1 The Muppet Mindset: August 2011

Aug 31, 2011

Weekly Muppet Wednesdays: The Martians


Today's Weekly Muppet Wednesday article was written by Michael Wermuth, Jr.

THE MARTIANS
 
Performed by...
Various (1971-present)

Best known role...
Visitors from Outer Space

Also known as...
The Yip-Yips

First appearance...
Sesame Street Season 3 (1971)

Most recent appearance...
iYipp iPhone application (2011)


WHO ARE THE MARTIANS?
The Martians are extra terrestrials who visit Earth on a regular basis and often try to interact with objects, which, unknown to them, are not alive. Their language is pretty much limited to "Yip-yip-yip-yip" and "Uh-huh! Uh-huh!", though they also say single English words, carrying around an English dictionary. There are at least three Martians: A blue one, a purple one, and an orange one, though usually only two appear at a time. They have interacted with such earthly objects as a grandfather clock, a telephone, a radio, various letters and numbers, and a book.

SONGS WITH THE MARTIANS
  • "Hi Friend" with Bob
  • "Martian Family (Yip Yip Song)"
  • "Get Along" with Kermit the Frog and others
  • "My Outer Space Friend" with Telly Monster

MOMENTS WITH THE MARTIANS
One of the Martians’ best-known moments is a season three segment in which the Martians try to communicate with a telephone, making the sounds of various animals and getting scared when the phone rings.

Another great moment came one morning when Ernie woke up and found that Bert was already out of bed, speculating that Bert was kidnapped by martians. But then Ernie learned that Bert had woken up early and was making oatmeal. Afterwards, two Martians suddenly showed up, and happily took Bert’s offer of oatmeal.

In Sesame Street: A Musical Celebration, Big Bird picks two Martians to be "la-la-ers" in his big show, but when Big Bird tells the Martians they're going to be stars, they look into their book and then decide to go into space (though they do return to earth in time for the big finale).

WHY DOES SESAME STREET NEED THE MARTIANS?
The Martians are a lot like the toddlers watching the show. They see things that are common to us, but unknown to them, and try to figure out what they are supposed to do with them. Their figuring out words is very much like a child learning a new word. And who can resist those colors?

Yep. That’s why they are needed. Yep-yep-yep, uh-huh, uh-huh!

 




The Muppet Mindset by Ryan Dosier, ryguy102390@gmail.com

Aug 30, 2011

The Muppets and OK Go on The Tonight Show Tomorrow

TV ALERT: THE MUPPETS AND OK GO ON THE TONIGHT SHOW
WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 31st

Tomorrow night on NBC, the Muppets and the band OK Go will be performing the band's cover of "The Muppet Show Theme Song" from Muppets: The Green Album on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno. The show airs at 11:35/10:35 central time in the United States, but be sure to check your local listings anyway. 

It seems fairly impossible for OK Go and the Muppets to recreate their hugely popular and expansive music video on live television, but it will be incredibly interesting to see what they do with it, which Muppets show up to sing along, and how awesome it is sure to be. Make sure you tune in for this exciting Muppet appearance... and, just because it's too awesome not to see again, watch the Muppets and OK Go's collaborative music video below!







The Muppet Mindset by Ryan Dosier, ryguy102390@gmail.com

Aug 29, 2011

The Ramblings of Jarrod Fairclough, Muppet Nerd, Part 2

Jarrod Fairclough Presents: The Ramblings of a Muppet Nerd

Hi ho, and welcome to the second edition of my new article series. Before I start, I just want to say thanks to everyone who commented on the first article, especially Stelle, who absolutely made my day! Hopefully you’ll all enjoy the series as much as I enjoy writing it! Anyway, onwards to the article!

I love Muppet cameos. I love them like you wouldn’t believe. Which is why I get excited when they appear on other TV shows. Even if I don’t like the TV show, I’ll watch it, because it’s Muppets, and Muppets make the world a better place. But when I like the show, it makes it all the more exciting! There’s no better example of this than the appearance of Oscar, Grover and Elmo on Scrubs, one of my favourite shows. And it was perfectly done! And that’s got me thinking of other TV shows I’d like to see Muppets appear on. Let’s take a walk down TV show lane, shall we? Does that lane exist? Is there any housing available there?
  • CURB YOUR ENTHUSIASM:  Now, I have no idea how this would work convincingly, and I’m not sure any of the Muppet people would allow them on this show, because it can be extremely crass. But it’s hilarious, and with Muppet performers being incredibly good at improv, (as this show is mainly improvised), I can see some hilarity ensuing. Maybe an episode where Larry David goes to Stuffed and Unstrung and insults one of the puppeteers before the show, so they use the puppets to insult him in front of the audience.
    • HOW I MET YOUR MOTHER: Neil Patrick Harris is a self-proclaimed Muppet fan, and he’s also appeared on Sesame Street as The Fairy Shoe Person–one of my personal favourite street scenes of all time. But how could Muppets convincingly appear on this? Maybe they could be interviewed by Robin about their new movie. Or Lily might play a video of them for her kindergarten class.  Of course it’d be fourth wall references all-round, because there’s some guy from that show that apparently has something to do with the new film? Ha, I kid. Believe me, we’ll get to Jason Segel, and my man-crush on him in the next article.
      • 30 ROCK:  Alright, calm down, I know that the Muppets have been on it! But not Kermit, or Big Bird, or anyone awesome. And how would this happen? Well, it’s been established that Kenneth already sees the world as Muppets. Perhaps a conk on the head sees the 30 Rock team appear as Sesame Street characters to Kenneth. Prairie Dawn as Liz Lemon. Oscar as Jack. Zoe as Jenna.  Grover as Tracy. You get the idea.
        • CONAN:  Okay, so technically this would be more of an appearance than a cameo. There are not many things in this world that I love as much as Muppets. But Conan O’Brien is one of them. And Muppets haven’t been seen with him nearly as much as they should have. I’m hoping they’ll appear to promote the new movie. And I’m hoping it’s better than their appearances on Leno... Anything would be better than Leno... I hate him as much as I hate Ke$ha.
          • COMMUNITY:  This is the other thing I love as much as I love Muppets.  This show is by far one of the best sitcoms I’ve ever seen, one of the smartest pieces of work in the world. I could go on for days about the genius of this show, but I’ll try not to. The thing is, this show has done so many weird and quirky episodes, they’d think of a way to pull it off and make it look convincing. I mean these are the people who did a mafia movie episode (revolving around chicken fingers), numerous war episodes (all revolving around paintball, including cowboys and Star Wars), a conspiracy episode, a claymation episode, and a flashback episode that had 82 scenes we’d never actually seen before. This show could do it. This show should do it. In fact, I’m going to tweet show creator Dan Harmon about it now. One moment. There, I’m back. I really did tweet him about it.
            These shows are some of my favourites, and I can easily see Muppets appearing on these shows. To any of the people who work on any of these shows, if you want to use any of these ideas, go ahead, I won’t sue. Just credit me with a thank you. No payment necessary! Unless you want to pay me... (Note from Ryan: And then who pays me?)

            Tune in next time for my promised love letter to Jason Segel, the man I aspire to be. It helps I look a bit like him...

            Have a shpadoinkle day! And if you got that reference, I love you.

            Jarrod.





            The Muppet Mindset by Ryan Dosier, ryguy102390@gmail.com

            Aug 28, 2011

            86 Days Until "The Muppets"


            Lucas Ervin - For this third week, I would like to showcase some of the craziest characters on The Muppet Show that appeared many times over the show’s five year run. These characters also seem to show Jim Henson’s wicked sense of humor that he was so well known for. Everybody has their weird moments--even Kermit--but these guys are what gave The Muppet Show its crazy vibe. So this week, prepare for sick, weird and morally appalling characters who will make you laugh, sing and run for cover.

            86.   Koozebanians
            I decided to kick off with the Koozebanian characters because they’re featured more often than people might think. Kermit, dressed in the same reporter outfit from Sesame Street, interviewed many of the different species that inhabited the planet Koozebane, such as Phoobs, Spoobles and even covered a Koozebanian mating ritual. The crew from Pigs In Space have also landed on the planet a couple of times, including the Star Wars episode. They come in all shapes and sizes, and can be seen throughout the entire five-year run of the show. The link above shows Dom DeLouise during his visit to the planet, dealing with some mischievous Merdilops.

            85.   Bobby Benson and His Baby Band
            Richard Hunt was another Muppet performer who really understood Jim’s odd sense of humor, and he proved it by playing several questionable characters like Beaker, Sweetums, and, of course, Bobby Benson, a middle-aged man who smokes and somehow has a band of babies with him at all times, and apparently is returning in The Muppets in November. He always said, "That’s my babies!" But I’m pretty sure he just stole them from a daycare center, and the moms and dads never investigated it further. Of course, if their parents actually cared about their babies, then we wouldn’t have great numbers like "Pennsylvania 6-5000."

            84.   Sam the Eagle
            A Frank Oz character, the fact that Sam was always trying to instill moral and wholesome entertainment into the Show but always failing at his attempts to do so is exactly why he makes the list this week. He’s tried discussing the issues of nudity, stealing, and even has read the fable "The Ant and the Grasshopper," where, in this version, the story actually ends with the ant getting stepped on and the grasshopper drives down to Florida. He’s even tried censoring the show a couple of times, and failed miserably. He really doesn’t seem to get along well with anyone either. In fact, the only two people--aside from Wayne and Wanda--that he really can communicate with are Statler and Waldorf. He’s a pretty well-known character, has been around since the Sex & Violence pilot, and despite being a bit difficult towards the other characters, he’s still pretty lovable. In the hilarious clip above, Sam tries to talk to Kermit about his family tree.

            83.   Wayne and Wanda
            If there was one act Sam Eagle really enjoyed, it was this singing duo. The definition of insanity is someone who does the same thing over and over again, expecting different results, and during the first season of The Muppet Show, these two came back, week after week, singing a different song and hoping it would go smoothly. But as we all know, it never did. Kermit ended up firing the two singers (although Wayne would still appear in a melodrama or a song from time to time). The duo returned during Season 4, singing to Kermit for his birthday, but Kermit is reminded of why he fired them in the first place, and fires them again. And who knows? Maybe they’ll be fired for a third time when The Muppets hits theaters.

            82.   Lew Zealand
            I love Lew. It’s that simple. He’s silly, funny and has a very unique act; boomerang fish-throwing. He throws the fish awaaaaay... and they come back to him. He was supposed to only appear once in the Marisa Berenson episode, but Jerry Nelson and the writers enjoyed him so much, he stayed on. Lew has appeared in every theatrical and television Muppet movie. With his goofy laugh and his clown-like apparel, Lew gradually did more than just sling fish; he became a superhero, turned into a chicken, even sang a few memorable songs like "Goodnight, Sardine" and "Another Opening, Another Show." You could even say he was a pretty prominent character by the time the show ended, and from what I understand, he didn’t enjoy his previous job very much. Apparently he used to work with a porpoise just for the halibut, but then he lobster. Yeah, it’s funnier said than written. Anyway, the clip above shows one of Lew's greatest moments: throwing fish while Leslie Uggams sings.

            81.   Marvin Suggs and the Muppaphone
            When we first saw this guy performing "Lady of Spain" on his Muppaphone--a xylophone made of furry little orange and pink Muppet heads that, when you hit them with a mallet, cry "Ow!"--we knew Marvin Suggs sure was... something. He certainly provided some other unique moments, like when he portrayed the judge in Alice In Wonderland, or when he tried out a new act with a singing food chorus, doing his rendition of "Yes, We Have No Bananas." Most recently, he made an appearance in the OK GO music video of "The Muppet Show Theme Song," and is rumored to be making a comeback in The Muppets. When asked what he may be like off the show, Frank Oz once said, "I’ve always felt that Marvin lived in a skuzzy trailer park with his put upon wife, and he kept the Muppaphones in a cage and would beat them regularly." Whatever his off-camera life, Marvin is sure entertaining such as in the clip above, performing "Witch Doctor."

            80.   Crazy Harry
            Crazy is his first name. Crazy Harry--with his love of explosives and eerie laugh--has also been around since Sex & Violence but was originally named Crazy Donald, in reference to the famous puppet-builder Don Sahlin. Also, during the first season, he could be found in the orchestra pit playing the triangle, and was performed by John Lovelady. When Jerry Nelson took over the character in season two, Crazy Harry got that famous laugh and you had to be careful with what you said around him. For example, if Kermit were to say something like, "We’re starting the show off tonight with a bang," Harry would show up with his dynamite plunger, ask "Did somebody say BANG?!" blow Kermit up, and start in with his maniacal laughter. He was recently seen in Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, blowing up an old house, made a dynamite appearance in the OK GO video, and, like many other lesser-known characters, he’ll appear in the new Muppet film in November. I honestly can’t wait to see him, because as Jean Stapleton sings in the clip above, I’m just wild about Harry.


            86 Days Until The Muppets!!






            The Muppet Mindset by Ryan Dosier, ryguy102390@gmail.com

            Aug 27, 2011

            The Muppets and Me at D23, Part 3

            Be sure to check out The Muppets and Me at D23, Part 1 (Disney Legends Ceremony, Walt Disney Studios presentation) and Part 2 (Ryan Dosier meets Steve Whitmire and Eric Jacobson) as well!

            Ryan Dosier - Today is the third and final day of our coverage of events from the 2011 Disney D23 Expo, wherein I'll give you my thoughts and opinions on everything I saw (and didn't see) at The Ultimate Disney Fan Event. However, I'd like to start out by making a little shout out to someone who made my trip even more extraordinary than I could've hoped.

            Raymond Persi is a huge Muppet fan, a funny guy, and a great host. He also happens to be a story artist at Walt Disney Animation Studios. I was elated when Raymond emailed me a week before the Expo and asked if I would like to tour the Studios as a sort of thanks for The Muppet Mindset. Of course I said yes (and many other excited words of agreement), so on the Monday after the Expo, Raymond showed me around the historic Burbank lot where I got to see the buildings that Walt Disney built including the original Animation, Shorts, and Ink and Paint buildings. I also got to tour the Television Animation department where they make shows like Phineas and Ferb (even getting to draw on one of the animator's computers), see the outside of the Walt Disney Archives, and tour most of the Animation building where I got to see head of Pixar and Disney animation John Lassetter's office (which had at least one Kermit in it). Can you say incredible? There was even a standee for The Muppets on display in one of the main buildings at the Studio, outshining the Walt Disney Archives display ten-fold (at least to me). I really can't thank Raymond enough for his kindness and willingness to share. I learned and experienced so much on that hour-and-a-half tour, and I can really never thank him enough!

            But you're not here for that (unless you're Raymond... in which case you're probably still not even here for that). You're here to read my thoughts about everything Muppety at the D23 Expo (or because Google brought you here after you searched for "rambling Muppet nerd"). Well, you'll be pleased to hear that my thoughts are almost entirely positive.

            Let's start with the clips shown from The Muppets and the presence of Kermit, Piggy, Rowlf, and Jason Segel during the two biggest presentations. I've read quite a few discouraging comments about how the Muppets' presence at D23 was a lot larger back in 2009 (where they famously arrived onstage on a steamboat), well that may be true, but it is also true that the presence of almost every Disney property was larger at the Expo in 2009. I think that only the Cars property had a presence larger/as large as two years ago. That said, having Muppets there at all was huge. Finding anything from Winnie the Pooh was practically impossible. The same could be said for popular Disney properties like The Little Mermaid and even most Disney Channel things were relegated to one day in one small location.

            The Muppets dominated the Expo this year, although it may not have been readily apparent. Kermit and Rowlf (along with Brian and Lisa Henson and Leslie Carrara-Rudolph) were the extreme highlight of the Disney Legends Ceremony. The applause and emotion from the crowd upon seeing Kermit and his banjo exploded. Not even Regis Philbin or a live Disney Princess voices concert could compete with getting to sing "Rainbow Connection" with Kermit the Frog. Rest assured, Disney knew what they were doing. Kermit and Rowlf closed out the Ceremony. They were the final act... because nothing could follow that, and Disney knew it.

            The same could be said for the Walt Disney Studios presentation. The presentation may have led off with Pixar and ended with The Avengers from Marvel, but everyone I talked to--or overheard talking--said that seeing the Muppets and clips from The Muppets, which were specifically given the coveted last spot in the live-action Disney productions section, was the highlight. Even Entertainment Weekly considered it the most important portion! The only two celebrities in the Studios presentation to get calls of "I love you (insert name here)!" were Kermit and Jason Segel (and maybe Scarlet Johnasson... though I admit my eyes were doing more work than my ears when she came onstage). When Kermit mentioned to Jason that he was "a regular" at D23, he received cheers and whistles. It was extraordinary seeing the Frog work the crowd and the crowd be worked so wonderfully.

            Then came the clips for The Muppets. I know that what I type here won't do the clips justice... because I don't really know what to say that could. Instead, I think I'll just ramble about what was there. First off, the new Muppet in the room: Walter. He was amazing. Better than I could've expected. His eagerness to be thrown over Kermit's fence just for a chance to meet his hero spoke miles to me. His reminding the Muppets that they do things with music was incredible. He represents you, and me, and all Muppet fans who stick around no matter the weather. He was passionate and dedicated and he passed out when Kermit the Frog stood before him. If that doesn't say obsessed Muppet fan, I don't know what does.

            Jason Segel and Amy Adams were both excellent. They didn't steal the scenes from the Muppets, they weren't over-acting, under-acting, poorly reacting or anything of the sort. They worked off of Kermit and Walter and the others like pros, which was incredibly refreshing considering our last leading-lady was Ashanti. I couldn't really figure out too much about their characters or if there was a side-plot for them based on the clips, but whenever they were around the Muppets they both just seemed to light up. Jason's character, Gary, calls Kermit "sir" in the scene where they sit in his house. I don't know if that was scripted or ad-libbed but I think it was my favorite moment with Jason. He was just so innocent and in awe of the Frog... as we all should be.

            The Muppets completely stole the show the entire time. Whether it was 80's Robot cracking up the audience or Floyd firing in a quick joke or Walter begging to be thrown at the electrified fence again, this was always the Muppets' movie. I think that was what was so magical about these clips. Not since The Muppets Take Manhattan have I felt so strongly that the movie truly belonged to the Muppets--and that's just based on about 15 minutes of footage. The montage paired with "We Built This City" is going to be a highlight of the movie simply because it's just a bunch of Muppets being funny. It's not a bunch of Muppets being funny in the background while Michael Caine dances awkwardly. It's a bunch of Muppets being funny in the forefront for seven minutes straight. It's Fozzie being silly, it's rats skating on toothbrushes, it's Rowlf tearing away rotted floor boards, it's Beauregard's eternal sweep. It's a Muppet movie and I am here to tell you right here and now that there should be absolutely no doubt or concern about whose movie this is. As if the title didn't already tell you that.

            This next comment can be quoted and used for me or against me after the movie comes out, but based on just these two clips I saw, the Muppets have never been more fun, funny, sharp, and just plain Muppety (in my opinion) since the days of Jim Henson. I don't know if this was the writing, the fresh attitude and approach, the nostalgia, or just the rampant Muppet energy over taking the set as they embarked on their first feature film in 12 years... but, to paraphrase Eric Jacobson, if the whole movie is half as good as the two all too brief but undeniably magical clips shown at D23, then we are in for quite a ride. There were so many inside jokes, so much incredible visual and spoken humor, so many gorgeous looking and sounding Muppets... It really is the one we've been waiting for, Muppet fans. And in 88 days I think we'll all find out why.

            There is honestly nothing bad I can think to say about the clips... other than I just want to see the whole movie. But it's worth the wait for this. Remember these times, people. Because no matter what the outcome of the movie is... this is the best time to be one of us: a Muppet fan.

            So what if the D23 Expo wasn't showing off every single Muppet product we'll see on store shelves in three months? What it did was to get those of us who saw the clips--and even the thousands (millions?) who didn't, but read about them online--even more excited for the movie that Disney (and you and I) needs to launch the Muppets back into the big time. Will it work? Who knows. But I know that I certainly can't wait to find out what the future holds. Bring on November!


            Aug 26, 2011

            The Muppets and Me at D23, Part 2

            For The Muppets and Me at D23, Part 1, check out yesterday's post!

            Ryan Dosier - Welcome back to The Muppet Mindset's coverage of the 2011 Disney D23 Expo and beyond! How can our coverage get any better than Kermit and Rowlf sharing a duet and break downs of two exclusive clips from The Muppets? Well... how about two Muppet performers? Curious? Good. Follow along, won't you?

            On Saturday at the Expo I was walking around the show floor, making my way to the back of the line to see The Lion King 3D. Lucky for me (and unlucky for Simba), as I was making my way there I happened to see two very familiar looking men hanging around at one of the booths on the show floor chatting away to an exhibitor. I wandered closer and realized, much to my extreme delight, that it was none other than Steve Whitmire and Eric Jacobson. Lucky for me, I was wearing my "themuppetmindset.com" t-shirt on Saturday, so when I introduced myself to Steve he became ecstatic upon reading my shirt and meeting a Muppet fan-site operator. Here, have a picture...


            Steve Whitmire is an amazing person to meet. He is so approachable and funny and friendly from the get-go. It's really quite difficult to describe him... but he really is just brilliant. Smart and wise and hilarious. Steve and I talked for about twenty minutes after I introduced myself and once we got past my string of compliments and near-fainting spells we had a great conversation about the new movie and Steve's thoughts--a conversation completely started and steered by him. He mentioned that, in the beginning of The Muppets, Kermit is very much restrained and somewhat defeated by his friends leaving. However, even though he didn't tell me out right, based on what Steve said Kermit returns exactly to form by the end of the film. It's great to know that there is growth and development for the Frog.

            Steve also said that he hadn't seen any footage from the movie--other than the trailers--were the two clips shown earlier that day. He was really excited by how they looked. Then he asked how I liked the clips, and I told him my honest opinion--which we'll get to later--and he made me promise that when the movie came out and I reviewed it for the Mindset I would be honest about my thoughts. He was very adamant in saying that fan reactions are the ways in which both the performers and Disney see what they could do better. So, of course, I promised I would--and then the full force of the fact that I had just made a promise to Kermit the Frog hit me.

            Then Steve pulled Eric over and introduced me to him--but it turned out, again, that I didn't really need much introduction. Once Eric saw the shirt he knew who I was. It's such a weird thing, having Muppet performers recognize and know of you--that's the fan's job! But I'm not complaining. Have another picture...
            Eric was just as humble and friendly and complimentary as Steve, with the added bonus that he comes off as just as huge of a Muppet fan as me, or you, or anyone who reads the site. He talked about the Muppets and their projects with gusto and appreciation. I could just tell that he loves and respects them immensely. I mentioned the great viral videos and Eric told me that those were his favorite projects that he's worked on. We also talked a bit about his being cramped in the motorcycle side-car earlier (I think he said something about "the diva demands it"), Muppet fan sites, and the new movie. He said, quite excitedly, "If the movie is half as good as the trailers, we're in for a great time." Like Steve, Eric felt great about the work they had done on the movie and kept reiterating how much he was looking forward to seeing it.

            Afterwards I took the pictures above with them and, being the amazing two individuals that they are, both Steve and Eric (and Kermit and Piggy) signed a mini-poster for me that the El Capitan Theatre Hollywood booth was handing out (see right). I really just can't even describe the magic and enthusiasm and heart that comes from these guys. Both Steve and Eric (and every other Muppeteer I've met, for that matter) are nothing short of awesome, wonderful, friendly, humble, smart, and complimentary. Both of their closing words to me were, "Keep up the great work! We need you guys to love us and tell us when we mess up!" I couldn't--and still can't--thank either of them enough. Steve, Eric, if you happen to be reading thank you a million times again. You made my Expo! (And you have my email... just a reminder.)

            And then, as if all that weren't enough, after the Expo on Saturday I met up with Danny Horn who is really (or at least should be) a Muppet celebrity in his own right. Danny started ToughPigs.com and Muppet Wiki and, as someone said the other day, really made online Muppet fandom what it is today. Anyway, Danny and I and his awesome friends Ed, Kyle, and Rolf, went to Disneyland where we messed around Muppet*Vision 3-D, rode it's a small world, Pirates of the Caribbean, and saw the amazing fireworks show, "Magical." Danny is awesome... simply put. We had a great time and then hung out on the last day of the Expo. A fun, fun guy and one of very few people I've ever met who I can have a real, educated, and intensely-charged "flat-head Kermit" discussion with. Oh, and thanks for the crown. It made my day--and then a small child's day too.

            That's about all we can fit in this post without scaring away all of our readers. But check back tomorrow for the third and final part of coverage of my trip to California including my once-in-a-lifetime journey to The Walt Disney Studios and my thoughts and opinions on the exclusive clips from The Muppets that I got a chance to see!






            The Muppet Mindset by Ryan Dosier, ryguy102390@gmail.com

            Aug 24, 2011

            The Muppets and Me at D23, Part 1

            Ryan Dosier - Oh, hiya Muppet fans! How long it's been... I see that The British Correspondent reaped his patented havoc upon you all while I was away. Well, I think it was worth it. Let's see if you agree. This past weekend I journeyed out West, and like my pioneer brothers before me, I went in search of talking mice and singing frogs and dancing ducks. Well... maybe not exactly like the pioneers. But who cares about them? I got to go to the Disney D23 Expo 2011 from Friday, August 19th until Sunday, August 21st. While I was in the neighborhood (Anaheim, California, to be specific) I got to visit the Disneyland Resort as well.

            And what a time I had, let me tell you! I arrived in Anaheim on Thursday afternoon, the day before the Expo. And what is a young Muppet fan in Anaheim to do with so much time on his hands? Go to Disneyland, of course! So off I went, towards the land of mice and FastPasses, and made my way to Disney California Adventure, home of Muppet*Vision 3-D. You'd think this means loads of Muppet stuff, yes? Well, unfortunately, no. As we've learned from Disney Parks visits in recent years, there is very little new Muppet stuff to buy. They did, however, have the new Muppet Monopoly and Muppet Yahtzee for sale, but other than that it was the same old stuff: old plush dolls, a Kermit mug, a Kermit water bottle, two t-shirts, two hats, and not much else. Slightly disappointing, but not surprising enough to be completely disappointing.

            However, over in Downtown Disney, the shopping district adjacent to the Disneyland Resort, they have a store called D-Street where they sell the popular Vinylmation figures, including many exclusives. Some of these exclusives were the four 9" Muppet Vinylmation figures, Muppet*Vision Kermit, Animal, Sam the Eagle, and Gonzo the Great with a 3" Camilla the Chicken. On Thursday I bought Gonzo and Camilla, and by Sunday I bought Sam as well... and I'd rather not talk about how much of a dent that put in my wallet. However, once I got them home and displayed on my shelf with the rest of the Vinylmation figures (see right), I didn't think twice. They're awesome. D-Street still has plenty of each figure and DisneyStore.com has Gonzo and Animal for sale there as well.

            But the exciting part of the trip came on Friday when the Expo began. Walking into the Anaheim Convention Center for the D23 Expo is an overwhelming experience. The entire covering of the first floor is flooded with Mickey Mouse, Lightning McQueen, Donald Duck, Stitch, Goofy, and, yes, even Kermit. On the show floor I found Amy Mebberson (artist of Muppet Peter Pan and others) and James Silvani (artist of Muppet King Arthur) working their own booth where they spent the entire weekend drawing Disney for people--including myself! Check out their amazingly beautiful work (Amy on the left, James on the right) that is currently on my wall (see the picture on the right). Yup. That really is Scrooge McDuck arguing intensely with Angus McGonagle. It is heavenly.

            Anyway... also on the show floor was the booth for WeLoveFine T-Shirts, a website that we've promoted multiple times on the Mindset. They were handing out, free to everyone, paper Kermit "crowns" for Expo guests to wear on their heads (see right). WeLoveFine was also selling some awesome Muppet t-shirts including Kermit in a tuxedo, Muppets 8-Bit, The Great Muppet Caper, and a women's shirt with Kermit Springsteen. Other than WeLoveFine, a couple other exhibitors were selling Muppet stuff including the upcoming makeup and nail polish lines, a preview of the 2011 Fozzie Bear Christmas ornament from Hallmark, and some new keychains featuring Kermit, Animal, and Beaker.

            And then... it happened. The 2011 Disney Legends Ceremony. Hosted by Tom Bergeron (of America's Funniest Home Videos), the ceremony continues The Walt Disney Company's long-standing tradition of honoring those who contribute greatly to their success. Among this year's honorees were Regis Philbin, Anika Noni Rose (Princess Tiana), Jodi Benson (Ariel), Paige O'Hara (Belle), and, the final induction, someone named Jim Henson. It all started with Lisa Henson coming out to speak about her father, saying that her favorite Muppet had always been Rowlf. Then she introduced her brother, Brian Henson and Leslie Carrara-Rudolph, who would be performing the Jim and Jane Henson classic "I've Grown Accustomed to Your Face." It was extraordinary... and you can see it here:



            Then Brian Henson said some nice things about Jim, saying that he could never do anything without making sound effects to go along with his movements. Even miniscule things like handing someone a pen, and Jim would make a goofy sound effect--a sort of "bwoooop," if you will. Then Brian and Lisa accepted the award and took a picture with the walk-around Sweetums from Disneyland, and walked off stage. Soon, the stage curtains opened, and a smaller stage rolled out carrying a piano, lots of foliage, a dog, and a frog.



            Kermit the Frog and Rowlf the Dog, Jim Henson's first two superstar characters, coming out to sing and honor their friend, performer, and creator Jim Henson with his most prolific song, "Rainbow Connection." The last time that Kermit and Rowlf shared a duet was in 1979 in The Muppet Movie. It was an incredible experience. Mid-way through the song, Kermit and Rowlf asked us all to sing along with them and I can say here and now that getting a chance to sing a song with Kermit the Frog is something that I wish everyone everywhere could have the chance to do. It was the most magical moment I've experienced. Seeing Kermit and Rowlf together again at last, honoring Jim, and a Disney ceremony, was more than I ever expected. It gave me hope and happiness and everything in between.

            Then came Saturday, the day of The Walt Disney Studios presentation where Disney would trot out big stars, directors, and more to show off their upcoming feature films. This included John Lasseter (head of Pixar and Disney animation), Robert Downey, Jr., Sarah Silverman, Jack MacBrayer, Jennifer Garner, Scarlet Johanson, Cobie Smulders, Jeremy Renner, and Jason Segel, Kermit the Frog, and Miss Piggy. It was just as great as you'd expect. Unfortunately, cameras and cell phones were strictly forbidden from the presentation, but the following is a very accurate transcript of what happened from ComingSoon.net and EW.com...

            There was a star that was late for their big D23 appearance. When Disney's head of production Sean Bailey introduced Miss Piggy, Kermit the Frog and Jason Segel to talk about The Muppets at D23 this Saturday, the curtain pulled back and revealed Kermit and Segel sitting in director's chairs--but Miss Piggy was nowhere to be seen.

            "You've worked on a movie with her," said Kermit when Segel pointed this out, "was she ever on time?"

            "I love you, Kermit!" shouted an audience member. "I love you too!" replied Kermit.

            Kermit went on to thank his fellow cast members. "Our movie stars the beautiful and talented Amy Adams! ... And the equally talented but less beautiful Jason Segel--no offense."

            "I love you, Jason!" shouted another audience member. "I love you too and look forward to meeting you in person someday!" responded Segel.

            Segel turned his attention to the clips of the movie they brought, saying there was a problem as they did not include Miss Piggy.

            "She'll tear this whole arena apart if she finds out!" said Kermit.

            "But she's not here," said Segel.

            "Good point," replied Kermit as a motorcycle revved it's engine from backstage. The curtain parted again to reveal a motorcycle with none other than Miss Piggy in the sidecar, soaking in the adoration from all of her fans.

            Once Kermit nervously explained that the second clip would feature "...almost all the Muppets." Piggy wasn’t too pleased. "Where’s [chairman of Walt Disney Studios] Rich Ross?" shouted Piggy as she stormed off the stage.

            And then we were treated to two clips from the movie. MINOR SPOILERS AHEAD.

            Clip #1:
            Gary (Segel), his girlfriend Mary (Amy Adams), and their Muppet buddy Walter are driving around Bel Air, Calif. at night, trying to locate the home of Kermit. They finally find it: a deserted-looking mansion with a driveway fence that has the faces of Kermit and Miss Piggy painted on it. There’s no doorbell, so Walter asks Gary to throw him over the fence. But Gary fails to toss Walter high enough, and the fence that Walter slams into winds up being electrocuted—clearly Kermit and Piggy have encountered enough stalkers to warrant such an elaborate security system. (NOTE FROM RYAN: The Walter-shocking scene was MUCH shorter than in the trailer maybe two seconds long at most.)

            Suddenly, Kermit appears on the driveway behind Gary, Mary, and Walter. As Kermit walks toward the trio, he’s silhouetted by an enormously bright white light and we hear an angelic choir singing. It’s as if God himself were approaching. But seconds later, we see the source of that blinding light and Messianic music: On the street, a bus carrying members of the Good Shepard Church Choir just happened to be driving by. Walter immediately faints.

            Next, we’re inside Kermit’s home with Gary, Mary, and Walter. It’s clear that Kermit has been living in the past. During the middle of a conversation, a robot butler enters the room with a tray of outdated sodas such as New Coke and Tab. Kermit asks the robot, whom he simply calls "80s robot," to please leave and the clip ends.

            Clip #2: Kermit, Rowlf, and Fozzie break off the chain around the door to the Muppet Theater. Kermit walks in slowly, nostalgically, hearing echoes of himself (Jim Henson) introducing "very special guest star, Bob Hope!!" and the announcer (Jerry Nelson) shouting "PIIIIIGS IIIIIIN SPAAAACE!" Most of the Muppets gang, plus Gary, Mary, and Walter, enter. Fozzie Bear insists that there's no way to rehearse with the theater in that condition, as Floyd Pepper remarks, "Who fired the maid service?" With offers to help from Gary, Mary, and Walter, the Muppets start cleaning. Smash cut to... Scooter sweeping. Very slowly. Cut to the Muppets gang watching as Kermit remarks, "Well this is boring." Walter looks at the group and says, "Don't you guys remember? You're the Muppets! You're supposed to do things like this with... with music!" Dr. Teeth pulls out a boom-box, presses play, and thus begins a montage set to Starship’s 1985 hit "We Built This City."

            As the group cleans, Kermit starts going through his old Rolodex, calling various celebrities with the hope that they may take part in a telethon (to presumably save the Muppet Theater from being demolished by an oil tycoon). Again, Kermit is a bit behind the times. We see him cross off Molly Ringwald’s name, and he doesn’t get very far in trying locate President Jimmy Carter.

            Meanwhile, the Muppets are cleaning. We see Fozzie uses Walter tied to  a pole with a sponge on his back to clean higher places--Walter is elated. Rowlf hammers away at something. Floyd removes the tarp from Animal's drum set, and Animal goes berserk. Chickens feather-dust the seats. Mary changes a lightbulb while Marvin Suggs sits in the audience sits banging away on Muppaphones. Fozzie pulls out an old picture and shows it to Link Hogthrob and Gonzo and says, "Look at this goofy 80's haircut I had back then!" the picture is revealed to be exactly the same Fozzie we see today. Rats skate across the soapy floor on old toothbrushes. The Swedish Chef incinerates some moldy talking food in a refrigerator. Scooter opens a closet and there's Beauregard sweeping away, Scooter shouts, "Beauregard!" Beau just looks up and says, "Oh, Scooter, there you are! Where has everybody been?"

            The clip ends with the camera circling around the large group of Muppets (as seen in the trailer). Cut to Kermit, still in his office, looking completely exasperated and somewhat distraught. Cut back to Dr. Teeth as he stops the tape and the gang surveys the now spotless theater.

            That's all we can fit in for D23 coverage in this post! Check back tomorrow for even more coverage including two Muppet performers, a Muppet fan-site operator, and much, much more!







            The Muppet Mindset by Ryan Dosier, ryguy102390@gmail.com