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An anthology series showcasing unsold pilots for television shows. This episode features the pilot to “Puppetman,” a Jim Henson series about the production of a local puppet-based children’s television show-within-a-show, “Dragon Time,” in Madison, Wisconsin. The story begins as shooting wraps on an episode of “Dragon Time,” and an argument breaks out between Rita, the star, and Del, one of the puppeteers. Del interrupted Rita’s closing song by having one of the puppets blow smoke into her face, and she is incensed. The argument is broken up by Gary, another puppeteer and Del’s best friend. Rita is having an illicit affair with the show’s chief producer, Bud Stone. Bud takes Gary aside and asks him to fire Del for causing conflicts with Rita, but Gary is reluctant to do so. Gary tries to speak to Del about his animosity towards Rita, but Del doesn’t wish to discuss it. Gary is interrupted by a call from Beth, his ex-wife, who informs him that their five year-old son Zack is flying in for the week so she can go to New York to audition for a musical. Gary is nervous about this development since he’s never had to care for Zack on his own before. Holly, another puppeteer, recommends bringing Zack to the studio with him to keep him occupied. Zack arrives the next day with Gary and is greeted warmly by Del and Holly. Mitchell, the head of the studio, enters, worrying about the upcoming ratings week and the competition from other local television shows. Gary proposes that they stay late to work on their next week of shows, hoping to garner additional ratings and avoid cancellation. That night, Gary takes Zack back to his apartment, where he reveals that he won’t have time to take Zack to a local farm as he promised he would. This upsets Zack, as Gary broke his promise to him. Holly arrives to give Gary Zack’s suitcase, which he left at the studio, and at that point Gary receives another call from Beth telling him that she passed the audition and will be engaging in a six-month road tour, leaving Zack in Gary’s care for that duration. The next morning Gary makes Zack breakfast, although Zack is still upset with him. Gary’s efforts to cheer him up fail, and Bud’s son “Little Bud” arrives to look after Zack while Gary is busy. Gary and the other puppeteers rehearse their show, and soon Del and Rita get into another argument over her provocative costume. Their confrontation soon turns to violence and Rita declares that she is quitting. To complicate matters, Zack begins to suffer from stomach pains and Little Bud rushes him to the studio. Gary believes that Zack’s appendix has burst and decides to rush him to a hospital despite the impending taping of the show. Gary hastily gets Del to promise to get Rita back and rushes out of the studio without removing his costume. He gets Zack to the emergency room but the nurse will not let him inside, owing to his cumbersome costume. He turns on the television to find that Del has somehow gotten Rita back and is performing a duet with her via his puppet, much to his disgust. Soon Zack is let out of the emergency room and Gary discovers that Zack was merely suffering from stomach pains after eating too much ice cream. Gary manages to make it back to the show on time and the taping finishes successfully; Rita and Del even exchange compliments. At Holly’s suggestion, Gary speaks to Zack via several of the show’s puppets, and convinces him to agree to stay in Madison while his mother is on tour. Commercials deleted.


  • DATE: July 3, 1987 8:00 PM
  • RUNNING TIME: 0:23:12
  • COLOR/B&W: Color
  • CATALOG ID: B:63981
  • GENRE: Comedy
  • SERIES RUN: CBS - TV series, 1987-1989


  • Jim Henson … Executive Producer
  • Bernie Brillstein … Executive Producer
  • Mark Reisman … Producer, Writer
  • Jeremy Stevens … Producer, Writer
  • Keith Bickford … Associate Producer
  • Gigi Givertz … Associate Producer
  • Sandy Wernick … Consulting Producer
  • Alan Rafkin … Director
  • Phil Ramone … Theme Music by
  • Nick Glennie-Smith … Theme Music by
  • Rob Mounsey … Theme Music by
  • Fred Newman … Cast, Gary
  • Richard Hunt … Cast, Del
  • Jack Burns … Cast, Bud Stone
  • Julie Payne … Cast, Rita
  • Lisa Waltz … Cast, Holly
  • Michael Carter … Cast, Zack
  • Steve Levitt … Cast, Little Bud Stone
  • Ron Fassler … Cast, Mitchell Bennett
  • Marianne Muellerleile … Cast, Nurse
  • Linda Hoy … Cast, Dee
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