Big Bag (partially found Cartoon Network live-action/animated/puppet series; 1996-1998)
Big Bag was a relatively short-lived preschool TV series that aired on Cartoon Network from 1996 to 1998, co-produced by Turner and the Children's Television Workshop, and created by Nina Elias-Bamberger. Notable for being Cartoon Network's first live-action series (preceding its infamous CN Real block that would debut on the channel over a decade later), the series combined live-action stories featuring humans and Muppet characters with various animated cartoons (very similar to CTW's flagship series Sesame Street.) Also unique for Cartoon Network, it originally was aired as an hour-long program without commercial breaks during its' first season. For the second season, it was reduced to a half-hour program (but still without commercials.) The show was taped at the Disney-MGM Studios Park in Orlando, Florida.
The premise of the show featured human cast member Molly, and her Muppet friends Chelli (a patchwork dog performed by Joey Mazzarino) and Bag (a sentient cloth tote bag whose gender is inconsistent, performed by Rickey Boyd) whom own and live in a general store. Working with them are two anthropomorphic socks, Lyle (also performed by Mazzarino) and Argyle (also performed by Boyd), whom usually work in the store's stockroom and hang out in the sock bin, with Lyle often telling Argyle knock-knock jokes (substituting "knock-knock" with "sock-sock.") In the first season, local residents that often appeared included Chelli's human kid friends Kim and Joey, and a group of adult villagers including the shy Martha, mail carrier Josie, exercise instructor Trudy, wacky inventor Waldo, crossing guard Bernard, and veterinarian Dr. Furrball. All of these supporting characters were dropped after the first season, and the show's second season introduced a new humanoid Muppet girl, Sofie. Various cartoon short series (referred to as "shorties") was presented on the program, often coming from different parts of the world, including some co-produced with CTW for the series. Animated segments included Troubles the Cat, Koki, Willam's Wish Wellingtons, Slim Pig, Tobias Totz and His Lion, Samuel and Nina (the latter four only appearing in the first season) and Ace and Avery (this one exclusive to the second season.) Also in the first season, a "Big Bag Beat" music video would play halfway through the episode, which would encourage kids to get up and dance or play along.
The show was also noted for its' intended interactivity to viewing children. Kids watching the series were encouraged to watch it with a bag containing a pair of socks, two spoons, a hat, and a cardboard tube. The characters in the live-action portions and Troubles the Cat would cue the viewing audience to take one of the items from the bag and use it (such as using the cardboard tube as a "Troublescope" in the Troubles cartoons.) It would also teach important life lessons such as cooperation, honesty, sharing, respect, persistence, use of imagination, and friendship. The show also won the Parent's Choice Silver Medal after its' first season.
One famous episode was in the second season when Elmo of Sesame Street came to visit Chelli, revealing they were pen-pals.
The show originally aired on Cartoon Network on Sunday mornings beginning in June 1996. In early 1998, the second season began, when the show was cut down to a half-hour and airing on weekday mornings (reruns of first season episodes were also edited down to a half-hour), before finally being canceled in September 1998, and ended up in reruns on very early Sunday mornings (usually at 5:30 or 6:00 AM Eastern) until late 2000, and has never been rerun since. Only five episodes (three from the first season, and two from the second season) were officially released on VHS during the show's run, along with an additional video, "Sing With Us," which compiled all of the "Big Bag Beat" musical segments. These videos have since gone out of print.
A couple of international co-productions were also produced, such as the French Sacatruc, and a UK version.
In 2009, the Big Bag episodes released on home video, which were uploaded on YouTube in their entirety by a YouTube user known as "BigBag9". Later on, all the "Big Bag Beat" segments were uploaded (in the form of the "Sing With Us" video) and any known footage of the show the owner could obtain, including partial episodes. Additionally, on YouTube, all of the individual Koki and Tobias Totz and His Lion segments were uploaded, along with several Troubles the Cat shorts. The rest of the show is currently considered lost.