The Puzzle Place (partially found puppet TV series; 1994-1998)

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The Puzzle Place logo.

Status: Partially Found

The Puzzle Place was an edutainment puppet show that initially ran from 1994-1998 on PBS with 75 episodes and 6 out-of-print VHS compilations.

Concept

The show utilized the talents of Jim Henson Company puppeteers such as Noel MacNeal of Bear in the Big Blue House fame, Carmen Osbahr, the puppeteer for Rosita from Sesame Street, and even Matt Vogel and Peter Linz, known best as the originators of Constantine the Frog and Walter in the latest string of Muppet films. Vogel also took over the role of Count Von Count on Sesame Street after Jerry Nelson's passing. 

The show tackled all manner of difficult topics such as racism, sexism, handicaps, death, etc. and promoted diversity, open communication, and compassion. The production and writing quality were especially high for a puppeteering show that was never directly connected to the CTW.

Copyrights

Currently, PBS doesn't hold the rights to it, and chances are no one ever will. Lancit Media, which was the proprietor of the show itself and all merchandise pertaining to it, went through many financial restraints in its short-lived run and inevitably went under. In order to ever release these episodes on any format, one would need to renew the rights, which is a money-consuming prospect for a show as inconsequential to the public at large.

Pilot

According to a KCET article written in 2014, there was a pilot aired in 1994 titled The Puzzle Works or Puzzleworks.[1] There are two found videos so far that confirm this fact.[2][3] Before this point, a lot of write-ups were done for the show under the name of The Puzzle Factory, which was apparently changed to avoid copyright issues with a toy company of a similar name. Besides that, nothing else is mentioned about the pilot.[4]

While it's unknown if the pilot had different characters, one write-up calls one of the characters Jamal "Jammin" Waters and has a Hispanic character called Victor Melendez. In another article from, later on, characters have different first and last names (those being Max Olafsen, Leon Devon, Jazzy Silver, Skye Blazing Star).[5]

Availability

All six of the out-of-print VHS compilations (as well as an extra clip created for a special VHS in a series called Kids for Character) were sought out online and ripped by the currently defunct Dailymotion user TheRedBaron1985.

Currently, just around half of the 75 stand-alone episodes have been found through some collective efforts and dumb luck. Apart from that, there are 9 complete episodes in the VHS compilations, and 4 of them (Cute Is As Cute Does, Going By The Book, Rip Van Wrinkle, and Deck the Halls) haven't been found in a stand-alone format, making it about 30 full episodes and 45 episodes yet to be found. The Kids in Character clip shows part of S1E31 Finders Keepers. S2E04 Oldies but Goodies & S2E06 Yellow Belt have had two excerpts found, but in unsubtitled Portuguese, of all things.

VHS Compilations

Episode List

Season 1

# Episode Title Air Date Status
1 Tippy Woo Jan 16th, 1995 Lost
2 Train Driving Kids Jan 17th, 1995 Lost
3 Rip Van Wrinkle Jan 18th, 1995 Found
4 Accentuate the Positive Jan 19th, 1995 Found
5 Gotta Dance Jan 20th, 1995 Found
6 Rudy One Jan 23rd, 1995 Found
7 Butterfingers Jan 24th, 1995 Found
8 Rock Dreams Jan 25th, 1995 Found
9 Roamantics Jan 26th, 1995 Lost
10 Spud Buds Jan 27th, 1995 Found
11 Different Drummer Jan 30th, 1995 Found
12 I Love Kiki Jan 31st, 1995 Found
13 True Colors Feb 1st, 1995 Found
14 Cute is as Cute Does Feb 2nd, 1995 Found
15 Leon's Pizza Feb 3rd, 1995 Found
16 Real Heroes Feb 6th, 1995 Lost
17 Going by the Book Feb 7th, 1995 Found
18 Mad Music Magic Feb 8th, 1995 Found
19 Party of One Feb 9th, 1995 Lost
20 Dancing Dragon Feb 10th, 1995 Found
21 Picture Perfect Feb 13th, 1995 Found
22 Maiden Voyages Feb 14th, 1995 Lost
23 Donuts and Dithering Feb 15th, 1995 Partially Found
24 Bully for Jody Feb 16th, 1995 Found
25 Ben's Bad Hair Day Feb 17th, 1995 Partially Found
26 All Weather Friends Feb 20th, 1995 Found (LQ)
27 Bread and Matzoh Feb 21st, 1995 Found
28 Owning it Feb 22nd, 1995 Partially Found
29 Baffled Ben Feb 23rd, 1995 Partially Found
30 Practice Makes Perfect Feb 24th, 1995 Found
31 Finders Keepers (1 | 2) Feb 27th, 1995 Partially Found
32 You Say Potato Feb 28th, 1995 Found
33 At the End of our Rope Mar 1st, 1995 Lost
34 Just Kidding Mar 2nd, 1995 Partially Found (in English, that is--full in Portuguese)
35 Everything in its Place Mar 3rd, 1995 Lost
36 Big Boys Don't Cry Mar 6th, 1995 Found
37 Here's to the Winners Mar 7th, 1995 Found
38 A World of Difference Mar 8th, 1995 Partially Found
39 Willing and Able Mar 9th, 1995 Partially Found
40 It's Magic Mar 10th, 1995 Partially Found

Season 2

# Episode Title Air Date Status
1 Deck the Halls Jan 15th, 1996 Found
2 Dressing up is Hard to do Jan 16th, 1996 Found
3 One Way Jan 17th, 1996 Found
4 Oldies But Goodies Jan 18th, 1996 Partially Found
5 Helping Hands Jan 19th, 1996 Found
6 Yellow Belt Jan 22nd, 1996 Partially Found
07 The Mystery of the Fabulous Hat Jan 23rd, 1996 Found
08 How Much is that Doggie in the Window? Jan 24th, 1996 Lost
09 The New Adventures of Julie Woo Jan 25th, 1996 Partially Found
10 We Three Kings Jan 26th, 1996 Found
11 Hello, Maggie Jan 29th, 1996 Found
12 Off the Track Jan 30th, 1996 Lost
13 Beautiful Doll Jan 31st, 1996 Found
14 Tattle Tales Feb 1st, 1996 Lost
15 Those Ears, Those Eyes Feb 2nd, 1996 Lost
16 That's Weird Feb 5th, 1996 Found
17 The Ballad of Davy Cricket Feb 6, 1996 Found
18 Little Leon, Big Ben Feb 7th, 1996 Lost
19 I Scream, You Scream Feb 8th, 1996 Found
20 Skye's Coat Feb 9th, 1996 Lost
21 It's Mine Feb 12th, 1996 Found
22 One Big, Happy Family Feb 13th, 1996 Lost
23 Leon Grows up Feb 14th, 1996 Found
24 Cowpokes Feb 15th, 1996 Lost
25 Hurricane Julie Feb 16th, 1996 Lost

Season 3

# Episode Title Air Date Status
01 Family Fun Oct 19th, 1998 Lost
02 Anything She can do Oct 20th, 1998 Lost
03 You Don't Match Oct 21st, 1998 Lost
04 To Have and Have Not Oct 26th, 1998 Lost
05 Fiesta Follies Oct 27th, 1998 Lost
06 Between You and Me Oct 28th, 1998 Lost
07 A Star is Burned Oct 29th, 1998 Lost
08 Spooky Oct 30th, 1998 Found
09 Up! Dec 3rd, 1998 Lost
10 I'm Talking to You Dec 4th, 1998 Found

References