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Your Thoughts: "Jim Henson: The Biography" by Brian Jay Jones

Muppet Master

Well-Known Member
Jan 14, 2014
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And on the subject of Ernie and Bert segments from the first season, many segments seemed to have the apartment decorated differently, with a number of set pieces used only once or twice or whatever. And I'm not just talking about one-time set pieces that are related to the plot of the sketch. There have been times that year when something would be in the background only once and not even be acknowledged. The only one I can think of off-hand is a framed black and white photo of Ernie seen in the background of the two-part sketch where Ernie cleaned the apartment (I feel like I've seen it in another as well).

Of course, Jim didn't write everything (I guess that's where Jerry Juhl came in). And during the 1980s, he was credited less often as a writer (which doesn't mean that he didn't write often). The Dark Crystal is the only one of his feature films where he got any kind of writing credit (though The Works says that he worked on the first draft of The Muppet Movie script, and I think The Biography says something about him contributing some kind of writing to Labyrinth). I'm sure he probably came up with most of the ideas that came out of the 1980s, but if he wasn't writing the scripts/actively working on the writing, then the poor writing wasn't really his fault.

But even with most of the Muppet stuff (and I sort of feel like also mentioning Sesame Street, though I also feel I shouldn't mention that because he wasn't as involved with the creative process for that), there wasn't much story. The Muppet Show and most of the related specials were variety shows with very little plot focus. And the Muppet specials with John Denver focused more on singing than a real plot. The Muppets: A Celebration of 30 Years focused on the best Muppet moments and footage of large Muppet crowds with no real plot. Jim's last two Muppet specials (not counting Miss Piggy's Hollywood), A Muppet Family Christmas and The Muppets at Walt Disney World, were not about the Muppets putting on a show and had slightly more plot focus, but even those didn't have much plot, with more focus on songs and running gags/subplots as opposed to a single narrative.

Of course, many of the Tales from Muppetland and similar specials did have plot focus. Can't remember off-hand if Jim was credited with writing any of those, but then again, most of them were based on existing stories, so there's something to fall back on. Though I'm not too familiar with the stories of The Frog Prince or The Town Musicians of Bremen (outside of the Muppet versions), so I don't have much frame of reference as to how different those are from other versions of the story (Fractured Fairie Tales doesn't count).
TMS still had a plot, some episodes had more than others, but writing still had to me done along with the sketches, and most of the musical numbers had interactions, but I doubt Jim had much to do with the writing.

minor muppetz

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Jun 19, 2005
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TMS still had a plot, some episodes had more than others, but writing still had to me done along with the sketches, and most of the musical numbers had interactions, but I doubt Jim had much to do with the writing.

I know TMS still had a plot, but the songs and sketches tended to be more important, without much need for backstage story development (if they couldn't think of a long enough plot, they can just fill it with unrelated sketches).

But Jim Henson was credited as a writer on TMS, so he would have had a lot to do with the writing. He wasn't credited as a writer on The Jim Henson Hour, though. Of course, both shows were variety shows, and yet it seemed harder for them to develop the MuppeTelevision segments (but it seems like those shows had a little more plot... Unlike on TMS, we never got multiple back-to-back segments without getting a scene at Muppet Central in-between).