The Best Episodes of Jim Henson's The Storyteller
Last Updated: May 23, 2019
"When people told themselves their past with stories, explained their present with stories, foretold the future with stories, the best place by the fire was kept for the storyteller." The Storyteller, shown in 1988, starred John Hurt as the Storyteller and with the help of Jim Henson's Workshop of muppets, actors, voices and costumes as well as visual effects, brought a new dimension to television. Nine stories were shown in this series, which was followed a few years later by Jim Henson's The Storyteller: Greek Myths. This series was to feature some of Britain's finest actors of the time and some who would propel themselves into the international limelight within the next few years. Sean Bean, Jane Horrocks, Brenda Blethyn, Dawn French, Jennifer Saunders, Joely Richardson, Bob Peck, Alison Doody, Gabrielle Anwar, Jonathan Pryce and Miranda Richardson all appeared during the show's short run. The real stars of each episode, however, are The Storyteller and his dog, voi
#1 - The Soldier and Death
Season 1 - Episode 1
From an early Russian folk tale. A soldier returns from 20 years of war with nothing but three biscuits in his sack. Soon he must outwit devils, save a kingdom, and try to outwit death.
#2 - A Story Short
Season 1 - Episode 4
From an early Celtic folk tale. This time, the story is about The Storyteller himself. Some time in his past, the Storyteller tells how he was forced to once beg for his supper. He starts with making a soup for a cook and another beggar using a stone. The cook that they come across lets them try, he's unbelieving and wants to see the soup made from a stone himself. So the Storyteller begins and asks for salt, which the cooks give, then stock, green, potatoes - until a soup is ready. When the truth finally dawns on the cook the Storyteller is brought in front of the king. His punishment is to tell the king a story every night for a year at the price of a golden crown per story. Miss one story, then the cook gets to boil the Storyteller. So time passes, and the Storyteller tells his stories, counts his money, cuddles with his new wife. Then on the last day, he can't think of a story and his mind is blank.
#4 - The Three Ravens
Season 1 - Episode 6
From an early German folk tale. When the queen dies, a witch plans to ensnare the king. Placing a spell on him they plan to marry. She curses the king's children, three boys and a daughter, they stand in her way of power. But the queen tries to rid herself of her rivals and the king, afraid for his children, shows a place of safety and secrecy for them. But the queen, catches the 3 princes and turns them into ravens and the princess runs for her life. Her brothers, now as ravens tell her that she must not speak for 3 years, 3 months, 3 weeks and 3 days to break the curse. Not a word and not a note. Time passes and a prince comes by, still she does not speak and eventually they plan to marry and he takes her back to his home. There, a king greets them and so does his new wife - the witch! But the princess cannot speak. They have a child, but she still doesn't speak. The baby disappears and still she doesn't speak. Another baby is born and this one disappears.
#5 - The Luck Child
Season 1 - Episode 3
From an early Russian folk tale. A cruel king hears of the birth of the 7th son of the 7th son and of a prophecy has it that this child will grow up to become king of his kingdom. The cruel king decides to kill this 'Luck Child', and throwing the child and Chancellor into the sea, so ends the prophecy. But this is the Luck Child and he survives. Sixteen years later, the king discovers the Luck Child has survived and plots to kill him again. He sends 'Lucky' off to the palace with a letter that has his execution in it; in the forest, Lucky meets the 'Little Man' who drugs him and reads the letter, and the Little Man proceeds to forge new orders. So when the king gets back, instead of Lucky being executed he has instead married the princess. The King quickly says that the marriage can only be when he has the golden feather from the Griffin's back, a man-eating monster.
#6 - Hans My Hedgehog
Season 1 - Episode 5
From an early German folk tale. A farmer's wife drives her husband mad with her desperate measures to have a baby. On the advice of the village Midwife, she tries sleeping upside down, bathing in nettles and so on. She wants a baby so badly that she doesn't care what she gets, even a hedgehog. That, of course, is she gets: a baby covered in quills, as soft as feathers. His mother calls him 'Hans My Hedgehog' and she is the only one to love him. The farmer grows to hate him, people laugh at him and children call him names, like 'Grovelhog'. Finally, Hans asks his father for a saddle for his rooster (which is the size of a small horse), so that Hans can leave for a place where he can't hurt anyone and where no one can hurt him. Twenty years later, a king gets lost in a dark forest. Coming to a strange palace he asks the owner, the now grown Grovelhog, for food and a place to sleep. The king wants to reward his host, and asks him to name the gift he desires.
#7 - The True Bride
Season 1 - Episode 9
From an early German folk tale. A troll had a daughter, but she left straight off. So the troll took another to replace her to wait on him hand and foot. Her name is Anja and she has no father and she has no mother, so the troll is her other. Trolls are always contradicting themselves and this one used a stick and Anja gets that stick across her back frequently. This troll sets Anja an impossible task of plucking 20 pounds feathers and placing them into sacks without a single one escaping. So Anja tries and cannot do it and thinks if there is anyone who can help her. From her thoughts a lion appears and does the task for her. Shocked, the troll gives her another task to empty a pond with a spoon full of holes. So the lion comes and drinks it dry. Now the troll tells her to build a palace before the end of the day. The lion puts Anja to sleep and when the troll kicks her awake, a palace is there.
#8 - Sapsorrow
Season 1 - Episode 7
A king has three daughters, two bad and one good, the good daughter has many friends in the animal friends that hide in her pockets, under her bed and in her room. As there is no queen and by tradition the king cannot marry until a special ring is worn. All come to try and none can fit the unusual ring. The two bad daughters, fearing a new step-mother will get their inheritance, decide to try the ring themselves to stop their father from ever marrying. The youngest, good daughter comes along and when their father turns up hides the ring on her finger - her ring finger and it fits. She cannot marry her father, but she cannot ignore the law. Locked in her room, the princess says she will not marry until a dress, a special dress is made; this will take time and meanwhile she asks her animal friends to help her as she hatches a plan. Then another dress has to be found for wedding feast, but a third is needed for the church.
#9 - Theseus and the Minotaur
Season 2 - Episode 1
With the help of a beautiful princess, Theseus tracks down the man-eating Minotaur - half-man, half-bull - to prove his courage and loyalty. A fight to the death ensues, and a shocking secret emerges.
#10 - Perseus and the Gorgon
Season 2 - Episode 2
When the evil king threatens Perseus' mother, he must bring back the head of Medusa, whose piercing eyes will turn anyone who looks upon her to stone. Will the help of the gods be enough to aid in this seemingly impossible task?
#11 - The Heartless Giant
Season 1 - Episode 8
From an early German folk tale. A heartless giant who terrorizes the land is caught by the good king and imprisoned. Many years pass and the youngest prince, Leo, goes to the place where he is not supposed to and finds befriends the giant. Now the giant plots and plans. Using Leo, the heartless giant gets him to get the keys to his chains. The giant is free and the rampaging begins again. Leo's older brother goes to find the giant and never comes back. Then his other older brother goes and is never heard of again. Then Leo goes in search of the giant. On his way, he helps an injured bird, a beached salmon and a starving wolf - where the wolf takes him to a house with stone statues of people, the giant's handiwork. The giant takes him in as a servant. As time passes, Leo finds why the giant has no heart and where it is, or where the giant says it is; until the giant finally reveals the truth, a cryptic truth.
#12 - Orpheus and Eurydice
Season 2 - Episode 3
The great musician Orpheus vows to bring back the soul of his beloved Eurydice from the depths of Hades. But the task he must complete to reunite with his love turns out to be as tortuous as the fate he will have to endure.
#13 - Daedalus and Icarus
Season 2 - Episode 4
Daedalus, one of the greatest inventors of ancient Greece, and his son Icarus are betrayed by cruel King Minos and must flee for their lives. To escape, Daedalus creates wings so they can fly to safety. But, will the young Icarus heed his father's instructions or will their dreams melt away?