Big Bag is a live-action/puppet television program targeted at preschool viewers that was produced by the Children's Television Workshop (now known as Sesame Workshop), with the puppet characters made by The Jim Henson Company. It aired from 1996 to 1998 on Cartoon Network, alongside another preschool show called Small World. There were also localized versions for Canal J in France and Yorkshire Television in the UK.
The principal Muppet character was Chelli, a puppet dog who is joined by his best friend Bag. They live with their human friend Molly. Also on the show was Pig, Bird, Duck, and Rabbit. Lyle the Sock and Argyle McSock who often interact with the characters. In 1997, a humanoid puppet character called Sofie joined the cast.
The first season also featured frequent interaction with a large cast of human regulars, including an assortment of child friends (notably Kim), and colorful locals including Martha, Bernard, Trudy, Josie, Doc Furrball, and Waldo.
- Chelli (performed by Joey Mazzarino) - A patchwork dog who is the main puppet character of the series. In "Elmo's Visit," it is revealed the Chelli is a pen pal of Elmo. He was designed by Ed Eyth and built by Rollie Krewson.
- Bag (performed by Rickey Boyd) - A bag who is Chelli's best friend.
- Molly (played by Selena Nelson) - A female human that Chelli and Bag live with.
- Argyle and Lyle (performed by Rickey Boyd and Joey Mazzarino) - Two socks that are known for telling knock knock jokes (though Lyle usually refers to as "sock-sock jokes"). When not hanging out in the store's sock bin, they can be found in a laundry hamper or the storeroom.
- Sofie (performed by Alice Dinnean) - A girl who joins the cast in Season Two.
Additional puppets were performed by Jeff Conover, James Andrew Stone, and Matt Vogel.
- Molly (portrayed by Selena Nelson) - A female human that Chelli and Bag live with.
- Kim (played by Tess Ludwick) - A human girl who is a friend of Chelli and Bag.
- Joey (played by Adrian Smith) - A human boy who is a friend of Chelli and Bag.
- Bernard (played by Cullen Douglas) - A crossing guard who would ask the kids at home if they had their telescope or hat as preludes to the "Troubles the Cat" and "Samuel and Nina" segments.
- Trudy (played by Clare Sera) - An exercise instructor.
- Martha (played by Clare Sera) - A shy woman.
- Josie (played by Clare Sera) - A female mail carrier.
- Doc Furrball (played by Cullen Douglas) - A veterinarian.
- Waldo Muckle (played by Cullen Douglas) - An egotistic inventor and handyman. In "One Little Lie," it is revealed that Waldo doesn't swim, but does snorkeling.
The scenes with Chelli and friends served as frames for a variety of individual animated segments, which were also rotated between seasons. As opposed to the shorter clips on Sesame Street, the animated segments ran approximately 3 to 8 minutes each, and were produced by various studios in New York City, Australia, and Europe, often with consultation from CTW and Cartoon Network (Big Bag aired back to back with Small World, another preschool series which showcased different international cartoons). The shorts included:
- Troubles the Cat - This is the first totally original cartoon based on Latino characters to air in the United States. It was developed for television by Nina Elias-Bamberger, Jim Martin, Marie Poe, Luis Santeiro, and Nina Shelton. The group of kids includes Marina, a six-year-old Latina, and her multicultural friends. Marina's cat Troubles (voiced by María Conchita Alonso) uses a "troublescope" to sniff out problems that develop in the group's relationships. Troubles invites home viewers to do the same, using their cardboard tubes as troublescopes "to see what the kids are really thinking and feeling". 24 episodes were made.
- William's Wish Wellingtons - William's magic boots called Wellingtons make any wish come true. They're a wonderful tool to solve problems with if he can only figure out the right thing to wish for. Each story, whether it's about looking for buried treasure or William wishing himself invisible at his sister's wedding, sparks the imagination of viewers. 13 out of 26 episodes made were aired.
- Slim Pig - A two-dimensional pig who lives in a three-dimensional world named Slim Pig (voiced by James Spector) is a uniquely proportioned animal who can slide between the barriers that surround his farm. Slim Pig demonstrates that it can be fun to explore and discover new things. Fellow animals admire Slim for his ability and desire to venture beyond their world. 13 episodes were made.
- Koki - In this claymation segment, a four-year-old chick named Koki has a life similar to that of a preschool child. Koki is learning new responsibilities while adapting to relationships with her family and friends. Koki's younger sibling, an egg, represents a new challenge for her. 13 episodes were made.
- Tobias Totz and his Lion - Centered around the relationship between two friends: a man named Tobias and a not-so-ferocious lion. Tobias is a retired zookeeper who is frequently asked to return to the zoo and solve problems. These shorts explores alternative solutions to difficult situations. 13 out of 25 episodes made were aired.
- Samuel and Nina - A dog alter-ego of Charlie Chaplin named Samuel (voiced by Allen Enlow) and a prudent, down-to-earth squirrel named Nina (voiced by Fran Brill) embark on adventures and help humans and creatures in distress by using their imagination. Samuel shapes his hat into a creative piece of apparel, appropriate for his role in each crisis, and prompts viewers to do the same. 13 episodes were made.
In the second season, every segment except Troubles the Cat and Koki were removed. A new segment was added:
- Ace and Avery - This segment focused on a bespectacled boy Ace and his raccoon sidekick Avery (voiced by Kevin Clash). This segment was the most likely to incorporate craft elements from the main storyline. 13 episodes were made.
Season 2 (Revival)
- Explore with Us! (Key, Key, Where Can You Be?) - 1997
- Share with Us! (My Crayons, My Crayons) - 1997
- Imagine with Us! (The Imaginary Treasure) - 1997
- Healthy with Us! (The Apple Corps) - 1997
- Play with Us! (Bag O'Tricks) - 1998
- Dance with Us! (Sock Hop and The Birthday Blah) - 1998
- Sing with Us! - 1998
- Selena Nelson - Molly
- Cullen Douglas - Bernard the Crossing Guard, Doc Hairrball, Waldo Muckle
- Clare Sera - Josie the Mail Lady, Martha, Trudy the Exercise Instructor
- Tessa Ludwick - Kim
- Jack Mountford - Joey (Season 1)
- Mary-Kate Olsen - Lisa
- Ashley Olsen - Kelly
- Adrian Smith - Joey
- Ashley Jones - Neighborhood Kid
- Jamie Ryan - Neighborhood Kid
- Rickey Boyd - Bag, Argyle McSock
- Alice Dinnean - Sofie
- Joey Mazzarino - Chelli, Lyle the Sock
- Kevin Clash - Elmo (ep. 19)
- María Conchita Alonso - Troubles the Cat
- Fran Brill - Nina
- Ashley Carin - Sarah ("Troubles the Cat" segments)
- Kevin Clash - Avery
- Allen Enlow - Samuel
- Ashleigh Ball - Mouse ("Slim Pig" segments)
- Holly Bobo - Little Owl ("Slim Pig" segments)
- Pam Lewis - Little Chick ("Slim Pig" segments)
- Andrew Sachs - Narrator ("William's Wish Wellingtons" segments)
- James Spector - Slim Pig/Ace