Mar 26, 2012

Muppetology 101 - Muppets: The New, The Old, and The Rejects, Pt. 1

Greetings, students! Did you have a nice spring break? Good... because that's what I called these past few weeks where I forgot I had this class to teach. In the continuing of my laziness, today in Muppetology 101 we have a guest professor, Nicholas Napoli, here to teach you today. Nicholas has a pair of lectures here that discuss new Muppets and how they are integrated in with the older characters. Enjoy it!

Nicholas Napoli - The Muppets have returned to the world of cinema after twelve long years of TV specials, online videos, and a boring Oz remake but now they're back on the big screen along with new Muppet faces in the group; new Muppets to hunt down for our collections. New Muppets are odd beasts. There are some hits, some misses, and one that is just as big a Muppet fan as we all are!

After sixteen years of Muppet History it is finally safe to say that Pepe the King Prawn, Clifford, Bobo Bear, Johnny Fiama, Sal Minella, Dr. Phil Van Neuter as well as a few others are no longer considered the "new Muppets," no longer the new kids in school, no longer have to prove themselves to be as good as The Muppet Show core group of characters; they are now and forever part of Muppet History whether we like it or not. Luckily we really shouldn't mind because honestly we got some amazing characters along the way. Some might have been a little unbelievable, some were full of bubbles, some were annoying, but a handful of those characters actually worked.

Kermit may have been properly introduced to us on Sesame Street but it wasn't until he began hosting The Muppet Show in 1976 that we as a fan base were finally introduced to The Muppets. So from that year onward, those were the Muppets which included Miss Piggy, Fozzie Bear, Gonzo, Scooter, Sam Eagle, Dr. Bunsen and Beaker, Rowlf the Dog, The Swedish Chef, Dr Teeth and The Electric Mayhem, plus over one-hundred more!

Only one Muppet could ever be added to the group so easily and be loved by fans instantly... and that Muppet would have been Skeeter, not animated cartoon Baby Skeeter, but actual Muppet Skeeter. Alas, The Jim Henson Company decided never to go there and instead were daring enough to introduce a group of new Muppets. What made them even more fearless was the fact that they introduced most of them all on one show!

After The Muppet Show ended our first real new Muppets were introduced in The Muppets Take Manhattan with Jill, Bill, and Gill Frog, all three of whom I think worked really well but I'm glad that they were left behind in Manhattan. Beth Bear was also introduced in Manhattan and although she would have made a great partner for Fozzie pairing up the main three Kermit and Miss Piggy, Gonzo and Camilla, and Fozzie with Beth Bear, I'm still glad she decided to leave the Muppet cast. This was also the first time Yolanda Rat, Masterson Rat, Chester Rat, and Tattooey Rat were actually introduced as characters as opposed to just being rats. In my opinion they all worked really well. Yolanda and the other rats should also have received much more screen time during their years with the Muppets.

One thing all of the above characters have in common is that they were all developed under the supervision of the great Jim Henson. Even Waldo C. Graphic was the creation of Jim Henson. Waldo was and is a great character that should have been used more alongside the Muppets in projects, before all of these other computer animated characters took over. In fact, I truly believe Waldo as a character would still fit in perfectly today alongside the Muppets, perhaps as one of Dr Bunsen Honeydew's latest mishaps?

Not counting the other characters from The Jim Henson Hour (Digit, Leon, Vicki, etc.), the rest of the new character we have been introduced to since then are considered post-Jim Henson characters; characters to join the Muppet family without Jim Henson's say so. The Muppet Christmas Carol introduced us to Betina Crachit, Belinda Crachit, and Peter Crachit, all great characters, used appropriately for the movie and then never again which I actually prefer. But if I'm honest I would have voted to keep Betina and Belinda over Andy and Randy from Muppets Tonight.

We were also introduced to three new Muppets in the form of Ghosts. The Ghost of Christmas Present, although a great character, would have been so much better if Sweetums had played that role, and the Ghost of Christmas Future would have been ideal for Uncle Deadly or any other familiar faced Muppet Monster to have shown off their talent. And although Bean Bunny was introduced in The Tale of The Bunny Picnic and used in The Jim Henson Hour, was great! I’m so glad he stuck around and as a child I remember how excited I was that he sounded just like Wembley Fraggle.

Nearing the end of our Muppet Movie list we come to Muppet Treasure Island. I love this movie because two of my all-time favourite Muppet characters were introduced in this movie. They were introduced in this movie but continued on as a duo later on Muppets Tonight, and sadly have never been used since. I'm taking about no other than Polly Lobster and Clueless Morgan (and sometimes Mad Monty). They would have made a great addition to the evil/good side of the Muppet family. Polly Lobster and Clueless Morgan could have easily taken on all the roles Bobo Bear has been forced to play up to this day. Even with Mad Monty still in the mix, these three could still work today and I really wish they would be brought back. A whole slew of new Muppet Pirates were actually introduced in this movie too, many who later re-appeared in The Muppets` Wizard of Oz.

Then came Muppets Tonight where we met Clifford, Pepe the King Prawn, Seymour, Bobo the Bear, Johnny Fiama, Sal Minella, Big Mean Carl, Mr Poodlepants, Dr Phil Van Neuter, Mulch, Bill the Bubble-Guy, Mama Fiama, Snookie Blyer, Zippity Zap, Droop... I mean Nigel, Carter, Howard Tubman, David Hoggselhoff, Spamela Hamderson, Andy Pig, Randy Pig, Captain Pighead... want to introduce anymore lame new Pigs? Oh, and let's not forget the memorable Three Elvises. Not one, not two but three!

I don't know about you guys but that took a lot out of me, give me about a week to recover and I'll be back.














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

4 comments:

  1. Great list of characters. I really miss Digit and was hoping he'd show up briefly in The Muppets. Maybe there's still hope?

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  2. We met Clifford back in the 80s under Jim's tutelage...not on Muppets Tonight.

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  3. Any and Randy Pig were introduced in Muppet Classic Theater...not Muppets Tonight.

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    1. Mulch was also on The Muppet Show.

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