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The Wizard of Id on YouTube

Discussion in 'Family Worlds' started by minor muppetz, Mar 22, 2011.

  1. minor muppetz Well-Known Member

    Jim Henson's unsold "Wizard of Id" pilot is now available on YouTube:

    I'll post my thoughts on it later.
  2. GonzoLeaper Active Member

    Woohoo! Thanks for the link. I love Johnny Hart's "The Wizard of Id" and "B.C." comics, so I'm very interested to check this out.:)
  3. D'Snowth Well-Known Member

    I wasn't aware that an actual test pilot was filmed: I knew there were puppets built for a series for television that was never bought. Even Caroll Spinney wrote about the puppets in his book, when he first arrived at Jim's workshop (the carriage house with the hand-painted sign), and went through the filing cabinets full of puppets, including a bunch of Kermits, a bunch of Rowlfs, and the WOI puppets.
  4. minor muppetz Well-Known Member

    I must say, I had previously read that the puppets in The Wizard of Id didn't have a Muppety look (though The Spook puppet does look like he could fit in with the Muppets), so I didn't know what to expect. And just recently I was trying to imagine how the puppets might have looked. They sort of look like store-bought puppets.

    The Spook was later used in the Sesame Street Pitch Reel, and something about the puppet looks a bit different to me. I think it's something about the nose... I wonder if maybe they changed the nose for a background appearance.

    Aside from The Spook being in the Sesame Street pitch reel, I wonder what the chances would have been of these characters being used in more Henson productions, if it weren't for the fact that they were based on copyrighted characters. I wonder if that's why those puppets don't appear at Henson exhibets. It is good that they were able to include the pilot on Henson's YouTube channel (I wonder if they needed permission from the copyright holder. I don't think I've seen any Wubbulous World of Dr. Seuss clips on Henson's YouTube channel, after all).

    It is interesting that this was produced in 1969, when Frank Oz was starting to do voices and Jerry Juhl was starting to end his career as a performer, yet Oz does no voices while Juhl does. I would have expected The Spook to have been an Oz character (it wouldn't surprise me if Oz did the physical puppetry of the character, at least in scenes where he appeared with The Wizard).

    As a side note, it's interesting how in the late-1960s, Jim Henson had to let Jerry Nelson go because he didn't have enough work for everybody, giving him the occasional performing opportunity when he could, until 1970. I wonder if Henson considered hiring Nelson for this or Sesame Street. Judging by the pilot it seems the series wouldn't have had many characters (how many characters did the comic strip have at the time?), but I'm surprised Henson didn't try to get Nelson to perform on Sesame Street when the series began (especially after needing to hire somebody to perform Big Bird).
  5. Oscarfan Well-Known Member

    They actually do have several clips from the Wubbulous World on their YouTube channel.
  6. Wow. I'm surprised that this didn't make the Mupet trading circle sooner. I saw the pilot (or at least most of it) about 20something years ago. I lived in Johnny Hart's (Id creator) hometown. The PBS station made a documentary about his life and included the pilot! For a time it would monthly - even nightly. I had it on tape for a short while, but it was recorded over some years later. I've been trying to get ahold of that special for this clip for years. They actually still air it annually, but with no advertisement ahead of time. Happy to see a high quality direct upload from Henson.

    As for the pilot - I always felt it would've been Jim as the king, jerry as the Wizard, and frank as the Spook had it been made a few yrs later. Or possibly Frank as the Wizard with Jim still as Spook.

    I love the shout out to Muppet philosophy at the end. *BOOM*
  7. ZeppoAndFriends Well-Known Member

    It's always a treat to see such incredibly rare Muppets bits like that. :D

    I hope the put up the Land of Tinkerdee pilot next. That would make my century! :excited:
  8. minor muppetz Well-Known Member

    They have already put up a clip from that pilot:

    I'm not too familiar with the individual Wizard of Id strips, so does anybody know whether the various gags in this are based on speciffic strips? It wouldn't surprise me, since various individual Peanuts and Garfield strips have been adapted into the various Peanuts and Garfield specials, series, and movies over the years.
  9. Drtooth Well-Known Member

    It seems very indicative of the strips, but unlike, let's say, Garfield and Friends, The Charlie Brown and Snoopy Show (or any and all of the specials), or basically any other comic strip based media, they barely make a coherent plot out of them in this attempt. It really seems like you know where the strip they took the gags from start and end, and the show rarely moves out of setup, joke, set up and 2 liners. In fact the only thing that screamed Muppet was the fact everyone blew up at the end.

    That's not to say i didn't enjoy it, but I just don't think it could have made a series. A series of blackout jokes for a variety show, maybe... but a half hour of connected strip jokes would get tiresome no matter who's in charge. Though, if the show was indeed picked up, I'm wondering if they would have evolved into more complex comedic plot lines. And I also wonder if Jim had a bigger puppet troupe at the time, we would have seen more characters.
  10. D'Snowth Well-Known Member

    I was hoping to see some actual footage from within the kingdom in the Land of Tinkerdee, or at least Kermit the Minstrel... but it was interesting to see Muppy/Rufus actually speak in words, lol.
  11. ZeppoAndFriends Well-Known Member

    My century has been made! :)
  12. Drtooth Well-Known Member

    It's great that we got a clip, but I'm wondering why they only gave us a small bit of the beginning. Seems all the action took place after the introduction... a cute and entertaining introduction, and I'm sure Jim ad libbed a couple lines... but I'm with you. I wish they had a clip further into the show. Unless some kooky copyright thing with Disney kept the rest of it from being shown. If that's the case, I totally understand.
  13. minor muppetz Well-Known Member

    I for one am surprised that Disney didn't get the rights to that (unless perhaps it's public domain). I'd read that Disney got the rigths to Tale of the Tinkerdee, so it would make sense for Disney to get Land of Tinkerdee. The only Muppets in that special are Rufus and King Goshposh, who were heavily featured in productions that Disney does own the rights to, so I'd assume Disney owns those characters (unless they just aren't trademarked anymore, since they haven't been used in years, or unless the two companies don't really care about ownership of such obscure characters).

    Aside from that and the Wheels, Crowns, and Flutes commercial (featuring Beautiful Day Monster) it seems The Jim Henson Company has been avoiding clips it owns with Disney's Muppets. Or maybe it's just a main character thing (though Henson did upload a film, I think Limbo, which briefly featured an image of the original Kermit puppet). I don't know if Henson needs permission to upload clips with other companies characters or music, but it would make sense for Henson to avoid the clips with Muppets or Sesame Street characters to avoid confusion (the company has uploaded a few things with the Cookie Monster prototype).
  14. GonzoLeaper Active Member

    So this- - ("Tales of the Tinkerdee") is a separate pilot from "Land of the Tinkerdee"? What's the story on this?:confused::eek::concern:
  15. GonzoLeaper Active Member

    And by the way, "The Wizard of Id" pilot was really cool. Great job with the Wizard, King and Spook puppets. I like how The Wizard seemed to be constantly winking- which is consistent with how he's drawn in the comic strip.
    I'm pretty sure I heard at least one point the crowd shouting "The king is a fink!" - hahaha- classic! I think the plot was pretty well in keeping with the spirit of the comic strip definitely. They perhaps could have expanded it to make a TV series- but maybe a special would have worked best.
  16. Yorick Active Member

    I hope someone has the answer - but in the meantime, I really enjoyed it! :) Some very funny moments! Thanks!
  17. ZeppoAndFriends Well-Known Member

    Well, Tales of the Tinkerdee came first and no one was interested in picking it up, so Jim and Co. retooled to concept. Land of Tinkerdee was made to be more like other children's shows at the time (hence the human host and Rufus talking), but it still didn't sell.
  18. GonzoLeaper Active Member

    Okay- thanks for clearing that up, Zeppo. :)

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