It’s possible that the only time I ever saw anything of The Jim Henson Hour when it was on was April 28, 1989. It was Friday night and I was seventeen years old. I had a driver’s license and I was usually out with my friends on Fridays, but I half-recall seeing some Muppets and a bit of a Storyteller on the TV in my folks’ kitchen, and so I think there must have been a night I didn’t go out (shocking but true, there were occasionally evenings where an obnoxious loudmouth like me could not get a date), but my parents did, because they were freaking always out at parties between 1987-1997, and I had the television on when I cooked myself a Lean Cuisine or something before taking it into the den, where a VCR awaited me, and I could watch some Avengers or Doctor Who on VHS while I ate.
Seventeen year-olds were certainly not the target audience for this program. As I’d mentioned previously, teenagerhood had stolen away my interest in Muppets, so I wasn’t paying attention. If Disney+ were to add this series, which is sadly very, very unlikely, I’d watch all twelve Hours in a single evening, but that wasn’t the case in 1989. Nobody was watching.
So the third Hour featured a MuppeTelevision installment that guest-starred Willard Scott and Jane Pauley from NBC’s Today Show, along with the sixth StoryTeller: “The Soldier and Death.” It’s a magnificent half hour, and if I’d sensibly sat my butt in the kitchen and watched it that night in 1989, I wouldn’t have waited until 2021 to see the rest of this series. It stars Bob Peck as a soldier returning from some far distant war whose kindness earns him the gift of a large sack. Anything he commands to enter the sack – geese, devils, death itself – does as commanded. This has repercussions.
I might have enjoyed this every bit as much as “Hans My Hedgehog.” It was worth a thirty-two year wait, but I hope none of you good readers are silly enough to wait that long. Go get yerselves a copy now.