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Picks and Pans Review: The Jim Henson Hour

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NBC (Sun., July 16, 7 P.M. ET)


Muppet creator Jim Henson, who is the host of this show, has an imagination that flows like lava from a psychedelic volcano. This second in a series of seven weekly Henson specials is a colorful, splendiferous affair, full of new, fabulously far-out puppets, including a giant, indestructible cockroach. The theme of this episode is health, which includes pleas to save our ailing planet.

The beauty of Henson’s creations is that they don’t talk down to kids, even when moralizing. The jokes are truly funny, often irreverent. The last half of the show, titled “Song of the Cloud Forest,” takes place in a visually stunning, pastel-colored jungle inhabited by exotic creatures, including a chameleon who changes colors as she talks. It stars an adorable golden frog named Milton, who, because he’s a member of an endangered species, is having a hard time finding a girlfriend. Surveying the disappearing rain forest, he woefully muses, “Is this, Milton’s paradise, lost forever?”

Beware, though, parents: The puppet drama, which carries a dark message, includes some frightening scenes of human beings cooking up wildlife—including parrots and baby bears—for dinner.