1 The Muppet Mindset: Muppetology 101: Intro to Muppet Monster Cryptozoology, Pt. 1

Oct 18, 2012

Muppetology 101: Intro to Muppet Monster Cryptozoology, Pt. 1

Ryan Dosier - Oh, finally! Now you students show up to class! I've been here for months teaching to an empty classroom. Where have you been?! What? What's that? The classroom door has been locked for the entire semester? ...The janitor is trying to sabotage me again! For the last time, Hugh, I did NOT steal your broom-handle polish! Sheesh. Anyway, class, welcome back finally. We're here in the middle of October and we've got Halloween on the brain! In class today we're examining the spookiest, scariest of the Muppets: the Muppet monsters! Today's lecture will focus solely on monsters from The Muppet Show and Muppets Tonight with an emphasis on other Muppet monsters next class.
  • SWEETUMS
    • Primarily performed by RICHARD HUNT (1976-1991) and MATT VOGEL (2008-present)
  • Sweetums is perhaps the most popular and well known of the Muppet monsters from The Muppet Show. Although he first appeared in The Frog Prince, it was in The Muppet Show where Sweetums came into his personality. Sweetums became the gentle giant on the show, befriending Robin the Frog in the notable "Two Lost Souls" musical number. However, Sweetums sometimes continued to tap into his scary persona throughout the show as well, such as when he, masquerading as Short John Silver, helped Glenda Jackson, secretly the pirate Black Johnson, shanghai the cast and take over the Muppet Theater in Season 5 and trying to eat Cloris Leachman on a desert island in Season . One of Sweetums' more prominent roles was in The Muppet Movie, where he worked as a jack (not name, job) for Mad Man Mooney's used car lot. When Kermit offers to bring Sweetums to Hollywood with him, the monster runs off and Kermit and the gang leave. Sweetums run backs moments later holding his suitcase shouting, "Wait! I wanna go to Hollywood!" This scene was replicated in last year's The Muppets. Sweetums has been a prominent figure in the Muppet gang for many years.
  • UNCLE DEADLY
    • Primarily performed by JERRY NELSON (1976-1979) and MATT VOGEL (2011-present)
  • Uncle Deadly, with his tattered clothes and blue, dragon-like figure, is probably one of the creepiest looking Muppets to emerge from The Muppet Show. In Season 1 of the show, when Uncle Deadly was introduced in the episode guest starring Twiggy, he was revealed to be a phantom haunting the Muppet Theater who had died onstage after the audience tore apart his performance. A semi-recurring character after this, Uncle Deadly would sing with Ethel Mermann, play cohort to Vincent Price, perform the song "Sheik of Araby," and star in the Muppet Melodrama series alongside Miss Piggy and Wayne. After Season 3, Uncle Deadly was silenced on the show and phased out almost completely. He did not reemerge from obscurity until last year, when he played a crucial role in The Muppets as the main henchman of Chris Cooper's villainous Tex Richman. Hopefully this is just the beginning of Uncle Deadly's return to prominence, as he is one of the most unique (in both personality and appearance) Muppet monsters in the entire repertoire. 
  • THOG
    • Primarily performed by JERRY NELSON (1970-1981)
  •  Thog is one of the biggest Muppets ever built for any production. He was originally one of the stars of the 1970 television special The Great Santa Claus Switch alongside his green counterpart Thig. Thog went on to be a big (pun intended) part of The Muppet Show, appearing with many guest stars in the first and second seasons and performing in the theme song in every episode after Season 1. After The Muppet Show, however, Thog disappeared almost entirely. Like Uncle Deadly, Thog was resurrected for The Muppets last year and quickly became a favorite with moviegoers simply because of his massive size, even though he only appeared onscreen for a short amount of time. Only time will tell if we will continue to see Thog in future Muppet projects.
  • DOGLION
    • Primarily performed by VARIOUS (1976-1996)
  • Another of the large, full-bodied Muppet monsters, Doglion was a tertiary player on The Muppet Show from Season 2 to Season 4. Oddly enough, Doglion never had a primary performer and was traded among the core Muppet performers nearly every time he appeared onscreen. Doglion holds a very notable place in the Muppet universe as being the very first Muppet to appear on the big screen. In The Muppet Movie Doglion can be seen in the opening shot of the film at World Wide Studios moving some props. Doglion was last seen performing with Paula Abdul on Muppets Tonight.  
  • BEAUTIFUL DAY MONSTER
    • Primarily performed by VARIOUS (1969-present)
  • Beautiful Day Monster is an interesting Muppet for many reasons. He got his start on The Ed Sullivan Show in 1969, but went on to appear semi-prominently on both Sesame Street and The Muppet Show, making him the only Muppet besides Kermit (and various Sesame characters who visited The Muppet Show, if you count them) to crossover between the two. The monster is perhaps best known for his sketch on The Muppet Show with Paul Williams where he continually asked, "Got anything cheaper?" and for the sketch on The Ed Sullivan Show where he tried to ruin a little girl's beautiful day. Beautiful Day Monster faded away after The Muppet Show, only appearing briefly in The Jim Henson Hour and on The Cosby Show. He returned in The Muppets last year and even sang a line in the finale reprise of "Life's a Happy Song."
  • LUNCHEON COUNTER MONSTER
    • Primarily performed by VARIOUS (1977-present)
  • Although not widely recognized, Luncheon Counter Monster (who got his name from a sketch on The Muppet Show where he ate everything put on a lunch counter visited by guest star Nancy Walker) is one of the most-used Muppet monsters. He has appeared in everything from The Muppet Show to the Muppet Meeting Films to A Muppets Christmas: Letters to Santa all the way up to last year's The Muppets. Throughout all of this, Luncheon Counter Monster has never had a consistent performer--as was the case with many tertiary, "utility" Muppet monsters. But with one of the most unique designs Luncheon Counter Monster has remained a consistent presence in Muppet projects since The Muppet Show  
  • DROOP
    • Primarily performed by JERRY NELSON (1971-1996)
  • Droop was introduced as a character called Snivelly in the 1970 television special The Great Santa Claus Switch. When he next appeared in the pilot The Muppet Valentine Show in 1974, Droop was one of the main characters. This main status did not carry over to The Muppet Show for Droop, unfortunately, but he was featured in numerous sketches. One notable sketch he appeared in was the "Imagination" song with Ben Vereen in Season 1. Droop would go on to appear in every season of The Muppet Show and every Muppet film except Muppets From Space. He got to make a joke about a key grip in the "Scratching the Surface" bonus feature on The Muppets Blu-ray in 2012.  
  • BEHEMOTH
    • Primarily performed by VARIOUS (1976-present)
  • Behemoth is a very simple looking monster with a massively gaping mouth, giving him a very distinctive look. Although he only appeared in five episodes in three seasons of The Muppet Show, Behemoth managed to make a striking impression on Muppet fans. So much so that, after not being seen since an episode of Muppets Tonight in 1996, Behemoth was brought back for The Muppets in 2011, getting a hysterical line about Jack Black's teeth in the film and appearing in multiple promotional spots, sometimes being called Gene, perhaps named after performer Bill Barretta's brother Gene.  
  • BIG MEAN CARL
    • Primarily performed by BILL BARRETTA (1996-present)
  • Big Mean Carl is the newest monster to be accepted into the core group of Muppet monsters. He first appeared in 1992 in the Muppet Meeting Films where he was performed by Dave Goelz and called "Chairman Budget." However, once Bill Barretta took hold of the character in 1996 he became Big Mean Carl and developed his overbearing personality. Carl would try to fit any entertainment need, becoming Carl the Big Mean Bunny, Carl the Big Mean Ventriloquist, Carl the Big Mean Bagpipe Eater, and numerous other incarnations. He was most prominent in the sketch on the show called "Swift Wits," where he would eat an adorable animal contestant after the idiotic game show contestant failed to answer the question. Carl remained in obscurity until 2008 when he appeared in the "Bohemian Rhapsody" video and A Muppets Christmas: Letters to Santa. Carl starred in his own viral video, "Stand By Me," in 2010 and returned for The Muppets in 2011.   
  • FRACKLES
    • Various character primarily performed by VARIOUS performers (1970-present)
  • The Frackles are a group of Muppet monster characters first introduced in The Great Santa Claus Switch in 1970. This eclectic and creepy group of monsters includes Boppity (Blue Frackle), Gloat (Green Frackle), Snake Frackle, Mo Frackle, J.G. (Dark Green Frackle), at one point Gonzo and Droop, and various others of all shapes and colors. These Muppets are crucial in background roles on The Muppet Show and Muppet movies. Many Frackles were used in last year's The Muppets   
Well class, that's all the time we have for today. Come back next week when there might be a quiz (if I can piece together the paper shreds after Hugh the janitor got to them) and hopefully the door will be unlocked! Until then... keep being spooooooky!






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

3 comments:

  1. thank you professor ryan for that amazing zingtastic lecture! And I still call gonzo a frackle and it was me who stole hugh the janitors broom handle polish so I could get back at him for shredding your things but SHH! You can't tell anyone okay? Okay! And I'm ready for a quiz that's never gonna happen! Hugs and giggles~maria

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  2. And one last thing I've been trying to get in for months but you lock the door after the bell rings so.... hugs and giggles~maria

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  3. Hopefully instead of a quiz next week we get to have a class about the monsters of Sesame Street! That'll be a lot of reading! Keep up the great work

    Phoenix Alvarado

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