1 The Muppet Mindset: Muppetology 101: Crossovers in the Muppet World

Apr 17, 2012

Muppetology 101: Crossovers in the Muppet World

Ryan Dosier -Greetings class! We're back in session, finally, and your favorite professor (me!) has a great new Muppet topic to cover. A long standing but not often occurring tradition in the Muppet universe is crossovers between television shows in the Jim Henson pantheon. From very early examples such as Rowlf the Dog and Kermit the Frog appearing in the original pitch reel for Sesame Street to cameos from Big Bird, Oscar the Grouch, and the other Sesame characters in the first three Muppet movies.

These occurrences have been fewer and far between in recent years due to split ownership of the main Henson character families. To recap... The Walt Disney Company owns The Muppets from The Muppet Show, Muppets Tonight, and the Muppet movies. Sesame Workshop owns Sesame Street and all its characters. The Jim Henson Company owns Fraggle Rock, The Dark Crystal, Labyrinth, Emmett Otter's Jug-Band Christmas, and a few other less-known character sets.

Today we will mostly be focusing on productions that were intended and written as franchise crossovers for the characters. We'll spend a little bit on one time crossover appearances in various episodes of The Muppet Show, Sesame Street, the Muppet movies, etc. We will not be considering Kermit the Frog's many appearances on Sesame Street as a crossover since he was a regular character for many years.
  • ONE TIME CROSSOVER APPEARANCES

    • Sesame Street Original Pitch Reel (1969) - Rowlf the Dog
    • The Muppet Show: Sex and Violence pilot (1975) - Bert
    • The Muppet Show Episode 102: Connie Stevens (1976) - Bert and Ernie
    • The Muppet Show Episode 318: Leslie Uggams (1978) - Big Bird
    • The Muppet Show Episode 518: Marty Feldman (1981) - Cookie Monster, Sesame Street Muppets
    • The Muppet Movie (1979) - Big Bird, Sesame Street Muppets
    • The Great Muppet Caper (1981) - Oscar the Grouch
    • The Muppets Take Manhattan (1984) - Sesame Street Muppets, Traveling Matt Fraggle
    • The Muppet Christmas Carol (1992) - Sprocket, obscure Fraggle Rock characters
    • The Jim Henson Hour "Secrets of the Muppets" (1989)- Sprocket, Doozer
    • Emmett Otter's Jug-Band Christmas (1977) - Kermit the Frog
    • The Christmas Toy (1986) - Kermit the Frog
    • Dog City (1989) - Rowlf the Dog, Sprocket
    • The Muppets at Walt Disney World (1990) - Sprocket
    • The Animal Show (1996) - Sam the Eagle
    • Jim Henson Inducted Into Television Academy Hall of Fame (1984) - Muppets, Sesame Street, Fraggles
    • The Muppet Show Live at Muppetfest fan convention (2001) - Elmo
    • Muppets, Music, and Magic: Jim Henson's Legacy at The Cinema Arts Centre (2007) - Gonzo, Elmo, and Zoe
    • Muppets Race Mania video game (2001) - Doozer, Junior Gorg, Pa Gorg
  • THE MUPPETS: A CELEBRATION OF 30 YEARS
    • January 21, 1986
  • In celebration of 30 years of Muppets, Jim Henson brought this delightful television special providing a recap of highlights from the long, storied career of the Muppets. Hosted by Fozzie Bear, this special featured introductions from Rowlf the Dog, Scooter, Bert, Ernie, Big Bird, Uncle Traveling Matt, and many more favorites. Throughout the show honoring Kermit's 30th Birthday, we see a slew of clips from The Muppet Show, the Muppet movies, Sesame Street, Fraggle Rock, and even Muppet Babies. This production is a true labor of love from Jim Henson and the rest of his team. Hundreds of Muppets fill the ballroom and hysterical moments of interplay between the franchises occur. One of the greatest highlights comes at the end when Grover and Jim Henson share in a moment of hilarity that I certainly won't spoil.
  • A MUPPET FAMILY CHRISTMAS
    • December 16, 1987
  • One of the first major, narrative Muppet projects to welcome in members from every major Muppet family (at that time) was 1987's masterpiece A Muppet Family Christmas. This television special featured Kermit, Miss Piggy, Gonzo, Big Bird, Bert, Ernie, Doc, Sprocket, the Fraggles, and all of their friends enjoying the holidays at Fozzie Bear's mom's farmhouse in the country. If you haven't seen it, you absolutely must, as it is the true peak of Muppetness on screen. Moments such as Bert and Ernie's "small talk" with Doc, The Swedish Chef attempting to cook Big Bird, Kermit and Robin discovering Fraggles make this production truly one of a kind and incredible.
  • THE MUPPETS CELEBRATE JIM HENSON
    • November 21, 1990
  • Perhaps the final professionally produced and aired special that we will ever seen which featured all of Jim Henson's creations interacting was this beautiful television special made to honor Jim Henson after his death in May, 1990. While this special mostly focuses on the core group of characters from The Muppet Show (and a few from The Jim Henson Hour such as Clifford and Bean Bunny) and little interplay between the franchises occurs, the final "Just One Person" performance featured numerous Sesame Street and Fraggle Rock characters to honor Jim. This is yet another must-see production for all Muppet fans. (Hint: Check YouTube.)
  • JIM HENSON'S MUSICAL WORLD
    • April 14, 2012
  • The most recent and surprising crossover happened only a few days ago in New York City at Carnegie Hall. Jim Henson's Musical World was a huge musical performance made possible by The Jim Henson Legacy which included numerous songs from Jim Henson's productions played by The New York Pops orchestra. That alone would be pretty stellar, but the performance this past weekend took it to a new level, by including characters onstage from The Muppet Show, Sesame Street, Fraggle Rock, and even Emmett Otter's Jug-Band Christmas. True, none of the characters shared the stage with characters from another franchise, but that was mostly due to a lack of hands. What is most important is that for the first time in more than 20 years, characters from the "big three" Muppet shows shared the stage at a major, professional, and company-sponsored venue.
Well, there you have it! Crossovers in the Muppet World. For even more detail on these rare and special occurrences, checkout Muppet Wiki's page on Crossovers and search YouTube to see some of these magnificent productions for yourself! Class dismissed! Remember that there might be a quiz if I can ever get my typewriter to stop catching on fire every time I type my name!






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

1 comment:

  1. I wish the Jim Henson Company didn't split the Muppets between the cash-cow sellout Disney corporation and the namby-pamby pure-preschool Sesame Street.

    As far as I can I.D.:

    The Muppets - Disney
    Sesame Street - The Sesame Street Workshop
    Fraggle Rock - The Hub
    Sam & Friends/Ed Sullivan Show - The Smithsonian Museum

    I just wish they would stay faithful to their milestones.

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