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Rhino presents
Lidsville: The Complete Series (1972)

"He's talking through his hat!"
- Weenie the Genie (Billie Hayes)

Review By: Jeff Ulmer   
Published: January 27, 2005

Stars: Charles Nelson Reilly, Billie Hayes, Butch Patrick
Other Stars: Joy Campbell, Sharon Baird, Van Snowden, Angelo Rossitto, Buddy Douglas, Felix Silla, Hermine Midgets, Hommy Stewart, Jerry Maren, Lennie Weinrib, Walker Edmiston, Joan Gerber
Director: Tony Charmoli

MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (nothing objectionable)
Run Time: 06h:18m:45s
Release Date: January 25, 2005
UPC: 603497040124
Genre: television

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
B+ B+B-B+ B-

DVD Review

"Everybody there wears a hat, everybody knows where it's at, the land of living hats, that's Lidsville." - End theme

During the 1970s, puppeteers, Sid and Marty Krofft, created a string of hit television series that would make an indelible imprint on audiences of the day. Their first, H.R. Pufnstuff, introduced the world to their life-sized puppets and live-action series. Following The Bugaloos in 1971, Lidsville became the third series from the Kroffts. First airing in 1972, Lidsville tells the story of Mark (The Munsters' Eddie, Butch Patrick), a boy who falls into an alternate world of living hats while trying to learn a magician's secret at an amusement park. When he gets to Lidsville, he is captured by a group of bad hats, and taken to the land's nefarious Horatio J. Hoo Doo (Charles Nelson Reilly), a magician who lives in a giant top hat, and who wields his powers over the hat people, and utilizes the services of his captive Weenie the Geenie (Billie Hayes) to help in his evil doings. All Mark wants is to get back to his home, and after helping Weenie the Geenie escape by stealing the magic ring that she lives in, the two enlist the help of the citizens of Lidsville to return Mark to where he came from. Hoo Doo works to thwart their plans, menacing and zapping the townsfolk from his flying Hatamarand.

The hat people are comprised of a cross-section of stereotypes, many of whom would be criticized these days for their political incorrectness, and feature most of the same talent as the Pufnstuff crew. There is Tex the Cowboy, Chief Sitting Duck, and the Indian; Rah-Rah the football helmet and Tonsolini the opera hat; Mrs. Ring-a-Ding, the party hat; Colonel Poom, the safari hat; Beanie, with his useful helicopter hat; Nursie, the nurse's hat; Mother Wheels, a saucy older biker with a scooter; Mr. Chow, the Chinese cooking hat; and so forth. There is plenty of hat humor, from the hat band to hat checks (currency), the hair forest and shampoo river, with a fedora and haberdashery thrown in for good measure.

If this sounds an awful lot like the premise behind Pufnstuff, it's because Lidsville follows pretty much the same formula, even down to story ideas. The Krofft's trademarks are all present, including the imaginitive and trippy costuming, colorful (psychedelic) sets, silly humor, and (fairly forgettable) musical numbers. The show's main appeal will be to young children, if they aren't freaked out by it. I'll admit to not remembering this show at all, despite my familiarity with more than a few other Krofft series (Sigmund and the Sea Monsters, Land of the Lost). Unlike Pufnstuff, which maintains its instant appeal to me as an adult, Lidsville, at first, seems somewhat flat and unispired. But after viewing all 17 episodes, my opinion has softened quite a bit. If you can get past the rehashed formula, and the fact that the production uses all of the same gimmicks, Lidsville has its own merits, although it is not the equal of the original.

Charles Nelson Reilly (who hated the part for years due to the extensive makeup and stifling costumes) hams it up big time, and is pretty entertaining once he hits his stride. Patrick, who at the time was becoming a teen idol, holds his own, but it is apparent that working with the life-sized puppets was a challenge, and gaffs were not edited out. Hayes has a far less dynamic role in the (male) genie, and many viewers failed to connect her to the flamboyant Witchipoo she played a few years prior. The puppets were principly manned by little people, with their voices provided by the trio of Lennie Weinrib, Walker Edmiston and Joan Gerber. The series was shot in a very disjointed fashion, which explains some of the inconsistencies.

The highlight of the series is an easy pick. In Have I Got a Girl for Hoo Doo, the evil magician is looking for a woman, so he posts a listing with the Lonely Hearts Club. His excitement over the girl chosen for him takes a hit when who should show up but Witchipoo on her Voom Broom (Hayes reprising her Pufnstuff role), who also has some issues with the details provided for her prospective mate. The whole situation is a disaster until they find a mutual interest in zapping the hat people, at which point Mark and his friends have to come up with a solution that will split the pair up.

"Lidsville is the koo-koo-kookiest, Lidsville is the ki-ki-kickiest, Lidsville is the groo-groo-grooviest." - theme song

Rating for Style: B+
Rating for Substance: B+


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: Image quality is pretty good, though does vary slightly from episode to episode. Colors are generally strong, with good contrast, but can be a bit washed out in places. The biggest issue is that although the series was shot on film, this DVD was derived from a video master, which contains numerous minor defects, as well as a couple of more major ones per episode. It also accounts for the softer appearance.

Image Transfer Grade: B-


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access

Audio Transfer Review: Mono audio is decent considering the age of the show, but tends to be somewhat on the thin side, with a fair bit of sibilance and edginess to dialogue. Some distortion is also present, however this seems more a function of the original recording.

Audio Transfer Grade: B+


Disc Extras

Full Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 68 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, French, Spanish with remote access
5 Feature/Episode commentaries by Sid & Marty Krofft, Butch Patrick (2), Billy Hayes, Charles Nelson Reilly
Packaging: Thinpak
3 Discs
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extra Extras:
  1. Interviews with Butch Patrick, Billie Hayes, Charles Nelson Reilly
  2. Butch Patrick scrapbook exerpts
Extras Review: Rhino has done a good job including some nice extras.

Commentaries are present on four episodes. Sid and Marty Krofft open the show on World in a Hat, discussing man of the aspects about the show, and their choices for the cast. Butch Patrick solos on two episodes, Show Me the Way to Go Home and The Old Hat Home and teams up with Billie Hayes for Have I Got a Girl for Hoo Doo, the episode where Hayes doubles as Witchipoo, and Charles Nelson Reilly comments on Oh, Brother, the episode where he gets to play dual roles. While somewhat sporadic, the actors do throw out some interesting trivia between platitudes for their costars and general reaction to the episodes they are watching.

There are three on camera interviews included on the third disc with stars Charles Nelson Reilly (15m:04s), Billy Hayes (7m:16s) and Butch Patrick (12m:29s). For fans of the show, these provide more insight into the making of the series, and many of the challenges the stars faced during its production. Perhaps the most interesting are Butch's recollections of life as a teen idol, which many may be unaware of.

Finally, a collection of images from Butch Patrck's scrapbook of the time are included.

There are four chapter stops per episode, and a "play all" feature. The three discs come in boxed thinpaks, each with the disc's episode synopses on the back cover.

Extras Grade: B-


Final Comments

While not quite living up to the brilliance of Pufnstuff, Lidsville puts the Krofft's kooky humor into a world of talking hats. Rhino's video presentation is a bit wanting, but the extras help to make this a respectable release.


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