Episodes: Unknown (five minutes)
TV show dates: May 9, 1955 — December 15, 1961
Series status: Cancelled/Ended
Performers include: Jim Henson and Jane Nebel Henson.
TV show description:
The first television show produced by Jim Henson, five minute episodes of this program aired twice daily on WRC-TV, an NBC affiliate in Washington, DC. Episodes are essentially short skits with no continuing storylines.
In early installments particularly, the segments are often comprised of various puppet characters lip-syncing to songs and comedy albums by artists like Spike Jones, Stan Freberg, Bob and Ray, and Louis Prima. Other installments employ sight gags, comedy bits, and use of early television optical effects.
The title character, Sam, has a ventriloquist dummy-style design and is a human-like character. Of the only surviving clip featuring Sam, he does not speak and merely lip-synchs to “Old Black Magic.” Kermit, who had not yet become a frog, was used far more frequently and played a variety of roles, often wearing a wig and becoming the victim in various skits.
Other characters include Yorick, a hungry and scary purple skull; beatnik Harry the Hipster, loud and energetic Professor Madcliffe, dramatic storyteller Chicken Liver, and abstract human-like characters called Hank and Frank.
First aired: December 15, 1961.
The show has not been revived or remade. Though only Kermit went on to be used in future Muppet projects, the series provided Henson an opportunity to experiment with television, get into commercials, and develop his brand of humor.