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SYFY WIRE Jim Henson

ShortsTV offers rare look inside mind of Jim Henson with documentary double feature

By Christian Long
Jim Henson: The Early Works

While Jim Henson is synonymous with The Muppets, a documentary about his early, experimental works is finally seeing the light of day here in the U.S.

Jim Henson: The Early Works had its stateside debut tonight on ShortsTV, which chronicles the short films he made long before he became revered for his puppeteering. Speaking with the A.V. Club, Jim Henson's daughter, Cheryl Henson, called the documentary a "treasure trove" of his early career.

"There are so many little gems there, and each one is so unique, and each one shows a seed of something that my dad developed later, or might have developed later," Henson explained. "He was exploring and experimenting. There’s a delight and an endless curiosity shown in this work. Many people don’t know how interested my father was, and how involved he was, in innovative filmmaking. In many ways, the technology of both television and film is what first drew him to puppetry. This very early work really shows that early exploration."

What the preview for the two docs shows, which shouldn't surprise anyone, is that Henson had no shortage of raw, unfiltered imagination.

One of the films included in The Early Works is Time Piece, a nine-minute short that landed him an Oscar nomination in 1966 for Best Live Action Short Film. Instead of a conventional narrative structure, the film is a semi-abstract story that's told entirely through the mundane rhythm of everyday existence.

Along with The Early Works, ShortsTV also aired Henson's Place: The Man Behind the Muppets, which looks at his incalculable pop culture influence through everything from the Muppets franchise to works like The Dark Crystal, Labyrinth, Sesame Street, and much more.

You can find out more about ShortsTV, including how to watch these two Henson documentaries, by checking out their website here.