1 The Muppet Mindset: September 2009

Sep 30, 2009

Interview with Sesame Street's Louis Henry Mitchell

Before we get started with today's Mindset, I have to link to a video that hit YouTube recently and was linked to by the Muppet Newsflash's Twitter feed. This video was filmed yesterday at Disney CEO Bob Iger's press conference for the new "Give a Day, Get a Disney Day" Disney Parks promotion.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cqlQ5WDdBcI

Only one thing can be said here... Welcome back Steve Whitmire, and welcome back Kermit!

Since this video was filmed yesterday, we can assume that whatever issue was going on inside The Muppets Studio has finally been resolved and we can finally see Steve back under the Frog where he belongs!

Today on The Muppet Mindset, we have a very special interview with our good friend Louis Henry Mitchell. Louis works as the Associate Design Director of Special Projects for Sesame Street. We got into contact with Louis through his thread on Muppet Central Forum discussing his close friendship with Kevin Clash (Elmo). He talks about this and much, much more in his interview, so let's get started, shall we?

Interview with Louis Henry Mitchell
By Ryan Dosier

RYAN:   First off, Louis, I have to say that it’s great to have you here for an interview. You hold the honor of being our first person from Sesame Workshop to be interviewed on the blog. Hopefully not our last, though!

LOUIS:   It is my absolute pleasure. I like what you’ve done with your website and I’m grateful for the fans who keep The Muppets SO alive and well. I consider myself among the biggest of Muppet fans and we are like a Tribe at this point- especially because of the long period of time that the classic Muppets (Kermit, Miss Piggy, Gonzo, Fozzie Bear, etc.) have not been in the limelight as much as we would like. Thank goodness this is changing!

RYAN:   Getting started, your title in Sesame Workshop is “Design Director of Special Projects.” What exactly does that job entail?

LOUIS:   The actual title is Associate Design Director of Special Projects. The reason it is so non-descript is because over the years I have done SO many different projects beyond my original job title of Character Designer, and then Senior Character Designer, that they didn’t know what to call me when they wanted to promote me. What I do is review product- primarily from Universal Studios, Japan, but I also look at other products- domestic and international- when the other designers need a hand and I am not too busy. I look at reflective artwork, sculpture and plush items. I have art directed walk-around costumes (like the ones at Sesame Place and the Sesame Live shows) and I design and co-sculpt the Sesame Street balloons for the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade (one of my favorite parts of the job!!). I didn’t do the last balloon, Abby Cadabby, because a dear friend of mine and co-worker, Janis Beauchamp, was doing practically all of the work on Abby and I thought it was only fair that she designed the Abby balloon for Macy’s. She had done the Kermit balloon when she worked at Henson so I knew I could assign Abby’s balloon to her and it would come out great. I also designed the Sesame Street 35th Anniversary float- the one featuring the most famous Brownstone building in the world in an exploded perspective. That was a particularly challenging assignment that turned out great in the end. Director of still photography- which includes designing all the new DVD covers-  is another one of my hats. Whenever you see Sesame Street Muppets in a still photo the odds are it is one of my shots. Another hat is as storyboard artist for Sesame Street and its video outreach programs- which includes influencing the Sesame Street AM (Anything Muppet) assembly for particular characters. The only Sesame Street Muppet I actually assisted in designing is Kami, the South African HIV Positive Muppet- another challenging story that ended very well- I hope to do a second interview with you so I can tell some of these stories!! I do SO many other things like realistically drawn gift portraits of employees and agents, etc., with their favorite Sesame Street Muppets to thank them for their service or to say bon voyage if they are leaving us. When our President and CEO, Gary Knell, made 5 years as our leader I was asked to draw him with Snuffy- I did a full color illustration of Gary as a knight in shining armor riding Snuffy as he was bucking backwards. It was SO fun to do. There are other things I do- all kinds of special projects like designing the Adler Planetarium Full-Dome show which also had a Chinese version I had to design almost from scratch… Our new version of The Electric Company needed illustrated versions of the human cast for children’s books and graphic novels and I did those designs… I help train artists all over the world to create art for Sesame Street… I create original artwork myself for licensing and merchandising… it goes on and on and I have to admit… it is nothing but FUN!!! I haven’t “worked” in years!

RYAN:   When and how did you get involved/hired at Sesame Workshop?

LOUIS:   To be honest it started back in 1966- when I was 6 years old. I saw The Muppets on The Ed Sullivan Show when one night Jim Henson came out and still had a Muppet on his hand- even though I didn’t know who he really was it was THEN that I realized that a MAN was doing the Muppets. When you’re a kid you don’t usually think about how puppet shows and cartoons are done. You just enjoy them. Jim Henson changed my life when he revealed himself as the puppeteer behind my favorite puppets. Then 3 years later I saw “The Muppets on Puppets” on PBS. Because of the music and performance I just went NUTS- a whole WONDERWORLD opened up for me then and I started drawing more and writing stories- even snuck into the basement to teach myself how to play the piano so I could write music for my stories! (And I was FIERCELY afraid of that basement at 6 years old! But Jim Henson inspired me beyond that fear- all I wanted was to be creative like him!!!). Not to make this TOO long- that was when I was HOOKED and developed the desire to work for him. I wanted the Classic Muppets- but over the years he seemed to consider Sesame Street his most important work. So the dream became to work on Sesame Street. I had no idea how I was going to attain this! I just KNEW I had to find a way. Beating some serious odds and some discouragement that my Mom helped me beat with her astounding encouragement I offered my work to The Muppets and after several tries I was called in by a man named Jim Mahon (my teacher and mentor for drawing Muppets). He was the character designer and art director at that time and he pretty much hired me on the spot after we met for the interview. That was back in 1992. In 2000 they called me while I was working as an artist for MTV and I was hired into his position. I have been promoted since then to my current position. I am very grateful to Jim Mahon!!

RYAN:   I got into contact with you through your thread on Muppet Central Forum about your friendship with Kevin Clash. What can you tell us about your friendship with Kevin? What about just Kevin in general?

LOUIS:   Kevin Clash is among the most beautiful and generous people I have met in my life. Part of the discouragement I received back when I was dreaming of working on Sesame Street  was that they didn’t hire black people at Sesame Street (from a college instructor no less)- a really horrendous lie. Being African-American I had been discouraged about becoming an artist because of my skin color but that one really hurt. I was 19 when I was told this and believed it. My Mom asked if that teacher worked at Sesame. When I said “no” she asked me why I was listening to him! Years later a day or two after I was hired as a freelancer I decided to devour All of the video I could find on Muppets at The Museum of Television and Radio, as it was known at that time. While watching “The Jim Henson Hour: The Secrets Of The Muppets” I saw, at the very end of the Muppeteer lineup, this young African-American man with Leon, the Muppet dragon. Jim Henson said his name was Kevin Clash… I had not heard of him until then- but after doing some research I realized he was one of my favorite performers!!! Elmo, Baby Sinclair, Splinter from TMNT 1 and 2… I was BLOWN AWAY!! The lie about not hiring Black people was revealed even further than me actually being hired. I wrote to Kevin telling him how proud I was of his accomplishments. I told him my story in that letter and sent it to Henson’s NYC headquarters. Not long after that I got home from picking up my son from school and found a message on my phone. It was KEVIN CLASH!! He thanked me for the letter and said he wanted to meet me. He invited me to the studio but needed a couple of weeks to put it together because he had just become a father. This gave me time to create a congratulatory gift for him. I did a painting of Baby Sinclair with a word balloon saying, “Congratulations, Kevin! Now YOU’RE not the Momma!”. The day I showed up at the Set of Sesame Street to meet him it was just MAGIC! When I gave him the gift he exploded with joy and ran away with it! He showed it to everyone on set and really was SO happy with it. We became instant friends and we now measure the length of our friendship by the age of his beautiful daughter who will be 17 this year. That visit to the set also presented another challenge that I will share if we do another interview but it, too, ended so well! I am REALLY pitching for a part 2 of this interview, aren’t I!!!

Kevin is the reason I do storyboards for Sesame Street now. Whenever he directs an episode of Sesame Street or one of the other productions for outreach, etc., I do virtually all of his storyboards. We have a GREAT time!! One of the best parts is when he is reading the script out-loud thinking about how he wants to stage something. He will read it in character! Suddenly Elmo appears (in voice only) and I just can’t get enough of that! And, yes, I have a couple of great stories to tell about working with him in part 2 of this interview (I hope, I hope!). I am trying not to be TOO LONG in this interview. I have been working with Sesame and Kevin for the whole 17 years and So much has happened! It is just WONDERFUL!!!

RYAN:    What can you reveal to us about the 40th Season of Sesame Street this fall?

LOUIS:   I won’t reveal anything! It is part of the joy and surprise to see what we are doing without any “spoilers”. It is too precious to me and I know my own joy when I read or see something we are working on for the first time! FINALLY I will keep my answer short!

RYAN:    Will Ernie and Bert reappear in their puppet forms this season? Or will they stay clay?

LOUIS:   “The Adventure of Bert and Ernie” is not a replacement of the classic duo- it started out as an international production but was SO well received that we decided to air it on the domestic production. I was the first art director on this production and want to just say it was our producer, the late Arlene Sherman, who not only insisted I be the art director but is the most important reason I am now director of special projects. It was such a departure from the norm and she wanted me to guide it through. It has since left my hands but I am grateful to Arlene for allowing me to get it started. She was a brilliant and gifted woman.

By the way, Jim Henson would have been the champion of experimenting with Bert and Ernie this way. He tried ALL kinds of art forms and encouraged his staff to INNOVATE everywhere they saw a genuine opportunity to evolve the Muppets!

RYAN:   Are you involved at all with the exciting release of the 40th Anniversary 2-Disc DVD set coming out the same day as the season premiere?

LOUIS:   I was originally to design the cover and do the photography direction. The Home Video department had an idea they wanted to try so I did not do the design or photography direction. It is going to be a fan’s DREAM!!! I will not spoil this either but NO ONE who loves Sesame Street will want to miss this!!! There are special features that will absolutely BLOW EVERYONE AWAY!!!

RYAN:   Who’s your favorite Muppet character? Have you had the pleasure of watching them perform?

LOUIS:   If you could see my office at Sesame Workshop you would NOT have to ask me who my favorite Muppet character- favorite character PERIOD- is. In my office, or “Playroom” as I like to call it- are at least 300 Cookie Monster items! I adore him!!! And it’s not because he is blue or loves cookies. I aspire to be like him in one area of life- as much as he LOVES cookies he love his friends even more and would give his very last cookie away! I love what I do but I will NEVER put this before my family and friends. You don’t have to step on or neglect others in pursuit of what you truly and passionately love.  He represents this in such a wonderful way!

Not only have I had the pleasure of watching him being performed on set but I have seen both David Rudman, Cookie’s current performer AND Frank Oz, his original performer, bring Cookie to life!! Great story about Frank Oz to tell if the opportunity presents itself. (Shameless!!) I truly am trying not to make this too long.

RYAN:   You mentioned in your thread that you appear in an episode of Sesame Street this season. What can you tell us about this?

LOUIS:   Not this season. I was in 2 episodes. The one where Elmo wanted a pet dinosaur and Snuffy helped him out in season 37, I believe, and the season 38 opener when Elmo and Tina Fey were “Bookeneers”. It is always SO great to see celebrities come to the set. They forget All about who they are and become “children” gasping and sighing… “Is that really Mr. Hoopers Store?” “Wow! It’s the Brownstone!!” “Oh, My Goodness!! It’s ELMO!!” Last season Adam Sandler walked all the way across the set and came straight up to me to introduce himself. I felt pretty special- then I realized why he passed everyone else to shake my hand- it was because I had my GIANT Cookie Monster I.D. badge holder on. He may have thought I was Cookie’s performer!. It was still really nice, though. Even recently when First Lady Michelle Obama was on set she was SO enamored with the experience and she did a fantastic job acting with Elmo!!

RYAN:   What have been your favorite projects to work on within Sesame Workshop? I’m sure there are tons.

LOUIS:   My absolutely favorite part of this is that it NEVER feels like work! At the top of the list of favorite things to do is working so closely with my friend Kevin Clash. It is just like hanging out with my brother drawing and eating the BEST food… especially when he makes his famous crabcakes!!! But we just have a great time and feed off each other in pursuit of keeping the Jim Henson legacy high up where it belongs. I am humbled by being sought after by Kevin and so many others to do my part of holding up Mr. Henson’s legacy. Doing storyboards is great. Designing the Adler Planetarium Project was So great. When I saw my name spread across the dome so big and wide- there are just no words! The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade balloons and float- the products from Japan- it is all one gigantic ball of joy and I mean it. Of course as with any business there are challenges and some disappointments but the rewards are beyond measure and MORE than male up for anything that I am challenged with. I also work with the most beautiful team of people in the Creative Services department.

A special project was when Kevin called me and asked me to do chapter illustrations for his book, “My Life As A Furry Red Monster”. Then he asked me to re-design the cover and art direct the photo-shoot for it. It was a blast!

But when I read what he said to me in his acknowledgments… wow!

RYAN:   Do you have a favorite episode of Sesame Street—either recent or classic? What about a favorite sketch or song?

LOUIS:   On a happy note one of my favorite songs is “Rubber Duckie”. I do a fair impersonation of Ernie and I sing that song often. I think you can guess my favorite Sesame Street song of ALL time, though… ‘C Is For COOKIE”! I have it on my iPod!

On a sad note, my favorite episode is when Sesame Street addressed death. When Will Lee, the actor who played Mr. Hooper, died the courageous geniuses at Sesame decided to write it into the show. It is my favorite episode because of Carroll Spinney’s breathtaking performance of Big Bird. You saw him go from happy and excited to confused to sad to angry… just every emotion. But you have to remember that Big Bird is built with a neutral expression in his face that does not ever change. But you still see All the emotions I just mentioned when Big Bird learns that Mr. Hooper is not ever coming back. Search this out. Go back and see what true genius is and how much love goes into producing Sesame Street- not just in this episode but in them ALL! I was not on the staff when they produced this- it was 10 years earlier from when I joined- but it is among the most precious parts of why I am honored to now be part of the Sesame family.

RYAN:   What special appearances and fan “goodies” can we expect to see this season on the show?

LOUIS:   Again, I won’t give anything away. This is by choice because of how much fun it is to see things without warning. Just don’t miss an episode!!

RYAN:   Do you have good relationships with any other Muppet performers? I’ve always imagined Sesame Workshop as a close-knit family where everyone messes around with everyone else.

LOUIS:   The performers are like… no- not like… they ARE family to each other. I enjoy being among them in the Muppet room where they all congregate while waiting to be called on set. I am one of the few non-performers allowed to leave my stuff in the Muppet room when I have to be on set. They treat me like family as well and I get to do special things for them. When Marty Robinson and Annie Evans, one of the writers, got married Kevin Clash hired me to do a wedding gift portrait for them. It was TOO fun to do. He wanted it to be a family portrait so I did a portrait of Marty and Annie along with Marty’s characters Telly Monster, Slimey The Worm, Snuffy and one of the Yip Yip Martians.

Fran Brill, who does Zoe and Prairie Dawn (among others) is an email-pal of mine. She sends me the greatest stuff she finds on the internet- any unusual artwork- both Muppet and Non-Muppet related. Abby Cadabby’s performer, Leslie Carerra-Rudolph is also a dear friend and fellow teacher- she is incredibly inspiring.

I have to say, though, my heart is filled SO much by Carroll Spinney! Still performing Big Bird and Oscar The Grouch from day one he is one of the sweetest and nicest people on earth! I was asked by Gary Knell to do a piece of gift art for Carroll to celebrate his 70th birthday. I illustrated Big Bird holding him in his arms saying “My Hero”, and Oscar on the side in his trash can saying, “My Zero!” When Carroll won a Lifetime Achievement Emmy Award I was asked to do another gift for him. I illustrated Carroll as the golden Emmy Award but when you looked at the globe he was holding it was actually Big Bird’s head and the base was Oscar’s garbage can lid with Oscar’s eyes peeking out. Carroll Spinney is an incredible artist in his own right! He even did the portrait of Mr. Hooper that hangs in Big Bird’s nest area. It was part of the episode when Mr. Hooper died. He did all the cast caricatures in the same style for that show.

Carroll told me something that I will never forget. He said I am the only other artist hanging in his home beside himself. That touched me beyond measure.

RYAN:   Can you reveal any sort of Sesame Street special projects coming soon that fans of the show may not know about?

LOUIS:   You know what I’m going to say, right?

There are actually SO many projects and our brilliant marketing department will make sure the public knows all about them. I just HATE spoilers. If I get another chance I will explain why.

Well… Ok- the reason why is because I was told about a scene in a movie once by a friend after I told him not to spoil it for me. He just couldn’t resist and promised it would not spoil the scene. It did and I promised I would never become a Spoiler.

RYAN:   What’s it like to work so closely with the performers of some of the most beloved characters in television? You get to see the men and women behind Elmo, Big Bird, Oscar, Grover, Cookie Monster, Abby Cadabby, and so much more so very much—that’s like a wonderful dream for most Muppet fans, myself included.

LOUIS:   Ryan, there are no words adequate enough. I pretty much answered this question earlier- but I will add this. I am a HUGE fan myself and have been since I was a young child. I am one of the people with international authority over the handling and treatment of the Sesame Street Muppets after being told I would NEVER work at Sesame Street. I had a dream that many people tried to steal from me and kill. Some of the greatest life lessons I received are attached to Jim Henson. Ignore the naysayers! Reject the dream stealers! When someone says that you can’t do something it really means that THEY cannot do it! I am living BEYOND my dreams and it was because I never let go of them. I did learn that sometimes pursuing your dreams will reveal the TRUE dream deeper in you- believe it or not my dream of working on Sesame Street revealed what my TRUE dream is. I don’t mean tease here but I am about to reveal what that dream is as I have been working on it for MANY years and it is about ready to launch. I promise to contact you with the link to it when the time is right.

Do not get me wrong… Working at Sesame Street is still a DREAM COME TRUE!!! But the experience is SO rewarding that it revealed to me something that will allow me to share the dream in a bigger and better way and help others fulfill their own dreams. I can at least let you know it is a type of school. I just don’t want to reveal it just yet. I am almost done with the website and it will be revealed very soon! You will be among the first to know.

RYAN:   Well, that’s all of the questions I have. Do you have any questions for The Muppet Mindset? (Though I don’t know why you would.)

LOUIS:   Yes. If the response to this interview is good may I do part 2?

RYAN:   I think we can DEFINITELY arrange that!

Louis, thank you so much for taking time out of your busy schedule to do this interview with us. Your stories and experiences are so incredible, and I can't wait to find out more in part 2 of our interview!

LOUIS:   It is not time out of my busy schedule. I consider it part of my mission at Sesame Workshop to assist in all legitimate fan-based resources. Thank you for this great opportunity. It was really FUN!!


Another HUGE thank you to our good friend Louis Henry Mitchell for joining us for an interview today. Keep an eye on The Muppet Mindset for part 2 of our interview with Louis coming soon!


For more information on what is happening at Sesame Workshop: http://www.sesameworkshop.org

Sep 29, 2009

A Muppets Christmas: Letters to Santa DVD Review and Muppet Love for the Disney Parks

BREAKING MUPPET NEWS!!!



You know those crazy Muppets? You know how they were seen filming at Disneyland Resort a few months ago? You know how it was reported that this footage would be used for a massive, brand-new, Disney Parks promotion starring The Muppets?

Yeah, it happened.






The Muppets have started appearing everywhere on the official Disney Parks websites. From the official Disney Parks Home Page, to the official Walt Disney World Home Page, to Disney's "What Will You Celebrate?" promotional video page, to the brand new "Give a Day, Get a Disney Day" website starring the Muppets, those crazy puppets are everywhere!

It's all part of Disney's new "Give a Day, Get a Disney Day" promotion. Starting in January 2010, if you give a day of volunteer service to one of the approved volunteer organizations, you get a free, one day ticket to any Disneyland or Walt Disney World park absolutely free!

This is obviously a huge undertaking for Disney, and the Muppets appear to be a huge part of it! They've finally been integrated as part of the Disney Family! Once again, it's an incredibly exciting time to be a Muppet fan!

Speaking of which, Gonzo and Animal appeared on Dancing With the Stars last night during Aaron Carter's performance dancing to The Muppet Show theme song. Animal played the drums briefly at the beginning and Gonzo popped up at the end to blow his trumpet in one of the judge's ears. Here's a clip of the show on YouTube. Muppets start around 1:27.

While we're talking about YouTube, you should watch this video of a six year old performing "I'm Gonna Always Love You" from The Muppets Take Manhattan. It's the new cutest thing ever.

Continuing this absolutely huge day for Muppet fans, here's our review of A Muppets Christmas: Letters to Santa Extended Edition DVD, released today!



A Muppets Christmas: Letters to Santa
Extended Edition DVD Review


DVD


Film


Ryan Dosier
- Last December, the Muppets took NBC by storm with their latest foray into made-for-TV film with A Muppets Christmas: Letters to Santa. Written by Scott Fink, Hugh Ganz, Andrew Samson, and Paul Williams (yes, that Paul Williams), and songs by Paul Williams (yes, that Paul Williams), this brand new Christmas special has finally come to DVD.

Featuring cameo appearances by Nathan Lane, Whoopi Goldberg, Uma Thurman, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Jesse L. Martin, Tony Sirico, Steve Schirripa, Petra Nemcova, Jane Krakowski, Madison Pettis, Richard Griffiths, and Paul Williams (yes, that Paul Williams) (I'll stop that eventually), this star-studded, hour-long Muppet holiday spectacular is just that, spectacular!

THE MOVIE
The greatest part of this DVD is actually sitting down and laughing and loving this special. You'll grin from ear to ear as classic, fan-favorite characters pop up and deliver some hilarious lines (Scooter, Lew Zealand, The Electric Mayhem) while new-age Muppets steal the show (Pepe and Bobo the Bear). It's a fantastic balance between classic Muppets and the Muppets of today.

The story may seem short and rushed due entirely to the lack of run-time and shooting time (run-time is just around an hour, and allocated shooting time was about two weeks), but it's still a fantastic special, and arguably the best thing the Muppets have done since being taken under Disney's wing.

An interesting thing to note in this story is the return of music to the special. In The Muppets' Wizard of Oz, we started to see this, but the songs were unfortunately laced with too much of Ashanti's camera mugging to be meaningful. Here, we see four great songs written by veteran Muppet song writer Paul Williams (The Muppet Movie, Emmet Otter's Jug-Band Christmas, The Muppet Christmas Carol) and performed by the Muppets--no random guest star camera hogging here (except for a brief line or two from Jesse L. Martin, but he was classy about it so all is forgiven).

Another amazing thing about this special is the amount of characters seen in featured roles. Kermit, Fozzie, Gonzo, Rizzo, and Pepe are the stars of the show, with Miss Piggy stealing the spotlight in every scene she appears, but great appearances are made by Statler, Waldorf, Bunsen, Beaker, The Electric Mayhem, Swedish Chef, Crazy Harry, Scooter, Lew Zealand, Bobo the Bear, Rowlf, Robin, Sweetums, Camilla, Sam Eagle, and more. Each and every Muppet listed here (besides Bunsen and Bobo) has been recast by a new performer after their original either passed away or retired from Muppet performing. I'm proud to say that all of the Muppets sound spot-on perfect here and can't wait to hear more from each of them!

The cameo appearances are also great. They don't feel forced and fit nicely into the story. The highlight, of course, is Nathan Lane as Airline Security Officer Frank Meany. His performance with Bobo the Bear is one of funniest cameo appearances in any Muppet movie! (Yes, I've seen Bob Hope's in The Muppet Movie.)

My favorite part of the film is the end (and not for the same reason as Statler and Waldorf), it's so happy and wonderful and heart-warming. All of the Muppets gather to sing and celebrate Christmas, it's very reminiscent of A Muppet Family Christmas in that sense.



This is an all-around great special that any and all Muppet fans--or just people who like to sing, and dance, and make people happy--can enjoy.

THE DVD
This DVD proudly boasts an "Extended Edition" tag in big, bold letters on the front of the case. Yes, the film's run-time is extended from the original broadcast, but just by about four minutes. The other extended clips come in the form of hysterical bloopers and the "Glad All Over" music video (seen last year on YouTube) after and during the credits. While the bloopers are absolutely laugh out loud funny, it's a shame that they can only be seen during the credits and not as a separate feature.

The other "extended" scenes in the film only last about 30-40 seconds longer, most of them just quick asides or character lines. These are fun, but really don't make the movie "extended."

The only other bonus feature on the disc is The Muppet Stocking Stuffer Smorgasbord. This acts as another menu where there are many items to select from, such as ornaments on the tree, stockings, and presents. There are four deleted scenes here (two involving snails and snail mail, one where Claire gives her letter to Gonzo, and one where the Electric Mayhem says where they're going for the holidays), a series of still pictures, and five short interviews (with Madison Pettis [and Gonzo briefly], Jane Krakowski, Kermit, Fozzie and Gonzo, and Miss Piggy).

The bonus features are very sparse and don't offer much in the way of comedy. Yes, seeing Kermit, Fozzie, Gonzo, and Piggy ad-lib a little bit in the interviews is fun, but the interviews were obviously trimmed down from longer clips so it would've been nice to see them in their entirety. There was also an announced "behind the scenes documentary" called "Searching for Santa Claus" that somehow didn't make the release, so that was quite disappointing as well.

The cover art is fun and vibrant, standing out on the shelf at Wal-Mart as I passed (although, to be fair, I was looking for it). The collectible O-Sleeve that was advertised (and made fun of at Tough Pigs) is nothing more than the cardboard they use to cover the actual DVD case. However, this may be a telling sense of how Disney views the Muppets, because as I left the store the only other releases I saw with O-Sleeves were Disney classics such as The Jungle Book and Pinocchio. Perhaps I'm just looking too much into it, but I liked the idea.



CONCLUSION

Buy this DVD! Not only is it a fantastic Christmas special, it's a fantastic Muppet special as well. The characters are as hilarious as ever, the writing is fun and funny, and everything about this is pure Muppet gold. And, besides, it's the first Muppet DVD buying opportunity Muppet fans have had since The Muppet Show Season 3 was released two years ago!

Buy your own copy of A Muppets Christmas: Letters to Santa on DVD today!

Sep 28, 2009

Muppet Comic Mondays: Muppet Robin Hood #1

A Muppets Christmas: Letters to Santa is released tomorrow in the U.S. wherever DVDs are sold (except for street corners)! Check out Disney's official site for the release, complete with video clips from the special! Keep an eye on The Muppet Mindset tomorrow for our official review of this exciting DVD release! If you absolutely can't wait for that, check out these reviews!

ToughPigs has posted their review of the Sesame Street special "Families Stand Together." It's a fun read (as always) and deserves checking out!

The Muppet Newsflash has reported that Sesame Workshop will re-release a set of long out of print Sesame Street music albums in the form of a 3-CD set billed as Sesame Street: Old School - Volume 1 on November 10, 2009, just in time for the 40th anniversary! The three albums included in the set are "The Original Sesame Street Cast Album" (1970), "Big Bird Sings!" (1974), and "Bert and Ernie's Sing-Along"(1975). This marks the first time that these three titles have been released and remastered on CD. With the inclusion of "Volume 1" in the title, this implies that even more old school albums will be re-released onto CD in the future!



Muppet Robin Hood
Comic Book Review




Ryan Dosier
– Muppet Robin Hood, the first installment of BOOM! Studios’ Muppet fairytale comic book line (followed this month by Muppet Peter Pan and in January by Muppet King Arthur). Written by Tim Beedle and drawn by Armand Villavert, Jr., Muppet Robin Hood has the incredibly difficult task of following in the wonderful footsteps of The Muppet Show Comic Book. The Muppet Show, written and drawn by Roger Langridge, features classic, witty storylines and jokes along with near-perfect characterization of every character, while Robin Hood casts the Muppets into the roles of Robin Hood and the gang.

This story chronicles the classic tale of Robin Hood (What? You were expecting Hansel and Gretel, maybe?) starring Kermit the Frog as Robin Hood, Miss Piggy as Maid Marian, and all of the other Muppets as all of the other characters. Of course the story of Robin Hood as a strict retelling is rather boring, but a Muppet retelling can't be—enter writer Tim Beedle. He does his best to create a Muppety feeling to this story.

Issue #1 was released May, 2009, with the other three issues following monthly afterwards.

PLOT
Most people know the plot of Robin Hood, but not many people know (or will ever know) the story of Muppet Robin Hood—even though they’re basically the same thing.

In issue #1, we meet Sir Robin of Loxley (Kermit) as he returns to England after three years in the Crusades with King Richard. But as Robin returns, he realizes his home is not how he remembered it to be. It’s been overrun by the scourge of the country, Prince John! Even Robin’s home of Loxley Linx has been replaced with a miniature golf course. The first three pages are back-story from the narrator, so it’s kind of hard to get immediately drawn in to this story, but I suppose it had to be done.


Soon, Sir Robin encounters the Sheriff of Nottingham (Sam Eagle) and his dopey sidekick Sir Guy of Gisbourne (Gonzo). The Sheriff stops Robin because he didn’t pay his admission to enter the mini golf course and they try to apprehend good Sir Robin. As you can imagine, that doesn’t happen, so the Sheriff and Guy flee. Robin then meets a young frog named Squirt (Robin, aptly renamed to avoid confusion—which is referenced a few times). Squirt tells Robin about more of the horror Prince John has wrought upon England, and Robin finally takes a stand to fight against the prince as he and Squirt ride off into Sherwood Forest (because Sherwood Woods just wouldn’t sound right).

After being (very) briefly introduced to Maid Marian (Miss Piggy) and receiving some plot exposition about her hatred of her uncle, Prince John, we return to Sherwood Forest with Robin and Squirt and receive more back-story before coming to a bridge where they’re attacked by a huge ogre (Sweetums).

The ogre tells the frogs that no one shall cross his bridge without paying a toll. Sir Robin, having no money (or just being obnoxious), engages the ogre in a staff battle (which, surprisingly, does not pit the staff of both Kermit and Sweetums against one another—because we all know Kermit’s staff would win that battle). After Robin defeats the ogre (and Louis Kazzager makes a brief cameo), the ogre, now identifying himself as Little John, joins Robin on his journey and takes him even deeper into the forest.


Here, Robin and Squirt are introduced to the Merry Men (Scooter, Janice, Rowlf, Rizzo, Lew Zealand, and the Swedish Chef). After some long, characterizing introductions, Sir Robin of Loxley proclaims his mission to bring justice back to England by becoming Robin Hood! A momentarily funny exchange between Robin and Much the Miller’s Son (Scooter) occurs, and issue #1 is over.

TONE
This one is hard to pin down. I can’t tell if the tone is trying to be more classic fairytale or more Muppet zaniness. Maybe it’s a mixture? I don’t know. I honestly just can’t tell. The tone never goes to the extreme of either end of the spectrum, however. It never becomes laugh-out-loud Muppety goodness, nor does it become so deathly boring and “storytelling” that it becomes unreadable.

Writer Tim Beedle creates an interesting tone here, but it’s really not Muppety for the most part.

WRITING
The writing in Muppet Robin Hood has stiff competition with The Muppet Show Comic Book, which some have called a return to the classic comedy writing of The Muppet Show TV show in its heyday. Muppet Robin Hood, unfortunately, is not.

The characterization is sadly not there for most of the characters. True, some of the characters have their “voice,” such as Sam Eagle, but most of them remain shockingly unlike themselves. Gonzo is the most glaring example of this. He’s not weird, he’s just hyper. Gonzo and Sam Eagle should make a hilarious, complete opposite comedy team, but the writing suffers so much that it just feels awkward and forced.



Sweetums is written rather well, with his loud, burly dialogue—each of his speech bubbles have a “rougher” looking text that makes it appear he’s constantly shouting.

The writing of Miss Piggy as Maid Marian is alright; but once again Piggy falls prey to outside writers assuming that she’s always angry or rude. Beedle could have taken a good tip from Langridge on how to write Miss Piggy. Unfortunately, he didn’t.

The hardest writing to comment on is Kermit/Robin Hood’s. Is he supposed to be Kermit or Robin Hood? Neither. He’s supposed to be Kermit playing Robin Hood. Yes, Kermit is hard to write for, so writing him playing another character is difficult as well, but… Jerry Juhl did it beautifully when Kermit portrayed both Bob Cratchit and Captain Smollett. Tim Beedle does not do it well when Kermit portrays Robin Hood, and it’s rather sad.

ART
This is the sad part of this review. Armand Vilavert, Jr.’s artwork is distractingly obscure. Again, we must compare this artwork to Langridge’s work in The Muppet Show Comic book. Vilavert, Jr. draws the Muppets, it seems, without really studying the puppets. While Langridge has been known to give Kermit and co. teeth when they don’t have them, it works in the scene and it makes his art stand out as unique.



Gonzo is Vilavert, Jr.’s most glaringly bad illustration. His eyes are spread across his face, he usually lacks eyelids altogether, and in nearly every frame he has a bottom jaw full of teeth. This may sound harsh, but this version of Gonzo looks like a bad interpretation one would buy from a caricaturist at a carnival.

Not all of his characters are drawn poorly; his Scooter, Janice, Rizzo, Rowlf, Louis Kazagger, and Sweetums all stand out as fine examples of how to draw the characters. It’s just unfortunate and inconsistent that characters like Lew Zealand, Sam Eagle, Gonzo, Miss Piggy, and Hilda are all distractingly bad.

Thankfully, Kermit doesn’t suffer too much (though it’s hard to mess him up). Since he is the main character and he does appear in almost every frame, it’s good to see that he actually looks like himself.

CONCLUSION

While Muppet Robin Hood doesn’t come close to matching up with The Muppet Show Comic Book in quality, it is still a fun read. This review may seem harsh, but once you see the artwork and read through some of the non-Muppety writing, you’ll understand why.

Although the beginning is tough to fight through, the writing in Muppet Robin Hood does pick up by the second and third issues (unfortunately, the art still suffers) once more characters are introduced to the plot, and it comes to a very satisfactory ending as well; but more on that next week.

Buy your issue of Muppet Robin Hood #1 today! Or pre-order a copy of the Muppet Robin Hood trade paperback containing all four issues! Why not buy it from the rich and give it to the poor?



CAST
Kermit the Frog as Robin Hood; Miss Piggy as Maid Marian; Gonzo the Great as Sir Guy of Gisbourne; Sam Eagle as the Sheriff of Nottingham; Sweetums as Little John; Robin the Frog as Squirt; Scooter as Much the Miller’s Son; Janice as Willa Scarlet; Rowlf the Dog as Alan-a-Dale; Rizzo the Rat as Arthur a Bland; Lew Zealand as Rich the Fishmonger; The Swedish Chef as himself; Hilda the Wardrobe Lady as Maid Marian’s seamstress; Louis Kazagger as himself.

Sep 27, 2009

Muppet Central Fan-Fiction Article #3

News and Such - Sunday, September 27, 2009

ToughPigs has two fantastic reviews of Muppet Peter Pan #1 and The Treasure of Peg Leg Wilson #3 posted on their site. Check 'em out!

Please be a part of the Postcards for Steve campaign! Let Steve Whitmire know how much you love him by spending a few bucks on a postcard to mail to him!

Don't forget, A Muppets Christmas: Letters to Santa comes out on DVD this Tuesday, September 29th! Be sure to pick up your copy wherever DVDs or sold, or order here from Amazon.com! (Also, yesterday while at Target, I saw this advertisement for Letters to Santa. Looks like Disney [or at least Target] cares after all!)

Today, The Muppet Mindset once again visits the realm of Muppet Central Forum fan-fiction! In this installment, Kelly Masters introduces us to some new faces...

Old Friends, New Friends

Kelly Masters (RedPiggy on Muppet Central Forum) - Where would fan-fics be without original characters?  In this third installment of my fan-fic review series, we’ll first take a look at Muppet Central Forum’s favorite original fan-fic characters, those that aren’t present in any canon of official Muppet media.

The first up is Maggie, created by TogetherAgain.  She can be found in Swamp Call.   She shows up in the first chapter, adequately described (how hard is it to describe a frog?), and we already know she has a relationship to Kermit, complete with pet names for each other (She calls him “Mit”, he calls her “Mags”).  While it’s hard to describe frogs as attractive (sorry, Kermit), we get a sense that she must be a looker because of how a multitude of male Muppets act around her.  Maggie is a little spitfire who makes it a point to prove herself a part of the crowd, despite her over-protective brother Kermit.  Her favorite activity seems to be tweaking Miss Piggy just for the halibut (sorry, that was cheap, even for me).  Come to think of it, particularly when the drama in this story starts up, if Kermit were Gobo Fraggle, Maggie is most definitely Red.

The second character is Wanda the Cat, created by redBoobergurl.  She can found in a series called “Rowlf’s stories”.  This review will focus on the first of those, Where Your Heart Leads You.  We don’t meet her until chapter three, where she’s a singer at a restaurant.  After a tentative meeting, she and Rowlf go their separate ways so that Rowlf can learn about his past.  Naturally, the lines of destiny force them to meet once again.  Wanda is hesitant to bring up the past (like Simba – what is it with cats and bad pasts?).  However, she is really a touching character and a welcome addition to the insanity.

Finally in this original character review is Aunt Marge, created by theprawncracker.  She can be found in his Muppet trilogy, but again I shall go with the first of the stories, Men Are Pigs.  Apparently, adding to Kermit’s long line of relatives seems to be a very popular choice.  Even before we meet Marge, it’s clear the others think she’s a hassle.  In retrospect, and I realize I might lose a lot of readers with this comparison, but she reminds me of Endora from Bewtiched.  She’s comfortable with her life and expects her family to live that as well.  She despises everyone outside her realm.

Now, I’d like to switch gears and discuss the types of fan-fics that might bring in more readers.  While I like to write more obscure properties (sorry, I just simply couldn’t help plugging the fact I write fics … I made it to three articles before I broke down, though, right?), the downside is that it’s so hard finding readers for them.  So, out of sheer curiosity, I asked the people over at Muppet Central Forums this question:  If you had a choice (and, really, you do, right?), which property would you read about the most? Muppets (including the Muppet Show, Jim Henson Hour, Muppets Tonight), Sesame Street, Fraggle Rock, Dark Crystal, Labyrinth, Storyteller, Dinosaurs, Farscape, Sid the Science Kid, Bear in the Big Blue House -- and whatever properties I may have missed.

Not surprisingly, the Muppets (from The Muppet Show, Muppets Tonight, or the movies) won hands down.  It’s a shame how the Hensons and Disney treated the Muppets for so long, as they are clearly the most loved of all the characters ever stuck under Jim Henson’s big umbrella.

However, some actually noted crossovers (stories that cover multiple franchises at once) as a good read.  The only problem with crossovers is that it’s rather difficult to convince fans of one property to bother with the characters from another.  If done well, however, all the featured properties can be enriched that much more.  I hereby beg your forgiveness, but the voices in my head won’t let me continue typing unless I mention my own story, The Comeback King Saga.  That covers just about every franchise listed in my question for this topic, except for the last two, as I never saw them at all.  I worked very hard to make it internally consistent and extrapolated from all relevant canons.  Sigh.  Okay, now that I got that out of my system, we can continue.


Fraggle Rock and Sesame Street got brief mentions.  You’d think the latter would be more popular, since it existed before The Muppet Show.  Oh well.  The first one, I can say from experience in writing and reading fics about them, is hard because the show was so well contained that it’s hard to break into their universe without totally dragging something out that never was brought up to begin with (Fraggle parenting comes to mind).  The latter, relying on a lot of self-contained skits, not to mention the overt educational “YOU WILL LEARN THIS NOW” tone of some episodes (if not many), I would think make it even harder to write well.  You pretty much have a choice between a straight-forward narrative and an educational skit, the former being difficult if only because I’ve read a lot of people try to write in the educational pushes and it can seem forced.  Thankfully, it’s usually played for laughs.


Next time, I’ll go deeper into fics regarding the above-mentioned properties.  I hope you’ll join me as we visit franchises you may have little experience with.

Sep 26, 2009

The Great Muppet Survey Answers: Part 2

Welcome to day two of YOUR answers to The Great Muppet Survey! Enjoy!


9.)     If you had front-row tickets to the Muppet concert of your dreams, which Muppet or group of Muppets would you hope were playing? Could Marvin Suggs get away with holding a Muppaphone concert now that PETA has gained prominence?
  • The Electric Mayhem! Including Lips. Marvin Suggs could get away with a Muppaphone concert...but he’d have to round all the PETA members in the audience up and blind fold them discreetly before his number. ~ Anonymous
  • Electric Mayhem! And if Stefani Germanotta can get away with wearing stuffed Kermits, I don't see why Marvin Suggs can't be permitted to have a Muppaphone concert. ~ Prairie Chica
  • Hmm, I don’t know if Marvin could get away with that, PETA might not approve of what they would consider “violence”.  For me, my Muppet dream concert I think would be the Fraggles in concert.  The music in Fraggle rock is so inspiring, and the five of them have such beautiful harmony together.  I like rock and roll just fine, but if I was going to see a live concert, I’d appreciate something more acoustic and laid back feeling, so the Fraggles would be ideal! ~ Beth Kondrick
  • I would love to see Scred duet with Lily Tomlin again.  That is one Muppet we never saw enough of.  Scred needs to make a comeback! A reunion duet could be a YouTube hit. ~ Sarah Bastin
  • It would have to be a full variety show of all of them (Like MuppetFest only longer!). Sure he could. PETA doesn't care about hurting vegetables, children or fat people (re. their current billboard controversy). As long as he's not hitting a dolphin he's fine. ~ Heather Powers
  • Small, cozy, wooden-floored room, with comfy sofa-seats, sipping ginger-ale and cream, watching a solitary act play hit after hit on the tinkling ivories...of an out of tune piano...I would want to see Ol’ Brown Ears: In Concert. Rowlf would play his songs, tell pithy jokes and witty stories of life, love, and Lassie. ~ Beauregard

    10.)      If a judge ruled that Grover had to be your personal assistant for a month, what jobs would you have him do?
  • I would have Grover give me autographs from EVERYONE on Sesame Street, The Muppet Show, Fraggle Rock, etc. I would also have him get me a copy of every Muppet movie/special/show ever filmed. Then I would just want him to stay at my house and chill with me. That’d be cool. I wouldn’t make him do anything crazy. ~ Nick Tredo
  • I would ask Grover to be my moving and grooving monster, and teach me to lose weight while watching clips and singing “Wubba wubba”. Then I would ask him to teach me all about the monster in my mirror. ~ Jarrod Fairclough
  • I’d need help with organization and motivation.  I’d like him to arrange my home or office to maximize efficiency and then I’d need pep talks to do stuff when I’m feeling bad.  He’s very good at that kind of thing. ~ Kelly Masters
  • Wash my car, mow the lawn, sing a song, carve a pumpkin, do the dishes, edit the show, polish the drapes, and live-blog from a Bavarian scream-singing competition.  Also invent Bavarian scream-singing. ~ Steve Swanson (host of The MuppetCast)
  • Something even HE can’t mess up. ~ Oscarfan
  • I think I would have him carry things Up and Down for awhile. Then perhaps there would be some things that could be carried Near and Far. ~ Steve Wolterstorff

    11.)     If you have cares, do you dance them away, saving your worries for another day? Or do you simply work said cares away, saving dancing for another day?
  • I tend to work my work away until all that's left for me to care about is dancing. ~ MrsPepper
  • Neither, I just let the Music play! ~ Chris O'Connor
  • I say get everything done in one day… more dancing for tomorrow. ~ John Papovitch
  • I alternate. ~ Sarah Labadini
  • I don’t dance, or work. Now I don’t know what to do! ~ Oscarfan
  • That depends on if I’ve had my daily recommended intake of Doozer sticks. ~ Jarrod Fairclough
  • Honestly? I do neither. I tend to follow Wembley’s style and wemble my worries away, leaving decisions till another day. I also follow a “Right where you belong” method of belief where I am sure that I am always in the right place at the right time and that whatever happens, happens. Similar to Cantus’s message for Mokey when she’s worried about not hearing her “Ping”...’But what happens if I don’t hear anything?’ ‘Nothing.’ I’ve taken those words to heart many times, when fearing for my life’s decisions... A little Cantus appears on my shoulder, “Nothing.”...And I breathe out, and get on with it. ~ Beauregard
12.)     It's Prairie Dawn vs. Scooter in a battle of organizational wit--which side do you choose? Note: Neither side offers dental.
  • I’m on Prairie Dawn’s side! She would win NO DOUBT! Scooter doesn’t stand a chance! ~ Nick Tredo
  • That’s hard.  Prairie Dawn probably has less contacts and experience, but she didn’t come across as a suck-up like Scooter did in the first season especially.  Then there’s that whole child labor law thing.  I’d probably intern Prairie but hire Scooter as a full-time employee. ~ Kelly Masters
  • Scooter.  He wouldn't be as effective as Prairie Dawn, but he's less of a bossy know-it-all.  Also I learned that Scooter at least offers an HSA. ~ Steve Swanson
  • Prairie Dawn, no contest. The Muppet Show, while lovable, is more than a bit chaotic and not even Scooter can rein it in. Prairie's pageants are controlled much better. ~ Prairie Chica (methinks she's biased in this answer!)
  • Scooter. It's a height bias decision but there you go. ~ Steve Wolterstorff
  • I’m afraid that Prairie Dawn would win hands down. Scooter fell into a go-fering position because he was desperate to work with the Muppets, and this was the position they needed. Prairie was BORN for organization and from the very dawn of her existence she has thrived on pageants and plays – even as a little girl. When Scooter was a little boy all he did was played on his geeky computer (Muppet Baby Lore Applied). ~ Beauregard
13.)     Suppose you were offered the opportunity to teach a class based on one subject from the vast world of Jim Henson's Muppets. Which subject would you choose?
  • I would teach "Friend Triangle: Zoe, Elmo, and Rocco." ~ Anonymous
  • I would teach “Ernie and Bert: The First Bromance”, and I would teach how the two really started what would become a huge success in later years, and how each famous bromance (such as Clooney and Pitt, Affleck and Damon etc) are influenced by Ernie and Bert. ~ Jarrod Fairclough
  • The implications of "Mahna Mahna" on the dancing and singing styles of a 3, 13, 23, and 53 year old. ~ Noelle H.
  • “The Muppet Movie: Buddy-Road Trip Comedy or Deconstruction of the American Dream?”
    OR
    “Adv. Fraggle Music: Style, Character and Story” ~ Sarah Labadini
  • The Ecology of Fraggle Rock – the show was written to bring peace and harmony to the world and also was quite earth conscious at the time and we could learn a lot from it.  So that would be my choice even though I’m not a scientist. ~ Beth Kondrick
  •  I actually have and the title was How Muppets Shaped Music. ~ Heather Powers
  • It would be a class for those suffering with eating disorders: “Your Dinner and You: How To Make Friends With Your (All Singing, All Dancing) Food.” ~ Beauregard

    14.)     What is your favorite show starring a singing pig?
  • Charlotte’s We...I mean, The Muppet Show. ~ Anonymous
  • "starring" is a subjective term. ~ Heather Powers
  • Don’t tell Piggy, but I always liked The Boogie Woogie Piggies... ~ Jarrod Fairclough
  • Geez, did she write these questions? ~ Kelly Masters
  • The Tony Clifton Show!  No seriously, it would have to be The Porky Pig Hour.  I love when he sings his big hit "I Loved You the Minute I Sow You". ~ Steve Swanson
  • Hmm, I can't think of any shows starring a singing pig.  My mind's gone blank.  Maybe I need to sing that old remembering song... ~ Sarah Bastin
  • Oh, “Maggie and the Ferocious Beast” of course! ~ Oscarfan
  • …Hannah Montana? Just kidding (about the favorite part, yuck!). ~ Sarah Labadini
  • Uncle Elmer's Porcine Parade. In color! ~ Steve Wolterstorff
  • The Drew Carey Show (my apologies for the fat joke…) ~ John Papovitch
  • Do you mean something Piggy has done? I believe the answer is "everything" unless you want to get karate-chopped! ~ MrsPepper
  • Did Annie-Sue sing?  ~ David
  • Are we excluding the Sow of Music? (Boo! BOO! Get off the stage, you bum!) ~ Beauregard

    15.)     Do you think the legislation allowing chickens to dance onstage should be passed?
  • DEFINITELY. Chickens deserve all the rights they can get, and their dancing abilities should be displayed onstage for the world to see. ~ Nick Tredo
  • Of course. Equal rights baby. ~ Noelle H.
  • I was under the assumption that it was already legal, as they do it quite often and haven’t been arrested yet. ~ Kelly Masters
  • Not in its current form.  I think if they put the "poultry option" back in then we're in good shape. ~ Steve Swanson
  • Absolutely. Chickens have been relegated to the corners of society for far too long. It’s bad enough people only think of them in regards to their tender, delicious meat or that they run around after their heads are cut off, but to limit their artistic expression is a cruel and unjust torture. It is not their fault they are not mammals, that they live in coops and peck at the ground for food. They have true beauty inside them, just waiting to be let out and it is undemocratic to let them lay eggs in the wings waiting to come out. Nobody puts Chickie in the corner. ~ Sarah Labadini
  • Of course! They have a lot of potential in the theater business! I hear that they also can rollerskate while singing The Sound of Music, too. ~ Caitlyn
  • Speaking on behalf of the Council for the Legislatorly Insane, I suggest No to the first, No to the second, and let’s all get hammered and have a knees-up. ~ Beauregard

    16.)     Argue your side of this issue: "The government should require all children to watch Sesame Street until age 7."
  • I believe all children up until 7 should be required to have a class at school called “Sesame Street” in which they watch the show, then discuss everything that happens, including why someone like Natalie Portman would be working in Hooper’s, or how hot Heidi Klum looked while she was talking about compliments. ~ Jarrod Fairclough
  • The government definitely should require children to watch Sesame Street.  How else would YOU have learned what to do with a cookie, and to monstrously eat plates of them all at once?? ~ Steve Swanson
  • I would actually argue that the government should require all people, regardless of age, to watch at least 20 hours of Sesame Street a year. Make the kids watch all of it, but edit together episodes for adults that takes out the counting to ten and alphabet games and just involves the social issues the show deals with. Because adults, just as much as children (and maybe even more so) need to remember to respect other people, their environment and all creatures on Earth. If we paired this with required Fraggle Rock viewings, the world would be a better, happier and more peaceful place. ~ Sarah Labadini
  • I agree and they should watch it past age 7 too! It's cute when you're young, but actually funny when you're older! ~ MrsPepper
  • “The government should require all children to watch Sesame Street until age 7...which, following the Bronze Age and the Stone Age, is apparently the hippest age to be.” (The Ice Age was the Coolest.) ~ Beauregard

    I'm now going to show you a series of words or phrases. I want you to tell me the first word or phrase that comes to your mind upon reading...

    ~ Drumsticks

  • ANIMAL!!!! ~ Nick Tredo
  • EAT DRUMS, EAT DRUMS! ~ Jarrod Fairclough
  • Chicken ~ Kelly Masters
  • FOOD! ~ Oscarfan
  • Camilla ~ Chris O'Connor
    ~ Onion
  • Glass ~ Steve Swanson
  • Soup mix ~ Prairie Chica
  • Never harmed one. ~ Sarah Labadini
  • Mokey. I don’t know why exactly. But its making me cry. Or...maybe that’s just the onion. ~ Beauregard
    ~ Bubbles
  • Raisins coming out my ears ~ Jarrod Fairclough
  • That crazy fish from Finding Nemo ~ Steve Swanson
  • "Rubber Duckie" ~ Prairie Chica

  • Bubbles come out of my head! ~ Sarah Labadini
    ~ Bunk-Beds
  • Gonzo (Imagine the stunts he could do off of one!) ~ Nick Tredo
  • Hmm, why didn’t Bert and Ernie ever invest in bunk beds?  They would’ve saved so much space that way in their tiny apartment bedroom! ~ Beth Kondrick
  • B-Words! Good old Doc, go build some more, for the Sesame Street Gang at Christmas. ~ Beauregard
  • B-Words! ~ Almost everyone else
    ~ Doorknob

  • Tooth ache ~ Anonymous
  • Don't call me that. ~ Jarrod Fairclough
  • Ouch my face ~ Noelle H.
  • Doorknob, Dr. Bob ~ Steve Swanson
    ~ Kermit's Swamp Years
  • Haven't seen it. ~ Noelle H. and Kelly Masters
  • Cute-ish? ~ Prairie Chica
  • Adequate movies ~ Oscarfan
  • misplaced childhood memories? ~ Caitlyn
  • GOGGLES = LOVE ~ MrsPepper
    ~ Wilkins Coffee
  • Muppet Murder. ~ Jarrod Fairclough
  • Don't you want some? ~ Steve Wolterstorff
  • I won’t drink it! *waits to see what will happen* ~ Beauregard
    ~ Here/Hear 
  • Fozziwig ~ Anonymous
  • There/Their ~ Steve Swanson and Heather Powers
  • Grover “Anywhere I am is here.  Anywhere I am not is there” ~ Beth Kondrick
  • Good grief, the comedian's a-bear! ~ Caitlyn and Steve Wolterstorff
  •  Statler vs Waldorf. “Hear hear!” “What what?” ~ Beauregard

    I'll now present you with a series of images, tell me what you see...

    Elmo 
  • The Sesame Street Savior – who knows it ~ Jarrod Fairclough
  • Poster child for ADHD ~ Noelle H.
  • Red ~ Steve Swanson 
  • It was this big!! ~ Chris O'Connor
  • intro drug ~ Heather Powers
  • Sell Out ~ David
  • I see an evil, show-stealing monster. And then I see myself saying this out loud, and I realize that I am a cooperate, unfeeling monster myself and that Elmo is just a child, with a lot of love, and a lot of hugs, and a lot of tickles. He’s not evil at all. It’s just an attitude that has built up on me for years, and I struggle daily to be rid of it. ~ Beauregard

    Rizzo's Back

  • Rat! Oh, Rizzo...phew. Nice jacket. ~ Anonymous
  • The back of the jacket that I would kill to have! ~ Nick Tredo
  • Red ~ Steve Swanson
  • The perfect opportunity to glomp Rizzo from behind... ~ Caitlyn

    Dr. Teeth and Kermit "Hip-Hop" T-Shirt
  • A t-shirt I MUST have! ~ Jarrod Fairclough
  • I see punny ~ Prairie Chica
  • Blue ~ Steve Swanson 
  • Do wop do wop hop.  Don’t stop. ~ Beth Kondrick
  • Yuck. Modern culture mixed with the Muppe---OH! That’s funny! Hip...because Dr Teeth is hip, and Hop because the frog...Right...I get it now. (Maybe they could do another with Hip represented by Waldorf’s left leg replacement, and Animal’s Bunny?) ~ Beauregard

    Red Fraggle dressed in armor
  • Red singing an obnoxious song which annoys Mokey because she’s trying to write poetry. ~ Anonymous
  • Xena, Warrior Fraggle ~ Noelle H.
  • Red ~ Steve Swanson
  • Fraggle 300! ~ John Papovitch
  • No it wasnt, It was this big!! ~ Chris O'Connor
  • Fraggle movie! Fraggle movie! Fraggle--...Is this a picture from the Fraggle Movie? Please be a picture from the Fraggle Movie. I want a Fraggle Movie. GIVE ME A FRAGGLE MOVIE!!! ~ Beauregard
  • Honestly, I have no cute answers for the pictures. I see Elmo, Rizzo, Dr. Teeth and Kermit and Red. It is 1:40am, and I have no more wittiness left in me… ~ Sarah Labadini
A HUGE special thanks to everyone who took the time to submit their answers! It means a lot that you're dedicated enough to send these answers in! If you'd like for all of your answers to be seen, feel free to post them in The Muppet Mindset thread on Muppet Central Forum!

Thanks to everyone for reading! See you all tomorrow!

Sep 25, 2009

The Great Muppet Survey Answers: Part 1

THIS IS IMPORTANT!

Do you like the Muppets? Do you like Steve Whitmire? Then let him know! Friend of the blog, D.W. McKim, has started a massive postcard writing campaign to let Steve know how much we love and appreciate him. How does one go about doing this, you ask? Simple, just follow the link to the thread on Muppet Central Forum, read the instructions/suggestions, buy a postcard, write on it, and send it away! It's easy as 1, 2, 3 (ah, ah, ah!).

Come on, Muppet fans! Doesn't Steve deserve a little love after 19 years of performing Kermit and keeping Jim Henson's legacy and magic alive? This project will cost you about $1.00 and take you about an hour (at the absolute most). Isn't that more than enough to repay Steve for all the years of love and laughter he's given us?

This is a call to ALL Muppet fans ALL over the world! Let's show the Mouse House and Steve how much we love and care about Steve Whitmire! Send postcards to...

Steve Whitmire
The Muppets Studio
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Today on The Muppet Mindset, we finally reveal the great answers to our Great Muppet Survey! Isn't this exciting? What I've done is compiled the greatest answers to each question and credited the fans who e-mailed their answers. I've made sure to use everyone who sent in answers at least once in this post, and will use them all once again in part 2. Some posts have been slightly edited to make more sense in context. I apologize to anyone who may be offended by my slight revisions! Also, friend of the site and British Correspondent, Beauregard, helped me to organize all of this, so I've allowed him to post his answers to whatever questions he wanted.


So, without further ado, here are what Muppet fans have to say! Be sure to check back tomorrow for part 2!

1.)     If you could sit down to a meal with any Muppet, who would it be? Why would you choose said Muppet? What would you serve? Could they keep their elbows on the table?
  • I would choose Pepe (the King Prawn), because I’d enjoy the witty (or maybe not so witty...) banter we would have. I would serve shrimp just to see his reaction. Of course he could keep his elbows on the table. He’s a King Prawn, okay? He has too many elbows not to. ~ Anonymous
  • I would choose Ernie, because he’s been my favorite Muppet since I can remember.  I would ask him to get me a glass of soda water, knowing that I would end up with an ice cream soda.  Ernie’s elbows may have to be on the table, so that his strange little growths coming off his arms at the elbow don’t hit the floor. ~ Jarrod Fairclough
  • Kermit, because he would be well-mannered, funny and a good conversationalist. Plus he’d be the only one I could trust not to blow something up in my soup. We would NOT have frog’s legs. Perhaps I would have the Filet Mignon while he would have the Filet Du Fly. For dessert, a grasshopper ripple for him and a cheesecake for me. And of course there would be Sparkling Muscatel, one of the finest wines of Idaho (with straws). ~ Sarah Labadini
  •  I would invite Rizzo because he wouldn't leave any leftovers.  By which I mean, no food would be left in the entire house... or possibly any of the neighbor's houses.  I would invite him during spring cleaning so I wouldn't have to clean the fridge or pantry myself.  Any canned goods that Rizzo couldn't pry open with his teeth and devour would be donated to charity.

    Now, some people might be wary of inviting a rat over for dinner, what with the risk of disease and all.  But I figure, hey, Gonzo hangs out with him all the time, and he seems okay, right? Right? ~ Sarah Bastin
  • Hopefully someone who doesn’t eat me or everything else in sight! ~ Oscarfan 
  • George the Janitor. And I’ll tell you for why, but first of all why I didn’t invite certain others:"The main characters," Kermit, Fozzie, Rizzo, Miss Piggy, even Sweetums or Robin – Could I really hold a conversation with them? I don’t think I could. I would spend the entire evening in a state of utter panic (rather than in a New York State of Mind, or on a picnic) and I’d be so afraid of saying the wrong thing or looking like an idiot in front of someone I have loved and idolized for so many years, that I’d probably end up saying nothing, asking nothing, feeling uncomfortable and choking on my own caviar. George is not someone I idolize; he is someone who irritates me. So instead of feeling awed (and awkward) in his presence, I will feel as if I am doing him a giant favour by inviting him and I’ll feel that in exchange, he owes me some good, juicy gossip from the boarding house. He can tell me whether he still stays in touch with Hilda by postcard, and give me the skinny on Mildred Huxtetter (namely: Is she still skinny?). Who blocks the toilet? What does Floyd keep in his drawers (aside from Foofoo)? Have Gonzo and Camilla really broken up, or does he still find feathers on Gonzo’s room? ~ Beauregard
2.)      If you could only watch one Muppet production for the rest of your life, what would it be? Why?
  • What?!?! Now you’re making me choose only ONE Muppet production? This is IMPOSSIBLE! Uh……uuhhhh……..ummm…….hmmm…….uh…..probably…..The Muppet Movie. No wait! Actually, yeah. I’m keeping it. The Muppet Movie is probably my favorite Muppet production. It’s one of those movies you can watch a million times, and never get sick of. Even though most Muppet productions are like that, but The Muppet Movie stood out to me the most. ~ Nick Tredo
  • That is easy, The Muppet Christmas Carol.  I have such fond memories of watching that movie every x-mas, which my family still does, passing it on to the next generation.  The music is wonderful and the cast was perfect.  There is nothing about that movie I want to fast forward through, and it is something I can watch over and over again without ever getting sick of it. ~ Noelle H.
  • The Muppet Movie.  It's probably the most "pure" Muppet form that ever made it to the screen, apart from the Muppet Show, and since I could only choose one episode of that, 90 minutes beats out 20. ~ Steve Swanson
  •  This question is too hard! ~ Steve Wolterstorff
  • Aah, what a torturous question! What is the point of this survey? ;) Probably muppet treasure island because it's nostalgic, has some of the best songs imho, and it's visually very gorgeous, I love just looking at it (as opposed to some of the older ones, which look dated and much less fantastical). Either that, or The Muppets Take Manhattan cause the camp factor is off the charts, and Kermie and Piggy get hitched! :D ~ MrsPepper on Muppet Central Forum
  • It’s a Very Merry Muppet Christmas. My reason as for why is thus: it brought me hope when I had none – both in the Muppet World, and in real life. Before the movie was released, I felt that the Muppets were done with, finished, and empty. I felt that any dream I might have had of working with them was as dead as Dead Tom. Furthermore, this movie has layer upon layer of information to tell us about the Muppets. Who they are, what they do, where they come from, and what their lives could have been like. Everytime I watch this movie, I realise that I can have a hope of changing the lives of those around me – even a small change, such as Kermit handing Chocolates to Miss Piggy, can change their dark world into a light one. ~ Beauregard
3.)     If President Obama called you and asked you to meet him at the White House to discuss Muppet projects and he asked you to bring the "greatest" Muppet moment, what would you bring? Would you wear an American flag lapel pin?
  • I would bring Beaker’s webby win. I would not wear an American flag lapel pin. President Obama should know I’m patriotic due to the fact I’m going to the White House to meet him in the first place and, because I’m a Muppet fan. ~ Anonymous
  • The greatest Muppet moment.  Boy.  There are SO many good choices here.  I’m going to go with “Just One Person” at the end of the Jim Henson tribute.  Merely because, it was proof that the Muppets could go on without Jim, it was a fitting tribute to him and it gave us hope for the future.  I think Obama could be on board with that!  And sure, I’d wear a pin because I’m sure Sam the Eagle would threaten me if I didn’t. ~ Beth Kondrick
  • Kermit and Piggy arguing over going to back to swamp versus back to the sty in the John Denver Episode of The Muppet Show! No I wouldn't wear a American flag pin, but maybe a Muppet pin! ~ Chris O'Connor
  • I would bring every single Muppet that ever existed to the White House and have Kermit lead everyone in a singing of "The Rainbow Connection". Of course, everyone would be wearing said lapel pins, including me. (I wonder how that would work out, since some Muppets have mixed backgrounds...) ~ Caitlyn
  • Harry Belafonte's "Turn the World Around" number on The Muppet Show because it shows international cooperation and how there is value in story and song. No pin. Maybe a Sam the Eagle pin instead. ~ Heather Powers
  • May I present the Toe Ticklers, Mr President. ~ Beauregard

    4.)     You find yourself in a college-level English class with the assignment of writing an essay on your favorite performance from your favorite Muppeteer (while applying Shakespearean rhetoric, of course). Which Muppeteer and production would you choose?
  • I would choose John Tartaglia’s performance in “Pre-School Musical” – that said, I’m biased because I’m friends with him. ~ Jarrod Fairclough
  • Dave Goelz performing Gonzo.  Not sure what I'd say, but there's plenty to pick from in there. ~ Steve Swanson
  • Methinks I should choose Jim Henson and Kerm,
    Although ‘t dost not behoove me to do so.
    The Muppet Movie ere now I’ve just talked,
    Thou must thinks’t no other film do I know.
    Thought I, “Wherefore must I limit myself
    To one performance and one Muppeteer?
    Woulds’t this teacher of mine reject greatly
    If from his or her directions I veer?”
    And so, put I forth this new direction,
    To focus mine pape on one certain scene
    Betwixt that good frog and hardworking pig
    And whence they break from the script that had been
    Set in place by The Great Muppet Caper
    And fight alongside the banks of the Thames.
    Piggy cries over what has transpired
    And the frog, thus, her performance condemns.
    It is a master delivery by
    Henson and Oz, Muppet humor at best.
    And now that so many lines have I writ,
    I think t’would behoove me to give it rest.  ~ Sarah Labadini (Bonus points for ACTUALLY applying Shakespearean rhetoric! I was just kidding!)
  • Are you trying to get essay ideas? Just kidding. I'd pick something by Gonzo, since it's abstract enough that I could B.S. my way through a few pages of an essay no problem! ~ MrsPepper on Muppet Central Forum
  • I have found myself in a college-level English class just about every day for the past three years, but I have never had such an awesome assignment given to me. Le sigh. I would choose Jim Henson, and "Bein' Green" ~ Prairie Chica
  •  I would write an essay about Richard Hunt performing Beaker, providing something from within that character which no one else can quite grasp – in fact, all of his characters have something beyond appearances which make them connect on a level above certain characters which were perhaps originally designed to have more of an impact (Quite literally in some cases.) For example, Sweetums – generic monster, originally quite scary with glowing eyes, became the single-representation left of the original Muppet Monsters. Clearly something within that character struck a chord deeper than Thog, Thig, or Big Mamma. Similarly, Scooter hit a chord with the public which was not captured by Hilda, Wayne, or many other of the new Muppets created for Season 1 of The Muppet Show. I’d try and find the words to describe how Richard Hunt managed to find a magic spark within the center of each of his characters, and how he kept that spark alive. ~ Beauregard
 5.)     On a high school debate team, you find yourself posed the question, "What have the Muppets been missing in recent productions?" How do you answer? Do you state your answer in the form of a question? Can I have "Foreign Cheeses" for $200, Alex?
  • I answer by stating that the Muppets have been lacking a sense of direction, originality, and Muppet zany craziness. ~ Anonymous
  • I think that the Muppets have been missing a lot of their old magic in recent productions. Why? I still can’t put my finger on it. I miss Janice and Scooter, and wish that they could be assigned permanent performers, so they can return to the more recent productions. I think a lot of things from The Muppet Show have been lost. Like Kermit “scrunchie” face and Miss Piggy’s karate chops. ~ Nick Tredo
  • The Muppets have been missing the zaniness.  They’ve become TOO focused on the story, and not the little things going on around the story that made the Muppets what they are.  They need to bring back the crazy antics like eating tires to bring back the Muppets to all their glory.  Plus, Disney needs to realize they can’t be so child friendly all the time. ~ Jarrod Fairclough
  • “Kermit” is missing from the Muppets.  Oh, sure, he’s been there.  But what Kermit represents, Jim’s creative umbrella, was definitely pronounced DOA and there’s been only rough attempts at CPR until recently.  Kermit is the frustrated manager who tries to get everyone to get along to maximize the happiness of others.  I think Jim Henson was rather good at that, especially during the classic era of the Muppets.  What they need is someone who has a creative long-term vision and a love for the characters that should only exist for real entities.  You can have the best writers and performers money can buy all day long, but without a leader, even a frustrated one, you won’t maximize the potential. ~ RedPiggy
  • The main thing they've been missing is just the imagination of Jim Henson, and that genie's never going back in the bottle.  Everybody on the Muppet team still gives it their all, but Jim not being there to steer the ship means they'll never truly return to the magic they once had.  Pushing the characters into somewhat stuffy and uncharacteristic roles never helps either.  I'm looking at you, Studio DC. ~ Steve Swanson
  • Don't many agree that they have been missing the humour? I would count myself as one of those persons. I do state my answer in the form of a question. I would do better with “literary characters” than “foreign cheeses.” ~ Prairie Chica
  • Ignoring the last parts of that question, I don’t think they’re missing anything. I’d say Jim Henson, but that’s a given. ~ Oscarfan
  • “What is heart, adult humor and (aside from Letters To Santa) decent songs?” ~ Sarah Labadini
  •  I don't know that the question is still valid. In the wilderness period after the Loss of Jim, the Muppets did seem to stray from the balance of exploding items, sad mushy moments, and bad puns. There was also no feeling that the people in charge had a clue how to keep the Muppets relevant without altering the Muppets into something that they are not. Post Muppet Wizard of Oz, this seems to be correcting itself. This is why I'm a bit less concerned about the 'health' of the Muppets in general. ~ Steve Wolterstorff
  • Jim Henson's spirit! Originally the Muppets were created for adults but accessible for children. Lately they seem created for children and accessible by adults. This bothers me. ~ Heather Powers
  • What is Love? They don't love each other enough anymore. It's all about being hip or cute or funny or whatever. But whoever has come up with these failing ideas doesn't realise that these things happen organically with love. And by that I mean the creators must show love to their characters, and the characters must show love to one another. ~ MrsPepper on Muppet Central Forum
  • I would say, the Muppets are missing some of the original Muppets from the original show. ~ David

    6.)    
    Who is your ideal Muppet date? Gentlemen, this question is definitely meant to only have one possible, porcine answer.
  • Bunsen Honeydew. S&M plus brains. NICE! ~ Heather Powers
  • No porcine for me thanks. I’ll go out with Hilda if you please. ~ David
  • Kermit, because he’s the man. Or… frog… Whatever. Fozzie would be wayyy to codependent, Gonzo would never stop hitting on other chicks, Crazy Harry would blow the table to bits at some point during the meal (“Wow the flavor on this steak is just explosi--!!!”) and let’s not even suggest what a date with Marvin Suggs would entail… ~ Sarah Labadini
  • Well, my vote is either Gonzo or Wembley Fraggle.  I know what normal life is like.  I want someone to take me somewhere (in reality or in my head) I’ve never been before.  Both are pretty much open for anything and are really creative.  I’d be willing to go along with any of their suggestions for a date. ~ Kelly Masters
  • This question is creepy.  Next. ~ Steve Swanson
  • One possible... porcine... Spamella? ~ Beauregard
7.)      Where do you see the Muppets in five years?
  • Once the20buzz dies down from Disney’s Muppet plans, I think we’ll be underway with another theatrical Muppet movie (second one after the Segal movie) and hopefully a new TV series. ~ John Papovitch
  •  I never rully thought about that. I HOPE that they will be almost as successful they were in the 70s and 80s. I know the same magic will never come back, but I hope they can amount to something big. I hope that they will succeed. ~ Nick Tredo
  • This is an interesting question.  If you had asked me this question about five years ago, I would’ve had a much more negative response.  Right now, I can say that based on the info that has come out of D23 just this past weekend, I’m optimistic.  It sounds like Disney is finally committed to getting the Muppets back into the spotlight again.  If they come through on their promises I’d say in five years the Muppets will be a household name again, with more movies and maybe a show on the air again.  The next six months to a year will be very telling I think. ~ Beth Kondrick
  • Hopefully on the big and small screens as part of a new Muppet Renaissance, like the Disney Renaissance of the early 90s. ~ Sarah Bastin
  • Dangling from a ledge. Oh, sorry, that's just Gonzo. I think we're seeing the beginning of a revival. I don't think they'll become huge again because of this but I think they'll become more familiar to people who didn't grow up with the Muppet Show on every week. I think they'll be a solid chunk of pop culture again. ~ Steve Wolterstorff
  • I’ll probably see them on a DVD playing in my flying car as my robotic driver takes me to my house buried in the center of the earth following the nuclear fallout. – Wait, was that the question? ~ Beauregard

    8.)     What's the name of that song?
  • What song? ~ Nick Tredo
  • White Christmas!  No...  Uh.... ~ Jarrod Fairclough
  • The name of that song is "[404 ERROR: XML-MALFORMED-ATTRIBUTE 0x000A342DF698 ~ Steve Swanson
  • Something something nice? ~ Prairie Chica
  • Well let’s see here, there are so many song choices.  I’d say my favorite is and always will be The Rainbow Connection.  It’s beautiful, has a lovely message and when I hear it, I always think of Jim somewhere smiling. ~ Beth Kondrick
  • “Do You Know the Way to San Jose?” ~ Oscarfan
  • That’s like asking how many licks it takes to get to the center of a Tootsie Pop. The world may never know… ~ Sarah Labadini
  • Sing? ~ Steve Wolterstorff
  • “Never Gonna Give You Up” – Rick Astley ~ John Papovitch
  •  No Idea, I need to find Cantus to help me hear it! ~ Chris O'Connor
  •  La dee da dee da, La dee da dee da, What's the name of that song? ~ Caitlyn
  •  Songs don't always have to have a name you know. ~ Heather Powers
  • It goes la la la, la la, something something... ah, I've lost it! ~ MrsPepper
  •  La dee da dee da, la dee da dee da What’s the name of that song. ~ David
  •  It’s Being Green as you Move Right Along Back there Some Day towards This Frog’s Rainbow Connection and although we’ve Never Before been Saying Goodbye we’re Together Again with One More Sleep Till Christmas as we’re Stepping Out With a Star and fighting off Cabin Fever until Me Lost Cookie at the Disco but luckily Lose Your Heart and it’s Found – Does this also apply to Cookies? ~ Beauregard