Jim Henson’s The Cube
In the late 1960s, NBC had a short-lived Sunday afternoon anthology show titled NBC Experiment in Television. From what I can tell the show seems like a general-audience-aimed The Outer Limits, with an expectation for the audience to cut the NBC some slack if episodes strayed from traditional themes and formats. In 1968, Jim Henson took a break from Muppet-ing to produce The Cube, an hour-long teleplay that aired on Experiment in Television in February of 1969.
The Cube opens with the central character, The Man, upon his arrival and realization at his current situation. He’s inside of a cube, presumably trapped, with nothing but white on the walls. Throughout the hour he encounters several different people, who help him put together who and where he is; some arrive to assist him, others appear to test him, and still others show up to harass him. All cause him to doubt both himself and the world around him.
Each character enters and exits through doors that appear in The Cube, doors that vanish once that character leaves. Although he is told he is free to leave if he chooses, emphasis is placed on the doors that appear being that character’s door, and not The Man’s door. Items appear and disappear as well, relating to the visitor’s need for it. The Man increasingly feels like he’s on the outside of a colossal inside joke.
The episode does a pretty good job of setting both The Man and the audience’s expectations of these visitors intents and then turning those expectations over. Each visitor embodies a theme of 20th-century life. Some are more blatant in their theme than others.
I won’t tell you how it ends; that feels cheap. It only aired twice, once in 1969 and then in a replay in 1970. To my knowledge it’s not available anywhere but on archive.org – there are no high-quality copies to be found. It’s a fun watch, but I have to admit that I don’t know how I’d feel about this if I didn’t know that Jim Henson was behind it. There’s a very college-psych-101-meets-drama-club vibe to it and while the acting and technical execution is great there’s still a whiff of something we’ve seen before in less-competent venues.
Definitely worth watching, though. Here it is.
If there’s a dryer way to deliver what was at the time an amazing piece of technology, I don’t think I’ve seen it. The imagery and that early-’80s background music are fantastic, though.
I have no idea what this is from but I want to live in this hacker’s house.
A 1989 anti-marijuana scare film, starring pre-Beverly-Hills-90210 Kathleen Robertson!
The best part is how it ends with the usual 1980s advice to give anyone who suggests using drugs “crazy” and “edgy” insulting excuses like, “I can’t today, I’m basket weaving!”.
I mean, look at this.