Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Wicked Wednesday -- Hop on the Vroom Broom with Witchiepoo........ (and Mama Cass?!?)

Oh, Witchiepoo, no one under 30 knows who you are....

But for those of us that fall into the late Baby Boom/early Gen X age group, Witchiepoo remains an indelible part of our psychedelic 1970s childhood. 
Hitting the scene in 1969 with the premiere of H.R. Pufnstuf, Witchiepoo set her sights on young boy Jimmy and his (ahem) magic flute.  For the next 17 episodes, all of her attempts at kidnapping and flute abuse are foiled by Mayor H.R. Pufnstuf and the other freaky denizens of Living Island.
Entire treatises have been written on whether the series was a thinly veiled lsd trip shown to impressionable youth.
But in retrospect, it's interesting that although Jimmy is supposed to be the main character for kids to identify with, and Pufnstuf to be the hero/protector, Witchiepoo is actually the most relatable character.  Jimmy is somewhat of a sap, and Pufnstuf, well -- he's kinda creepy (what kind of creature is he? and what is up with those white go-go cowboy boots?)
With Witchiepoo, we immediately understand her motivations -- she's selfish, vain, and gleefully single-minded in her pursuit of what she wants --- just like kids are.  
And she has lives in a really cool anthropomorphic castle...
And what kid wouldn't have wanted to take a ride on the Vroom Broom?!?

Those 17 episodes ran on Saturday mornings and in syndication for YEARS.... it's one of those shows that is so ingrained in our psyches, it's surprising when you find out it only lasted one season.

But much less well-known is the 1970 theatrical release Pufnstuf, which (I believe) filmed after the series wrapped production. 

In the little seen movie (really, I would have known if this EVER played on tv during the 70s or 80s), Witchiepoo takes center stage even more, attending a Witches' Convention -- a coven of hippie-era crones that has to be seen to be believed. 

And then, if it was hysterical enough, breaking into a perfect early 70s soft-rock anthem of individuality, we have (of all people) Mama Cass Elliot!  

So, while I originally thought I would post the nostalgic classic "Oranges, Poranges" number from the series, once I discovered this clip, there was no question of where this post was headed.

I give you..... Different

Take that, Elphaba!
And yes, that's Martha Raye, movie-star/denture-wearer as Boss Witch.



Caffeinated Joe said...

Martha Raye rocked as Witchiepoo! Loved that show and all the Krofft shows!

Anonymous said...

And how about the Artful Dodger as Jimmy?!

I don't think it was the first run, but I actually saw the H.R. Pufnstuf film in the theater. It was the main entertainment for a birthday party I was invited to as a child --'couldn't tell you much about it, but I did see it :-)