Saturday, June 17, 2017

Saturday Morning Cult-TV Blogging: Lidsville: "The Old Hat Home"

In “The Old Hat Home,” Hoo-doo (Charles Nelson Reilly) is refused a slot in the charity talent show for the Old Hats Home. 

In response, the angry wizard transforms Mark (Butch Patrick), Weenie (Billie Hayes), and the Good Hats into stooped-over senior citizens. Then, he steals the charity money they have raised for the home.

When Hoo-doo realizes that old, infirm hats can’t work and pay him back taxes, he returns his victims to normal...but keeps the charity money. 

Mark comes up with a plan, however, to get the box of charity money back. And it will require Hoo-Doo to believe that he didn’t successfully restore the good hats to their youthful look.

This episode of Lidsville is, as usual, quite strange. But the action that precipitates the narrative is also oddly unnecessary. The Good Hats plan a talent show to raise money for old hats. Hoo-doo learns of this development, and wants to participate. He wants to do a magic act in the show, and even sings a song about himself (“who does magic like Houdini wishes he could?” he croons).

But the good hats refuse Hoo-doo a slot. Mark claims that the show is already full, but would one more act really hurt?  It seems to me that this is a (missed) opportunity on the part of the Good Hats. 

Why? While Hoo-doo is on stage, it would be an ideal opportunity for Mark and Weenie to escape, unimpeded.  Secondly, what does it really harm to let Hoo-doo participate?

By this point (episode #15 of the series), however, the formula has hardened, and the narrative flies largely on automatic pilot. Hoo-doo acts evilly and vengefully, and Mark suggests a disguise (old age costumes!) to get back an item Hoo-doo has stolen.  In the end, Hoodoo -- ever the incompetent wizard – botches a counter-attack, and he becomes victim of his own magic. In this case, he is made young by his “zap of youth,” and turned into a baby.

It’s not exactly bad, but it’s not fresh either. Just more of the same.

Next week: “The Great Brain Robbery.”

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