25 January 2009 | VinnieRattolle
Patented Krofft wackiness and tackiness!
Brothers Sid & Marty Krofft had successfully transitioned their puppet shows from live venues to Saturday morning television ("H.R. Pufnstuf," "The Bugaloos") and were looking to cross over to prime-time with this special, which was a pilot for a weekly series. In typical fashion, they recycled ideas, basing the special on the live show of the same name that they'd debuted at HemisFair in 1968, and redressed some puppets used in previous productions.
After a beautiful opening sequence, which includes famous mime Robert Shields magically creating a Renaissance Fair and minstrel Ricky Nelson walking through the streets singing and bringing the townsfolk to "Life," the special immediately degenerates into a disjointed Krofft free-for-all, complete with a cheesy laugh track, tacky jokes, unstable sets, bizarre musical numbers (including a group of nuns singing George Harrison's "My Sweet Lord" as Mickey Rooney and Totie Fields recreate the story of Noah's Ark with a wigged Howard Cosell narrating), corny puppets, the obligatory coven of witches, celebrity cameos galore -- and they even managed to sneak in a drug reference. There really isn't a plot, it's basically just a series of skits, kind of like a (very unique) variety show. Many of the actors played multiple roles (Totie Fields managed to steal every scene, no matter which character she was playing), though those who didn't (like Ricky Nelson and Ann Sothern) each appeared in multiple scenes and were perfectly suited for their parts.
For fans of the Kroffts and the actors involved, it's all great fun... but anyone else should beware! Of course, that's not really a problem, considering "Fol-de-Rol" only aired once and was never seen again. That's sort of a shame. I don't know how they could have possibly done this show on a weekly basis, but it's a product of a time when TV was far more innocent (and MUCH weirder) that would look great on a DVD shelf next to similarly one-of-a-kind fare like "The Paul Lynde Halloween Special" and "Pink Lady and Jeff."