Muppetology 101 – MuppeTelevision Sketches


Michael Wermuth Jnr – ca968-promo_jimhensonhour01Last year, I did a Muppetology 101 lesson on the various recurring sketches from The Muppet Show, and earlier this year I did a lesson on the recurring segments from Sesame Street, so today I, your teacher, will provide a lesson on the recurring sketches from the MuppeTelevisionportions of The Jim Henson Hour. Due to the shows short run, the fact that not every hour included MuppeTelevision, and maybe the fact that most episodes of MuppeTelevision revolved around a theme, MuppeTelevision doesn’t have too many recurring segments, or even many installments of those. In other words, this is going to be a very short lecture.

Fashion Doll Channel
The most frequently-seen recurring segments, oddly enough, feature very little Muppet involvement at all. These sketches revolve around Bootsie and Brad, parodies of Barbie and Ken. They are played by live actors, in make-up to look plastic-y and move their bodies a bit stiff. These segments find Bootsy in a variety of outfits and occupations, from astronaut to president, while Brad often fells left out. These segments also show their owner, a girl named Amanda, and her dog, Freddie (recycled from Miss Piggy’s dog, Foo-Foo,and the only Muppet to appear in these segments). The Fashion Doll Channel was part of four episodes, while all of the other recurring segments only appeared in two episodes each.

Merlin the Magician, M.D.
These segments cast Rowlf as Merlin the Magician as a magical doctor, basically reprising his Dr. Bob role, but with a magical and medieval twist. An unnamed girl appears as his assistant, providing “ta-da” to his bad puns. In both episodes featuring Merlin, he deals with characters who have things stuck through their heads – a guy with a fish through his head (maybe it’s a herring aid) and a guy with a sword through his head. After Merlin pulls the sword out of the latter patients head, he becomes the king…. Turning into Elvis Presley and singing “Hound Dog”.

Hurting Something
A yuppie drama featuring a monster couple, Anthony and Fern. Fern is scared of such things as a tiny human in their bath tub, and has to be convinced by Anthony to let their giant pet spider, Bruno, sleep in their beds. In one episode, they enjoy a snack of screaming no-nos. Anthony and Fern were pretty much limited to appearing in these segments, though both episodes that include Hurting Something also include them in the closing numbers, which cut away to the sets of many segments from those episodes.

Gorilla Television
Honestly, I’m not sure whether this would count as a recurring sketch, but I’ll include it anyway. Gorilla Television is a pirate station that takes over Muppet Central’s signals to showcase things that the networks wouldn’t want to see, like the puppetry of Marc Weiner (who in a few years would get his own show on Nickelodeon) and an example of how TV viewers are consumers to advertising. Gorilla Television is run by Zondra and Ubu, with the camera work and signal transferring run by Chip (you know, that incredibly obscure Muppet who nobody remembers). And like most recurring sketches on the show, Gorilla Television only appeared in two episodes.

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