Lisa Henson, Jim Henson’s daughter, was working on an archiving project when she discovered something big: the treatment for an unproduced Thanksgiving special — and the puppets that would star in said special — that Jim and his writing partner, Jerry Juhl, created back in 1968. And now, that special, titled Jim Henson’s Turkey Hollow, is heading to Lifetime.
Jim Henson’s Turkey Hollow follows a family who goes on a hunt for a Bigfoot-like creature called the Howling Hoodoo during a visit to the house of their kooky aunt (played by Last Man on Earth’s Mary Steenburgen). The Howling Hoodoo itself is difficult to find, but they come across some other monsters in the woods that they didn’t even know they were looking for.
Lisa, who is executive producing, was first introduced to these monsters in the ’60s when her dad enlisted her and her sister’s help for a photo session involving the puppets. By the time she rediscovered them as an adult, however, they were in poor condition and had to be remade. The new ones are still in the same “spirit of the original characters,” Lisa tells EW, but are a bit more high-tech: The updated versions have blinking eyes and animatronic components.
Sound whimsical? It is — but Better Off Ted’s Jay Harrington, who plays the kids’ dad, brings a dose of rationality to the special. “He’s grounded in reality and he keeps bringing it back to the normal person’s point of view, like, ‘Really? Monsters in the woods?'” Lisa laughs. “It’s good to have that adult skeptic.”
Between the suspicious adults and fantastical monsters, Lisa hopes Jim Henson’s Turkey Hollow becomes a Thanksgiving special for the ages. “When faced with adversity, a family can find magic and transformation in unexpected places and unexpected ways,” she says. “At the end of it, I’d like for people to feel that it was a good family experience to watch it together and to see a movie about a family having an adventure together.”
Jim Henson’s Turkey Hollow premieres Nov. 21 at 8 p.m. ET on Lifetime.