In 1975, trying to fill his 90 minute experimental variety show, Lorne Michaels approached puppet wunderkind Jim Henson and his Henson Associates for an idea and he offered The Land of Gorch, a radical satire of TV sitcoms, set on a different planet, with a contentious group of residents that consult a humanoid oracle that berates them and seems himself lost. Out of synch within the cocaine fueled decade's iconic SNL, Gorch lasted only a season, but it was a rare stumble for Henson (it's strange to watch how out of place they are with adults that won't take them seriously-watch Lily Tomlin's send-off). His entire outlook seemed driven by the very nature of change and shift in the television age. Two years later Henson would travel to England and create his own version of SNL, The Muppet Show, and follow up that up with Fraggle Rock, a joyful children's sit-com-ish other world with three differing scales of creatures in flux. All of these creations would share time with Sesame Street, which the Muppets were a critical part of. Henson would end the decade with a Gorch-like feature, a fantasy epic called The Dark Crystal. Born in 1936, Henson was one of the 20th centuries greatest innovators of motion media. By first anthropomorphizing his self as a beatnik frog, Kermit, a be-bop age Henson would spend the 50's tinkering with TV as if it was a playground. Making inquisitive shorts, live skits on The Tonight Show, and sowing insurrection during the birth of the commercial spot, Henson threw his skills in every direction, with often dazzling results. And then the sixties happened and Henson tweaked his short concepts, literally stealing the notion of the spot, pirating its short, quick delivery of ideas and came up with Sesame Street's evolutionary shorts, as well as an integrated world where puppets and humans debated ideas and change in effortlessly humorous and sympathetic ways. As a direct product of Henson's magic, we are students of his teaching systems, which challenged notions of meaning, point-of-view, myth and skin color. We live in a post-Henson television world, heavily influenced by his daring insistence of bio-diversity and creature magic. All of this and more is on display the the Smithsonian's brilliant travelling show on Henson at the American Museum of the Moving Image. Composed of sketches, videos (talk show appearances, shorts, spots) and puppets, the show is a marvel to behold. It is a must see. Opens July 16.