Noisy noses that would make John Holmes blush, Gary Busey in puppet form singing about his gigantic teeth, a fetish doll discussing her love of sneezing, and the ORIGINAL Mr. T. These are just a few highlights from The Letter People, a television show that aired in the 70s on PBS, giving children nightmares about crudely rendered puppets for decades to come.
These puppets are nothing like those of the same name you might find sitting on a shelf in your child’s day care center or kindergarden classroom. In 1990 the rights to the original concept were purchased, and most of the puppets were replaced by generic puppets resembling people. Mr. C no longer sings about candy. And Gary Busey lost his show on Comedy Central, so no more fucking roadkill mobiles for our children. You can blame Abrams & Co for this, for universal health care if you’re conservative and global warming if you’re liberal . . . and probably cancer too. Fuckers.
The replacements were warranted in a few circumstances. Mr. L looks like a sun-bleached dog turd that was rolled across a barber shop floor covered with ginger trimmings and half-eaten lemon lollipops. Mr. J is a psychedelic mime covered in hubcaps and cooking pots proclaiming “give me your junk!” Mr. H, perhaps appropriately, looks like a radioactive hobo who hasn’t had his hair cut in aeons.
When most of the puppets break into song their body parts convulse and bend in ways that even someone who is double jointed couldn’t fathom. Their lifeless eyes only add to the horror. And the black backdrop always made me feel like these fuckers were dancing out in outer space somewhere or were waiting in my walls for my parents to turn the lights out.
I looked into the possibility of purchasing some of the originals from the show a while back, but the puppets allegedly were damaged due to improper storage years ago, and we’ll likely never see them again. But we can still enjoy them in the show.
Despite what I’ve said, the original letter people show was pretty enjoyable. It burned phonics into your mind with a combination of fascination and fear. The puppets were all so different looking that every time you saw a new one it was like watching the show for the first time all over again. And if you had PBS, you’ll know what I’m talking about when I say that The Letter People blew that French Pineapple out of the fucking water. Fuck you Ananas.
Come to think of it, that show was pretty weird too. Dancing skeletons, talking pineapples. You can find that one on youtube as well as all of the letter people episodes: Telefrancais.
So Mr. J seems to think he wants everyone’s junk. But do you think he can handle Mr. N and his noisy nose: