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 shortlived 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] 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.[2]

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).[3]

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, 26 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
01 Tippy Woo January 16, 1995 Lost
02 Train Driving Kids January 17, 1995 Lost
03 Rip Van Wrinkle January 18, 1995 Found
04 Accentuate the Positive January 19, 1995 Found
05 Gotta Dance January 20, 1995 Lost
06 Rudy One January 23, 1995 Found
07 Butterfingers January 24, 1995 Found
08 Rock Dreams January 25, 1995 Found
09 Roamantics January 26, 1995 Lost
10 Spud Buds January 27, 1995 Found
11 Different Drummer January 30, 1995 Found
12 I Love Kiki January 31, 1995 Found
13 True Colors February 1, 1995 Found
14 Cute is as Cute Does February 2, 1995 Found
15 Leon's Pizza February 3, 1995 Found
16 S1E16 Real Horses February 6, 1995 Lost
17 Going by the Book February 7, 1995 Found
18 Mad Music Magic February 8, 1995 Found
19 Party of One February 9, 1995 Lost
20 Dancing Dragon February 10, 1995 Found
21 Picture Perfect February 13, 1995 Found
22 Maiden Voyages February 14, 1995 Lost
23 Donuts and Dithering February 15, 1995 Found
24 Bully for Jody February 16, 1995 Found
25 Ben's Bad Hair Day February 17, 1995 Found
26 All Weather Friends February 20, 1995 Found
27 Bread and Matzoh February 21, 1995 Found
28 Owning it February 22, 1995 Found
29 Baffled Ben February 23, 1995 Found
30 Practice Makes Perfect February 24, 1995 Found
31 Finders Keepers (1 | 2) February 27, 1995 Partially Found
32 You Say Potato February 28, 1995 Found
33 At the End of our Rope March 1, 1995 Lost
34 Just Kidding March 2, 1995 Found
35 Everything in its Place March 3, 1995 Lost
36 Big Boys Don't Cry March 6, 1995 Found
37 Here's to the Winners March 7, 1995 Found
38 A World of Difference (1 | 2) March 8, 1995 Partially Found
39 Willing and Able March 9, 1995 Partially Found
40 It's Magic March 10, 1995 Partially Found

Season 2

# Episode Title Air Date Status
01 Deck the Halls January 15, 1996 Found
02 Dressing up is Hard to do January 16, 1996 Lost
03 One Way January 17, 1996 Lost
04 Oldies But Goodies January 18, 1996 Partially Found
05 Helping Hands January 19, 1996 Found
06 Yellow Belt January 22, 1996 Partially Found
07 The Mystery of the Fabulous Hat January 23, 1996 Found
08 How Much is that Doggie in the Window? January 24, 1996 Lost
09 The New Adventures of Julie Woo January 25, 1996 Found
10 We Three Kings January 26th, 2019 Found
11 Hello, Maggie January 29, 1996 Found
12 Off the Track January 30, 1996 Lost
13 Beautiful Doll January 31, 1996 Found
14 Tattle Tales February 1, 1996 Lost
15 Those Ears, Those Eyes February 2, 1996 Lost
16 That's Weird February 5, 1996 Found
17 The Ballad of Davy Cricket February 6, 1996 Found
18 Little Leon, Big Ben February 7, 1996 Lost
19 I Scream, You Scream February 8, 1996 Found
20 Skye's Coat February 9, 1996 Lost
21 It's Mine February 12, 1996 Found
22 One Big, Happy Family February 13, 1996 Lost
23 Leon Grows up February 14, 1996 Found
24 Cowpokes February 15, 1996 Lost
25 Hurricane Julie February 16, 1996 Lost

Season 3

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

References