A Hippie in the House of Mouse (Jim Henson at Disney, 1980)

i wonder if his opposition to the doctor had anything to do with that family relation

now which woman could be the doctor in the early 90s (i assume the show won't go on hiatus)/late 80s
Maybe just a little too early for Caroline Quentin.
and please not joanna lumley.
Diana Rigg would be perfect
I'm not sure how that relation would have anything to do with Micheal's antipathy for Doctor Who, it was more of an observation, especially since Lew is a friend of Henson's.

Elaine Stritch, Frances de la Tour and Dawn French were apparently other actresses who were suggested for the role along with Joanna Lumley. I'm fairly certain that Lumley was cast in The Curse of Fatal Death as a reference to the plans.

Of course, this pitch came about as a response to the poor critical reception of Baker's run, so who knows, it might get butterflied entirely. Then again, the idea came straight from Sydney Newman, so if anyone else asks his opinion he'd likely be happy to share...
 
Much of the Ewaak hate undoubtedly comes from the marketing blitz that came later, including the cheesy made for TV movies and the animated series, the latter of which honestly wasn’t nearly as bad as everyone seems to recall it was in hindsight, claiming in bad faith that they “never watched it” as kids (liars!).
I am not ashamed to admit I have fond memories of this, and am very pleased that me and my sister spend the late eighties going "Ee cha wa ma!" in this timeline as well.

And the fact that one BBC manager called Grade who wanted to kill the show. Grade is the one BBC DG who has never been Knighted- apparently Her Majesty is a fan of the show... wonder if that’s related?
I would dearly love this to be true. Unfortunately, it isn't. Grade was never DG, he was Controller of BBC 1 and Director of Programming. Only two Controllers of BBC1 have ever been knighted (and nine out of eighteen DGs). And, Grade was given a freaking life peerage in 2011, so hasn't exactly been snubbed by the honours system over his appalling taste. (And honestly, while I'd love Grade to be snubbed by the honours system over his appalling taste, I think I'd hate to live in a country where the Queen could decide that kind of thing on personal whim.)
 
Last edited:
A quick question regarding Miyazaki? Around this time, I think, he would've been looking to distribute Nausica, and IOTL, it was Disney that did that, though with way too many edits for the dub.

Any possibility we could have this turn out better than in our timeline for Miyazaki?

And as a personal aside, a Neuromancer film that does it proper justice would be amazing if you could bring it into this timeline.
I mentioned some butterflies concerning Henson/Disney and Miyazaki ITTL earlier. Specifically concerning a different distribution/dubbing for a Western release. Mainly happening earlier and with a more attention/heart. Especially going in to Castle In The Sky. With Paquin keeping an English accent throughout and not suddenly breaking into an Americanized accent.
Like editing for Nausica that really screwed up the American release and made it almost totally unrecognizable from the Japanese release. It was a real proper mess.
Miyazaki is coming soon.

How are the other studios doing right now?
So far about the same. I'll be mentioning alternate movies soon and the financial changes going forward.

i wonder if his opposition to the doctor had anything to do with that family relation

now which woman could be the doctor in the early 90s (i assume the show won't go on hiatus)/late 80s
Maybe just a little too early for Caroline Quentin.
and please not joanna lumley.
Diana Rigg would be perfect
Again thinking it all over right now. Keep in mind that while I enjoy Dr. Who I'm hardly an expert and couldn't do the alternate show justice. I dropped out sometime during the 5th Dr.'s run and don't really have opinons on 6 or 7. I may do a couple of brief posts on who the Dr is at any given point, but I lack the time or knowledge to properly do a Who timeline. And I can't speak for anything about any other British TV show at the time. I think Python and The Young Ones is about the extent of my British TV literacy.

I am not ashamed to admit I have fond memories of this, and am very pleased that me and my sister spend the late eighties going "Ee cha wa ma!" in this timeline as well.
I loved the Ewoks as a kid. Go figure, I was dead center bullseye of the target audience. Nowadays I can see why they pissed people off. I can also see some of the unfortunate implications of the "primitive canibal wayside tribe that worship the outsider as a god" tropes he used with them that I missed as a kid/1980s resident. I even recalled enjoying An Ewok Adventure (a.k.a. Caravan of Courage), though seeing the footage today I'm like "what was I thinking?" Funny how tastes change.
 
What movie or movies (or TV shows) were never produced in our timeline? What would you like to see different? What would you like to see happen, and from/with whom?
I've been on hiatus for several month. Sorry for the belated response to this post. I've been enjoying the timeline quite a lot, and I appreciate you taking the time for the meta posts to outline the logic behind your various choices.

As a variant for Star Trek: TNG, have Michael Wagner come onboard earlier than OTL and stick around. He was Co-Executive Producer only very briefly, as he apparently 1) he and Roddenberry didn't get along, and 2) he felt like an outsider among the already well-entrenched production staff. He'd already done work on a failed sci-fi show called Probe, and his co-workers on Hill Street Blues described him as having an "almost supernatural imagination." To quote from a review that speculated what a Wagner-helmed TNG would resemble...
The Survivors is a decidedly high-concept science-fiction mystery, feeling almost like an episode of an anthology featuring the regular cast. Built around a guest star, The Survivors is very much radically opposed to Piller’s vision of character-driven Star Trek.
[…]
Still, it’s worth noting that all three episodes come with high-concepts built into their storylines. Evolution involves the development of self-aware nanites, while Booby Trap involves the eponymous trap.
[…]
It’s undoubtedly a bit much to conjecture about Wagner’s vision for The Next Generation based on one single teleplay and two story ideas. However, it’s interesting that The Survivors is the first episode of the third season without a clear focus on our lead characters. Sure, Worf gets some good lines; Picard gets to lead; Troi suffers. However, The Survivors is an episode very clearly built around a mystery, and built around a guest character.
[…]
Wagner’s script manages to avoid feeling too much like a cheat, but only barely. It helps that Wagner changes lanes at the last minute. The Survivors begins as a science-fiction mystery, but it ends as a deeply tragic story about lost love. The reveal of Kevin’s true nature becomes moot in that final scene, as the story is more interested in what Kevin has experience and what he has done. The fact that he is a Douwd is incidental; he’s a man with a broken heart who happens to have the power to reshape the cosmos.
[…]
Despite the anthology feel of the episode, it’s worth noting that there are some nice moments for the ensemble. Picard gets be a shrewd leader, quickly deducing at least the gist of what is going on. Riker gets caught in a snare. Worf actually gets quite a few nice character moments, from his embarrassment when the enemy ship shows up after “staking [his] reputation” on the fact that they were gone through to his complement to Kevin on trying to hold the away team at bay with a broken phaser. “May I say your attempt to hold the away team at bay with a nonfunctioning weapon was an act of unmitigated gall?” he offers. “I admire gall.”
[…]
Still, The Survivors feels like a strange instalment at the start of the third season, rather different than the two episodes directly proceeding it, and radically different from a lot that would follow. That said, it’s an intriguing science-fiction story, one thoughtful and well-constructed.
 
I've been on hiatus for several month. Sorry for the belated response to this post. I've been enjoying the timeline quite a lot, and I appreciate you taking the time for the meta posts to outline the logic behind your various choices.

As a variant for Star Trek: TNG, have Michael Wagner come onboard earlier than OTL and stick around. He was Co-Executive Producer only very briefly, as he apparently 1) he and Roddenberry didn't get along, and 2) he felt like an outsider among the already well-entrenched production staff. He'd already done work on a failed sci-fi show called Probe, and his co-workers on Hill Street Blues described him as having an "almost supernatural imagination." To quote from a review that speculated what a Wagner-helmed TNG would resemble...
The Survivors is a decidedly high-concept science-fiction mystery, feeling almost like an episode of an anthology featuring the regular cast. Built around a guest star, The Survivors is very much radically opposed to Piller’s vision of character-driven Star Trek.
[…]
Still, it’s worth noting that all three episodes come with high-concepts built into their storylines. Evolution involves the development of self-aware nanites, while Booby Trap involves the eponymous trap.
[…]
It’s undoubtedly a bit much to conjecture about Wagner’s vision for The Next Generation based on one single teleplay and two story ideas. However, it’s interesting that The Survivors is the first episode of the third season without a clear focus on our lead characters. Sure, Worf gets some good lines; Picard gets to lead; Troi suffers. However, The Survivors is an episode very clearly built around a mystery, and built around a guest character.
[…]
Wagner’s script manages to avoid feeling too much like a cheat, but only barely. It helps that Wagner changes lanes at the last minute. The Survivors begins as a science-fiction mystery, but it ends as a deeply tragic story about lost love. The reveal of Kevin’s true nature becomes moot in that final scene, as the story is more interested in what Kevin has experience and what he has done. The fact that he is a Douwd is incidental; he’s a man with a broken heart who happens to have the power to reshape the cosmos.
[…]
Despite the anthology feel of the episode, it’s worth noting that there are some nice moments for the ensemble. Picard gets be a shrewd leader, quickly deducing at least the gist of what is going on. Riker gets caught in a snare. Worf actually gets quite a few nice character moments, from his embarrassment when the enemy ship shows up after “staking [his] reputation” on the fact that they were gone through to his complement to Kevin on trying to hold the away team at bay with a broken phaser. “May I say your attempt to hold the away team at bay with a nonfunctioning weapon was an act of unmitigated gall?” he offers. “I admire gall.”
[…]
Still, The Survivors feels like a strange instalment at the start of the third season, rather different than the two episodes directly proceeding it, and radically different from a lot that would follow. That said, it’s an intriguing science-fiction story, one thoughtful and well-constructed.
Welcome aboard, glad you like it, and no need to appologize, L6. I'll check this out. Still formulating what to do with TNG.
 
Well, there's a lot not shown in this post just due to time, of course. In short Vader here hoped to use Luke for his own means. His realization of his evil was as much about realizing that he had endangered his own son in pursuit of power and revenge. Love winning out over vengance and power lust. There are fan disagreements (there always are!) but the GL "official" stance remains an honest redemption.
Fair enough. I think that actually works really well, it gives more depth to Vader's redemption and ties his motivations a bit closer to his Empire characterization as you mention later!

There are so many contradictions in the SW world that changing one will create others every time.
That is very true!
I have to admit I really like this version of RotJ, it looks like it has some of the same flaws as the OTL version, but it also has some very interesting alternate takes, especially Had Abbadon. I especially like the contrast in environments that the final battle takes place in (Lava, Forest and Space!).

One of the things that I just realised reading over this version is that in the OTL RotJ the 2nd death star pretty much does nothing. Its threat relies purely on our knowledge of A New Hope (which fair enough, this is Star Wars) but in RotJ there isn't even a ticking clock that the Death star brings. Its literally just the set piece for the Emperor's throne room. That's what makes Had Abbadon work much better in this version, it keeps the threat of the 2nd Death Star without the "huh? doesn't this thing destroy planets?" double take and it gives a noble reason for the Rebellion to actually fight (we must liberate the people of Had Abbadon! Vs we must blow up the Death Star! Again!)

RotJ also leaves the series with an ambiguous ending after the happy ending - the Emperor and Darth Vader are dead, but the Empire still lives and the Rebels are not yet completely victorious. That of course led to the never-ending cascade of Imperial remnants in the EU that really clogged out any real progression for the characters for quite a while. Here though the Imperial Capital has been directly liberated by the Rebels! Its an even more complete victory than in OTL. There's still the imperial fleet that fled into the unknown, but it is a much happier and clean ending than what our Star Wars left us with.

Also I would love to see those creature shop Raiders and Ewaaks. They sound really cool looking. Surprised there's still Ewaak hate with the vastly different design, but I guess people will never like cute and cuddly things in Star Wars. :p

Were there any major design changes to the creatures of Jabba's Palace? Or is everything there mostly the same?
 
Last edited:
Thanks, ZS, glad you liked it. Any change to SW (or Star Trek or Dr. Who) is going to be a YMMV situation, as will any "not-change". I already know that whatever direction I take Jurassic Park some of my readers will be disappointed! Yes, certainly plenty of remaining flaws in LotJ, and that was deliberate (this wasn't intended to be a fix fic). It's still largely the same players making it save for a different director (Johnson vs. Marquand).

And in case anyone wonders, yes, it performs about the same at the box office.

I figure much of Jabba's Palace looks the same as much of that set piece was from the original GL Draft from Feb. '81 and Ralph McQuarrie is still doing the concept art. There are probably subtle differences.

But enough Star Wars for the time being, on to the spine-tingling world of Wall Street Journal news articles!!
 
Pay and Charity
Disney Announces Executive Pay Raises
Wall Street Journal, September 4th, 1984


Burbank – Walt Disney Productions increased compensation for their executive leadership. CEO Ron Miller will now receive $500,000 per year (up from $350,000, one of the lowest pay rates in the industry), Chairman Ray Watson and President/COO Frank Well each will earn $475,000 per year, and CCO and Studio President Jim Henson will receive $450,000 per year. Department Presidents, save for Henson, will each receive $425,000 per year[1]. In addition, very generous stock options have been allocated at up to 400,000 shares, with many analysts seeing the options as a way to help protect the company from future takeover attempts in addition to serving as performance-based incentives. These new pay raises put Disney executive compensation rates on par with similarly sized organizations after decades of having some of the lowest executive rates in the nation. Given the executive team’s successful defense of the company against ACC’s hostile takeover attempt, most on Wall Street see the increases as just compensation after a well-fought campaign.


(Image source "medium.com")

* * *​

Disney Announces $4 million CTW Endowment
Wall Street Journal, September 6th, 1984


Burbank – Today Walt Disney Productions CEO Ron Miller and CCO Jim Henson announced a $4 million yearly endowment to be provided to the non-profit Children’s Television Workshop (CTW), which produces such children’s educational television shows as Sesame Street, Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood, The Electric Company, and 3-2-1 Contact. In addition, Jim Henson announced that all proceeds developed from Sesame Street licensing and merchandise would henceforth be allocated directly to CTW and that the Henson family and the Muppets workshop would no longer be receiving any profits from them. “Frankly, we’re earning enough,” said Jim Henson, who hoped that the additional liquidity would help support the non-profit CTW, which has been struggling to stay solvent since federal funding ended in 1981. In addition, Henson and the Muppets team will continue to support production and performances on Sesame Street and other CTW productions through the new Open Sesame cooperative, a non-profit spinoff entity separate from both Disney and Henson Arts Holdings and managed by Chairman and President Jane Henson, with all production and operating expenses to be covered by the Disney endowment and all proceeds supporting CTW and other charitable organizations. “We are all extremely grateful to Mr. Miller and to our good friends Jim and Jane Henson, and indeed to all of the people at Disney,” said CTW Chairman and CEO Joan Ganz Cooney. “With this generous endowment, we will be able to continue our mission to support quality children’s education for the foreseeable future.”


(Image source "pintrest.com")



[1] The pay is on par with the raise Miller and the rest received in 1984 in the middle of the takeover attempt by Steinberg, which was interpreted in the press as a “golden parachute”. By comparison, Michael Eisner received a very high $750,000 per year and an astronomical 510,000 stock options.
 
I would dearly love this to be true. Unfortunately, it isn't. Grade was never DG, he was Controller of BBC 1 and Director of Programming. Only two Controllers of BBC1 have ever been knighted (and nine out of eighteen DGs). And, Grade was given a freaking life peerage in 2011, so hasn't exactly been snubbed by the honours system over his appalling taste. (And honestly, while I'd love Grade to be snubbed by the honours system over his appalling taste, I think I'd hate to live in a country where the Queen could decide that kind of thing on personal whim.)
And, to be fair, Grade wasn't the only senior BBC exec who wanted Doctor Who gone in the late 1980s...
 
Nice to read that Jane Henson has found a niche with the Open Sesame Cooperative.

What is Bob Ross up to ITTL please?
Is PBS getting more funding?
Could it be possible that He-Man is in a kidde safe version of Conan instead? Seems there was some legals regarding the whole thing about now...
Given Lorimar ended up inside Warner, OTL, could that be averted and Thundercats ends up somewhere else? Could Disney or Marvel Productions be interested in the product and its rich, largely untapped merch potential?
 
Interesting take on the fate of CTW. IOTL of course it managed to hold on thanks to a Sesame Street merchandising blitz, including (most notoriously) one Tickle-Me-Elmo :eek:

I would dearly love this to be true. Unfortunately, it isn't. Grade was never DG, he was Controller of BBC 1 and Director of Programming. Only two Controllers of BBC1 have ever been knighted (and nine out of eighteen DGs). And, Grade was given a freaking life peerage in 2011, so hasn't exactly been snubbed by the honours system over his appalling taste. (And honestly, while I'd love Grade to be snubbed by the honours system over his appalling taste, I think I'd hate to live in a country where the Queen could decide that kind of thing on personal whim.)
Technically the Queen can decide who ought to receive a knighthood on a personal whim, as the Order of the Garter and the Order of the Thistle remain her personal prerogatives. But as you say, her having any say over the more junior orders (which are the ones that BBC bureaucrats tend to be awarded) is nonsense. I think the rumour about Grade being the only BBC Controller not to get a knighthood is just one of those stories that sounds so good we want to believe it. Not unlike Star Trek having the first interracial kiss on television (not even close).

As a variant for Star Trek: TNG, have Michael Wagner come onboard earlier than OTL and stick around. He was Co-Executive Producer only very briefly, as he apparently 1) he and Roddenberry didn't get along, and 2) he felt like an outsider among the already well-entrenched production staff. He'd already done work on a failed sci-fi show called Probe, and his co-workers on Hill Street Blues described him as having an "almost supernatural imagination." To quote from a review that speculated what a Wagner-helmed TNG would resemble...
And of course Piller was the primary force behind the creation of both DS9 and VOY IOTL, and should spinoffs happen ITTL, they might look very different. Of course that's quite a ways from where we are now...
 
What is Bob Ross up to ITTL please?
Is PBS getting more funding?
Could it be possible that He-Man is in a kidde safe version of Conan instead? Seems there was some legals regarding the whole thing about now...
Given Lorimar ended up inside Warner, OTL, could that be averted and Thundercats ends up somewhere else? Could Disney or Marvel Productions be interested in the product and its rich, largely untapped merch potential?
Bob Ross is still bringing happy little trees to the world.

PBS isn't getting any funds directly from Disney and is still underfunded by the Reagan Admin, but now that CTW is rolling in cash they have more funds that would have helped CTW to go to other things, like bringing Happy Little Trees to the world.

He-Man will come up fairly soon.

Lorimar and WB will come up. They're essentially following OTL at the moment. Fun fact: Bernie Brillstein ended up in charge of Lorimar in the late '80s IOTL.
 
Bob Ross is still bringing happy little trees to the world.

PBS isn't getting any funds directly from Disney and is still underfunded by the Reagan Admin, but now that CTW is rolling in cash they have more funds that would have helped CTW to go to other things, like bringing Happy Little Trees to the world.
Maybe bob ross ittl will have a different hairdo, it is well known that he hated that typical hairdo
 
Good news for the Disney board and CTW.

And, to be fair, Grade wasn't the only senior BBC exec who wanted Doctor Who gone in the late 1980s...
Quite true. Honestly, I'm surprised Doctor Who fans don't talk about Jonathan Powell more, since Grade was gone by the time the series was actually axed. But Grade was the most public about his dislike for the series, so he's the one fan vitriol gets focused on.
 
Henson Bio XI: Autumn in LA
Chapter 14: The War for Disney (Cont’d)
Excerpt from Jim Henson: Storyteller, an authorized biography by Jay O’Brian


The “Fall” had settled over Los Angeles, California, though Jim Henson found it hard to think of the season by that name when you could still wear short sleeves. The temperature had abated from its summer blaze down to a cool, breezy chill that teased the brief but torrential winter wet season to come. For Jim, the rainy season brought not the depression and annoyance that it was for most Angelinos, but a sense of cleansing and rejuvenation.

And after a long and challenging summer, it was certainly welcome. Not only had Disney faced down a hostile takeover attempt, but he’d been officially separated from both his wife and the company they founded together. Sure, he still technically owned the majority share of the combined company, but the small, intimate Henson Associates – HA! – was now a small cog in a much larger machine. With Jane and Heather back living in Connecticut, Jim sold the family house in Dana Point and moved into a historic seaside cottage in Laguna Beach, which he had completely refurbished and decorated in an eclectic mix of old fashioned, international, and high tech hyper-modern. It was, he thought, the perfect “bachelor pad” from which to begin this new phase in his life.

As if in complement to his new life, it was also now a new Disney as well. Jim felt a new sense of creative freedom and for the first time since he joined Disney felt truly empowered to push the limits of what Disney could be. Card and Donn were fully retired, gone from the board and the Executive Committee alike. Roy was back and in charge of Animation and openly supportive. Ron Miller fully supported him as well. And Frank Wells had assumed the Presidency and was already talking about big restructuring initiatives. Jim and Frank had gotten along well during the takeover battle. Jim had appreciated the man’s calm, polite, focused professionalism in the midst of a divided and squabbling board, a beacon of light in the midst of the darkness. If Jim was always the eye of the creative storm, then Frank had surely been the eye of a monetary one.

Jim liked Wells’ polite and even compassionate approach to the generally cold-hearted world of business management. He was certain that they’d get along swimmingly.

He was also certain that there’d be disagreements, albeit polite ones. Already, Wells was questioning the budgets for the studios, in particular animation, which was giving “poor returns”. This was an alien idea to Jim and Roy alike. How do you put a price on Snow White and the generations of magic she’d brought? Easy: the price is $3.36 a ticket or $29.95 per VHS, Jim sardonically told himself. But how do you translate the non-monetary value of a work of art to someone with an accountant’s mind? Advertising for the park? Brand recognition? Merchandise? He predicted that budget meetings were about to get more interesting.

One area where the two definitely saw eye to eye was in the need for efficiency. Neither liked the afternoon slack that took over after lunch, particularly on Thursdays and Fridays. Jim loved the job, and it struck him as strange that others did not! Since first coming to the studio, Jim had worked in ways both subtle and overt to increase productivity. Simply threatening an employee with termination wasn’t his style, and a captive artist was, in Jim’s experience, a poor artist who took shortcuts and only worked hard enough to not get fired, or worse sought revenge in small and petty ways[1].

Instead, he sought to motivate employees. He pushed for pay raises (the studio workers barely made scale!) and better benefits, and was generally frustrated by Disney management in this regard. The company that self-destructively never wanted to raise ticket prices in the parks also didn’t want to properly compensate its artists. It seemed like a simple formula to him: raise revenues and invest that in your greatest assets, the creative people of the company.

When improved compensation wasn’t an option, Jim instead looked to provide motivation through opportunity. He assumed most of the artists wanted the same thing that he did: a chance to enact their own personal vision. He used the World of Magic show as an opportunity to give bored, frustrated employees an outlet. Now, as long as it didn’t interfere with your main job, you could work on the side (and on the clock) for something that you did want to do. His straight-to-the-employees approach ran into roadblocks from angry middle managers – a position that held little value to Jim – so Soft Pitch Fridays was born. And it worked. The total number of cels created per day went up considerably as inbetweeners and ink-and-painters got right to work first thing in the morning so that they could work on the thing that they really wanted to do in the afternoon and evening, once their daily target was met.

He also looked for, and eliminated, aggravations. One day in 1983, shortly after becoming Studio President, Jim called the employees to the lot. There was a table with a cloth-shrouded object. “I have heard many complaints about a certain team member,” he began, “one who has been damaging morale with his cold, heartless, unbending mechanical demands upon you all. I’d just like to let you all know that he has been terminated from his position here.” He then pulled back the cloth to reveal the hated punch card time clock. A huge cheer rose up through the assembled crowd.

Jim hated that clock. It set a bad tone for the day in his mind as employees cursed and stressed in the Orange County traffic in a rush to punch in before they got their already paltry pay docked. Getting “off the clock”, i.e. being an employee senior enough to not need to use the punch clock, became a principle goal of employees. Card had always resisted Jim’s attempts to remove it, considering it critical to discipline and productivity. Jim saw it as the opposite: a small morale killer that knocked creative people off of their game and pitted leadership against the employees while simultaneously hurting productivity. Now it was gone.

Jim went further, pushing a flexible work schedule for employees like animators and story writers who didn’t have set filming schedules to meet. As long as you met or exceeded your production targets – and he was clear that they were “targets”, not “quotas” – Jim didn’t care when you showed up or left. Little breaks and small practical jokes were encouraged to help break up the monotony as long as the targets were met. When they weren’t, Jim pushed the idea of “friendly reminders” from managers rather than overt threats of termination. Any employee, or more often manager, that didn’t like this arrangement was offered a free letter of recommendation for their new jobs, all in the spirit of helping one find their own way in life.

He also led by example. Jim was inevitably the first person in the office and the last to leave, some days working through the night. Occasionally, incoming employees had to wake him up from whatever couch he’d fallen asleep on. As more and more employees began working increasingly odd hours, the Studio inevitably had to hire more guards and custodians as people came and left the studios pretty much 24/7, the early birds waving to the night owls on the way by.

Productivity skyrocketed, in defiance of the expectations of the traditional managers. In addition to meeting targets for production on The Black Cauldron, Basil of Baker Street was already in early production[2], five animated TV series for Saturday Mornings or the Disney Channel were in production[3], and dozens of animated Shorts in any number of styles and media were in various stages of production.

Card Walker shook his head in disbelief as the ball fields became empty and the desks and studios became full. The hippie bastard had somehow done it. Ray Watson and Frank Wells both took notice. “We need to increase his compensation,” Watson told Wells. On the down side, the increased activity hours at the studios and the number of productions, particularly the Shorts, which had negligible return on investment if any, were driving up overhead costs. Jim countered that the Shorts were bringing viewers to World of Magic, which in turn was driving Disney Channel subscriptions, movie ticket and VHS sales, merchandise, and park visits.

He also pointed out their prestige value: The Shorts were dominating the Emmys and Oscars. Just that year “Oh, Big Brother”, a retro Donald Duck Short set in the George Orwell 1984 universe[4] and visually quoting the “Der Fuhrer’s Face” Short from 1943, managed to win both awards after appearing both on World of Magic and with the 1984 re-release of Pinocchio. Jim also maintained that the Shorts were proving an excellent testing ground for concepts, techniques, and talent, calling out in particular up-and-coming animators like Tim Burton and John Lasseter and the number of spin-off series and even movies coming out of the Shorts. For the time being, the Shorts would stay in production.
As 1984 came to a close, Jim Henson, along with sons Brian and John, daughter Cheryl, and friend Brian Froud, made a whirlwind trip to Wales, Glastonbury, and Cornwall for a much-earned vacation and to attend the world premiere of The Black Cauldron. Jim had insisted that the premier happen not in LA, New York, or even London, but in Cardiff, Wales. Froud showed them around, visiting all the castles, churches, and druidic standing stone sites, including Stonehenge. They even made a special trip to Glastonbury Tor, associated by legend to King Arthur, in celebration of The Round Table Group’s victory.

The Black Cauldron received a standing ovation at its premier in the Theatr Newydd in Cardiff, Wales, and would go on to break box office records in Wales, Scotland, Ireland, Cornwall, and other Celtic-majority or Celtic-influenced places. With everyone patting him and Brian Froud on the back, Jim Henson believed, if only for a short time, that he had a true breakout hit on his hands.



- ∞ -

End of Part IV.



[1] The nude pinup hidden in The Rescuers comes to mind.

[2] It was in pre-production prior to the Point of Departure. In our timeline it became The Great Mouse Detective.

[3] Muppet Babies, Disney’s Three Musketeers, Winnie the Pooh and Friends, Figment and the Dreamfinders, and The Rescuers.

[4] You can thank “Mrs. Khan” for this idea. In her mind, “Big Brother” was to be portrayed by old archive footage of Walt on a big screen. I wish I could do that! Even fictional Ron Miller and Lilly Disney aren’t letting me get away with that one, though. Instead, Big Brother is portrayed by the go-to antagonist Pete. And yes, references to Orwell’s 1984 were so common in the actual year 1984 as to become cliché, just as we all got swamped by Back to the Future 2 references in 2015.
 
Last edited:
This sounds like a great end to the year.

However this Jim needs someone to remind him to go home, and schedule more, he needs not to work himself with no breaks. Listen to his body needs and maybe find a hobby outside of Disney?

Wales is lovely, glad they held the premier there. I was at Raglan Castle yesterday, be nice to think ITTL Jim saw it too.
 
Great update! For whatever reason I've really liked the updates focused on the man and his work at Disney, rather than the ones on the resulting product, in-universe or out. They seem more focused to me, like that's the content the Khan has been working towards and not the movie synopses he's tried to write in other people's voices. I'm fine with a couple of paragraphs for each of 'this year's releases', with a short synopsis/outline and how well it did that year. Khan can save how non-Disney studios have changed for his excellent meta-commentary episodes.

This isn't a complaint, just a friendly critique from a fan.
or worse sought revenge
Minor spelling error, btw. Damn my reflexive editing, it shows I'm invested.
 
Top