The 13 Strangest Kids' Shows From The '90s All Had Puppets
The '90s brought some great cultural content, but it also brought some seriously strange pieces of media. While there were plenty of weird movies and cartoons out there, some of the weirdest examples are actually puppet shows from the '90s. What were some of those weird children's puppet shows? Let's jump in.
Among these insane '90s puppet shows were ones with human-puppet hybrids, aliens, dinosaurs, inter-species families, and things we'd all generally acknowledge are the stuff of nightmares now. In fact, there may be many a '90s kid still in therapy over this weird subgenre of television.
If you were a kid back then, you might remember some of these crazy puppet shows for kids fondly, or not-so-fondly, and if you grew up during any other decade, prepare to be confused. Keep in mind that strange doesn't automatically imply bad. Some of these bizarre kids' puppet shows are actually excellent. In fact, in many cases it's their weirdness that makes them so great.
- Photo: Jim Henson Productions
Strangeness Level: 5 Programs Sponsored By "Beer" out of 5What Made It So Weird: Dinosaurs is probably the most infamous puppet-based show of the 1990's, and for good reason. It's sort of like The Simpsons only, y'know, with dinosaurs. Despite the fact that it's set in 60,000,003 BC in Pangaea, the characters use technology from the 1990's.
Culturally, it's also pretty '90s - they even have a parody of MTV called DTV, where they play music by bands like Road Kyll and Lyzzard Skyzzard. One of the recurring gags involves Baby Sinclair hitting his father in the face with a frying pan. Oh, and they have an episode about workplace sexual harassment, which somehow manages not to be obnoxious. For all its weirdness, it's actually a pretty good show, with crossover appeal for adults.
- Photo: PBS
Strangeness Level: 68 Pieces Of Questionable Advice out of 70What Made It So Weird: Lamb Chop's Play-Along may be best known for The Song That Never Ends, the song that every '90's kids made their parents miserable with during the show's heyday. While it's a genuinely cute and well-done show, it's got some pretty weird parts. For example, two of the main puppet characters are named Hush Puppy and Lamb Chop, which are food items, and the third character is named Charley Horse, which is a painful muscle spasm. They're all voiced by Shari Lewis, and all sound pretty similar, other than Hush Puppy's constant use of the word "ain't."
Some of the messaging gets a little strange, too. In one sketch, Shari Lewis tries to convince Charley Horse that it doesn't really matter that his best friend moved away, because he can totally just make new friends, or get used to being alone, because ultimately you can't count on anyone except yourself. That's questionable to say the least.
- Photo: Jin Henson Productions
Strangeness Level: 8 Flirtatious Glances At A Chicken out of 10What Made It So Weird: Considering the presence of the word Muppets in the title, if you're not expecting weird you haven't been paying attention. Muppets Tonight focuses on a fictional TV Network staffed by Kermit, Gonzo, Miss Piggy and all the other muppets we know and love. Sketches on the show include dancing cheeses, a parody of Baywatch called Bay of Pigswatch, an Elvis muppet acting out various historical events, and a parody of The Real World where Clifford, Rizzo the Rat, Bobo the Bear, Bill the Bubble Guy, and Darci live together, and drama ensues.
It's a bizarre, hilarious show that's a window into '90s pop culture.
- Photo: Viacom Productions
Strangeness Level: 17 Staff Cat Trainers out of 20What Made It So Weird: While Sabrina the Teenage Witch was primarily about Melissa Joan-Hart's adventures as a witch attending high school, it also featured Salem Saberhagen, her requisite black cat. Salem was sometimes played by four different actual black cats named Elvis, Lucy, Witch and Salem. Whenever he had to do something a real cat couldn't do, like have a facial expression or be thrown across the room, he was replaced by a raggedy puppet.
What's even more bizarre about Salem is that he's actually a warlock, condemned to spend 100 years as a powerless cat for attempting to take over the world. While enacting that macabre plan, he also had a girlfriend named Shelley and attended his cousin Cheryl's bat mitzvah. Pretty good for four cats and a puppet.
- Photo: Nickelodeon Productions
Strangeness Level: 3 Corny "In Soviet Russia, Puppets Control You" Jokes out of 20What Made It So Weird: Cousin Skeeter is a basically a sitcom for kids. This wouldn't be so odd if not for the its total failure to acknowledge the fact that one of the main characters, the titular Skeeter, is a puppet. No one else in the show is a puppet.The closest they come to addressing his puppet-hood is when he gets mocked for his short stature. This makes him absolutely furious.
Also, almost every episode centers around Skeeter convincing his straight laced cousin Bobby to do things that will get him in trouble. Bobby is basically letting a puppet control his life. Is that meta or what?
- Photo: Nickelodeon
Strangeness Level: 10 Boneys Demanding "Barney Money" out of 11
What Made It So Weird: Weinerville is a series of skits about a town called, well, Weinerville, designed to fill time around kids shows like Batfink and Mr. Magoo. Some of the puppets are tiny, scraggly little objects that look like they're made of felt, while others are puppet arms and torsos with the actor's head poking through a board.
There's a Barney parody named Boney who looks like he belongs on Attack on Titan whose catch phrase is "I'm Boney, I'm Boney, leave me alone-y." The other characters are about the same level of ridiculous.Episodes will usually start off with some plot-based premise, which ranges from something simple like a heatwave or the mayor getting addicted to soda, to time travel and fictional court cases. It ends with audience members being "Weinerized" or turned into puppets. Strange, but pretty fun.