Monday, April 20, 2015

Ask JKM a Question: Jim Henson's The Cube (1969)

A reader named Ray writes:

“I thought I would ask you about an old, non-Muppet Jim Henson work I recently discovered by accident. 

Named "The Cube" and produced in 1969 it seems to be part of an NBC series of one hour T.V. movies.

Live action and very dark and strange.

I did a quick search of your site and found no mention of it but it seems like something you might cover. It's on YouTube and I was wondering if you have ever heard of it or seen it.

Thanks for the great site and the books you've published.”

Ray, thank you for such kind words, they mean a lot to me. I'm glad you found me, and I'm glad you brought up this subject.

Regarding The Cube…until you mentioned it (and directed me to it), I had never even heard of it, honestly.  

The information that I’ve discovered so far about it is basic but intriguing.  The Cube is about 53 minutes long (designed for an hour time slot in American television), and ran as part of the NBC Experiment in Television.  

It has aired only twice in history.  The first time was February 23, 1969.  It was rerun in 1971.

Uniquely, the program was shot at the same Canadian facility where The Starlost (1973-1974) was lensed, under the auspices of Glen Warren Productions. It also shares a cast member with that series: William Osler. He plays a scientist in The Cube, and was the voice of the Earthship Ark in The Starlost.

On your recommendation, I have watched The Cube, and to call it avant garde is a massive under-statement.  

The Cube is experimental, ambitious, and, in its final revelation, downright disturbing. I understand, from additional research, that many kids watched the program on its first airing, and were very frightened by it.   I can see why the program would stay with someone, especially someone very impressionable. The program is different from conventional or traditional television, both in its visual presentation and in terms of its concluding thought.

I loved seeing this piece of “missing” or at least obscure TV history, and I’ll post a full review of The Cube tomorrow morning at 6:00 am.  Thanks for asking this question!

Don't forget to ask me your questions at

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