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Series / The Jim Henson Hour

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The Jim Henson Hour (known internationally as The Jim Henson Show) was Jim Henson's last television series, and aired on NBC from April 14, 1989 to July 30, 1989, and on CBC in Canada. The first half of most of the hours was 'Muppetelevision', with the second half a half-hour special showcasing what else Henson could do with puppetry (and one Muppet special, Miss Piggy's Hollywood). Several episodes of The Storyteller that hadn't yet aired in North America were originally aired here, as was the one-off special Dog City, which inspired a TV series of the same name. One character named Clifford would go on to appear in other Muppet productions, such as hosting Muppets Tonight and appearing in Muppets from Space.

Unfortunately, it failed to catch on. Executive Meddling resulted in a far less structured show than Henson had in mind, leaving audiences confused, and the new Muppets were largely a disappointment. A common refrain from critics was that people should skip the first half of each episode, and only tune in for the Storyteller segments. As a result, critics gave the show mixed reviews (being especially harsh towards the first half of the show), and it ended up being a total ratings failure. Twelve episodes were produced, but the ratings were so bad that NBC cancelled the show after only five episodes had aired. Four of the remaining episodes were burned off that July. Two more episodes premiered as stand-alone specials on Nickelodeon in 1992 and 1993. The last episode aired in the United Kingdom on December 30, 1990, but never aired in the United States. Japan got the series only as a one-off special in 1992 on NHK, under the title Jim Henson's Fantasy World.

See the Dog City page for tropes from that special.

Tropes featured include:

  • Alternate Species Counterpart: The "Outer Space" segment featured an alien television broadcast of The Teppums, alien versions of The Muppets. Characters include Timrek the Gorf, Oznog (an analog to Gonzo), and unnamed Teppum versions of Vicki, Digit, Leon, Bootsie, and Brad.
  • Behind the Black: In the "Secrets" episode, Gonzo and others are horrified and creeped out by their performers, who are visible in a long shot. When the camera moves in so only the upper halves of the puppets can be seen, he looks down and sees the floor again.
    Jim Henson: The fantasy always wins.
  • Brain with a Manual Control: In the episode "Outer Space", after Digit breaks down, Kermit, Lindbergh and Waldo go into his brain to fix him. They end up controlling Digit from the inside when they are unable to reach a button to release them out of his brain.
  • Break the Haughty: Miss Piggy gets put through this in Miss Piggy's Hollywood — not only does her Celebrity Lie become increasingly transparent to the audience, she tumbles out of the back of a car, gets blown up at Universal Studios at the end of an egotistical rewrite of "That's Entertainment", and falls backwards into a pool as the day progresses. She finally breaks down on camera and admits to her deception, whereupon the proceedings take a happy turn at last.
  • Bunnies for Cuteness: Bean Bunny's role as the Ridiculously Cute Critter is repeatedly lampshaded.
  • The Cameo: Sprocket from Fraggle Rock makes a brief appearance in Dog City and also appears in the "OMD" (Organization of Muppet Dogs) segment in Secrets of the Muppets.
  • Celebrity Lie: Miss Piggy's Hollywood is built on Piggy trying to put this over even as it quickly becomes clear that the stars she's trying to get on camera for interviews are not dear friends of hers, reaching a low point when an angry Justine Bateman backs her into a pool (Gonzo told her agent she was going to be interviewed by Barbara Walters). Just after she knocks on the door of the final "friend", Dudley Moore, Piggy finally breaks down as she admits to the audience that she's been fibbing because she wanted to live up to their expectations...and for a moment doesn't realize that Moore has not only stepped outside but is thrilled to see her, as he's a huge fan of hers. She promptly cheers up after that!
  • Clip Show: Sesame Street: 20 Years… and Still Counting, which was produced as an episode of the series, but aired as a separate special on April 7, 1989, one week before the formal series premiere, and is considered sort of an "episode 0" for the series, is an anniversary show that mixes clips with various bits of new material, including an intro with Henson and Kermit.
  • Compliment Backfire: Kermit gets the compliment-that-makes-you-feel-old from Vicki, who's been a huge fan of The Muppet Show since kindergarten.
  • Dance Party Ending:
    • At the end of "The Ratings Game", Kermit laments that the show's fallen to pieces and needs something to save it — so Bean Bunny launches into "La Bamba" and the rest of the cast (including characters from the preceding sketches) joins in.
    • A similar ending happens in "Outer Space"; Lacking an idea for a closing number, the Muppets (and their counterparts the Teppums) perform "Chattanooga Choo Choo".
    • The closing number for "Videotape", when Buster Poindexter hosts an "All Night Party".
    • The cast of Sesame Street sings "Sing a Song" for the conclusion of the episode: Sesame Street: 20 Years… and Still Counting, as they pay tribute to Sesame Street composer, Joe Raposo.
  • Demoted to Extra/Commuting on a Bus: Frank Oz was busy with movie projects (particularly What About Bob?) during the show's production, so Miss Piggy and Fozzie Bear don't appear much outside of Miss Piggy's Hollywood, which was intended to compensate for this by giving them A Day in the Limelight. Richard Hunt, who was diagnosed with HIV around that time, only performed characters in one or two episodes.
  • Do Not Adjust Your Set: On Sesame Street: 20 Years and Still Counting, Bill Cosby reminded viewers to not adjust their TV set after they ran Rubber Ducky in Multi-Language.
  • Green Aesop: A message against pollution is used in one story narrated by Clifford, and in others.
  • Homage: The show was designed to be a Jim Henson version of Walt Disney Presents (hour-long, rotating subjects, Jim introducing and closing each episode, etc.). More so in the original pitch, but still.
  • Hostile Show Take Over: Gonzo and Leon try this, but it's less hostile than usual as Kermit relishes the opportunity for a break. Consequently, things fall to pieces as no one can decide who should have Kermit's job.
  • Iconic Outfit: Jim in those Cosby sweaters. As explained in "The Secrets of the Muppets" this is to avoid issues with the blue screen set.
  • Laugh Track: In Miss Piggy's Hollywood, Fozzie Bear's set at The Comedy Store (a Real Life stand-up comedy club) is heckled by Statler and Waldorf. He then reveals he brought a laugh track with him just in case, and when he uses it for the same routine, it works so well that they wind up surrendering, complete with little white flags.
  • Massive Multiplayer Crossover: In Secrets of the Muppets, Rowlf oversees a meeting of various Muppet/Creature Shop dogs such as Ambrosius, Sprocket, the Dog City characters, and The Storyteller's dog.
  • Motion Capture: Waldo C. Graphic from the "MuppetTelevison" segments is an early experiment in CG puppetry. In "Secrets of the Muppets", Jim shows how his performance is done.
  • Non-Human Sidekick:
    • The Thought Lion from "The True Bride" joined Jim in the intros and closings.
    • In "Secrets of the Muppets", Jim is accompanied by a dog named Jojo who acts as The Watson.
  • Ominous Multiple Screens: Well, maybe not so ominous. The Muppet control room on consists of hundreds and hundreds of TV screens. This made sense, as the idea was that Kermit the Frog assembled the show by tuning into every television feed in the universe and picking the best stuff. This being the Muppets, characters could also get flung out of screens and into the control room itself.
  • Policeman Dog: Ace Yu is a dog as well as a private eye.
  • Revival: Of The Muppet Show.
  • The Scottish Trope: In the cheeky behind-the-scenes special Secrets Of The Muppets, another program that wouldn't air during the NBC run but later appeared on Nickelodeon, it's revealed that most of the Muppets are very sensitive about "the 'P' word".
  • Serendipitous Symphony: In The Song of the Cloud Forest.
  • Similar Squad: An episode featured the characters receiving footage of an alien TV show starring the Teppums, including Timrek the Gorf and Oznog.
  • Sdrawkcab Name: One episode featured the Teppums, with Timrek the Gorf and Oznog.
  • The Tape Knew You Would Say That:
    • Gonzo leaves to do a poultry show across town, but has Digit 'pre-record' himself to make an appearence on MuppeTelevision, and is just that good at predicting what will happen.
    • Even after Kermit fast forwards to the end of the recording in order to get rid of it, it still has the prescience to complain about this before departing.


Video Example(s):


The Jim Henson Hour: Waldo

Waldo is a 3D, computer-animated Muppet character controlled by the motions of the puppeter's hand while in a special, mitten-shaped rig.

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Example of:

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