H.R. Pufnstuf introduced the Kroffts’ most-used plot scenario: their fairy tale of good versus evil, as well as their second plot scenario: the stranger in a strange land.
The show centered on a shipwrecked boy named Jimmy (played by teenage actor Jack Wild). He is 11 years old when he arrives on the island and turns 12 in the episode called “The Birthday Party”. Jimmy and his friend, a talking flute named Freddy, take a ride on a mysterious boat, which promised adventures across the sea to the kooky Living Island, home of dancing talking trees and singing frogs.
The boat was actually owned and controlled by a wicked witch named Wilhelmina W. Witchiepoo (played by Billie Hayes) who rode on a broomstick-like vehicle called the Vroom Broom. She used the boat to lure Jimmy and Freddy to her castle on Living Island, where she was going to take Jimmy prisoner and steal Freddy for her own purposes.
The Mayor of Living Island was a friendly and helpful anthropomorphic dragon named H.R. Pufnstuf (voiced by the show’s writer Lennie Weinrib, who also voices many of the other characters) who found out about her plot upon witnessing the action and was able to rescue Jimmy, with the help of Cling and Clang, when he leaped out of the enchanted boat with Freddy and swam ashore. Jimmy was taken in by H.R. Pufnstuf, who was able to protect him from Witchiepoo, as the cave where he lived was the only place her magic had no effect.
Apart from Jimmy and Witchiepoo, all of the characters on Living Island were realized via large cumbersome costumes or puppetry of either anthropomorphic animals or objects. Since everything on Living Island was alive (namely houses, castles, boats, clocks, candles, books, trees, mushrooms, etc.), virtually any part of the Living Island sets could become a character, usually voiced in a parody of a famous film star, such as Mae West, Edward G. Robinson or most notably John Wayne as “The West Wind”. A frequent plot device involves Witchiepoo and her henchmen Orson Vulture, Seymour Spider, and Stupid Bat trying to steal Freddy only to be thwarted by Pufnstuf. Another concerns Jimmy and Freddy’s efforts to return home from Living Island with the same lack of success.Genres: Adventure Family Fantasy
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