H.R. Pufnstuf



Surreal classic's laugh track keeps it from being creepy.

What parents need to know

Educational value

This show is intended to entertain rather than educate, though kids will learn positive lessons about helping others out.

Positive messages

When Jimmy needs help, Mayor Pufnstuf goes to great lengths to help him. Be on the look out for some dated stereotyping, like the Redwood tree dressed as a Native American, or the East Wind looking like a Chinese sage and speaking with an exaggerated accent.

Positive role models

Mayor Pufnstuf is a gentle problem solver with a Southern drawl. All of his friends are helpful and kind, and they all take Jimmy's plight seriously. The witch is mean, but also very silly.

Violence & scariness

Witchiepoo bonks and curses everyone she meets. Characters fall down, clown-like, as they chase Jimmy and his flute. Some creepy images, like mean talking trees and skeletons. Explosions.

Sexy stuff

Characters kiss on the cheek chastely.


The witch uses lots of bullying language like "stupid," "idiot," and "shut up."

Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Occasional smoking though in a surreal context (a tree smokes a cigar). The witch often poisons or drugs the others -- in one episode her minions blow a special smoke into a crowd and everyone collapses in laughter...

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that the psychedelic and sometimes creepy quality of this show is tempered by an earnest laugh-track. Though Witchiepoo is a villain, she is more clownish than scary. There are, however, some monster puppets that might frighten the youngest viewers. Expect young viewers to imitate some of the witch's name-calling and bullying language ("stupid," "idiot," "shut up").

What's the story?

Jimmy (Jack Wild) and his magic flute, Freddy, are playing outside one day when they spot a colorful boat on the lake nearby. Once they hop on the boat, they realize they've been caught in a trap. It seems that the grumpy Witchiepoo (Billie Hayes) is set upon capturing Freddy the Flute. Luckily, the boy and his instrument land safely on Living Island, where Mayor Pufnstuf and his friends help Jimmy stay clear of Witchiepoo.

Is it any good?


High-stepping, peppy musical numbers, mixed with comic witchy hi-jinx from the talented Billie Hayes make for fun flashbacks and good times. Parents who grew up with this classic might be amazed by how truly strange the images are -- a sparkly flute, books, mushrooms, candles, owls, houses that talk. Even Jack, the boy with the cockney accent, has a funny jig that he does when he sings with the rest of the crew.

But it's Witchiepoo who steals the show. She is a rare type of female character who is the bad guy, sure. But she is funny and energetic and childish. Her Vroom Broom feels more like a Formula One racer than a broomstick. And when she cackles and screeches, jumping around like an imp, she portrays more than a one-dimensional villain, but a woman who is is funny and tricky and wily. Nice change from the normal stereotypes. Parents should sit along side their kids while watching this series, since some of the humor might come off as dated, and some of the psychedelic images might be too bizarre for youngest kids.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the TV shows that parents grew up with: How have things changed? Hand-made puppets used to rule the airwarves. Now everything is computer generated -- what's the difference in the qualtiy of this show compared to newer shows, in your opinion?

  • Witchiepoo hits people with her wand and casts spells to trap characters. How do you think this kind of cartoon violence affects kids?

  • There are so many strange and imaginative things that occur in this show -- like a whole house that has allergies and sneezes, and an island where everything can talk. What are the strangest ideas that you have ever had?

  • Do you notice any stereotypes depicted in the show?

TV details

Cast:Billie Hayes, Jack Wild
TV rating:NR
Available on:DVD, Streaming

This review of H.R. Pufnstuf was written by

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Teen, 15 years old Written byDominicboo1 June 27, 2011

Who's Your Friend When Things Get Rough?

All the good characters are role models, and Pufnstuf is even kind to nasty Witchiepoo. Witchiepoo will not scare many young children. A mushroom, and a fireplace both smoke cigars in episodes, but most children know that smoking is very bad for them. Jimmy, Pufnstuf, and Freddie Flute are a trio that lets nothing (not even the witch) sepearate them. Delightfully corny and fun for the whole family.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking


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