Lidsville

TV review by
Emily Ashby, Common Sense Media
Lidsville TV Poster Image
Quirky '70s costume series has bizarre appeal decades later.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.

Educational Value

The show intends to entertain rather than to educate.

Positive Messages

This fantastical series is fun to watch and filled with absurd humor. A constant struggle exists between the domineering magician who rules the land and the well-meaning residents who try to resist him, mostly through tricks and pranks. On the upside, such efforts require the characters to work together to put one over on the villain. Some stereotyping in the characters represented by hats; a football helmet is notably dumb, for instance.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Most characters are innocuous, but HooDoo exerts control through threats and his magical powers, forcing the residents to find creative ways to undo his efforts. Even though Mark's main objective is to find a way home, he sets that aside to help his Lidsville friends thwart HooDoo's schemes.

Violence & Scariness

A magician uses his powers against his neighbors, zapping them with sparks and causing small explosions. No one is seriously hurt, but it does deter people from coming near him when he wants them to.

Sexy Stuff

Passing mention of a person's sexiness and veiled allusions to physical relationships, as when a woman tells a man, "I'm not that kind of girl."

Language

Occasionally "shut up," and name-calling such as "brat."

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Lidsville is a 1970s comedy series in which most cast members wear full-size hat-shaped costumes. Absurd humor, many hat-related puns, exaggerated physical characteristics, and the aforementioned quirky costumes account for much of the show's comedy. There's little content that's worrisome, and the outdated special effects take the edge off HooDoo's ability to zap his subjects with an electric current. There's a little stereotyping in the characterization of the hats, but it's not offensive.

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What's the story?

At a magic show, Mark (Butch Patrick) is so amazed at Merlo the Magician's (Charles Nelson Reilly) tricks that he sneaks backstage later to check out his hat, which swells in size and swallows up Mark when he tries to peek inside. Suddenly he finds himself in Lidsville, a land populated by hats of all different kinds who befriend him and try to help him figure out how to get home. At the same time, he bands together with the hats to resist oppression by the town's leader, Horatio J. HooDoo (Reilly again), who uses his magical powers to keep the residents in line.

Is it any good?

Bizarre yet somehow engrossing, this short-lived costumed comedy series from Sid and Marty Krofft takes some getting used to, especially in contrast with modern offerings for kids. It's safe to say today's kids probably haven't seen anything like it, and unless parents happened to catch its brief run in their childhood, it's probably new to them as well. LIDSVILLE's strength lies in its character variety; every hat's speech pattern and personality matches its look, so the party hat really is the life of the party, a cowboy hat talks with a drawl, and so on. And then there's HooDoo, the bumbling villain with a quick temper and countless schemes against the good hats of his town, who still manages to be a sympathetic character in spots.

Lidsville is trippy to watch (it's not surprising that rumors of drug use accompanied the creators' production success), ever silly, and always unpredictable. Viewers who are looking for something different from modern CGI's ability to blur fantasy and reality may want to check this out, as the separation is very clear here. There's enough adult-geared humor to keep grown-ups' interest, but most of it will go over kids' heads. And, in an age where there's pressure to make every moment of screen time count for something, it is nice to appreciate a show solely on its ability to entertain.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the appeal of decades-old shows such as Lidsville. With such vastly different effects and objectives, how does this series compare to what you find on TV now? Can you relate to the comedy style? What do you make of the costumed cast?

  • Does entertainment have to impart messages or knowledge to be worth your time? What are some of your favorite noneducational shows or movies? What can entertainment teach you about the different eras from which it originates?

  • How has the Internet introduced you to entertainment (and entertainers) you otherwise might not have found? What limits exist for content on sites such as YouTube? Should there be stricter rules, or are they adequate to keep young viewers away from inappropriate content?

TV details

Themes & Topics

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For kids who love retro TV

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