Puppets may kill,
but they sure are cute
By Christopher Hodge
|IT WASN'T ME, IT WAS THE PUPPETS! Puppets
Who Kill producer John Pattison (left) and director Alex Thompson
(right) share a moment behind bars.
You'd better watch
your back because you never know when puppets may kill.
Premiering Oct. 11 on the Comedy Network, Puppets Who Kill promises to
be more than just another cutesy puppet show.
Originally inspired by the one man theatrical show created by John Pattison,
Puppets came into its own during the 1995 Toronto Fringe Festival.
"The show was about a puppeteer trying do a show while his puppets
were trying to kill him," says Pattison. "The puppets were trying
to kill [him] to collect the insurance money."
Due to the overwhelming popularity of the show, Pattison got the nod from
the Comedy Network to have the concept developed into an original comedy
"I got a lot of offers," says Pattison. "Most just wanted
to buy the idea and get rid of me. I didn't want to, though; I wanted
to be involved. The Comedy Network offered me creative freedom, and let
me do whatever I wanted to."
Puppets is a dark comedy that follows the exploits of four socially inept
puppets and one poor, unfortunate social worker.
There's Buttons, the highly sexual, adorable little bear; Bill, the serial
killing ventriloquist's dummy whose previous 58 partners all suffered
from fatal "accidents"; Rocko, the rough and tumble, chain-smoking
dog who suffers from anger management issues; and Cuddles, a "comfort
doll" used by psychologists to treat patients.
Also featured is the former head writer of Kids In The Hall (Dan Redican),
who plays the unfortunate social worker charged with the responsibility
of rehabilitating the vicious felt demons back into society.
"Puppets are often seen as children's entertainment," says Pattison.
"We are used to seeing them on shows like Mr. Dress Up and The Friendly
Giant. I want to blow away those preconceptions, to play with people's
Puppets toys with some very delicate issues which would probably get a
show populated by humans into a lot of trouble.
"Puppets can say things that no one else can," says Pattison.
"They have the ability to be a little bit more out on the edge than
Pattison has spent many years in the field of puppetry. His résumé reads
like a rap sheet and dates all the way back to his university days here
"I worked with Rick McGhie," says Pattison. "We did a comedy
puppet act in the Elbow Room that was fairly popular. When me and Rick
worked together, the line for [the show] would go all the way down the
While the Elbow Room (a bar then located on the lower level of the University
Community Centre) may no longer exist, Pattison's love of puppetry still
During the mid-'80s, Pattison also had the opportunity to work on the
popular kids show Fraggle Rock with Jim Henson, the legendary creator
of Sesame Street and The Muppet Show.
"Jim Henson wanted to appeal to kids," says Pattison. "He
wanted to promote the idea of peace in the world."
While Sesame Street would eventually become synonymous with the idea of
family television, Pattison also points out, "the Muppets in the
'60s were way more edgy than they are today."
"[Sesame Street had] some really far out stuff back then. It was
very avant-garde, and not considered part of the mainstream," he
Pattison's own experience working with Henson on Fraggle Rock turned out
to be an amazing opportunity to hone his skills as a puppeteer.
"I wrote an episode called 'The Wizard of Fraggle Rock'," says
Pattison, who was one of only 11 Canadians fortunate enough to be hired
to work on the show.
"I did a lead character called Begooney, as well as the assistant
for the world's oldest Fraggle and lots of Doozers as well," he says.
Puppets Who Kill premiers on the Comedy Network on Oct. 11 at 10 p.m..