Jan 25, 2012
Weekly Muppet Wednesdays: Bean Bunny
The Tale of the Bunny Picnic (1986)
Most recent appearance...
The Muppets' Wizard of Oz (2005)
Best known role...
Sickeningly cute rabbit
WHO IS BEAN BUNNY?
Bean Bunny is a tiny rabbit known for being adorable and cute and sweet, much to the disdain of the other Muppets. As Gonzo the Great once said of Bean, "He's so cute... he's evil!!" Bean first appeared as the star of the little-known 1986 television special The Tale of the Bunny Picnic. In the special, Bean learns that he does have something to contribute and he isn't useless just because he's small. In a take on the classic "Boy Who Cried Wolf" tale, Bean saves the bunnies in the warren from a dog.
After this, Bean's star rose high as he became a regularly featured member of the Muppets cast with a supporting role in the Muppet Central segments of The Jim Henson Hour (1989). Bean was seen in all but one episode of the show's 12 episode run. During the show, Bean appeared in segments and sketches such as "Space Guy," "Bean Bunny and the Cuteness Thief," and, my personal favorite, "Beanbo," took the satellite dish off the roof of the studio, sang "La Bamba" with the cast, made his own work out video, and scolds people for saying the "P" word (puppet).
Once the The Jim Henson Hour came to an end, Bean Bunny continued to appear in Muppet television specials. In The Muppets at Walt Disney World (1990), Bean was paired with Scooter for the first time as the duo explored Epcot. It was here that Scooter sighed, "Cute is [Bean's] middle name." to which Bean responded, "Actually, it's Norman." in his usual plucky demeanor. In The Muppets Celebrate Jim Henson (1990), Bean is seen running the projector that plays Jim Henson's biography until he somehow gets tangled in film and ruins the film. It is also in this special that Clifford calls Bean a "yo-yo."
Perhaps Bean Bunny's biggest role came in 1991 with Muppet*Vision 3-D, the 3D show at Walt Disney World's Hollywood Studios. In the movie, Bean messes up Miss Piggy's big song by blowing bubbles, aggravating her with a butterfly and a bumblebee, and forcing her onto water-skis. Sam the Eagle then tells Bean that he is "ruining this movie" and so Bean joins up with Waldo C. Graphic, the spirit of 3D, and runs away. It takes Kermit, Gonzo, Fozzie, and Sweetums to find Bean and convince him to come back for the finale--with fireworks! In the end, Bean sets off the fireworks and the show is an explosive success.
Bean Bunny's most well known role came with The Muppet Christmas Carol (1992), where he played a Dickensian poor boy, caroling for Mister Scrooge in hopes of a shilling or shelter from the cold. Instead he got a wreath to the head and was forced to seek warmth in a pile of garbage. It wasn't until the end of the movie that Bean's luck turned when Scooge asked him what day it was--which was apparently enough for Scooge to throw down a bag of gold and ask Bean to go buy a turkey twice his size.
In Muppet Treasure Island (1996) Bean appeared silently and very briefly in the Benbow Inn. Muppets Tonight (1996-1997) saw Bean appear three times, twice in the background and once trying to sell Johnny Fiama chocolate so Bean's school can buy books. Sal Minella will have none of this, however, so he drop kicks Bean out a window. In Muppets From Space (1999) Bean was crushed by a door when Miss Piggy made her grand entrance. Bean also appeared in the background of It's a Very Merry Muppet Christmas Movie (2002) and The Muppets' Wizard of Oz (2005), marking Bean's most recent on-screen appearance.
An animated version of Bean Bunny appeared on Muppet Babies in twelve episodes throughout the sixth and seventh seasons of the show (1989/1990). In 2009, Bean played the part of Michael Darling in the Muppet Peter Pan comic book. Merchandise of Bean has been entirely exclusive to Walt Disney World with plush dolls, plastic toys, and a Vinylmation figure being released throughout the 1990s and 2000s.
WHY DO THE MUPPETS NEED BEAN BUNNY?
Although Bean Bunny did not appear in The Muppets (2011), he is still a fan favorite, semi-popular character thanks to his continuing role in Muppet*Vision 3-D and the wide popularity of The Muppet Christmas Carol. The other Muppets have an odd relationship with Bean... most of them find him too cute for them, bringing down their image. However, Bean is how most people see the Muppets: cute to an almost annoying point. Think of the fun the Muppets could have trying to stoop Bean from ruining their image. Also... might I propose a Bean Bunny/Animal pairing? Think about this, friends.
But the Muppets need Bean because he's sickeningly cute. You pair Bean alongside Gonzo or Floyd or Pepe and you can easily show that the Muppets aren't just cute and sweet and nice. They're crazy and sarcastic and adult. It could really shape the Muppets in a different light for a lot of casual fans and viewers.
The Muppet Mindset by Ryan Dosier, email@example.com