Henson’s Place: The Man behind the Muppets is a documentary that I had heard about and coveted since the early days of the Interwebs. This was an ancient time when I accessed the Internet with a Dial-Up connection and had first learned that there were other Muppet fans that starved for Muppet trivia, interviews, and song lyrics. It was a crazy time. It has been a long wait, but Henson’s Place was not only released commercially on DVD, but it has also found its way to streaming on Hulu Plus! Henson’s Place: The Man behind the Muppets was made back in 1984, during what could be considered the height of the Muppets’ fame and awareness. Although many Henson documentaries exist, this one is unique in its telling of Henson’s history and in its depiction of him via an interview format instead of showing him as a host. Of course, one of my favorite portions of the documentary is when Big Bird walks into Henson’s office with a bag of Doritos and offers him some chips! It is thanks to Henson that so much footage and information is available. Early on, he realized the importance and value behind his work both commercially and technologically. He preserved and took care to archive early footage, conceptual drawings, and research. Henson never seemed shy or greedy when discussing the innovations he made in technology, special effects, or puppetry technique. If anything, he seemed eager to share with the world what he had discovered. In most documentaries or behind the scenes footage of Henson’s work, he acts like a host who introduces members of his creative team and explains how his creations work. In this documentary, he is interviewed by Julia McKenzie who also provided the narration. It is a much more traditional and formal way to present the history of the Muppets and Henson’s career up to that point. Instead of the alter ego of Kermit, Ernie, and Rowlf, the viewer sees a more reserved, quiet, and almost shy man in Henson. It does serve as a nice way to separate the individual from the characters he portrayed, a relationship in which viewers and fans often blur lines. Henson reveals that he never truly intended to be a puppeteer. Life sort of turned out that way for him. He further explained that although he appreciated and certainly liked children, he did not especially relate to them. He did find that children could relate to his characters and puppets the same way they related to dolls and stuffed animals. We also see the businessman side of Henson. When I was a child, it seemed that Muppets were plastered on everything. Of course, I ate it up. I bathed in Fozzie Bear bubble bath, brushed my teeth with a Miss Piggy toothbrush that I had smeared Big Bird toothpaste on, and I snuggled and dreamed under a Muppet Babies quilt that made my had made. In rare moment, Henson expressed how careful he was to market his characters as products. He does not seem to defend his choices to the interviewer, but to himself. He did not want to cheapen his characters or take advantage of children, but he felt that his company relied on the funding that his characters provided. In most documentaries, Henson is busy excitedly explaining his special effects and puppets, but this was an interesting insight to his business personae. My favorite moment of the interview is when the McKenzie is pushing for Henson to show a hidden side to himself, reserved for those who were closest to him either professionally or personally. She urged and asked if he were a prankster or similar to his characters. Henson was reserved and admitted that his characters express themselves in ways he does not or cannot. For one split second, however, a boyish grin escapes and flashes across his face, betraying Henson. It is a rare personal glimpse and a very honest reaction. Other than that, Henson’s answers are very thorough, but also come across incredibly formal, stiff, and rehearsed. He took great care to be in total control of his answers. He talks about the history of his career, but, at the same time, it is oddly impersonal. A shield is up. There are also interviews with Joan Ganz Cooney (co-founder of The Children’s Television Workshop), David Lazer (executive producer of The Muppet Show), Jerry Juh (legendary Muppet writer), Michael K. Frith (creative director), and Frank Oz (director and Muppet performer). Perhaps the most insightful interviews were with Jane Henson and Lorde Lew Grade. When Henson was shopping his idea for a television show among the major networks in the U.S., no one bit. Lorde Grade, however, agreed to back the Muppets based on a handshake. After the success of The Muppet Show, Lorde Grade also agreed to fund two Muppet movies with yet another handshake. Jane Henson was not only Jim Henson’s wife; she was the first collaborator and Muppet performer alongside Henson. After the birth of their children, she left the Muppets, save for a few sporadic performances in Muppet pilots The Muppet Valentine Show and The Muppet Show: Sex and Violence. She was loved and cherished by the Muppet family, but she was noticeably silent and absent from most Henson interviews and productions. She left show business to be a wife and mother and she and Henson eventually separated. She had the most interesting view as she watched Henson and the Muppets grow and eventually explode onto the world. Careful viewers will find the visual glimpses into the Muppet world that the documentary provides just as interesting as and even more exciting than the interviews it contains. In a world before DVD extras, it contained previously unseen behind the scenes footage of Fraggle Rock, The Muppet Movie, The Muppet Show, Sesame Street, The Dark Crystal, and Labyrinth (which was currently in production). It also provided views of the Henson Townhouse, which was a 12,000-square-foot, townhouse-style apartment building location that was the New York headquarters for Henson Associates from 1978 until 2003. The townhouse contained the Muppet Workshop for several years and was decorated in awards, props, products, and other relics from Henson’s career. It also provided a view inside London’s Muppet Workshop. One of the most exciting aspects is the plug for the now defunct Muppet Stuff store that was a store in New York City from 1980 to 1993 that was the only store in the world to exclusively feature Muppet, Sesame Street, and Fraggle products. 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