Jim Henson's The Storyteller

NBC (ended 1988)


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Episode Guide


  • Season 1
    • The True Bride
      The True Bride
      Episode 9
      From an early German folk tale. A troll had a daughter, but she left straight off. So the troll took another to replace her to wait on him hand and foot. Her name is Anja and she has no father and she has no mother, so the troll is her other. Trolls are always contradicting themselves and this one used a stick and Anja gets that stick across her back frequently. This troll sets Anja an impossible task of plucking 20 pounds feathers and placing them into sacks without a single one escaping. So Anja tries and cannot do it and thinks if there is anyone who can help her. From her thoughts a lion appears and does the task for her. Shocked, the troll gives her another task to empty a pond with a spoon full of holes. So the lion comes and drinks it dry. Now the troll tells her to build a palace before the end of the day. The lion puts Anja to sleep and when the troll kicks her awake, a palace is there. In the palace, Anja is chained and when the troll goes to get wine from the cellar, he falls into bottomless pit - dead. Now Anja has a palace all to herself and she is transformed into the beautiful woman, a princess, where suitors come from all over. A year later, she meets and falls in love with her gardener. The wedding day approaches and one day her love journeys to the village and never returns. Weeks and months later, Anja sets out in search of him. On her journey, she meets her old friend, the lion, who on his back races her to a far off land. The lion gives her three magic walnuts and she journeys on foot. She sees her love on a horse as she walks, but he doesn't recognise her. And then she sees... no! It can't be! The troll! But he's dead! But wait. A pigtail, a diamond ring and a silken scarf. It must be, but it can't be, but it must be... the troll's daughter - the trollop. Twice as ugly and twice as foul and riding off with Anja's beloved. Anja, the True Bride finds out how the trollop has cast a spell on her beloved and how greedy the trollop is. Using her magic walnuts she first creates silk in exchange for a night with her betrothed who has been drugged and unable to talk to Anja. Then she tries again and creates golden coin after coin for another night and the same story, the beloved is drugged. Prisoners of the trollop tell the beloved of the True Bride coming to visit him and why he doesn't talk to her. The third time, Anja makes jewels and a deal is struck. This time the beloved hears her and a kiss breaks the spell and the trollop also loses her silks, gold and jewels. As they run, the trollop chases until they reach the lion and he races the lovers - home. But as the True Bride and her beloved settle down for the night, the trollop has turned up and she is seeking revenge. Inside, she sniffs her way to their room and opens the door... to the wine cellar, which has no bottom.moreless
    • The Heartless Giant
      From an early German folk tale. A heartless giant who terrorizes the land is caught by the good king and imprisoned. Many years pass and the youngest prince, Leo, goes to the place where he is not supposed to and finds befriends the giant. Now the giant plots and plans. Using Leo, the heartless giant gets him to get the keys to his chains. The giant is free and the rampaging begins again. Leo's older brother goes to find the giant and never comes back. Then his other older brother goes and is never heard of again. Then Leo goes in search of the giant. On his way, he helps an injured bird, a beached salmon and a starving wolf - where the wolf takes him to a house with stone statues of people, the giant's handiwork. The giant takes him in as a servant. As time passes, Leo finds why the giant has no heart and where it is, or where the giant says it is; until the giant finally reveals the truth, a cryptic truth. But that night, the wolf takes Leo to where the giant's heart is and is helped by the other creatures he has helped. With the giant's heart, Leo forces him to free all the stone people for his heart, but one of Leo's brother's snatches the heart and crushes it...moreless
    • Sapsorrow
      Episode 7
      A king has three daughters, two bad and one good, the good daughter has many friends in the animal friends that hide in her pockets, under her bed and in her room. As there is no queen and by tradition the king cannot marry until a special ring is worn. All come to try and none can fit the unusual ring. The two bad daughters, fearing a new step-mother will get their inheritance, decide to try the ring themselves to stop their father from ever marrying. The youngest, good daughter comes along and when their father turns up hides the ring on her finger - her ring finger and it fits. She cannot marry her father, but she cannot ignore the law. Locked in her room, the princess says she will not marry until a dress, a special dress is made; this will take time and meanwhile she asks her animal friends to help her as she hatches a plan. Then another dress has to be found for wedding feast, but a third is needed for the church. All three dresses are made and the wedding will take place the next day. But the princess disappears and only Sapsorrow is seen running away, a creature of fur and feathers, the creation of her animal friends for all those weeks she shut herself in her room. Two years later a creature works in the house of a king, cleaning the floors of the kitchen. There she meets a prince. At a ball, where the eligible prince sits, a beautiful woman dances with him until the music stops. At the second ball, the prince is all alone to where the beautiful woman comes again, until she runs away again. Meanwhile, the Scraggletag creature has more runs in with the prince. A third night, after the ball Sapsorrow comes to the prince again, before running away leaving her golden slipper behind. So the prince proclaims that whoever fits the slipper, he, the prince will marry. Scraggletag decides to go try to where she sees her two bad sisters trying the slipper and finds about the death of her father. Then Scraggletag tries the shoe and the prince agrees to keep his promise to where the truth is revealed.moreless
    • The Three Ravens
      The Three Ravens
      Episode 6
      From an early German folk tale.

      When the queen dies, a witch plans to ensnare the king. Placing a spell on him they plan to marry. The witch curses the king's children, three boys and a daughter, they stand in her way of power. But the queen tries to rid herself of her rivals and the king, afraid for his children, shows a place of safety and secrecy for them. But the queen, catches the three princes and turns them into ravens and the princess runs for her life. Her brothers, now as ravens tell her that she must not speak for 3 years, 3 months, 3 weeks and 3 days to break the curse. Not a word and not a note. Time passes and a prince comes by, still she does not speak and eventually they plan to marry and he takes her back to his home. There, a king greets them and so does his new wife - the witch! But the princess cannot speak. They have a child, but she still doesn't speak. The baby disappears and still she doesn't speak. Another baby is born and this one disappears. Now whispers starts. Now a third child disappears and she is branded a witch and is to be burnt as such on the third year, third month, third week and third day. But she cannot speak, not until midday. As the evil queen lights the fire herself, the three ravens swoop...moreless
    • Hans My Hedgehog
      Hans My Hedgehog
      Episode 5
      From an early German folk tale. A farmer's wife drives her husband mad with her desperate measures to have a baby. On the advice of the village Midwife, she tries sleeping upside down, bathing in nettles and so on. She wants a baby so badly that she doesn't care what she gets, even a hedgehog. That, of course, is she gets: a baby covered in quills, as soft as feathers. His mother calls him 'Hans My Hedgehog' and she is the only one to love him. The farmer grows to hate him, people laugh at him and children call him names, like 'Grovelhog'. Finally, Hans asks his father for a saddle for his rooster (which is the size of a small horse), so that Hans can leave for a place where he can't hurt anyone and where no one can hurt him. Twenty years later, a king gets lost in a dark forest. Coming to a strange palace he asks the owner, the now grown Grovelhog, for food and a place to sleep. The king wants to reward his host, and asks him to name the gift he desires. Hans tells the king to give him the first thing that greets him when he arrives at home. The Grovelhog will come to collect it in a year and a day. The king agrees, believing that his faithful dog will greet him. However, before the king's dog can reach him, his daughter, the Princess, welcomes the King home. A year and a day later the king keeps his promise. The Princess tells the Grovelhog that she will keep the promise her father has made. That night as she lays terrified in bed, Hans removes his quills in front of the fireplace and, in the form of a handsome man, goes to be with his animals. The princess goes over to the discarded skin and feels that the quills are as soft as down. The next morning the Grovelhog is back, but the next night, he discards the quills again. The Princess goes to them and lays her head on the soft quills and this time falls asleep. Hans the man comes back and tells her that he is enchanted but that the spell can be broken if she keeps their secret for a third night. But her mother sees how happy her daughter is and finds out her secret and convinces the princess that the only cure is to throw the quills into the fire that night. That third night, she does and the Grovelhog burns and leaves with his animals leaving the princess behind. The princess then leaves her home to find the Grovelhog, her husband.moreless
    • A Story Short
      A Story Short
      Episode 4
      From an early Celtic folk tale. This time, the story is about The Storyteller himself. Some time in his past, the Storyteller tells how he was forced to once beg for his supper. He starts with making a soup for a cook and another beggar using a stone. The cook that they come across lets them try, he's unbelieving and wants to see the soup made from a stone himself. So the Storyteller begins and asks for salt, which the cooks give, then stock, green, potatoes - until a soup is ready. When the truth finally dawns on the cook the Storyteller is brought in front of the king. His punishment is to tell the king a story every night for a year at the price of a golden crown per story. Miss one story, then the cook gets to boil the Storyteller. So time passes, and the Storyteller tells his stories, counts his money, cuddles with his new wife. Then on the last day, he can't think of a story and his mind is blank. Then the beggar from a year past comes and gambles for 364 gold pieces against his - he loses. The he gambles his wife, and loses. Then he stakes himself - and loses. But what's this the beggar puts a rope around his neck and the Storyteller is turned into a hare, then a flea. The beggar thens tricks the cook, then makes the King's son disappear and he and the flea (Storyteller) are thrown into the boiling oil. But the beggar washes and the Prince comes out of the pot and the beggar disappears. The Stoyteller, then falls, onto the floor with his gold and to his wife where the king requests his story, but he has no story, so recounts the day's events, and thus gives his last story, until he leaves evryone in tears, by telling his best story ever.moreless
    • The Luck Child
      The Luck Child
      Episode 3
      From an early Russian folk tale. A cruel king hears of the birth of the seventh son of the seventh son and of a prophecy has it that this child will grow up to become king of his kingdom. The cruel king decides to kill this 'Luck Child', and throwing the child and Chancellor into the sea, so ends the prophecy. But this is the Luck Child and he survives. Sixteen years later, the king discovers the Luck Child has survived and plots to kill him again. He sends 'Lucky' off to the palace with a letter that has his execution in it; in the forest, Lucky meets the 'Little Man' who drugs him and reads the letter, and the Little Man proceeds to forge new orders. So when the king gets back, instead of Lucky being executed he has instead married the princess. The King quickly says that the marriage can only be when he has the golden feather from the Griffin's back, a man-eating monster. Lucky resolves himself to get it. He meets a ferryman, whose sole job is to ferry people to the island of the griffin, and is unable to release himself from this curse. Lucky promises to find out and in the lair of the Griffin he finds the Little Man, who has become the Griffin's cook. The little man hides Lucky and while he tends to the Griffin grabs the golden feather and finds the secret to releasing the ferryman - all that he has to do is pass his oar over to the next person who will then become the ferryman. Lucky, feather in hand, tells the ferryman this and back at the castle, hands the feather over to the king. When the king hears of the riches of the Griffin's island, he greedily hurries off and on the ferry in his eagerness to get to the island, is offered the oar by the ferryman. And Lucky and his bride? Well, they would live happily. After all, he was the Luck Child.moreless
    • Orpheus and Eurydice
      The great musician Orpheus vows to bring back the soul of his beloved Eurydice from the depths of Hades. But the task he must complete to reunite with his love turns out to be as tortuous as the fate he will have to endure.
    • Fearnot
      Episode 2
      From an early German folk tale. The Storyteller recounts the adventures of a boy who goes out into the world to learn what fear is.
    • The Soldier and Death
      From an early Russian folk tale. A soldier returns from 20 years of war with nothing but three biscuits in his sack. Soon he must outwit devils, save a kingdom, and try to outwit death.