The Puzzle Place

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The Puzzle Place
Format Children's television series Puppet
Created by Cecily Truett
Suzanne Singer
Rob Stork
Ellis Weiner
David Yazbek
Starring Alice Dinnean-Vernon
Carmen Osbahr
Jim Martin
Noel MacNeal
Peter Linz
Matt Vogel
Alison Mork
Theme music composer Steve Horelick
Janet Weir
Composer(s) Steve Horelick
Janet Weir
Country of origin United States
Original language(s) English
No. of episodes 75
Production
Executive producer(s) Cecily Truett
Larry Lancit
Stephen Kulczycki
Camera setup Videotape; Multi-camera
Running time 30 minutes
Production company(s) KCET
Lancit Media
Broadcast
Original channel PBS
Picture format 480i (SDTV)
Original run September 15, 1994 – December 4, 1998

The Puzzle Place is an American children's television series produced by KCET in Los Angeles, California and Lancit Media in New York City, New York. It premiered on the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) on January 16, 1995, (although production was dated and first premiered on two Los Angeles PBS stations, KCET and KLCS on September 15, 1994.) and ran for about four years, airing its final episode on December 4, 1998. Reruns were continued until March 31, 2000. This show became one of PBS Kids most popular series on the PBS Kids line-up since Barney & Friends and Sesame Street. The show follows a multi-ethnic group of kids (puppets) from different parts of the United States who hang out at "the Puzzle Place", which is a teen hangout themed around jigsaw puzzle pieces. In each episode the characters are confronted with an everyday conflict usually encountered in childhood and even early teenage years, such as making moral decisions, sharing, racism, sexism, etc.

Characters[edit]

Julie Woo
A Chinese American girl from San Francisco, California. She is very sensitive and caring of her personal possessions and she sometimes tries a little too hard. She is puppeteered and voiced by Alice Dinnean-Vernon.
Kiki Flores
A Mexican American girl from San Antonio, Texas. She is very outgoing and has a temper. She once pretended to be a homeless alien after being teased about her "accent" . She also is a great chili cook and has a Spanish-speaking cousin who helped everyone to learn about acceptance. She is puppeteered and voiced by Carmen Osbahr.
Ben Olafson
A boy of German and Norwegian descent from a farm near Renner, South Dakota. He is good at difficult puzzles and is a talented dancer. Though normally easily going and friendly, he can be unforgiving when angered. He is puppeteered and voiced by Jim Martin.
Leon MacNeal
An African American boy from New York City. He wears dreadlocks and gets jealous easily and sometimes does not think before he acts. Leon is a fan of hip-hop music and loves basketball. He is puppetered and voiced by Noel MacNeal. His first name of Leon and his last name of MacNeal are a direct allusion to his puppeteer, seeing as "Leon" is "Noel" backwards, and the fact that they share a last name.
Skye Nakaiye
An Apache boy from an Indian reservation in Arizona who always wears a bandana, a raincoat, and a feather necklace. He's very curious and always sticks to his values and his culture. He is puppeteered by and voiced by both Peter Linz and Matt Vogel.
Jody Silver
A Lithuanian-Jewish girl from Cincinnati, Ohio. She does not like to be called names and is very gullible but is very enthusiastic. She is puppeteered and voiced by Alison Mork.
Sizzle and Nuzzle
The anthropomorphic pet dog and cat at the Puzzle Place. They are seen mostly in the basement, talking to each other and act as animals around the Puzzle Place kids. They are usually involved in a subplot. Sizzle is puppeteered and voiced by Alice Dinnean-Vernon (who also performed Julie) and Nuzzle was performed by Peter Linz (who also performed Skye).
The Piece Police
Multicolored inhabitants of the Puzzle Place. The Piece Police speak, communicating amongst themselves using grumbling noises, although they understand the English language. It has been hinted in some episodes that they all know what both Sizzle and Nuzzle are saying. They are puppeteered by Carmen Osbahr (who also performed Kiki), Jim Martin (who also performed Ben), Noel MacNeal (who also performed Leon), and Alison Mork (who also performed Jody).

Reception[edit]

In the weeks after its debut, The Puzzle Place won a great deal of acclaim and "enjoyed an average audience-per-viewing second only to 'Barney and Friends' among shows in the popular PBS daily children's block."[1] It received a citation of excellence from UNIMA-USA for its use of puppetry.[2] In 1997, ten more episodes of the show were "in the works".[3] Toys "R" Us, Sears, and Payless Shoe Source all announced that they would carry merchandising from the series and showcase that merchandise in its own separate "boutique" rather than integrating it with the other products.[4]

Funding[edit]

Episode guide[edit]

Season One[edit]

  1. Tipper Woo (January 16, 1995)Julie thinks she's the mail van and gets down on her hands and knees and gets run over by Duncan on his hind wheels,thinking he was Skye.
  2. San Andreas Kids (January 17, 2005)The gang gets in a fight with uncontrollable violence.
  3. Natural History (January 18, 1984)Leon goes to the Melbourne Zoo and steals 24 animals and Jasmine messes up his arm with a shard of glass and Kiki puts bandages on him.
  4. Australia the Positive (January 19, 2012)Kiki challenged Ben and Skye to a drag race in front of the Melbourne High School. Kiki is driving a 1965 Mercury Park Lane and Skye is driving a 1969 Cadiliac Coupe and Ben is driving a 1979 Holden HX Sandman Utility but Big Bird ate them and threw up all over the principal of Cheltenham
  5. Gotta Dance (January 20, 1995)Skye and Jody find a map to Melbourne because it's August 28th and they end up in St.Leonards.
  6. Rudy One vs. Duncan (January 23, 2000)Leon attaches Rudy One to Duncan from TDI and Duncan messes up Skye's arm with a shard of glass and Ben puts bandages on him.
  7. Butterfingers Rally 2007 (January 24, 2007)The kids decide to have a drag race. Julie and Skye are driving a 1948 Minnealpolis Moline UDM Tractor,Leon and Ben are driving a 1966 hippie van and Kiki and Jody are driving a 2007 Elfin MS8 Clubman and they crash into Panty and Stocking.
  8. Bad Dreams (January 25, 1995)Skye enters his senior year and has a bad dream where the seniors are being restrained by the underclassmen.
  9. Fightning Families (January 26, 1995)Leon goes crazy and blows up the ant farm. Later he eats the Wendells and the Butanes and Ben messes up his arm.
  10. Spud Buds (January 27, 1995)Leon and his friends decide to watch Fighting Families first they watch a Muppet Show episode,then he changes it to a Disney movie and then changes it to Elmo's World and Skye comes in and tells them they're missing a party and Play Along Games and Songs comes on and Jody changes it to Mr.Frumble's New Cars and then Fighting Families comes on and its The Wendells vs. The Butanes from Crash Canyon and Leon starts attacking the other kids and the Peace Police had to restrain him and they go to the party where Leon beats up the kids and the party is completely ruined!
  11. Different Drummer (January 30, 1995)
  12. I Love Kiki (January 31, 1995)Kiki crashes Julie's sports car.
  13. True Colors (February 1, 1995)The kids accendentaly paint the Fighting Families episode between The Wendells vs. The Butanes from Crash Canyon and Skye starts attacking Julie and Ben and Leon restrain him.
  14. Cute Is as Cute Does (February 2, 1980)Penny Candy thinks she is Duncan and gets down on her hands and knees and gets sent flying into James.
  15. Leon's Pizza (February 3, 1995)Leon accendentaly makes a special Fighting Families Wendells vs.Butanes pizza nand everyone on Sesame Street has to restrain him.
  16. Real Horses (February 6, 1995)
  17. Going by the Boobs (February 7, 1954)The Puzzle Place kids act out the Fighting Families Wendells vs. Butanes episode and they get sent to school and Leon yanks Skye's hair back in art class.
  18. Mad Music Magic (February 8, 1995)Kiki starts a rock band.
  19. Party of One (February 9, 1995)
  20. Dancing Dragon (February 10, 1995)Skye and Kiki open up a package containing a tv showing the Fighting Families Wendells vs. Butanes 2 hour special and Sizzle sees it and attacks Leon.
  21. Picture Graduation (February 13, 1980)The kids go into their senior year and they hate school anyway!
  22. Maiden Voyages (February 14, 1995)
  23. Donuts and Dithering (February 15, 1995)
  24. Rally for Jody (February 16, 1995)Jody starts rally racing in Finland.
  25. Ben's Bad Hair Day (February 17, 1995)
  26. All Weather Diamonds(February 20, 1995)The kids prepare for a 2 hour Fighting Families Wendells vs. Butanes storm and they dig a tunnel and they find 345,763 diamonds and Big Bird eats them and throws up all over the principal of Cheltenham.
  27. Wendells and Butanes (February 21, 1995)Skye and Jody hide in the Matchbox store and Leon screams like a girl while playing Vice City Stories!
  28. Owning It (February 22, 1995)
  29. Baffled Ben (February 23, 1995)
  30. Practice Makes Perfect (February 24, 1995)Skye graduates from high school.
  31. Finders Keepers (February 27, 1995) (This episode been featured as a skit about trustworthiness on the Kids for Character with Tom Selleck VHS)
  32. You Say Potato (February 28, 1995)
  33. At the End of Our Storm (March 1, 2009)The kids block the doors of the Puzzle Place because a big 2 hour Fighting Families Wendells vs. Butanes special is coming and Sizzle attacks Ben.
  34. Just Kidding (March 2, 1995)Skye decided to beat up all the people I hate including Budge Bentley,Chris Alice Holyroller,Creepie,Raven McFadden,Gaz,Tak,the Wendells and the Butanes when suddenly Duncan teases Skye and Skye ran home crying.
  35. Everything in Its Place (March 3, 1995)
  36. Big Boys Don't Cry (March 6, 1995)Leon acceidentaly makes a Fighting Families Wendells vs. Butanes pancakes for his friends and Kiki beats up Nuzzle and Sizzle and Sizzle woke up thinking she was Jacob and started grabbing the kids.
  37. Here's to the Winners (March 7, 1995)Oliver decided he would ride the rails to Melbourne and smash into houses of all the people I hate including Budge Bentley,Chris Alice Holyroller,Gaz and Creepie.
  38. A World of Difference (March 8, 1995)
  39. Willing and Able (March 9, 1995)Kyle runs over Ben;s foot and they become sports commentators.
  40. It's Magic (March 10, 1995)

Season Two[edit]

  1. Deck the Rails (January 15, 1996)Kiki thinks she is Porter and runs down the track and Edward ran her over.
  2. Dressing Up is Hard to Do (January 16, 1996)
  3. One Way (January 17, 1996)
  4. Oldies But Goodies (January 18, 1996)
  5. Helping Hands (January 19, 1996)Kyle gets crushed by a tree.
  6. Yellow Belt (January 22, 1996)
  7. The Mystery of the Fabulous Hat (January 23, 1996)Jody steals a akubra and gets on Oliver and Oliver bucked her off and into the Melbourne School.
  8. How Much is That Doggie in the Window? (January 24, 1996)
  9. The New Adventures of Julie Woo (January 25, 1996)
  10. We Three Kings (January 26, 1996)Leon is king of Sydney,Ben is the king of Melbourne and Skye is king of Brisbane and they get into a fight and beat the crap out of each other.
  11. Hello, Maggie (January 29, 1996)Maggie starts grabbing Julie's hair.
  12. Off the Track (January 30, 1996)
  13. Beautiful Doll (January 31, 1996)
  14. Tattle Tales (February 1, 1996)
  15. Those Ears, Those Eyes (February 2, 1996)
  16. That's Weird (February 5, 1996)Ben decides he's gonna work for the Melbourne School now and Kiki messes up his arm.
  17. The Ballad of Davy Cricket (February 6, 1996)Jody decides she's gonna quit the Puzzle Place and wortk at the Melbourne School and she tries to leave but throws a temper tantrum and had to be restrained.
  18. Little Leon, Big Ben (February 7, 1996)The children set up a circus in Melbourne.
  19. I Scream, You Scream (February 8, 1996)Jody quits the Puzzle Place.
  20. Skye's Coat (February 9, 1996)
  21. It's Mine (February 12, 1996)Julie thinks she is Fergus and crawls in mud instead of train tracks!
  22. One Big, Happy Family (February 13, 1996)
  23. Leon Grows Up (February 14, 1996)Leon quits the Puzzle Place.
  24. Cowpokes (February 15, 1996)The kids wear akubras and beat up the San Andreas guys.
  25. Hurricane Julie (February 16, 1996)Ben and Leon become news reporters.

Season Three[edit]

  1. Family Fun (October 19, 1998)
  2. Anything She Can Do (October 20, 1998)Julie decides she is going to teach school in Melbourne and ends up getting eaten by Big Bird.
  3. You Don't Match (October 21, 1998)
  4. To Have and Have Not (October 26, 1998)Skye wins a video game helmet that plays the Fighting Families Wendells vs. Butanes 2 hour special and gets out of control and messes up Julie's arm with a shard of glass and Ben puts bandages on her.
  5. Fiesta Follies (October 27, 1998)
  6. Between You and Me (October 28, 1998)Leon and Skye think they're pirates and make Ben the captain,but Ben did not want to be captain,instead he sings Solsbury Hill and Leon hits him with a Kenner toy.
  7. A Star is Burned (October 29, 1998)
  8. Muddy (October 30, 1998)The kids play in the mud.
  9. Up! (December 3, 1998)
  10. I'm Talking to You (December 4, 1998)Jeff Fischer crashes into the arcade and scares a deaf girl.END!

Merchandise[edit]

VHS[edit]

  • Tuned In (10. Spud Buds and 14. Cute Is as Cute Does)
  • Rock Dreams (18. Mad Music Magic and 8. Rock Dreams)
  • Rip Van Wrinkle (17. Going by the Book and 3. Rip Van Wrinkle)
  • Deck the Halls
  • Sing-Along Songs
  • Accentuate the Positive (6. Rudy One and 4. Accentuate the Positive)

Cancellation[edit]

After three seasons and 75 episodes, the show stopped production, but it was seen on reruns until March 31, 2000, when it was replaced by Between the Lions the following week.

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Lancit Media sees domestic "Puzzle Place" licensing guarantees approaching $12 million; CEO reports "highly promising" early ratings for Lancit/KCET Series at Alex. Brown Media/Communications seminar in NYC". BNET. CNET Networks, Inc. Business Wire. 1995-04-04. Retrieved 2008-06-25. 
  2. ^ "Citations of Excellence Recipients (1996) RECORDED MEDIA CATEGORY". UNIMA-USA. Retrieved 2008-06-25. 
  3. ^ Michaelson, Judith (1997-09-05). "KCET Chief Leads Station Into Expansion Era". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2009-02-06. 
  4. ^ "PBS' The Puzzle Place has apparel solved". Discount Store News (accessed through ProQuest) 34 (16). 1995-08-21. ISSN 0012-3587. Retrieved 2009-02-06. 

External links[edit]