Today on The Muppet Mindset, we welcome our first ever guest writer of Weekly Muppet Wednesdays! Today's Wednesday is brought to you by our very close friend Lisa Alexander (TogetherAgain on Muppet Central Forum), who is also the Mindset's resident intern who does odd-jobs and spell-checkings. She brings us a profile of her favorite Muppet--check it out!
Jerry Nelson (1971-2002)
Matt Vogel (2008-present)
The Frog Prince (1971)
Most recent appearance…
Muppets Most Wanted (2014)
Best known role…
Kermit’s little nephew
Biggest role (so to speak)…
Tiny Tim in The Muppet Christmas Carol
WHO IS ROBIN THE FROG?
Robin the Frog is Kermit’s little nephew. Weighing in at six ounces, he’s been five almost as long as Big Bird’s been six. His small size makes him easy to overlook, but he has big dreams, which include ruling the world and singing “They Call the Wind Maria” on The Muppet Show. (And with Kermit calling the shots, the former is a lot more likely than the latter.)
In The Frog Prince, he was introduced as “Sir Robin the Brave,” the prince who had been turned into a frog. He made a few appearances in the first season of The Muppet Show, but was not established as Kermit’s nephew until the Bernadette Peters episode (Episode 212) of the second season, in which he was fed up with not being noticed and decided to run away. Fortunately, Bernadette Peters sang “Just One Person” to Robin, with help from several other Muppets, and Robin stuck around to be cooed over by Muppet fans for decades to come.
Robin likes to hang out with Fozzie Bear, Sweetums, and the Frog Scouts. Frog Scout Troop #12 first appeared in the Debbie Harry episode of The Muppet Show (Episode 509) to earn their punk merit badges. At the time, they were led by Mrs. Appleby. However, in 2005, Palisades released a Frog Scout Leader Kermit, and Kermit also alludes to leading Robin’s troop in his book, Before You Leap. (My theory is that Mrs. Appleby retired, and Kermit really needs to get one of those shirts that says “Stop me before I volunteer again.” Except, of course, that he doesn’t wear clothes. Sheesh!) No matter who’s in charge of the troop, Robin is very proud to be a Frog Scout. He wears his uniform—or at least his bandana—whenever he goes camping, and often for formal events as well, like when his uncle is getting tricked into marrying Miss Piggy (again).
Robin’s best friend is Sweetums. The unlikely pair actually debuted as enemies; in The Frog Prince, Sweetums wanted to do a little frog-smashing. But the next time they appeared together, Robin had rounded Sweetums up to sing “Two Lost Souls” in episode 223 of The Muppet Show, and they’ve been pals ever since. The odd combination of an adorable little six-ounce frog and a huge hulking beast (with a reputation for traumatizing young Muppet fans) is just irresistible. And besides, without a big friend like Sweetums, Robin would have a much harder time of adorably putting the star on the top of the tree in It’s A Very Merry Muppet Christmas Movie.
In spite of his small size, Robin has managed to snag a few crucial roles in his career. In The Muppets Celebrate Jim Henson, it was Robin who convinced his fellow Muppets that they could do a fitting tribute for Jim. He persuaded them by singing—with all of them joining in—“Just One Person,” the same song that Bernadette Peters had sung to encourage him all those years earlier. (It’s a very effective song.) Robin also played Tiny Tim in The Muppet Christmas Carol—an important part of Scrooge’s transition from skin-flint to a thankful heart. And if it weren’t for Robin’s exchange with Kermit at the beginning of The Muppet Movie, we fans would have no way of knowing that it’s only “sort of approximately” how the Muppets really got started. Robin is also the star of the 2000 Playstation game Muppet Monster Adventure, where he battles monster-versions of several main Muppets to turn them back into their usual selves.
Robin is also a star singer, best known for his rendition of A. A. Milne’s “Halfway Down the Stairs.” It appeared on the first Muppet Show album in 1977 and was then released as a single in the UK. The single was a huge hit, even making it to England’s Top 10. Robin has a knack for sweet, melt-your-heart-into-a-puddle-of-goo songs, like “Bless Us All” and “Can’t Get Along Without You,” but he’s no stranger to more peppy songs like “Fun Fun Fun.”
- “Halfway Down the Stairs” – The Muppet Show episode 110
- “I’m Five” – The Muppet Show episode 212
- “Two Lost Souls” (with Sweetums) – The Muppet Show episode 223
- “Someone to Watch Over Me” – The Muppet Show episode 310
- “Frog Kissin’” (with frogs) – The Muppet Show episode 406
- “Leave Me Some Magic” – The Muppet Show episode 421
- “If We Ruled the World” (with Hal Linden) – The Muppet Show episode 517
- “Friendship” (with Kermit the Frog) – The Muppet Show episode 519
- “Just One Person” (with many other Muppets) – The Muppets Celebrate Jim Henson
- “Can’t Get Along Without You” (with Kermit) – Kermit Unpigged
- “Bless Us All” (as Tiny Tim, with Kermit, Miss Piggy, Peter Cratchit, Betina, and Belinda) – The Muppet Christmas Carol
- “Fun, Fun, Fun” (with the Frog Scouts) – Muppet Beach Party
WHY DO THE MUPPETS NEED ROBIN?
The entire reason Robin exists is to see how much the Muppets can make me squeal.
No, that’s totally not true. Although I would recommend wearing earplugs if I’m around and he’s on screen. But that’s not the reason the Muppets need Robin.
Robin is almost pure innocence. I say “almost,” because no one who’s faced down the Swedish Chef’s knife can be entirely innocent. But other than that, he’s pretty much there. Jim Henson has been quoted saying that all of their characters, even their villains, have an innocence to them. Robin is the embodiment of that. He’s a perpetual optimist, and his hope knows no bounds.
The fact that he’s five has a lot to do with it; he’s young enough that he doesn’t necessarily know the world has any limits at all. (For those of you who have been away from kids long enough to not quite know what I mean, let me give you an idea: when I was five, I was going to grow up to be a horse.) If there are no limits, then anything can happen. That’s a fundamental part of the Muppets, because anything does happen… unless it’s normal, in which case it probably doesn’t.
Robin is also an important connection between the fans and the Muppets. At some point, everyone is too young or too small to do something, so everyone knows how it feels to be left out because of age and/or size, and can immediately relate to Robin.
But there’s a lot of stuff packed into little Robin (and I’m not referring to the hand of a Muppeteer… although that’s there, too). He may be small, but he’s got big dreams, big ambitions, big thoughts, big friends, and—especially for a five-year-old—really big success. He’s sweet and innocent, with a dash of comedy and a good dose of confidence. In short—which he also is—Robin is proof that good things come in small packages.
The Muppet Mindset by Ryan Dosier, firstname.lastname@example.org