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Featured TV on DVD Review: Henson's Place: The Man Behind the Puppets

August 1st, 2010

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Henson's Place: The Man Behind the Puppets is a TV documentary from 1984 about Jim Henson, who is inarguably the most famous puppeteer of all time. The second most famous is probably Frank Oz, who of course worked with Jim Henson throughout most of Henson's career and is featured a number of times, as are a lot of people Jim worked with.

The Show

The movie starts right at the beginning of Jim Henson's career when he started doing puppetry in university to earn some extra cash and goes on to detail how he met his wife, how he met Frank Oz, how he got his big break (on Sesame Street), etc. It delves into his personality and how it shows up in a number of his puppets. And of course, they discuss how The Muppet Show came into being.

That show was rejected by all three networks in America, but eventually Henson was able to sell it to Lord Grade, who in return was used as the model for Dr. Bunsen Honeydew, and of course had the character Lew Lord from The Muppet Movie named after him.

Further into the documentary, they discuss Henson's move into movies, including The Muppet Movie, The Dark Crystal, and Labyrinth. This allows us some behind-the-scenes looks into the actual creation of the puppets used, which is something I found the most intriguing.

If you are a fan of Jim Henson and his work, then this is a documentary that is worth checking out. However, because it is made for TV, it is a little short at just over 52 minutes, while it can be a little dry. I don't think they had enough behind-the-scenes footage, while I think the "interview" segments with Kermit and Miss Piggy were too short as well.

The Extras

The only extra on the DVD is The Amphibian 1985 / 86, which is the Company Yearbook. It is introduced by Michael Frith, who describes why it was created and what went into it for about 6 minutes, before we are shown each in close up for the next 20+ minutes.

The Verdict

Henson's Place: The Man Behind the Puppets is a good look at Jim Henson and the puppet empire he had created by 1984. It's a little short and I would have liked more behind-the-scenes, but it is still worth checking out. The DVD doesn't have a lot in terms of extras, but for collectors it is worth picking up.

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