Over the course of his all-too-brief life, Jim Henson created countless amazing creatures. Even aside from the lovable and iconic Muppets, he also gave us two of the ’80s best dark fantasies: The Dark Crystal and Labyrinth. His legacy has carried on even beyond his death, notably in the excellent and much-missed science fiction series Farscape. His work has also turned up in places you might never expect over the years. Case in point: this 1962 short film Henson made for a Bell System business seminar. Take a look at “Robot,” by Jim Henson.
Rescued from a dusty corner of the AT&T Archives, “Robot” is a clever and imaginative early look at the mind that would give us the Muppets. Henson created the short film for a seminar on the then-cutting-edge subject of data communications, based on a three-page memo written by Ted Mills, one of the heads of Inpro, one of the organizers or the seminar. The idea was to explore the emerging relationship between man and machine. As the memo put it: “He [the robot] is sure that All Men Basically Want to Play Golf, and not run businesses — if he can do it better.” The result is a disdainful droid in the vein of “Destroy All Humans” Bender…but he still needs a helping human hand to wind him up again.