normal shows. Gumby, using books as a vehicle for travel, visited the dinosaurs and went to the moon. He helped George Washington battle the Hessian soldiers by giving Washington burgers and enticing the Hessians with wiener schnitzel. He won the Fliver 500 with the help of a flying pile of goo, aptly named “Goo.” Oh, and Gumby also had a famous rock band, was a fireman with his father, saved the world countless times, was responsible for Thanksgiving (though Pokey was concerned about getting scalped and had to eat Indian food which made him turn multiple colors, after which he observed, “now I know why Indians say ‘ugh'”), saved the wooly mammoth from its untimely demise, and still made it home in time for dinner. What the fuck have you done with your life?
It’s no surprise Gumby was capable of accomplishing so much. He was impervious to all damage. He could fall from extreme heights, get crushed by giant beasts, survive car crashes, reform after being bifurcated. The list goes on and on. Gumby can pretty much do whatever he wants. As the intro song posits, “he can walk through a wall if you want him to.”
Since the original show, Gumby has been featured in countless parodies, most of which, for some odd reason, involve Gumby being depicted with a gigantic penis, getting drunk, cursing like a sailor, or smoking pot. Here’s a sample for you (warning: VERY explicit language):
Sid & Marty Krofft are probably best known for their series The Land Before Time, or perhaps H.R. Pufnstuf. Cynics remember them for craptastic classics like Bigfoot and Wildboy, or Electra Woman and Dyna Girl, the only children’s show with a theme song that sounds more like porn music than wah-heavy disco tunes from the late 70s. But one of their more obscure flops, Lidsville, remains the last heralding cry of “fuck emulating an educational environment for children on weekends, let’s make Saturday morning as much like a bad acid trip as possible” entertainment.
The idea of a bunch of midgets dressed as living hats isn’t the most inventive concept to date, especially considering the fact that almost the same concept was introduced as a claymation series called Hattytown Tales several years before the Krofft brothers introduced Lidsville.
But the show has its merits. Who else was going to perpetuate racist stereotypes, and help stoners curb their munchies on Saturday mornings for a full season? Other than FOX network, that is.
To emphasize the parallels between the hats and their counterparts, the creators were careful that the characters adhered to as many racist stereotypes as possible. Big Chief Sitting Duck, for example, only “speakem likum thisum.” There is also an oriental chef’s hat that talks “rike dis.” Well, I guess that’s about it for racial stereotypes, but it was worth mentioning.
Despite the show’s short-lived appeal, some schmucks at DreamWorks Animation decided it’d be a hell of an idea to create a 3-D version of the film in the near future. Look out for this one in the same way you’d look out for a pile of dog shit on your morning commute.
So why is this series bizarro? From the hat people to the talking deck of cards, the character “sawed in half woman,” the executioner’s cap, and a talking vampire’s cowl, this show had the formula for weird down. Come to think about it, just about every damned inanimate object in the show talked including trees and wall decorations.
Despite everything I’ve said, the show is worth checking out. Though Sid & Marty Krofft weren’t the best when it came to storylines, they always knew how to decorate a set, create a vibrant new worlds for children to immerse themselves in, and spark the imagination, among sparking other things I would assume.
In addition to the televised series, Golden Key released five issues of Lidsville in comic book form. There were some minor differences when compared to the show, but, as shown in the picture below, the racial stereotypes remain in tact:
Of course, the blog wouldn’t be complete without a little excerpt from the show. Since the song in the introduction details the entire premise of the tale, it seems most fitting to show it. In the clip below, you can see a young Morrissey, of The Smiths fame, playing as the protagonist of Lidsville, Mark*
* – this is a blatant lie.
A psychotic adult guised as a child with ADD rides his rocket-powered bike to a playhouse filled with talking furniture. Morpheus dresses in a cowboy suit and chases an old bag around the playhouse. Puppets smoke cigarettes and help said boy make sun tea, which it is later determined may produce bacteria that could render children sick. Blacula calls himself a king, the king of cartoons to be exact. Then the boy grows old, gets busted for masturbating in public, and Cherry ends up in the gutter.
And now you know is why God is dead.
This show was crack for children, and successfully infiltrated every aspect of their lives. Pee Wee and his talking inanimate objects (even the fucking floor talked by the middle of season I) watch cartoons, claymation, make food, prank phone calls, drive the mail lady crazy, and even insult the fat pig of a neighbor on nearly every episode.
Like all great heroes, Pee Wee has one weakness. His kryptonite if you will, appears to be the door-to-door salesman, played by John Madden, who is so goddamned scary they won’t even put his likeness in his own game after the opening screen. Every time Pee Wee opened his front door screaming “I”ll get it!” like a drug-addled crack whore trying to retrieve that free-based ball of gel from a spoon of liquified baby laxative, I prayed to God that it would be the nosy cow from next door. If it would have been the Cowntess that would have been fine too, but she only came to the window. It was always John Madden
The human characters were pretty droll for the most part, except Pee Wee. I never cared much for Cowboy Curtis until I watched him utter “Neo, you’re the one” 500 times in the first Matrix film. It was then that I gave him a second chance. Miss Yvonne was a testament to what happens to one’s perception in a small town consisting of only three females. Captain Carl was an alcoholic’s answer to Popeye. The King of Cartoons, well, I’m not sure who the hell he was, nor what the hell he was on. But anyone who mangles classic cartoons to fit into 30-seconds is alright by me. I imagine him clipping and taping the reels, muttering “you like that bitch!?” in cotton bunny rabbit pajamas. Mmmm. Cotton.
What pisses me off is that people decided this show wasn’t appropriate for young audiences after Pee Wee was busted for masturbating in a porn theater. No, it wasn’t a problem that he appeared as a dope-smoking man-turned-lizard in Cheech and Chong years before his children’s show ever aired. Pee Wee got busted doing what everybody does, so there must be some sort of subversive pervert message in the show. That seemed to be the logic that justified his condemnation. It just made my father love him more.
But it’s ok for cops to chill out and watch porn at taxpayers’ expense so they can catch “criminals” squeeze one out.
Pee Wee’s comeback has been long overdue. And it’s about damned time that he starts making appearances on wrestling and Saturday Night Live, Broadway . . . and I-Pad commercials, I guess.
The truth is, we should be happy to see Pee Wee no matter what he’s up to. With young celebrities driving their sports cars through buildings, making sex tapes, and spending abridged sentences in jail with their Iphones, we can only deduce that Pee Wee was ahead of his time, a revolutionary.
Only one question remains: when is he getting his Nobel Peace Award?
While Jackson Browne had many guitarists, Pee Wee was always held in highest regard. According to Youtube user bvk123″PeeWee Herman, playing guitar with the pink shirt, was a session player in 82. Browne noted Herman’s “sass” as being his key asset.” You don’t see much of Pee Wee until about 2:26 in the video:
And here’s what Pee Wee would look like today without surgery:
Noisy noses that would make John Holmes blush, Gary Busey in puppet form singing about his gigantic teeth, a fetish doll discussing her love of sneezing, and the ORIGINAL Mr. T. These are just a few highlights from The Letter People, a television show that aired in the 70s on PBS, giving children nightmares about crudely rendered puppets for decades to come.
These puppets are nothing like those of the same name you might find sitting on a shelf in your child’s day care center or kindergarden classroom. In 1990 the rights to the original concept were purchased, and most of the puppets were replaced by generic puppets resembling people. Mr. C no longer sings about candy. And Gary Busey lost his show on Comedy Central, so no more fucking roadkill mobiles for our children. You can blame Abrams & Co for this, for universal health care if you’re conservative and global warming if you’re liberal . . . and probably cancer too. Fuckers.
The replacements were warranted in a few circumstances. Mr. L looks like a sun-bleached dog turd that was rolled across a barber shop floor covered with ginger trimmings and half-eaten lemon lollipops. Mr. J is a psychedelic mime covered in hubcaps and cooking pots proclaiming “give me your junk!” Mr. H, perhaps appropriately, looks like a radioactive hobo who hasn’t had his hair cut in aeons.
When most of the puppets break into song their body parts convulse and bend in ways that even someone who is double jointed couldn’t fathom. Their lifeless eyes only add to the horror. And the black backdrop always made me feel like these fuckers were dancing out in outer space somewhere or were waiting in my walls for my parents to turn the lights out.
I looked into the possibility of purchasing some of the originals from the show a while back, but the puppets allegedly were damaged due to improper storage years ago, and we’ll likely never see them again. But we can still enjoy them in the show.
Despite what I’ve said, the original letter people show was pretty enjoyable. It burned phonics into your mind with a combination of fascination and fear. The puppets were all so different looking that every time you saw a new one it was like watching the show for the first time all over again. And if you had PBS, you’ll know what I’m talking about when I say that The Letter People blew that French Pineapple out of the fucking water. Fuck you Ananas.
Come to think of it, that show was pretty weird too. Dancing skeletons, talking pineapples. You can find that one on youtube as well as all of the letter people episodes: Telefrancais.
So Mr. J seems to think he wants everyone’s junk. But do you think he can handle Mr. N and his noisy nose: