Saturday, April 15, 2017

Saturday Morning Cult-TV Blogging: Lidsville: "Is There a Mayor in the House?"

The town of Lidsville doesn’t appreciated being taxed by the villainous Hoo-Doo (Charles Nelson Reilly), and so the people vow to elect a mayor to protect them from tyranny.

Mark (Butch Patrick) is considered for the position, but he doesn’t feel right about accepting it since he wants to leave; to return home.

While the people of Lidsville seek another serviceable candidate, Hoo-Doo learns of the plans for citizen representation, and enlists his own (crooked) candidate: Mr Big.

Although Hoo-Doo promises  “an open and honest election,” he tricks the residents into voting for Mr. Big.

Once Mr. Big is in office, His Honor breaks all of his promises to the people to raises wages and lower taxes. Instead, he decides that a highway should run through the town.

Unfortunately, Mr. Big makes this plan without Hoo-Doo’s endorsement, and so Mark, Weenie (Billie Hayes) and others decide it is time to frame Mr. Big, and have Hoo-Doo remove him from office himself.

“Is there a Mayor in the House?” is another enjoyable episode of the trippy Lidsville (1971-1973), and one that operates on more than one level of meaning. 

On the surface level, of course, this is a goofy comedy and kid’s show. It features lots of shtick, lots of pratfalls, and its requisite share of bad puns.

On a deeper level, we get -- like last week’s show -- an indictment of modern life, and in particular, political reality.

Here, there is a candidate, Mr. Big, who lies to get into office, and then, once he has power, promptly forgets the people.  Secretly, of course, Mr. Big, and is the tool of special interests (Hoo-Doo), even though he ran what might be called a populist campaign.  Isn’t that always the way it is?

Also, we get Mark as “an impartial election monitor,” but for all his good intentions, Hoo-Doo still “fixes” the election for his candidate.  Again, this shouldn’t seem alien in the era of Citizens United, when freedom of speech is the same thing as money, and expensive donors can all but bankroll or buy candidates for political office.

Intriguingly, Mr.  Big is brought down not when the people turn against him. They were always against him, and tricked into voting for him (against their best interest). Instead, Mr. Big goes down when he acts independently of the special interest that purchased his office for him.

It’s amazing that this level of cynicism about politics makes it into a Saturday morning TV series, and a delight that it does, as well. I’ll be on the look-out, in future examples, for more satire and commentary.

Next week: “Take Me to Your Rabbit.”

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