Jul 23, 2014

Weekly Muppet Wednesdays: Humphrey & Ingrid

Written by Mike Baldasare and Ryan Dosier.

HUMPHREY & INGRID

Performed by...
David Rudman (Humphrey)
Joey Mazzarino (Ingrid)

First appearance...
Humphrey - Sesame Street Season 22 (1990)
Ingrid - Sesame Street Season 25 (1994)

Most recent appearance...
Humphrey - Sesame Street Season 35: Episode 4059 (2004)
Ingrid - Sesame Street Season 32: Episode 3955 (2001)

Best known role(s)...
Doting, dopey parents of Baby Natasha; husband and wife

WHO ARE HUMPHREY & INGRID?
Humphrey and Ingrid are slow-witted but parents of Baby Natasha, they are also a happily married couple. The duo were named after Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman, stars of Casablanca. Humphrey and Ingrid worked at the Furry Arms Hotel during the "Around the Corner" seasons. Humphrey was proceeded on the show by Baby Natasha by a few seasons. It wasn't until Season 22, when Humphrey was introduced as Natasha's father. In his earliest known appearance on Sesame Street, Humphrey asked Maria to babysit Natasha while he has to go to the store.

Humphrey, Ingrid, and Baby Natasha appeared in many segments together, mostly prominent in the 1990s. Humphrey and Ingrid performed a number of songs together on Sesame Street, including "Natasha's Lullaby," which Humphrey sang to Natasha before bed and "Oh, Look What Our Baby Can Do," which Humphrey and Ingrid both sang, showcasing Natasha's many talents. A number of street stories, especially during the "Around the Corner" years, focused on Humphrey and Ingird taking care of Natasha, showing off her talents, or helping her learn new things.

When "Around the Corner" came to an end during Season 30 (1998-1999), Humphrey and Ingrid continued taking care of Natasha, but in much less frequent appearances. When Sesame Street changed its format during Season 33 (2002), they both rarely appeared in street stories while Natasha returned to being a solo character again. After 2001, Ingrid was not seen in any prominent capacity again. Humphrey most recently appeared on the show in Season 35: Episode 4059 (2004), where he reports the results of a porridge survey for Monster News.

WHY DOES SESAME STREET NEED HUMPHREY & INGRID?
Like most fan-favorite Muppet characters of Sesame Street, Humphrey, Ingrid, and Baby Natasha have been phased out of the show. It would be nice to see this loving and colorful monster family continue to make appearances in future episodes. The trio represents a loving, if silly, family relationship, which is important for kids to see.






The Muppet Mindset by Ryan Dosier, muppetmindset@gmail.com

Jul 22, 2014

Muppet Retro Reviews: Muppets Tonight, Part 4

Written by Abigail Maughan.

108-- JASON ALEXANDER
PLOT: The egos and creative preferences of Gonzo and Jason Alexander clash while they attempt to make their college musical screenplay “Bats” a reality.
GUEST STAR: Actor Jason Alexander, whose other Muppet connections include doing voices in Dinosaurs, plays off of Gonzo well. He is very good at acting irritated, and his willingness to wear weird costumes makes him a good choice for a Muppets guest star.
COMEDY: There’s a lot of humor here, from skits like “Murder on the Disoriented Express” and an exceptionally good “Pigs in Space” to dialogue in bridge segments. In my opinion, this is one of the strongest-written episodes of the first season.
MUSIC: The only musical number is the “Bats” medley, which is plenty goofy and serves its purpose as a memorable closing number.
LOWLIGHTS:
  • I find the “Muppet Bandstand” skit a little weak. The beginning and ending jokes are fine, but the dancing is uncomfortable. That is what it’s supposed to be, though, so what am I complaining about?
  • It seems odd that the guest star reverses his opinion on what makes a quality show almost immediately, after arguing with Gonzo about it the entire episode. However, it is made funnier when Gonzo also reverses his stance on the matter.
HIGHLIGHTS:
  • It’s hard to compare “Pigs in Space: Deep Dish 9” to the original, as there are only three “Deep Dish 9” sketches. The one in this episode, featuring a robot called Al-1995 Plus Tax and a cameo by Swedish supermodel Vendela, is my personal favorite.
  • The banter between Gonzo and the guest star just gets more and more absurd, and thus funnier and funnier.
    • Jason Alexander: This is exactly what you did in school! Remember that production of “Death of a Salesman” you ruined?
    • Gonzo: Well, if you’re referring to my production of “Death of a Trans-Dimensional Giant Mutant Cyborg Salesman”, that show was a hit! And it won a Pulitzer Prize!
    • Jason: It did not win a Pulitzer Prize!
    • Gonzo: Well, my mother liked it.
  • This is one of very few episodes that feature Gonzo as a central character to the plot. It’s good to see him in the spotlight for the whole episode, and I wish this had happened more frequently over the two seasons.
OTHER OBSERVATIONS:
  • It’s neither a highlight nor a lowlight, so I’ll put it here: In this episode is one of the bizarre “At the Bar” segments, which feature Polly Lobster and Clueless Morgan from Muppet Treasure Island telling bad jokes, singing, and serving drinks to an unseen patron by the name of Mr. Callahan. I am honestly not sure what I think of these skits. They’re always weird enough to keep me watching, but they’re never good or bad enough to stand out amongst the rest of the episode. 
  • Gonzo: “It’s just like you to take something classy and high-minded—and leave it that way!” It’s a funny line, but isn’t Gonzo usually convinced that his own outrageous acts are classy and high-minded? It seems like an odd thing for him to say.
MY RANKING: 4/5 Fifteen-billion gigawatt laser cannons. I’d call this one a higher than average episode, with plenty of amusing skits and comedy, a pretty strong plot and satisfying resolution.

109—WHOOPI GOLDBERG
PLOT: Miss Piggy, Andy, and Randy race from the airport to the studio for the closing number, while Whoopi Goldberg shows off.
GUEST STAR: Here is one of many Muppet projects that actress Whoopi Goldberg is a part of. I’ve noticed that Muppets Tonight always keeps the guest stars central to the plot, even a loose one like here, whereas on The Muppet Show it seemed to be optional. I’m not saying either method is better than the other, as quality entirely depends on what else the episode contains.
COMEDY: The backstage plot isn’t too uproarious, but we do get some adequate skits, such as a “People’s Court” parody and a scene with various Muppets auditioning to replace Miss Piggy. There’s nothing I’d necessarily consider comedy gold, but it’s all pleasant enough.
MUSIC: We have one of the most notable Muppets Tonight musical numbers here, in the form of Kermit’s cover of The Talking Heads’ “Once in a Lifetime,” which is a rather impressive yet bizarre music video. Whoopi Goldberg also attempts to teach some uncooperative rats how to play reggae music, and, for the second time in Muppet history, the finale is a glitzy duet of “Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend” by Miss Piggy and the guest star.
LOWLIGHTS:
  • You know, I honestly can’t think of anything too awful about this one. We have some so-so acts, like a “Fairyland PD,” a brief Big Mean Carl segment, and even Whoopi’s parade of novelty acts, but nothing I’d consider a lowlight. 
HIGHLIGHTS:
  • Speaking of “Fairyland PD”, the UK spot featuring Bobo and Clifford as inept detectives solving fairy tale cases, I think the one in this episode, “Goldi Lock-Up”, is the funniest of the four.
  • The totally sincere way both Whoopi Goldberg and Rizzo announce their plans to fly makes me laugh.
    • Whoopi Goldberg: Ladies and gentlemen… I will now do something never performed by any human being. I… will fly! 
    • Rizzo: Uh, excuse me, Whoopi, but you have a phone call over there. It’s Miss Piggy.
    • Whoopi: Oh. Cover me! *leaves*
    • Rizzo: But I… Uh… Ladies and gentlemen, I will now do something never before performed by any rat. I… will fly.
  • The bloopers to this episode feature an impromptu fistfight amongst Clifford, Johnny, Sal, and Rizzo, and it is delightful.
OTHER OBSERVATIONS:
  • Who is driving the limousine when Andy, Randy, and Piggy are all in the back seat?
  • Why isn’t Piggy driving from the beginning? She’s aware of her nephews’ incompetence.
  • If the theater is only three blocks away, as Piggy says, why couldn’t she just walk there?
MY RANKING: 3/5 Reggae Rodents. I wouldn’t say there’s anything overly special or memorable on whole about this one, but there’s really nothing wrong with it.

110—MARTIN SHORT
PLOT: After getting flattened in the elevator, Martin Short becomes obsessed with eating Johnny Fiama’s mother’s pasta sauce.
GUEST STAR: Mainly, I find the guest star incredibly off-putting and unfunny. Comedian Martin Short’s wild style of comedy is not one that I personally love, and thus this episode is not one that I personally love. However, the skits are written to his strengths, and I can’t think of any other Muppets Tonight guest star who this episode’s plot would have worked for. It just doesn’t appeal to me.
COMEDY: The humor features a lot of puns from Rizzo and odd antics from the guest star. We do, however, get some decent skits such as “E-I-E-I-O-R,” an exceptionally good “Swift Wits,” and Beaker getting attacked by Sal Minella.
MUSIC: The guest star was limited to just one number: “Steppin’ Out with My Baby”, sung in a weird voice by Martin Short wearing a fat suit. Thankfully, there’s a cute background chorus of penguins for the second episode in a row.
LOWLIGHTS:
  • I find Piggy’s disgust funny, but the skit featuring Martin Short’s SCTV character Ed Grimley is too weird for me. And, yes, I do realize that “too weird” is not the best excuse for a Muppet fan to give.
  • Fat Martin Short + Fat Clifford = disturbing.
HIGHLIGHTS: 
  • Rizzo’s term “nuttier than a fruitcake” is a phrase I may or may not occasionally use.
  • I really wish we’d seen more of “E-I-E-I-O-R” than just two instances. I think it’s really quite funny, reminiscent of “Veterinarian’s Hospital” but unique enough to stand out on its own.
  • Okay, I actually do like the “Flippers” parody skit. Aside from it being just plain funny, it’s probably because Martin Short is not dancing and/or shouting like a crazy person. 
OTHER OBSERVATIONS:
  • It’s hard to believe that Brian Henson still has working vocal chords after doing Sal’s manic shouting on this show. 
MY RANKING: 1 out of 5 pots of sauce. I just don’t like the guest star, but I bet a fan of his would appreciate this episode more than I do.

Well, that brings us to the end of the first season! We’ll begin season two next week, but in the meantime, I’m curious: what do you think is the best episode of Season 1? Let us know in the poll below!


What is Your Favorite Episode of Muppets Tonight Season 1?
101-Michelle Pfeiffer
102-Garth Brooks
103-Billy Crystal
104-John Goodman
105-Cindy Crawford
106-Tony Bennett
107-Sandra Bullock
108-Jason Alexander
109-Whoopi Goldberg
110-Martin Short
Poll Maker






The Muppet Mindset by Ryan Dosier, muppetmindset@gmail.com

Jul 21, 2014

Muppet Retro Reviews: The Muppet Movie

Today's article, written by our friend Mitchell Stein, was pulled from our sister site The Mickey Mindset in a cross-promotional effort. Check out the site for a dose of Disney to go with your Muppet meal!
Mitchell Stein -  Being a major Muppet fan, The Muppet Movie is my favorite above all the other ones. The movie is funny, heartfelt and inspiring and gives us a nice backstory (sort of) to how the Muppets approximately got started.

Our story begins from the first strum of Kermit’s banjo to the music of "Rainbow Connection," a truly beautiful song. For me, the song is truly about finding yourself and living your dream and really sets the tone for the rest of the movie. When a Hollywood agent named Bernie (Dom Deluise) meets Kermit in the swamp, he convinces him to audition in Hollywood and possibly make millions of people happy. Kermit declines the fame and fortune, but upon hearing he could have the chance to make millions of people happy, he decides to go and audition. This is one of the reasons why I love Kermit. The only thing he cares about is everyone else and how they would feel. He cares about making the audience happy when not even thinking about his own fortune, unlike a certain pig out there.

Along the way Kermit meets up with Fozzie Bear, Gonzo and Camilla, Miss Piggy, Rowlf the Dog, and the Electric Mayhem who decide to join him on his adventure to become rich and famous. Kermit catches the attention of Doc Hopper (brilliantly played by Charles Durning) who wants to use Kermit as his mascot to sell his Frog Legs. He’s so convinced about Kermit and so overshadowed by his own ambitions that he even goes as far as kidnapping him, hiring an evil scientist and a frog killer to convince Kermit to star in his commercials.

The music in the movie is always completely catchy, upbeat, mellow and profitable (I’ve had "Can You Picture" That stuck in my head all day). The "Rainbow Connection" was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Song, but lost to “It Goes Like it Goes” from Norma Rae, it’s a true shame, as "Rainbow Connection" was a much deeper and meaningful song than the others. "I’m Going to Go Back There Someday" is easily one of the saddest songs in filmmaking history, which is sung by Gonzo when all hope is lost, and it seems that the Muppets will never be able to accomplish their dreams. "I Hope That Something Better Comes Along" is catchy and fun as is "Movin’ Right Along," which is probably one of my favorite Muppet songs ever.

With this being the first Muppet film I have to say they really started things off with a bang! The puppetry is eye-popping and way ahead of its time. Fozzie and Kermit dancing on-stage creates is incredibly eye-popping and sets the stage for an entire film where you will completely forget the characters are even puppets, and this was way before the days of CG animation.

In "Rainbow Connection," Kermit sits on a log in the swamp playing his banjo. Many people think this film is fake and filmed on a soundstage but in fact was actually filmed on location. Jim Henson would bend down into a small tank filled with oxygen with two spots to control Kermit and his banjo. It was extremely uncomfortable, but the finished project was totally worth it.

The cast of cameos lineup is truly terrific and has a great and hilarious lineup of celebrities including many popular names of the decade such as Edgar Bergen and Charlie McCarthy, Milton Berle, Steve Martin, Cloris Leachman, Mel Brooks, Madeline Kahn, Orson Welles, Bob Hope, Big Bird(!) and so many more. I truly love every cameo in this movie as each one is more memorable than the other. Some remain on-screen for as little as ten seconds, but their lines are quick and memorable and will always have a spot in Muppet history.

I truly love this movie. It’s the beginning of Muppets on the big-screen and began many more Muppet films to come. It’s the seed that grew into an entire big screen franchise and played predecessor seven other great Muppet films. It’s a lot of fun, has a lot of heart, depth and great story. I love this film and it still remains of my absolute favorites.






The Muppet Mindset by Ryan Dosier, muppetmindset@gmail.com

Jul 18, 2014

News Update: July 18, 2014

JULY 18, 2014

Since we didn't do a News Update last week, we missed out on sharing the video of Kermit the Frog and Miss Piggy on PBS's A Capitol Fourth, which aired live on 4th of July. The performance, which saw Kermit and Piggy singing "This Land is Your Land" and Kermit performing "Rainbow Connection," was positively delightful. Steve Whitmire's enthusiasm with Kermit during both songs is infectious and wonderful. Also Tom Bergeron, Fozzie, and Animal are there, and great as ever. (Special thanks to our friend Chris Stulz for making and sharing the video.)



Archaia Comics are heading back down to Fraggle Rock with a new series of Fraggle stories. The series will be written by Kate Leth and illustrated by Jake Myler. The book is titled Fraggle Rock: Journey to the Everspring and according to Nerdist it will feature the beloved Fraggles we know as well as some new characters. Journey to the Everspring is divided into four parts, with the first issue released on October 8th. Here's hoping Archaia can capture the excellence of their first Fraggle Rock series once again!

The San Diego Comic Con is coming up next weekend, and Sesame Street is heading out for a panel! The panel is on Sunday, July 27 at 10:15am in Room 6A. The impeccable, huge Muppet fan Chris Hardwick (Nerdist) will be moderating the panel, which includes Muppet performers Eric JacobsonJoey Mazzarino (also head writer and director), and David Rudman, as well as executive producer Carol-Lynn Parente. During the panel, they'll debut a new Season 45 episode called "Numeric Con," a parody of Comic Con itself. They'll also be premiering a new segment of the fantastic "Cookie's Crumpy Pictures" series called "Star S'mores." Color me happy (and fuzzy, and blue).

The Jim Henson Company is also going to Comic Con with a panel of their own, titled "The Jim Henson Company: Upcoming Comics with Archaia," so there will clearly be a lot of discussion of Fraggle Rock, Labyrinth, The Dark Crystal, and The Musical Monsters of Turkey Hollow comic books. The panel will be held July 25th at 6:00pm in Room 32AB. Panelists for the Henson Company include Jeff Stokely (illustrator for The Storyteller: Witches), Jake Myler (illustrator for Fraggle Rock), Ian Herring (colorist for Tale of Sand), and Shane-Michael Vidaurri (writer and illustrator for The Storyteller: Witches). Special thanks to ToughPigs for this info!

Once again, the rumor that the Muppets are heading to Broadway with a brand new original musical has resurfaced. This time, The New York Post is reporting on it. Nothing new comes to light in this article, and really it adds nothing more to the table that we haven't known for awhile now, but it's nice to see it still being talked about.






The Muppet Mindset by Ryan Dosier, muppetmindset@gmail.com