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What is your favorite Sid and Marty Krofft shows?

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by JEANYLASER, Apr 29, 2009.

  1. snichols1973

    snichols1973 Well-Known Member

    Actress Billie Hayes, a.k.a. Pufnstuf's Witchiepoo, is still alive and active with such notable recent cartoon voice roles as: Mother Mae-Eye (Teen Titans and Teen Titans Go!), Mrs. Neederlander from Transformers: Rescue Bots, among others....

    The Kroffts were the plaintiffs in a copyright infringement lawsuit against McDonald's in 1973, since the similarities between McDonaldland and the world of H.R. Pufnstuf were apparently more than coincidence.

    The first phase of the McDonaldland concept began in January 1971, when McDonald's was replacing its drive-ins with mansard roofed restaurants. The early commercials were built on an upbeat, bubble-gum style tune, and featured a narrator; many had plots that involved various villains trying to steal a corresponding food item, foiled by Ronald.
    McDonaldland itself, as it was depicted in the commercials, was a magical place where plants, foods, and inanimate objects were living, speaking characters. In addition to being the home to Ronald and the other core characters, McDonaldland boasted a theme park of "Thick Shake Volcanoes", anthropomorphized "Apple Pie Trees," "French Fry Bushes" (where McDonald's French Fries grew from bushes), "The Hamburger Patch" (where McDonald's hamburgers grew out of the ground like plants), "Filet-O-Fish Lake", and many other fanciful features based around various McDonald's menu items. In the commercials, the various beings are played by puppets or costumed performers, very similar to those used in the popular H.R. Pufnstuf TV show.
    Some of the commercials were directed by Howard Morris who voiced some of the characters in the commercials as well.

    Early in 1970, the advertising agency Needham, Harper and Steers contacted Marty Krofft asking if the Kroffts would be willing to work with Needham on an advertising campaign for the McDonald's hamburger chain based on the H.R. Pufnstuf characters. Various telephone conversations followed to discuss the concept, and on 31 August 1970 Needham sent a letter saying it was going ahead, but soon after Needham telephoned to say the campaign had been cancelled. Needham had in fact won the contract for the campaign, hired former employees of the Kroffts to work on the sets and costumes, and hired the person who supplied the H.R. Pufnstuf voices to make the voices for several of the McDonaldland commercials, the first of which was broadcast in January 1971.

    Following launch of the McDonaldland campaign, the Kroffts were unable to licence or renew H.R. Pufnstuf spin-off products. The Ice Capades, which had used their characters, even began to use the McDonaldland characters. The Kroffts filed a suit for copyright infringement in September 1971.
    The district court began a three-week trial by jury in November 1973. The jury was shown episodes of H.R. Pufnstuf and McDonaldland broadcasts, and examples of merchandise based on the shows and commercials. They were instructed that in finding damages they should not consider McDonald's profits, but could consider the value that McDonald's had gained by using the Kroffts' work. The jury found in favor of the Kroffts and assessed damages at $50,000. Both the plaintiffs and the defendants appealed.

    The United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit heard the appeal, publishing their lengthy decision on 12 October 1977.
    On the question of infringement, the court quoted Judge Learned Hand's "abstractions test" defined in Nichols v. Universal Pictures Corp.. In this the judge defined successive layers of abstraction from the words themselves, which are subject to copyright, up to the most general statement of ideas, which is not. He said that the point where an expression was subject to copyright lay somewhere in between. To help find where that point was, the court defined extrinsic and intrinsic tests. In the extrinsic test the work would be analysed by an expert to determine similarities in factual aspects including, "the type of artwork involved, the materials used, the subject matter, and the setting for the subject". The intrinsic test would decide whether an "ordinary reasonable person" would consider there were substantial similarities in expression. A jury is well fitted to determine this.
    The court found that both the extrinsic and intrinsic tests showed that there was substantial similarity, rejecting the defendants' detailed list of differences, which the target audience of children would ignore. A footnote said:

    Even a dissection of the two works reveals their similarities. The "Living Island" locale of Pufnstuf and "McDonaldland" are both imaginary worlds inhabited by anthromorphic plants and animals and other fanciful creatures. The dominant topographical features of the locales are the same: trees, caves, a pond, a road, and a castle. Both works feature a forest with talking trees that have human faces and characteristics. The characters are also similar. Both lands are governed by mayors who have disproportionately large round heads dominated by long wide mouths. They are assisted by "Keystone cop" characters. Both lands feature strikingly similar crazy scientists and a multi-armed evil creature. It seems clear that such similarities go beyond merely that of the idea into the area of expression.

    The court also noted that Needham clearly had access to Pufnstuf, since their representatives had visited the Krofft's headquarters to discuss engineering and design work for the commercials even after they had been awarded the McDonald's contract and had decided not to use the Kroffts.
    The court rejected the claim that the First Amendment limited the degree to which copyright could be extended to Pufnstuf, saying that other courts had long ago determined that copyright and the First Amendment were compatible, since copyright protected the form of expression only, while the First Amendment protected the right to present the ideas in some other form of expression.
    On damages, the court discussed at some length whether the jury should have been instructed to ignore profits. The court felt that a successful plaintiff should be entitled at least to the greater of the damages or profits, and one of the judges felt they should be entitled to the sum of the two. If profits could not be determined accurately, the plaintiff should be entitled to "in lieu" damages. The case was remanded for an accounting, after which the district court could choose to award "in lieu" damages.

    Note: The following web page's content is of uncertain verifiability, and as a result, should probably be initially regarded as a satirical fanfic:
    Last edited: Oct 11, 2015
  2. Mo Frackle

    Mo Frackle Well-Known Member

    Last edited: Oct 11, 2015
    MikaelaMuppet likes this.
  3. D'Snowth

    D'Snowth Well-Known Member

    Well, if we're going that route:

    And yes, that's Tom Kenny as the professor.
    MikaelaMuppet likes this.
  4. Pig's Laundry

    Pig's Laundry Well-Known Member

    Reminds me of an "Amanda Show" sketch.
    MikaelaMuppet likes this.
  5. Drtooth

    Drtooth Well-Known Member

    I find that funny because that's pretty much how Hi Hi Puffi Ami Yumi show happened, as well as them doing the Teen Titans theme song. Only, they were smart. They made it a cartoon with the girls as hosts and subtitled it. So apparently 2000 era kids were willing to read when 1980 adults refused to?

    Still, you wonder if the reason they couldn't perform their hits was due to copyright. Someone once showed me some anime (not the kind I'd watch usually) where the original Japanese language dropped out because they couldn't get the rights to the music underscored in the scene. That's also half the reason why kiddy dubs use new music. I hear Toei is especially buttheaded about it, making you pay separate rights for the music and show. I always felt the "4kids didn't want to use the One Piece theme because Al Kahn wanted a rap" story a bit dubious. NONE of their shows use the original theme songs.

    Anyway, back to the subject of Krofft Supershows, I just found this little gem on Comic Resources.

    H. R. Pufnstuf will have a crossover special with Nick Jr's "Mutt and Stuff."

    Okay, something about Mutt and Stuff... it's a show that's essentially dogs running around a Sweet Knuckle Junction looking set and there's a huge dog that actually looks like a Krofft character. Everytime I find it while flipping around, I'm dumbfounded this is a show someone said should be on a major network. It looks like something that should either be on qubo or Animal Planet. Now, I never watched the whole thing, but I just don't get it.

    So...yeah... some Pufnstuf guys are going to be on it for some reason...
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  6. D'Snowth

    D'Snowth Well-Known Member

    I don't get how they say this is Pufnstuf's return after "45 years." Pufnstuf's made all kinds of minor appearances throughout different Krofft shows over the years, including LIDSVILLE, SIGMUND AND THE SEA MONSTERS, THE KROFFT SUPERSTAR HOUR, not mention he made a glorified guest appearance in an Disney Acid Fantasy sequence on MY NAME IS EARL, and was even at the 2009 TV Land Awards when the Kroffts were being honored.

    Oh, and on another note, the Kroffts have finally gotten their ELECTRAWOMAN & DYNAGIRL reboot off the ground; they apparently cast a lesbian couple who are apparently internet celebrities (ehh, I never heard of 'em) in the title roles. They look nothing like their original 70s counterparts; they look more like Xena and Gabrielle cosplayers.
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  7. Drtooth

    Drtooth Well-Known Member

    There was an appearance on the George Lopez show too. Think there was a cameo in a Drew Carey musical number as well. I need to check that back out.
    MikaelaMuppet likes this.
  8. D'Snowth

    D'Snowth Well-Known Member

    You're right! How did I forget that?

    Interestingly enough, I have a Krofft DVD that has a collection of the pilots of their shows, and George Lopez did a commentary track for the LIDSVILLE pilot, since he said it was his favorite show of all time as a kid.
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  9. Drtooth

    Drtooth Well-Known Member

    Okay... rereading this thread, Mutt and Stuff is a production of the Kroffts. The crossover makes more sense, as does the design for the big dog puppetsuit guy.
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  10. D'Snowth

    D'Snowth Well-Known Member

    So Pufnstuf made a triumphant return today on a special episode of MUTT & STUFF, where it's revealed that Pufnstuf is Stuff's uncle.

    They appear to still be using the suit they've had for the last several years (like that appeared at the TV Land Awards in 2009), so that's good because it's one of the better-looking Pufnstuf suits they've had in a while. The overall puppetry was pretty good, but the new voice was really, really off . . . I mean, really off.

    That said, the episode also featured a pair of talking trees that were coincidentally named Marty and Sid (and they acted and sounded like the Marty and Sid puppets from D.C. FOLLIES) - I have to say compared to the original talking trees from H.R. PUFNSTUF, these new talking trees looked amazing, they've greatly improved their puppet building. But, there's something about the look and style of present-day Krofft puppets that really don't look like Krofft puppets at all: they look more like puppet versions of cartoon characters.
    MikaelaMuppet likes this.
  11. Collgoff

    Collgoff Well-Known Member

    How can those two characters be related? I mean Pufnstuf's a dragon and Stuff is a dog.
  12. D'Snowth

    D'Snowth Well-Known Member

    There's two possibilities: 1. Pufnstuf's sister married a dog and their son took after their father, or 2. Stuff is adopted.
  13. Drtooth

    Drtooth Well-Known Member

    There's certainly a family resemblance. I caught a couple minutes of this. I really don't care too much for the format of this show, but I do like how it paid tribute to the producers' roots (and no, no intended tree pun). No doubt the kids this show is meant for don't know who the heck these guys are, but my question is, will their parents? Unless they're the kind that somehow caught them in reruns or somehow got into them through DVD's, I really don't know if younger parents of the target audience would really get it either.

    Still, nice to see the characters being reintroduced somehow.
  14. D'Snowth

    D'Snowth Well-Known Member

    I've noticed that the puppets for MUTT & STUFF are built by one of the same builders that did the Mini-munk puppets.
  15. mr3urious

    mr3urious Well-Known Member

    I would love for the Kroffts to reboot H.R. Pufnstuf, if only to see how the puppets and set pieces would look on a bigger budget. And considering that the original never got closure, it's deserving of a reboot.

    EDIT: Forgot about that feature film that the Kroffts have been planning with Sony since 2008. Hope they're able to stick with puppets in that one, but I doubt it.
    Last edited: Aug 26, 2016
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  16. Pig's Laundry

    Pig's Laundry Well-Known Member

    If they can't get puppets then I would rather the entire film just be CGI instead of half CG and half live action.
  17. D'Snowth

    D'Snowth Well-Known Member

    The Kroffts have outright refused to go the route of CGI, and are sticking to their guns on traditional puppetry - however, they have admitted that many of their puppets now are considerably more advanced than they were in the 70s, with much more radio controls for facial expressions and movements.

    As for the Pufnstuf movie, as well as the Lidsville movie, I seem to recall reading recently that those are back in Developmental Heck over supposed interferences regarding the movies' tones and structures.

    Aside from their MUTT N STUFF hit on Nick Jr., the Kroffts recently rebooted SIGMUND AND THE SEA MONSTERS and ELECTRAWOMAN & DYNAGIRL, but they're internet-exclusive; the former just had a pilot on Amazon and they're still awaiting to see if it will go to series, meanwhile the former was an eight-episode miniseries on some sort of a platform. While the new Sigmund puppets look remarkable, the new EW and DG look more like Steampunk Lara Croft wannabes.

    I'm just still amazed that, given what a small, independent company that they are, that they're still managing to continue working to this day. It's baffling that they retain copyright and creative control over MUTT N STUFF, considering Nick Jr. is owned by Viacom, one of the biggest devil-worshipping international media conglomerates out there (but then again, they're also letting Bagdasarian Productions retain rights and control over ALVINNN!!! AND THE CHIPMUNKS, so maybe their business practices are slowly shifting). Marty often talks about how lucky he and Sid were back in the 70s and 80s in working with the right people at the right times, and how they probably would have never gotten any of their shows done today with the amount of corporate interfence among networks skyrocketing. For example: they personally put out a casting call for Witchiepoo for H.R. PUFNSTUF, and only two people responded - Penny Marshall and Billie Hayes; the former obviously wasn't right for the part (an obviously Bronx witch), while the latter got the part simply by jumping up onto their desk and letting out that trademark cackle; Marty says if they tried that today, the network execs would be auditioning hundreds of witches and not even give them any say in the casting decision.

    On an unrelated note, Marty also recently revealed why he and Sid did less shows in the 80s: they were on the verge of going bankrupt. Their shows were very expensive to produce, and with them producing so many at one time (they had four shows going at the same time at one point in the 70s), they were on the verge of bottoming out financially, so they needed to slow down.
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  18. D'Snowth

    D'Snowth Well-Known Member

    The Kroffts are talking about rebooting The Bugaloos (again), and this time they're talking about getting Cyndi Lauper to play Benita Bizarre.
  19. D'Snowth

    D'Snowth Well-Known Member

    @Censored Here's the Krofft there I was telling you about.

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