Aug 1, 2014

News Update: August 1, 2014

AUGUST 1, 2014

Disney has been fast and loose in releasing previews of the Muppets Most Wanted Blu-ray Bonus Features. Last week, we got previews of Ricky Gervais' bloopers and Rizzo's letter to the filmmakers. This week, we get to see the entirety of the Statler and Waldorf Cut of the film. Check it out below!




Even more bonus features were shown off this week, with a preview of Tina Fey in the Muppets Most Wanted Blooper Reel. Watch the hilarity below!




According to sources, It's a Very Merry Muppet Christmas Movie is being released on Blu-ray on October 7th. The release is already available for pre-order on Amazon, but no details about bonus features, other than general "deleted scenes" and "bloopers." Presumably, these features will be exactly the same as the DVD release of the TV movie from a few years ago. It should also be noted that this release comes from NBC-Universal, not Disney, since NBC-U owns the rights to the TV movie.

This week, an enterprising Muppet fan, whose daughter is too young to go to San Diego Comic Con decided to bring Comic Con to her, by creating and performing his own panel featuring Kermit the Frog and Fozzie Bear. The picture is below, but be warned, you may explode from cuteness. (Thanks to our friends at ToughPigs.com for finding this amazing picture!)
Disney Videos Online has released a special Disney Channel segment featuring Kermit and Constantine. The segment, "10 in 60" challenges the two frogs to answer ten questions in 60 seconds or less. Check out the video below!



Disney has announced an upcoming new web series starring the Muppets. "Disney Drive-On with The Muppets" stars Walter and Pepe as they work on the Disney Studios lot. Apparently, six episodes of the series will be released very soon. According to our friend Peter Linz, these segments were filmed nearly two years ago, so it's fantastic that they've finally been released. The first full episode has been released and you can watch it right here, right now! UPDATE: The second episode can be watched on Disney Movies Anywhere!









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

Jul 31, 2014

45 Seasons of Sunny Days

Earlier this week, Sesame Street released a number of videos promoting it's legendary and groundbreaking 45th Season. You can watch every one of the new videos below!

The Sizzle Reel for Season 45 features a minute jam-packed with celebrities, Muppets, and Cookie Monster parodies.



"Numeric Con" is one of the upcoming Street Stories for Season 45, a parody of Comic Con and other fan conventions. This episode was actually shown in its entirety at Comic Con last weekend. And if you look closely, you'll see ToughPigs.com's Joe Hennes at the very end of the clip!



In one of the full clips released, we see First Lady Michelle Obama return to Sesame Street, this time hanging out with furry, lovable Grover in this wonderful video.



The most surprising and impressive video released is "How Bert Rolls," which features Bert riding a bike and singing a fantastic song. The puppetry implemented in this video is majorly impressive.



Another full clip sees actor Taye Diggs helping Elmo imagine going for a drive. They sing the classic Sesame tune "Let's Go Driving."



A short preview of one of the new "Elmo: The Musical" segments, this one spotlighting Tomatoes!



A beautiful, wonderful, instant-classic song called "Color of Me."



So there you have it! We'll be on the lookout for more Sesame Street Season 45 updates as they come! The new season premieres on PBS on September 15th!





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

Jul 30, 2014

Weekly Muppet Wednesdays: Professor Hastings

Written by Michael Wermuth.

PROFESSOR HASTINGS

Performed by...
Frank Oz

First appearance...
Sesame Street Season 1 (1969)

Most recent appearance...
Sesame Street Season 2 (1971)

Best known role...
Boring, old professor

WHO IS PROFESSOR HASTINGS?
Professor Hastings is an old professor who gave lectures that were so boring that even he fell asleep while he was giving them.  For example, if his lecture was on feelings, groups of happy, sad, and angry Muppets would walk by while he was sleeping (and they would somehow wake him up, allowing him to move on). Many of his lectures were introduced by Kermit the Frog, who sometimes had to help with the lectures, such as showing parts of the body. A running gag would be for Professor Hastings to ask, “are you aware that you are a frog?” Some topics Professor Hastings discussed included the letters Y and U, the number 2, and how two trucks are different and the same.

One of Professor Hastings’ first appearances was in a performance of “Spinning Wheel”, in which he honks a horn. In this early appearance, he looks a little different from how he would later look. He had reddish-brown hair, giving him more resemblance to Mr. Johnson. Later on, his hair would be white. Perhaps he’s one of the few Muppets to actually age.

Professor Hastings once appeared as a contestant on Guy Smiley’s game show “What’s My Part?”, in which he kept falling asleep and mistakenly thinking he was supposed to give a lecture. In fact, he ended up winning by accident – the mystery guest was a foot, and his foot happened to fall asleep.

Unfortunately, Professor Hastings was taken off the show for being too dull. Although he was dropped pretty early, he was more popular in European countries, where his material continues to be shown, and has appeared in quite a bit of European merchandise (sometimes mistaken for Mr. Johnson, though).

WHY DOES SESAME STREET NEED PROFESSOR HASTINGS?
Well, Sesame Street is an educational show, and a good educational show needs somebody to give lectures and… educate and… Teach such subjects as… Zzzzzzzzzz…






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

Jul 29, 2014

Muppet Retro Reviews: Muppets Tonight, Part 5

Abigail Maughan - Thanks for voting in the poll last week, everyone who voted in the poll last week! The episodes with Sandra Bullock and Cindy Crawford seem to be the overwhelming favorites, with Whoopi Goldberg and Garth Brooks close behind. You can see the results here. Now, on to Season 2!

201-- THE ARTIST FORMERLY KNOWN AS PRINCE
PLOT: One of few where the guest star doesn’t have anything to do with it, Johnny becomes disgruntled when Sal wants to pursue osteopathy.
GUEST STAR: Acting doesn’t appear to be pop singer Prince’s strong suit, as he mostly sounds bored when talking to bears, rats, and ventriloquist dummies, but many good jokes come from the Muppets trying to say his name or referring to his past works.
COMEDY: Notably, we get the “Hee-Haw” parody “Muppet Hoo-Haw” and a “Tales from the Vet.” Osteopathy subplot aside, I don’t feel like the comedy is as sharp as it has been in the past, particularly in backstage guest star banter.
MUSIC: Two full numbers courtesy of Prince. One is the strange, elaborate, but not unpleasant “Starfish and Coffee” music video. The other is the dull closing number “She Sent Her Angels,” which is one of the few slow song on the entire show, and I believe the only one without Muppet characters singing along.
LOWLIGHTS:

  • This one’s “Tales from the Vet” has amusing moments, but the drunken shouting and rambling of Dr. Phil gets rather tedious, as it would in real life.
  • I have nothing against non-energetic songs on Muppet shows, but the finale bores me. This guy’s music is a genre I wouldn’t normally listen to, and unlike in “Starfish and Coffee,” there aren’t any Muppet personalities to enhance it; just some uninteresting angel puppets. It isn’t too long, though, and the episode does end on a more lively note.

HIGHLIGHTS:

  • This is my favorite of Bobo the Bear’s openings. “Pretty mouthy for a guy with no name.”
    • Prince: I’m the Artist formerly known as Prince.
    • Bobo: And I’m the Bear currently known as Not Amused. 
  • The “boniologist” plot has some clever dialogue and results in various hilariously contorted Muppets. I approve.

OTHER OBSERVATIONS:

  • In this season, Statler and Waldorf no longer dispense snarkiness from a nursing home. Much less depressingly, they appear in a different exotic location every episode, which I think is a clever and much better idea.
  • Seymour says “swordfish, eggs, and coffee” is on the menu, but the song the guest star sings is called “Starfish and Coffee.” Am I just mishearing Seymour’s line?

MY RANKING: 2.5/5 Pop-Up Acupuncture books. I don’t think it’s among the best of what the show has to offer, but it is pretty darn memorable, what with the funky music and distorted Muppets.

202—RICK MORANIS
PLOT: In their only feature episode, Pepe and Seymour’s cooking show, “Hey, What Smells (So Good? It’s Time to Cook with Seymour and Pepe),” gets in the way of Rick Moranis’s big closing number.
GUEST STAR: Actor Rick Moranis, as it turns out, is a wonderful straight man to Seymour and Pepe and is apparently in league with devils. Who knew?
COMEDY: This episode contains not one, not two, but three well-done parody skits: the incredibly goofy “Muppet Odd Squad,” “Co-Dependence Day,” and “Lash Holstein: Space Cowdet,” which is hilarious in its intentional hamminess from the writers and Muppet performers. Everything else, including my favorite of the “Tubmans of Porksmith” sketches and a running gag using the song “Whip It,” is not half bad either.
MUSIC: Rick Moranis casually sings his “Salute to Late Fifties Crooners, Obscure British Bands, and Bill Withers” to the backdrop of Seymour, Pepe, Bunsen, and Beaker fighting a losing battle against a gigantic monster made of dough. Don’t you just love the Muppets?
LOWLIGHTS:
  • If I had to choose a lowlight, which is hard for this episode, it’d be Andy and Randy in the “Muppet Odd Squad” skit. Literal interpretations of simple instructions, their primary comedic defense, pale in comparison to the much sharper comedy of the rest of the episode.
  • Even though I don’t mind the “Muppet Odd Squad” skit in particular, I think it is fair to call it the weakest of the bunch.
HIGHLIGHTS:
  • From beginning to end, I love that scene with Pepe, Seymour, and the guest star in the commissary. Seymour’s ruining of the musical number, the final installation of the “Whip It” running gag, and the conversation itself keep me laughing.
    • Rick Moranis: Let me tell you a little story… (music starts)
    • Pepe: You have to?
    • Rick: I’m afraid so. (starts to sing “High Hopes”)
  • I love Seymour, Pepe, and their na├»ve ambitiousness. I do think they were used perfectly on the show, especially here in season two, with various funny spotlights throughout and one feature episode. They were never overused and always funnily written. I think their move from the elevator to the commissary was a good one, because it’s much easier to interact with guest stars there.
  • It’s nice to see so much of Jerry Nelson here. His performances of the “Lash Holstein” villain Moo-ing the Merciless, the President, and one of Rick’s devil agents are perfect.
  • The special puppetry tricks in this one are impressive, namely Beaker’s shrunken head, the ants, and of course the Bread Monster.
MY RANKING: 5 out of 5 smashed ants. This episode is continually funny and weird in a good, unique way, and the unfunny is quickly overshadowed.

203—HEATHER LOCKLEAR
PLOT: Heather Locklear undergoes extreme personality shifts after eating Bunsen Honeydew’s Mood Meals.
GUEST STAR: Actress Heather Locklear is pretty believable and just a little bit scary as she gets to act annoyed, ditzy, affectionate, and murderous all in the same episode.
COMEDY: Much of it comes from the scenes with Heather in a mood extreme, saying things like “Don’t you love the way babies’ heads smell?” in one segments, and beating up bunny rabbits in the next. We also get a “Tales from the Vet,” the final “Fairyland PD,” and something called “21 Muppet Heights,” all of which are tightly-written and clever.
MUSIC: We get “The Coffee Song,” and a finale that sees more Muppet abuse from the guest star behind Kermit’s attempt to sing “Strolling through the Park One Day.”
LOWLIGHTS:
  • In the closing number, I think it would have been funnier if Heather had done something to demonstrate the “nice” mood shifts before swinging into the evil ones instead of just sort of waltzing around doing nothing in particular.
HIGHLIGHTS:
  • Rizzo: (as Evil Heather pummels rabbits onstage with her umbrella) We’re gonna hear from people…
  • The opening number of “The Coffee Song” is fun and crazy, and a fantastic performance by Leslie Carrara-Rudolph. I like how much she’s used in the second season.
  • I appreciate, and rather enjoy, the silliness of the “Jungle Bee-Woman” skit.
    • Heather: Your script is based on a Jane Austen pizza?
    • Andy and Randy: It is?!
  • It’s interesting how frequently Bunsen and Beaker were used in the second season. Over a third of the episodes involve them in the plot. Using them is a good way to incorporate elements that are completely outlandish and only make sense because of them, such as the mood-altering food.
OTHER OBSERVATIONS:
  • The multi-talented Brian Henson sure is one skilled performer, and this episode, featuring Sal, Dr. van Neuter, and Nigel is one of many that show it.
  • “Green boy” is not a very good insult to a frog, especially one who finds it easy being green.
  • It’s funny, but in context of the Muppet universe, why would Clifford, Nigel, Kermit, or whoever was in charge of acts possibly allow the “Hardy Pig Boys” sketch to exist? 

MY RANKING: 4 out of 5 trout to the face. An even mix of verbal and physical comedy makes it hard to find something to dislike about this episode.





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