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In “The Great Brain Robbery,” Mark (Butch Patrick) and Weenie (Billie Hayes) decide to fly away from Lidsville (and back to the real world), using a magic carpet.
After they depart, however, Hoo-doo (Charles Nelson Reilly) unveils his brainwash machine, and plans to transform all the Good Hats into obedient slaves. The Bad Hats set the machine to the wrong dial, however, and the Good Hats become argumentative.
Hoo-Doo realizes that this is a fantastic turn of events, and he plans to use the Good Hats as an army to stage a coup against the Imperial Wizard.
Mark and Weenie crash on the magic carpet during a storm, and discover what Hoo-Doo is up to. Now they must free their friends from Hoo-doo’s control.
This episode of Lidsville (1971-1973) focuses on the intriguing notion, that Hoo-doo is more than a buffoon, and actually a very real danger to the world of hats. Sure he's a clown, but with power, he's incredibly dangerous.
For example, in this story Hoodoo attempts to raise an army for a very specific purpose: to attack and over-take the Imperial Wizard’s palace.
This is a much more ambitious and power-hungry plan than we have seen before. He compares himself to Napoleon and (amusingly) notes that soon “Charlton Heston will be begging to play my life…in color.”
Also, we get a sense, in this episode of the world’s geography. While planning his conquest, Hoo-Doo says “Today, Lidsville, tomorrow Coatsville…then on to Shirtville…”
To the best of my memory, “The Great Brain Robbery” is the only episode of Lidsville that explores Hoo-Doo’s specific plans for world domination. In the past, he has seemed content to terrorize the Good Hats and collect back taxes. This development makes him more of a sadistic bureaucrat than a world conqueror. But here, we see differently.
Otherwise, this story brings back the magic carpet we saw some episodes back (“Fly Now, Vacuum Later”), and uses it as a vehicle of escape for Mark and Weenie. Of course, according to the rigid series formula, these characters can’t actually escape. So the carpet hits a storm in the sky, and the duo crashes back on the ground.
Stories like this always raise questions for me, though admittedly they may not have for the original audience of young children.
Some of those questions include: why not try the magic carpet again at another time? Or, for that matter, why doesn’t Hoo-Doo try the brain wash machine on another occasion?
Next week, the final Lidsville episode: “Mommy Hoo-Doo.”