Question: A group of us have been on a trivia hunt trying to remember the name of a Sid and Marty Krofft program from the '70s. We remember H.R. Pufnstuf, Sigmund and the Sea Monsters and The Bugaloos. But there was one show that featured Charles Nelson Reilly and the characters were different types of hats. I thought the name was Lidsville, but my friend Grover, who started this, stated he would "never watch a show by that name." Can you help us? Thanks. — Louise D.
Televisionary: So Grover's too good for the show that enchanted and terrified an entire generation, eh? That's OK, Louise — you tell Mr. High-and-Mighty Lidsville and its fans are too good for him, too.
As those of us with better taste recall, ABC ran 17 episodes of Lidsville over two seasons beginning in September 1971. NBC then reran it for another season before it jumped to the syndication market. On it, boy hero Mark (The Munsters' Butch Patrick) caught a show by Merlo the magician, then snuck into the trickster's dressing room afterward. He messed with the magician's magic hat, which proceeded to, as the theme song said, grow and grow and grow. When he climbed up onto it to peer inside, the hungry headgear shook, causing him to lose his balance, fall inside and drop down into a world of talking hats who were divided into the good (a cowboy hat, a nurse's hat, a party hat, a pith helmet) and the bad (an executioner's hood, a gangster's hat). Even worse, the land suffered under the black magic of evil sorcerer Hoo-Doo, played by Nelson Reilly in green makeup.
I'm not sure which was more puzzling — that Mark didn't immediately go quite mad upon entering a realm of talking hats; that kids my age accepted the premise without question; or that the Kroffts seemed to think eternal damnation in an alien world was fair punishment for youthful curiosity. I do remember being mildly terrified of the inept but well-meaning Weenie the genie (Pufnstuf's Billie Hayes as a boy instead of a witch), though.
As the song says, everybody who goes to Lidsville really flips his lid.