Oct 26, 2011
Weekly Muppet Monster Wednesdays: Murray Monster
Sesame Street Season 36 (2005)
Most recent appearance...
Sesame Street Season 42 (2011)
Best known role...
"Word on the Street" presenter, haver of little lamb Ovejita, show host
"Hi! I'm Murray! And I wanna know... What's the word on the Street?"
WHO IS MURRAY MONSTER?
Murray is a large, fuzzy, red, excitable young monster who has risen to fame on Sesame Street in recent years. While his description may sound eerily similar to Elmo's, he's really quite different. Murray's main gig on the show recently has been going out into "the real world" and finding people who can tell him what the Word on the Street (aka, the Word of the Day) means.
Murray's first appearance was in Season 36, where he began appearing, with little fanfare, asking kids questions. Usually, since the curriculum called for it, Murray would spend these talk-spots asking kids about exercise or other healthy life habits. It's not widely known that during this time, Murray was just another unnamed monster performed by Joey Mazarrino. In fact, around the set they referred to him as "FilFil" because Murray's design was so similar to a character with the name FilFil on the Egyptian co-production Alam Simsim.
It only took two more years for Murray to gain his name and gain a specific role on the show in Season 38, when he began introducing every episode with his "What's the Word on the Street?" segment. With Season 39, Murray acquired his own segment within the show with "Murray Has a Little Lamb" where he and his pet lamb, Ovejita, visit different types of schools and learn something new every day.
Murray has not, and does not, appear in many Street Stories in the show. One of the few and most prominent examples of Murray's involvement in a Street Story was in Season 39's "The Golden Triangle of Destiny" episode. In the story, Murray assists Texas Telly in his quest to find said Triangle of Destiny. He spends his time in the laundromat with Leela as Telly takes on his journey.
Murray's star rose to astronomical heights in Season 40 when he became the sort of host of the new block format of the show, introducing segments throughout the show and the Letter and Number of the Day. In these brief segments, Murray exists in the real world interacting with children and adults alike to understand letters and numbers, learn new things, and introduce segments such as Super Grover 2.0, Bert and Ernie's Great Adventures, Abby's Flying Fairy School, and Elmo's World. Murray even announces the letter and number sponsors at the end of each episode, making him the first and last Muppet to be seen on the show every day.
Currently, Murray is hosting another new segment that takes place throughout the show called "Murray's Science Experiments," where he and Ovejita travel around New York City to conduct experiments with various children and teachers to explore ideas in the S.T.E.M. curriculum. This again gives Murray a starring role on the show, appearing almost as much as Elmo throughout every episode.
MURRAY MONSTER AND JOEY MAZZARINO
Murray is veteran Muppeteer Joey Mazarrino's first main character on Sesame Street. Joey and Murray make appearances together often and Murray really gets to show off his funny side in unscripted appearances. Joey has also stated that he likes to keep Murray off the Street and Street Stories, much like Fraggle Rock's Uncle Traveling Matt was rarely seen in the main setting.
WHY DOES SESAME STREET NEED MURRAY MONSTER?
Murray is one of the newest characters on Sesame Street, and as such he has an incredibly hard time of endearing himself to fans of the show who love such characters as Grover, Bert, Ernie, and Oscar. However, I firmly believe that Murray's fun-loving attitude and interactions with Ovejita are enough to establish him as a great character. He is able to teach while having fun himself, and helping the kids to have fun as well. And really, isn't that what Sesame Street is all about? Murray's sense of educational value while not sacrificing entertainment value is what makes him a fun character to watch and one who is certainly earning his place amongst Sesame Street's finest.
The Muppet Mindset by Ryan Dosier, firstname.lastname@example.org