Inner Tube is a 10 minute pilot for The Jim Henson Hour, written in 1987 by David Misch. Directed by Jim Henson, the show includes original music and lyrics by Phil Ramone, Bob Halligan and Phil Galdston.
The show is similar in format to the MuppeTelevision segments of The Jim Henson Hour. Kermit the Frog and Miss Piggy make brief appearances in the show, but the focus is on the new characters. According to writer David Misch, the pilot was not meant to resemble The Muppet Show; Kermit was merely given a role when it became hard for Henson to sell the series.
Although these new puppet characters were made of foam latex (an indication that they might have been created by the Creature Shop), they actually were built by the New York Muppet Workshop. The new characters are performed by Dave Goelz, Steve Whitmire (credited as Steve Whitmore), Richard Hunt, Kevin Clash, Camille Bonora, Kathy Mullen, David Rudman, Rick Lyon and John Henson.
The show is a display of (and mostly a celebration of) the magic of modern television technology and technology in general. Video special effects are used extensively. For example, characters often travel through TV screens from where they are to the place shown in the TV.
In the Jim Henson Hour pitch, clips from Inner Tube are presented as "Lead Free TV." Jim Henson describes it as "the Muppet Show from the future," and explains that it is one of the four types of programs in The Jim Henson Hour's proposed rotating schedule. It was planned to have a weekly guest star (John Candy was originally planned to guest star in this pilot, but in the end no guest star appeared).
Several scenes from this can be seen in the television special The World of Jim Henson.
"Inner Tube," a fly-by-night cable network in the back of an electronics shop, is run by two harried, nutty mechanics:
Jake, a heavy man with a mustache. He is knowledgeable, patient, and in charge, but not always the most observant. Performed by Dave Goelz.
Henry, a thinner taller man. He is not so smart, and things must be explained to him often, but he frequently notices what's going on before Jake does. Performed by Steve Whitmire.
One of the channels Jake and Henry broadcast is the domain of an unnamed futuristic rock band:
Duke, a big-haired lead male vocalist and guitarist. He tries to assume leadership of the band but the others, not feeling the need for a leader, tease him about it. His guitar is a headless Steinberger-type, possibly a bass. Performed by Steve Whitmire.
Maya, a silver-skinned female vocalist and guitarist. She has a sort of Jamaican accent. Performed by Camille Bonora. The puppet seems to have been recycled into a backup singer in The Jim Henson Hour episode 107.
Digit, a wire-haired, robot-voiced keyboardist. This character later showed up in The Jim Henson Hour, with a different voice and personality. Performed by Dave Goelz.
The nameless Inner Tube Drummer is a deep-voiced, older-sounding balding man, who seems not too impressed by technology. Performed by Kevin Clash.
Crasher: a wild, loudmouthed punk character who likes crashing through things. Performed by Richard Hunt. Two versions of Crasher were used on the show: a puppet and a full body costume, which allowed him to run or climb into a TV screen.
Glitch: an animation that would mischievously interrupt transfer.
Zaloom, a live-actor channel pirate with no channel of his own. He hijacks the channels of others, using technology to get his anti-technology message out. He was played by Paul Zaloom, best known as Beakman from the Saturday morning series Beakman's World.
Chet and Babs, an older couple watching TV in bed. Chet is performed by Dave Goelz and Babs by Kathy Mullen. They're mildly surprised when Crasher burts from their TV into their bedroom, but assume that it's merely an unusually realistic special effect.
The Babs puppet later appeared as a supermarket shopper in the "Food" episode of The Jim Henson Hour.
Aerobics Channel - hosted by Miss Piggy that shows that if someone does a daily dozen exercises with someone they love, exercise can be less boring.
Millionaire's Home Shopping Network - hosted by the Salesman (played by Richard Hunt), the channel sells really expensive things, including Denmark, for $200,199,622,122.95.
All-Kitchen-Utensil Network - a channel that forward novels starring kitchenware.
- Footage seen on the various monitors include:
Music and Lyrics
Steve Whitmore (Whitmire)
Muppet Design Group
Muppet Mechanical Design
Backgrounds and Electronic Effects by
for Henson Associates
Copyright Henson Associates Inc., 1987