Tough Pigs Anthology

June 2003



A Brief History of the Jim Henson Hour


   The Jim Henson Hour was Henson's attempt to recapture the anything-can-happen magic of the old Walt Disney Presents series. For an hour a week, Henson would showcase whatever his creative team could come up with -- a zany Muppet variety show, an episode of The Storyteller, a fantasy drama or a children's comedy special. 


   They made thirteen episodes, which were broadcast from April through July, 1989. It didn't work. It got cancelled. Only ten of the episodes aired on NBC during the original run. A few episodes have been rerun on cable -- Nickelodeon was the first to air two of the unaired episodes in the US. But most of the episodes have only been aired once -- including all of the MuppetTelevision segments, the half-hour Muppet variety show. 


   This summer, Tough Pigs presents transcripts and photos from some of those rarely-seen Muppet treasures.





Episode #0.  Sesame Street... 20 Years and Still Counting

April 7, 1989

[ Fridays, 8pm ]


Originally intended as a Henson Hour episode, 

this special aired on its own the week before Henson Hour premiered. 

Bill Cosby hosted this behind the scenes celebration 

of Sesame's 20th anniversary.






Episode #1.  Science Fiction

April 14, 1989


MuppetTelevision: Louie Anderson

Kermit cancels the boring parts of the show 

when Digit discovers he can tune in 

cable channels from alien worlds.


The Storyteller: The Heartless Giant

A young prince is tricked into 

helping an evil giant escape from prison.






Episode #2.  Aquatic Life

April 21, 1989


MuppetTelevision: Ted Danson

In an ocean-themed episode, Ted takes a pirate cruise, 

Jacques Roach explores underwater with a crew of rats and sheep, 

and Clifford narrates a story about evolution 

and protecting the creatures of the water.


Lighthouse Island

A young man travels to a magical coastal town 

to find a present for his bride-to-be, who he has never met.






Episode #3.  Monster Telethon

April 28, 1989


MuppetTelevision: The Today Show

Kermit decides to take a vacation from running the show, 

and his overconfident assistants panic 

when they realize they don't know what to do. 

Meanwhile, the Muppets' video feeds are invaded 

by monsters running a threatening telethon.


The Storyteller: The Soldier and Death

A soldier uses his magical sack to capture devils -- 

and, eventually, Death himself.






Episode #4.  Dog City

May 5, 1989


Dog City

Rowlf hosts a film noir parody 

set in a town entirely populated by dogs. 

Ace Yu travels to Dog City 

to investigate the murder of his uncle, 

who was killed by canine mob boss Bugsy Them.






Episode #5.  The Ratings Game

May 14, 1989

[ moved to Sundays, 7pm ]


MuppetTelevision: Bobby McFerrin

Kermit worries about the ratings, 

which only go up when he shows violence -- or Bean Bunny. 

The show is interrupted by rebellious performance artists 

who object to the Muppets' bourgeois broadcasts.


Miss Piggy's Hollywood

Miss Piggy presents a tour of Hollywood, assisted by Gonzo. 

She tries to interview "the family of stars," 

but none of them want to talk to her.






Episode #6.  Monster Maker

July 9, 1989

[ back on Sunday nights after a hiatus ]


Monster Maker

A boy with an unhappy home life 

gets a secret job with his idol, a special effects expert.






Episode #7.  Health and Fitness

July 16, 1989


MuppetTelevision: Smokey Robinson

In an episode focusing on health and fitness, 

Digit gets a cold, the chickens catch sneezing fits, 

and Link worries that he has Canadian snout fever.


Song of the Cloud Forest

In the rainforest, Milton the Golden Toad worries 

that he may be the last Golden Toad left alive, 

and he'll never find a mate to love.






Episode #8.  Musicians

July 23, 1989


MuppetTelevision: Buster Poindexter

Flash's groupies mob the studio, 

but then defect to become Bean Bunny's groupies. 

Meanwhile, Gonzo pre-records himself so that he can talk to Kermit 

even when he's across town at another studio.


The Storyteller: The True Bride

A girl is freed from a troll's enslavement 

-- but when she falls in love, she's kept apart from her beloved 

by the troll's sister.






Episode #9.  Garbage

July 30, 1989


MuppetTelevision: k.d. lang

The Muppet studio is overwhelmed 

with animate garbage bags, 

and Kermit can't find a way to get rid of them.


The Storyteller: Sapsorrow

A princess flees when she's forced to marry her father. 

She poses as a ragged servant in another kingdom 

-- and then falls in love with a haughty prince.


[ This was the last episode aired on NBC

during the show's original run. ]






Episode #10.  Secrets of the Muppets

First seen in the US on Nickelodeon in 1992


Secrets of the Muppets

Jim Henson explains the technology behind his work, 

including remote control devices, bike riding Muppets, 

and... gulp... puppets.






Episode #11.  Living with Dinosaurs

Aired in the UK on Channel 4: December 4, 1990

First seen in the US on Nickelodeon in 1993


Living with Dinosaurs

A young English boy deals with his fears 

about his unemployed artist father, his pregnant mother, 

and his asthma, with the help of his favorite doll, 

a dinosaur named Dog.






Episode #12.  Food

Aired in the UK in 1990

Never aired in the US



Kermit has trouble getting the show going, 

because his entire staff is waiting 

for their lunch to be delivered.


The Storyteller: The Three Ravens

A princess' dreams of love are threatened 

by the machinations of an evil witch queen.



Next: Science Fiction!



Tough Pigs Anthology Contents

April/May 2003 -- Breaking News: Sesame Street News Flashes

March 2003 -- The Early Days of the Muppet Show Comic Strip

Feb 2003 -- Ernie vs Bert

Aug/Sept 2002 -- The Road to Hollywood

July 2002 -- The Decline and Fall of Gorch, part two: The Fall

June 2002 -- The Decline and Fall of Gorch, part one: The Decline

May 2002 -- Giant Frogs!

April 2002 -- April Frog's Day

March 2002 -- The Muppets Take Madison Avenue

February 2002 -- Kermit and Piggy : That Magnificent Hankering

January 2002 -- Off the Street

December 2001 -- It Feels Like Christmas

November 2001 -- Muppets: 1, Host: 0