One week and a day before the official release of Brian Jay Jones’ Jim Henson biography! I am so excited to get my pre-ordered copy in the mail. This week, Brian posted some photos of the spine and the back cover (so colorful) and ToughPigs posted a fantastic, enthusiastic review of the biography. Be sure to check both of those out.
I spent a lot of my weekend reading the biography, and it’s been such a wonderful experience. I’m getting a little sad that it’s almost over, to be honest. As I move through the years, I realize the book is closing the gap from the time that Jim is alive and creating to his unexpected death. I have a feeling it’s going to be a tough couple of final chapters.
It’s true I am learning so much from reading this book, and also laughing along the way (which is the best part; this piece of non-fiction is definitely not dry) but I think it’s the timeline of success that shocks me the most. The Muppet Show didn’t premiere until September 1976 and Jim passed away in May of 1990. That’s 14 years. Basically, up until my reading of this book, I’ve only been familiar with less than 15 years of work, and even so — most of my Henson education has occurred during the 2 years I’ve been writing This Happy Place.
It’s pretty mind blowing, when you think about it.
It took a lot of work and many tries to get The Muppet Show on the air. Back in 1974, Jim was working on a second pilot of The Muppet Show called “Sex and Violence.” While ABC was not interested in a weekly Muppet show, Jim convinced them to give him another try. They agreed and he started to piece together “Sex and Violence” (it’s a JOKE, people), a pilot episode that included the introduction of Dr. Teeth and the Electric Mayhem Band, Swedish Chef, Animal, and Sam the Eagle. Surprisingly, Jim opted to give Kermit a second-rate part and ONLY ONE LINE. (Isn’t that crazy?)
In fact, Jim and Kermit went on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson and chatted about just that.
Not only do I like this clip because of Jim, but enjoy it so much because Kermit proves to be such a feisty frog and is just a figment of the leader we know him as now.
Just like everything with the Muppets, there was plenty of room for growth (in the best way possible).