Various Nonsensicals

Random Interpretations: H.R. Pufnstuf

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H.R. Pufnstuf is a Sid and Marty Krofft show with a short run but a long life. All 17 episodes were and still are syndicated for so long that they were a part of my childhood more than 20 years after their creation (along with other Krofft productions). The premise is given right in its lengthy expositional opening. A boy named Jimmy, played by The Artful Dodger himself Jack Wild, has a magical golden talking flute named Freddy. A witch named Witchiepoo kidnaps the pair because she wants Freddy for herself. Jimmy and Freddy escape and wash onto Living Island. H.R. Pufnstuf and his Rescue Racer (not Rangers) Crew save them, opening up a series of plots wherein Jimmy tries to return home.

It is certainly more than a little camp, making for some good-natured children’s entertainment fun. At least until the view evolves into something a little more. Let’s follow that process, shall we?

It doesn’t take long to start questioning the logic of the world, but most of that is part of the fun. I am just going to focus on the very premise.

Why does Witchiepoo even want Freddy? She already lives in a world where pretty much everything is alive. Heck, the boat she uses to kidnap them can talk, and is a boat. What makes Freddy so special? Perhaps it is because he is gold, or golden at least. Maybe I missed something wherein they explain that Freddy once belonged to Witchiepoo, so now she wants him back.

A face only a witch could love.

It would make sense for Freddy to originate in Living World because there is an even more important issue.

How did nobody in the real world notice that Jimmy had this talking flute? What kind of crazy universe is this where a magical musical instrument is less valuable in a world where inanimate objects remain just that, while the world where the very wind has sentience considers it something worth having? Why would the pressures of demand be so inverse to supply? Why didn’t a kid Jimmy’s age get the stranger danger talk? It doesn’t make any sense.

It's almost as if this is a children’s story.

Then we have an even greater danger lurking in plain sight. There is something even more evil than nonsensical plot plaguing the very core of this show.

We got trouble people. Trouble with a capital T. And that rhymes with D. And that stands for…Drugs! Drugs everywhere!

There is something to that. Pufnstuf, “can’t do a little cause he can’t do enough,” and just, have you seen this thing at all? Insanity of that level cannot be brought forth from a mind not under the influence of anything, it just can’t. One cannot even fully watch it without being in some kind of mind altered state. Impossible, game over.

However, even this is not the end. There is metaphor even more sinister than mere drug references to this story. Let me tell you a depressing tale of a boy named Jimmy.

Once upon a summer time, just a dream from yesterday, a boy named Jimmy was off on his own. Suddenly, he found in his possession a magic flute. This flute is pretty cool. Jimmy likes it, and it is harmless enough, even acting as a friend in his view. Unfortunately, the flute is actually Jimmy’s first score that a dealer gave him as a freebie. Now he is hooked. From there, Jimmy is enticed into trying more and falls into a world of continued drug use from which he never escapes. Witchiepoo is not the bad guy, she is just trying to get him out. She wants the flute as a symbol of what got Jimmy’s addiction started in the first place. She is trying to save him. Yet each time she is thwarted by Jimmy’s new “friends.”

Now why would they continuously help him try to escape? In reality, they do not. Think about it. Witchiepoo is not very smart. How is it that she is even capable of thwarting their schemes?

Witchiepoo’s failures were meant to be analogous to some real world attempts.

The truth is that they were never intended to succeed in the first place. It is the equivalent of letting Jimmy know that he could stop whenever he wants. He doesn’t have a problem. It’s that stupid fuzz Witchiepoo who is holding him back. It’s her fault that he is stuck. Moreover, who is there to comfort him, to be his closest friend? Why none other than the dealer himself, Pufnstuf.

After all of the children abandoned him, Puff the Magic Dragon turned to a new life of revenge and became the very face of evil.

In this way, Jimmy is stuck in an endless loop of drug addiction. He never does escape.

The creators have said that they did not intend any drug references whatsoever in their work. Of course, what the creator says goes.


I’m not one to simply subscribe to authorial intent at the best of times, especially when there’s even more nonsense to be had by ignoring it. What they say does not matter; it’s what was created and how it is interpreted that counts. Maybe there is fun to be had with references to pot culture. Maybe there is a metaphor for the sad decline of a child into the clutches of addiction (wait, Jack Wild...).

That or it could be, you know, A FREAKING CHILDREN"S SHOW that we can all simply enjoy in our own way.

Now I have the munchies.

See you next week.

Updated 09-25-2015 at 10:22 PM by xxMATEOSxx

Random Interpretations