Did you ever have a fleeting memory a some figment of popular culture from when you were a child? That happened to me today. I was thinking about magic hats, as I often do, and I vaguely remembered a weird show from THE GREATEST DECADE OF ALL TIME, the 1970s, about a boy who actually fell into a magic hat to a strange, scary world from which he could never seem to escape.
Through the magic of Google, I figured out what I was talking about. I think my keywords were “boy,” “magic hat” and “TV.” And up popped “Lidsville.”
That would seem like a terrific name for a hat store. Instead, it was the freakiest show mankind has ever known. I quote here from those deadpan jokesters at Wikipedia: “The word ‘lid’ is slang for a hat or cap (as in ‘flip your lid’), but ‘lid’ is also early-1970s slang for an ounce of marijuana.”
Ha-ha! We have a great idea for a kids show! And we can sell LOTS of lunch boxes!
Like my hazy memory, the premise is that a boy goes to a magician’s performance, is intrigued, sneaks backstage and checks out the magician’s black hat. The hat grows to an enormous size and the boy climbs up to its brim to peer inside. And he falls in. To another world. Where almost everyone is wearing a theme park costume. And he can’t escape.
Naturally, this sprang from The World of Sid and Marty Krofft.
And, naturally, the boy in the show was played by Butch Patrick, best known as Eddie Munster.
The villain of the show was named Horatio J. Hoodoo, voiced by Charles Nelson Reilly. As a valuable aside, “Horatio J. Hoodoo” would be a great name for a family dog. For that matter, so would “Charles Nelson Reilly.”
The DVD collection of the 1971-73 series came out a couple of years ago. Unfortunately, poor Mark, the kid who falls into the hat, doesn’t return home in the end. But there’s still a chance! (Kinda.) Earlier this year, there was a report that Dreamworks is considering a remake of Lidsville.
I couldn’t make this up if I tried. Unless I had an ounce or two of lid. (* See my humiliating terminology error — and resulting loss of street cred — in the comments below. Also, discuss: if you don’t have street cred, can you lose it?)
Anyhow, check out the opening for “Lidsville.” And prepare to freak: