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By Grant Baciocco
Recently, I have started to become really fascinated with failure. It kind of started when I was reading the Jim Henson Biography by Brian Jay Jones. Of course, failure is the furthest thing that you think of when you think of Jim Henson. He created The Muppets, for pete’s sake! I know this, but I was totally fascinating with the projects he attempted to get going before, and even after, creating The Muppets. One of my favorites is a pilot he shot in 1962 called Tales of the Tinkerdee.
This was a half hour pilot for a puppet TV show that was geared at both adults and kids. A very early pre-cursor to the type of show The Muppet Show was when it began airing. Fun for all ages. Jim shot the pilot, in Atlanta I believe, and you can watch the whole thing on YouTube. It’s fun, filled with puns and mistaken identity, but it never went anywhere. Jim reused some of the elements of Tales of the Tinkerdee in future productions and even tried to remount the show in a different format, but it never gained any traction. An interesting side note is in this production, Kermit played a wandering minstrel and he wore a spiked collar for the first time. The collar he’s had ever since.
Currently I’m reading The Moose that Roared by Keith Scott. It is the story of Jay Ward who created Rocky & Bullwinkle, Peabody & Sherman, Dudley Do-Right and so on. I was surprised he had a lot of projects that turned out to be non-starters as well. For a long time he wanted to do an American Bandstand type show but with jazz musicians. He couldn’t ever get it made. Part of the reason it never saw the light of day was that he came down with a crippling bout of agoraphobia that made him practically unable to leave his house. He still created while suffering from it, but he was unable to make it to important meetings to help try and get his ideas made.
If you’ve known me for any length of time, you know that I’m a big fan of Mystery Science Theatre 3000 creator Joel Hodgson. Joel has often talked about releasing a coffee table book that chronicles all the projects he and his brother Jim have pitched over the years that never saw the light of day. It’s amazing to me that they have enough of these projects to fill a whole book!
No, I’m not interested in all these failures because I get some sort of morbid joy out of it. I find these failures inspiring. Tales of the Tinkerdee didn’t make it, but Jim went on to create The Muppets. Jay Ward didn’t get his jazz show on the air, but he went on to create Rocky & Bullwinkle. Joel Hodgson has enoug projects that never made it to fill a coffee table book yet, he still created Mystery Science Theatre 3000.
To me, this shows that if one project doesn’t make it, you don’t pack it all in and give up, you keep creating. Who knows? The projects after your most recent failure might be the next Muppets or Rocky & Bullwinkle or Mystery Science Theatre 3000.
©2015 Grant Baciocco/Saturday Morning Media