1 The Muppet Mindset: September 2013

Sep 30, 2013

Sesame Street Season 44 Reviews, Part 1

Shane Keating - Sesame Street’s groundbreaking 44th season is finally here it is! As one of the site’s resident Sesame experts and fanatics, here’s what I thought on the first week of shows.

STREET STORIES
The season premiere, “Telly Gets Jealous,” was absolutely lovely. Telly and Baby Bear do usually have the best storylines of the season and this did not disappoint. Telly’s freak-out at Baby Bear was a wonderful piece of Muppeteer acting. The story also featured one of the last pieces Jerry Nelson recorded before his passing. I think the “self-regulation” episodes will be better than the STEM ones, as these are based around the characters and their emotions; that’s where good plots come from.

“Don’t Get Pushy” wasn’t as good as the first episode, but entertaining nonetheless. We got a nice appearance by Gordon, and song neat songs by The Safety Chickens, including a “Safety Dance” spoof. Why wasn’t this mentioned in the spoof section of the press kit?

Next we have “The Flower Show.” We kinda saw another side to the character Stinky the Stinkweed, especially when he was clearly bothered by the neighboring, show-offy plant who could grow better than him. This episode also had some neat songs. I kind of wish the songs were more than a minute long, but I suppose they need to keep them short to allow for more story, and more songs if necessary. Oh, and Susan made her annual appearance in this episode, albeit mostly in the background.

“Latino Festival” introduced us to Mando and they did it rather matter of factly; there was no street tour or reintroduction to the characters, they just threw him as if he’s always been there. I liked the lesson of the episode too, trying to keep kids from stereotyping Latinos while celebrating what they have in common.

The last show of the week was “Simon Says,” featuring Peter Dinklage as Simon. I really liked Peter, as well as Joey Mazzarino as his brother who has been living in Simon's shadow for all their lives. The song (“Whatever Simon Says”) was great too. There was also plenty of great Telly freak outs to boot.

INSERTS

So, the biggest new insert to talk about is “Cookie’s Crumby Pictures.” They’re almost like a re-imagining of Monsterpiece Theater, except more catered to Cookie’s character (having everything pertaining to snacks and food). The segments themselves are very funny, with great backgrounds and character designs, as well as the traditional Muppety puns (Ladyfinger from “The Spy Who Loved Cookies” kills me.). It’s a shame we’ll have to wait until late November before another new one is added to the rotation.

We got one new “Elmo the Musical,” one of five new episodes appearing this season. It used virtually the Workshop’s entire stock of bird puppets. It’s too bad that the mini-show segments only focus on one character; this would’ve been the perfect segment for a Big Bird appearance.

There were the usual new Celebrity Word of the Day segments, including the first appearance of Ryan Dillon's Elmo on the show. He’s doing a fantastic job. Other celeb appearances include a great segment with Dave Matthews and Grover, “I Need a Word,” which was so poignant and well-done. There was also some new cartoons, films and a new Two-Headed Monster sketch; I don’t like Chris as the narrator that much (they don’t need one), but I can deal with it. There was also a great new sketch about the number 0 with Oscar and the Count, performed by Matt Vogel, who totally gets the character. We also got our first spoof segment, “Sons of Poetry,” which was quite entertaining even though I don’t watch “Sons of Anarchy.

“Murray Has a Little Lamb” came back surprisingly, re-envisioned through the tune-in segments. This wasn’t a bad idea actually and with Murray struggling with the task each school presents, it gives the segments a pseudo-story, which is a great step forward in making those scenes more than just introducing the next segment.

My favorite segment by far this week is “Rhymes for Mando.” Ismael’s singing voice is awesome and the song is insanely catchy. And it was composed by Lin-Manuel Miranda, who I really like, so that’s a plus.


So, that’s how the first week went for me. The schedule seems to be that there’s a new episode each Thursday, so rather than just write up something for each one, I’ll wait until the end of the month to cover them. So, see you in October with some more new Sesame episodes!






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

Sep 29, 2013

Rachel Herrick Reviews... The Great Muppet Caper

Last month, our friend Rachel Herrick reviewed The Muppet Movie in the first part of her seven-part countdown to Muppets Most Wanted in March 2014. This month (after much technical difficulty), Rachel is reviewing my personal favorite Muppet movie: The Great Muppet Caper. Check out her fantastic video review below--but get ready to be extremely jealous of Rachel within the first minute... Fair warning.









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

Sep 28, 2013

News Update: September 28, 2013

NEWS UPDATE: September 28, 2013

Jim Henson's birthday was on Tuesday this week and it saw the release of Jim Henson: The Biography as well as many rememberances and tributes across the internet. But perhaps the biggest tribute to Jim's legacy came from the Henson family themselves and the Smithsonian Museum of American History, who together announced the donation of over 20 Muppets for display in the museum. These include Fozzie Bear, Scooter, the Count, Cookie Monster, Elmo, and many more. Going on permanent display with the already-donated Kermit the Frog is the one and only Miss Piggy. Check out the video below for the entie donation presentation featuring Cheryl Henson and Bonnie Erickson!



Author of Jim Henson: The Biography Brian Jay Jones has appeared all over the place promoting the book this week. One of my favorite appearances was an audio interview for NPR on The Diane Rehm Show. The hour-long appearance is informative and fun and includes a special appearance from our friend Dave Goelz. Take a listen to the appearance and learn more about the process of writing the biography.

Also making the rounds this week are the Muppets of Sesame Street, appearing on two of the most popular late night shows on TV. On Wednesday, Elmo, Abby Cadabby, Grover, Zoe, Cookie Monster, the Count, Murray, Big Bird, and Snuffy appeared on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon playing and singing the "Sesame Street Theme" with Jimmy and The Roots on classroom instruments. This appearance was spectacular and you've got to watch it below!



Straight on the heels of this magnificent appearance, Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch made a big appearance on The Colbert Report Thursday night. The Caroll Spinney duo appeared as part of Colbert's new "Pointless/Counterpointless" segment, where Colbert hoped they would argue with each other. Of course, this didn't go according to plan, so Colbert's frustration and Big Bird's innocence take center stage. It's a hilarious, wonderful appearance that will make you go "How'd they do that?!" when you realize Caroll is providing the voice for both characters at once. Watch below!









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

Sep 26, 2013

Interview with Legendary Muppet Performer DAVE GOELZ, Part 3

Interview with Dave Goelz
By Ryan Dosier
Dave Goelz’s Answers © Dave Goelz 2013

PART 3

RYAN:   We’re back with the one and only Dave Goelz, who just cracked up over my joke about a goat and a dwarf and a jar of peanut butter. Any jokes you’d like to share, Dave?

DAVE:   Now Ryan, tell the truth. We didn’t go anywhere, and you didn’t tell me a joke. This is a written interview. And I can’t remember jokes.

RYAN:   Then came Fraggle Rock, a series that I know is very special to everyone involved in it. How did this show’s differences from The Muppet Show challenge and liberate the performers working on it?

DAVE:   At first I felt limited by the show’s agenda, with its focus on modeling good behavior for kids. Eventually I found that it became kind of therapeutic. It was a chance to develop as a person, and that triggered a lot of growth and change for me.

RYAN:   What was it like on the occasions when Jim came to perform in an episode of Fraggle Rock?

DAVE:   It was great fun. He did Convincin’ John and Cantus the Minstrel, both of whom were wonderful characters. Jocelyn Stevenson wrote the latter for Jim, and it captured his wisdom and whimsy perfectly.

RYAN:   How much of Boober exists within you? Do you admire socks, tedium, and drudgery as much as he does?

DAVE:   Each of my characters comes from a part of myself. In Boober’s case, it’s the part that fears interviewers and would rather retreat to laundry. Which reminds me I need dryer sheets.

RYAN:   Boober formed tight bonds with many other characters on the show. Which of his friends do you think is the most important to Boober?

DAVE:   That would be Wembley, for sure.

RYAN:   One of Boober’s most hilarious relationships is with Sidebottom, his fun-loving alter-ego. Can you talk about the episodes where you played both Boober and Sidebottom and the difficulties and rewards that came with this?

DAVE:   Jocelyn Stevenson thought it would be interesting to see what would happen if Boober could overcome his fear. She hit upon the device of Boober meeting his alter ego in a dream, with an ensuing power struggle.

My favorite of the three episodes is Boober’s Quiet Day, which is structured as a farce, and results in a compromise––hence, a little growth for Boober. It helped me find more fun in him thereafter.

The shoot was a challenge, as I performed both sides of Boober and Sidebottom’s dialogue. Someone read off-lines while I performed each character, using blue-screen for the second character. I worked closely with our director, Eric Till, and our video switcher, Harley Walker.

RYAN:   What was it like performing Philo while filming the Trash Heap scenes with Jerry Nelson as Marjory and Richard Hunt as Gunge?

DAVE:   I loved it. Jerry was incredible with Marjory. His character and manipulation are just so alive. Richard created Gunge, who was such a great character that I just did the same thing with Philo. The “yeeeaaahhhh” was Richard’s. My favorite part of them was doing background vocals when Marjory sang. Search youtube for “Fraggle Rock I’ve Seen Trouble.”

RYAN:   The World’s Oldest Fraggle is one of my favorite characters on the show. How did this character come about?

DAVE:   They wrote the character and our producer Larry Mirkin asked me to perform him. My contribution was to make him kind of senile, and that he compensated for his lapses by blaming his flunky, who was played by John Pattison.

RYAN:   What were filming the Traveling Matt segments like? Were people receptive to a Fraggle on their roller coasters, in their farms, and throwing their money into fountains?

DAVE:   I don’t remember too much about attention from the public while we were shooting, but we seemed to have access to every place we wanted to go.

RYAN:   What are your favorite Traveling Matt segments?

DAVE:   I love the episodes when the legendary Traveling Matt comes home to Fraggle Rock and is exposed as a fool. Gobo wants to be proud, but Matt is utterly incompetent, and Red makes fun of him. Great dynamic! I also adore the episode that shows Matt as a little boy who wants to be an explorer just like his Uncle Gobo, who was a very accomplished explorer. Matt, of course, was incompetent even as a child.

RYAN:   What about your favorite Boober moments?

DAVE:   Boober’s Quiet Day. See above. Also the episode Marooned.

RYAN:   One of the most important aspects of Fraggle Rock was the music. What were some of your favorite songs on the show?

DAVE:   I loved everything that Dennis Lee and Phil Balsam wrote. Those two were just fantastic together. I saw them recently at the Fraggle 31st Year Reunion. They are lovely people, and so talented.

RYAN:   What does Fraggle Rock mean to you?

DAVE:   Harmony.

Jeez, are you ever going to stop with the questions?

RYAN:   What do you think is the lasting legacy of Fraggle Rock?

DAVE:   I’m thrilled that people in their thirties and forties are passing it along to their children. What a great feeling.






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

Sep 25, 2013

Weekly Muppet Wednesdays: Gaffer the Cat

Today's article was written by Abigail Maughan. If you would like to submit an article for Weekly Muppet Wednesdays, email us at muppetmindset@gmail.com.

GAFFER THE CAT

Performed by...
Kathryn Mullen

First appearance...
The Muppet Show Episode 419 (1980)

Last appearance...
(onscreen) The Muppet Revue (1985)
(in print) Muppets King Arthur (2010)

Best known role...
Backstage cat in the Muppet Theater; The Cat Who Came Back

WHO IS GAFFER THE CAT?
Gaffer is a tough-looking tabby who sat backstage in several episodes of The Muppet Show. Wearing an eye-patch, the cat was perched on a little shelf by the stairs, where she sat licking herself throughout the course of the fifth season. Although silent, she appeared in various songs and sketches.

The first prominent role for Gaffer was as a test subject in a Muppet Labs sketch in Episode 422. Shoved into Dr. Bunsen Honeydew’s Pet Converter, the unfortunate feline was transformed into a dog and then a lion, which promptly attacked Beaker. Oddly enough, this is the only time she appeared without her eye-patch and bandages. Could this be where she acquired her battle scars?

Another significant sketch involving Gaffer was Foo-Foo’s unimpressive dog act in Episode 520. With the little dog already struggling, Gaffer sneaks up behind him (her intentions unknown) and is immediately ratted out by Rowlf, who teams up with Foo-foo to catch the cat. The three run around the stage frantically, bringing the act to a close.

The bedraggled cat also had a part in the Electric Mayhem’s “Barnyard Boogie” in Episode 505. Her line: “Meow.” It should also be noted that she is sitting next to the very same dog puppet she was transformed into in that Muppet Labs sketch.

Gaffer’s finest moment undoubtedly came in Episode 224, playing the titular role in the song “The Cat Came Back.” In the song, Little Benny’s parents force him to find another home for his cat, but no matter how hard the poor kid tries, Gaffer keeps trotting back to his house. Even after she’s been sold, in a car crash, fired out of a cannon and has a bomb detonate next to her, the seemingly immortal cat continues to saunter back to Benny’s porch completely unharmed. Dumb luck or a deal with the devil? You decide!

In The Great Muppet Caper, Gaffer was one of the residents of the Happiness Hotel. She is seen with her back foot stuck under the radiator, but tapping her paw to the beat of the song nonetheless.

In a recent interview, performer Kathy Mullen said that she was assigned Gaffer for training purposes. Says she: "Jim wanted a cat, and he said, “Give that to her, let her practice.” That was his way of making it easy for me to get really used to the monitor and following things and it was a little training exercise. It was very effective... What I do remember is that it was an exercise in paying attention the whole time. Because when I was in the background, I couldn’t go dead. There was all kinds of stuff happening in the foreground. There were three cameras, so I couldn’t go dead and then, “Oops, I’m in this one!” I had to stay alive the whole time.”

WHY DO THE MUPPETS NEED GAFFER THE CAT?
Having different people and creatures living and interacting backstage adds a whole other layer of realism to The Muppet Show. Seeing a cat just sitting there minding her own business is a perfect little detail to illustrate that the world of the Muppets is a real world with amazing creatures… and real cats, just like ours, licking their behinds.






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

Sep 24, 2013

Jim Henson: The Biography Now Available!

Jim Henson: The Biography
by Brian Jay Jones
Available now wherever books are sold

Ryan Dosier - I finished reading Jim Henson: The Biography by Brian Jay Jones over a month ago and this perfect piece of writing has been stuck in my brain ever since. After I finished the book I wrote up a "brief" review which I think expressed how I feel about the book pretty well. But now that Jim Henson: The Biography is finally available for purchase everywhere, I felt like I should say some more.

More than anything, I keep thinking that Jim Henson: The Biography is important. It is a necessary, enlightening, and amazing. Finally, Jim Henson's entire story and legacy are given their proper due--500 pages worth. Not only that, but the book is funny, touching, loving, exposing, and unendingly interesting. It is virtually impossible for you to not find something in this book that is new information to you. I could write an entire article filled with things I didn't know before reading this.

These are all reasons that you should go out and pick up a copy of Jim Henson: The Biography to read for yourself. There have been very few books or documents of any sort that truly capture everything that Jim Henson was--but Brian Jay Jones pulled it off. From Jim's Civil War-era ancestors to his long lasting legacy, the book covers it all. Jim Henson's life and career was one of the most impressive of the 20th century, but his story has never been told as fully as it is in Jim Henson: The Biography. Many of us can never know Jim Henson, but Jim Henson: The Biography is truly the next best thing.

Read our initial review for more thoughts on the book. Plus, read the entire prologue of the book for just a taste of the magnificent writing and storytelling that you will get when you buy the book. 







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

Sep 23, 2013

The Great Muppet Survey: Daniel Kimbrell

Answers from Daniel Kimbrell

1.   Who are your three favorite characters from The Muppet Show, Muppets Tonight, The Jim Henson Hour, the Muppet movies, etc. and why?

My three favorite characters are Kermit the Frog, because if not for him, The Muppets wouldn't exist today. Walter, if it even counts since he's still new, because he's the one character I can fully relate with. And The Great Gonzo, who is more or less the one character I can sort of give a synopsis on how his insanity rules.

2.   Who are your three favorite characters from Sesame Street and why?

Ernie, since he's sort of a trickster character, and I can sort of get along with it, Big Bird, since he is the child character you grow to love over time, and Oscar, since even though he's a bit of a grump you can always enjoy his presence.

3.   Who are your three favorite characters from Fraggle Rock and why?

Sidebottom, since he is sort of the opposite of Boober Fraggle, even though he's still a part of Boober, Wembley, since, Like Wembley, I want to keep people getting along, but I have to also keep them from getting angry at me, my third favorite is a bit odd, but Sprocket. He is just a dog who wants to surprise his owner, who can be a bit scatterbrained.

4.   What is your favorite television program starring any of Jim Henson's creations (e.g. The Muppet Show, Sesame Street, Fraggle Rock, Dinosaurs, etc.) and why?

Emmet Otter's Jug-Band Christmas. This special gave a wide emotional range for myself. It has sad moments, happy moments, and even moments of shock, but in the end it has a happy ending

5.   What is your favorite Muppet movie and why?

It is a three way tie between The Muppet Movie, The Muppet Christmas Carol, and The Muppets. The Muppet Movie, in itself, is perfect. It contains everything Muppety. "Rainbow Connection," memorable introductions to each character, and more. The Muppets tries to do the same thing, but makes it so that everybody already knows about these characters. And The Muppet Christmas Carol for two reasons: One, because I just loved that they could put this together without Jim and Richard Hunt. If you look in the very end, you'll see the other reason.

6.   What is your favorite Muppet/Sesame/Fraggle song and why?

I think it would be kinda biased to say "Rainbow Connection," since it's so well known, but it is true. This song captures everything you need to know about The Frog, as well as everything you need to know about Jim Henson. It is a tearful but joyful song that captures the spirit of The Muppets.

7.   If you could have dinner with any living Muppet performer who would you choose and why?

Well, I suppose it would have to be Steve Whitmire. He seems to be the one living person who knows the most about Jim Henson, besides I would think Frank Oz. He could also tell stories about his projects as Kermit.

8.   If you could tell Jim Henson one thing, what would it be?

"Thank you for making the world a better place for your having been here."

9.   If the President called you and asked to discuss Muppet projects, what would you tell him was the "Greatest Muppet Moment of All Time"?

A Muppet Family Christmas. It combines every single character I grew up with and gives a whole story

10.   What's the name of that song?

"Share it Maybe."

11.   If a judge ruled that Grover had to be your personal assistant for a month, what jobs would you have him do?

Have him teach me near and far. I couldn't resist.

12.   In your opinion, what is the worst Muppet production ever made?

Muppets from Space. I cannot even BEAR to give a perfectly non-nerd ragey answer. It was the first Muppet movie I saw in theaters (It came out in 1999, meaning I was 5 at the time.) And it seemed decent at the time, then as I turned 12, and became a Muppet fan, I saw it again. I had one reaction, an hour and a half long face-palm.

13.   Who is one celebrity you would love to see cameo in the next Muppet movie?

Stephen Colbert. He is HILARIOUS!

14.   If you could take a picture with any Muppet, who would you choose and how would you pose?

Maybe I would take it with Walter, and pose in the Muppet Smile while pointing at him at the same time.

15.   What is your favorite piece of Muppet merchandise that you own? (Feel free to include a picture!)

My DVD of The Muppet Christmas Carol signed by Dave Goelz and Gonzo.






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

Sep 22, 2013

Jim Henson: The Biography Previews and News

Jim Henson: The Biography will be released this Tuesday, September 24th, so today's post will center around that exciting release. Perhaps the most exciting promotion for the book this week will come on Thursday, September 26th when author Brian Jay Jones and Frank Oz will be appearing on NBC's Today. Check your local listings and set your DVR to see Frank Oz and Brian Jay Jones discuss Jim Henson and the spectacular biography on national television!

Our friends at Random House, publisher of the forthcoming biography, were kind enough to send us two exciting promotions for the book. First of all is this really cool book trailer, which you can (and should) watch below:



Next from Random House is the incredible opportunity to view an excerpt from Jim Henson: The Biography. Below you can read the entire prologue--which is excellent and fun and beautiful. Huge thanks to Random House for letting us share this!




Here's hoping that taste of Jim Henson: The Biography inspired you to go out and buy this spectacular book on September 24th. You won't regret it one bit!





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

Sep 20, 2013

Interview with Legendary Muppet Performer DAVE GOELZ, Part 2

I'm so excited to present Part 2 of our interview with the legend that is Dave Goelz. In Part 2, Dave and I further discuss his Muppet involvements, focusing more on his work in the first three Muppet movies and some classic Muppet television specials. Enjoy!
Interview with Dave Goelz, Part 2
By Ryan Dosier
Dave Goelz’s Answers © Dave Goelz 2013

RYAN DOSIER:   When The Muppet Movie came along, Gonzo was a major part of the core group of characters, along with your other characters Dr. Bunsen Honeydew and Zoot. What was it like for your characters to reach the popularity of Jim and Frank’s?

DAVE GOELZ:   I don’t know that they reached that kind of popularity, but it was exhilarating being in that kind of company.

RYAN:   “I’m Going to Go Back There Someday” sort of became Gonzo’s anthem in the movie. Can you talk about the song and what it means to you, to Gonzo, or even to Jim?

DAVE:   The brilliance of Paul Williams’ lyrics is that they are enchantingly vague. There’s room to interpret and find your own meaning. Try writing like that sometime… it’s extremely difficult. What a work of art means to one person does not invalidate what it means to another.

Paul has said that he wrote the song because he identified with Gonzo “as a flightless bird.” I think Gonzo would probably feel the same, but would not be conscious of it.

Jim and I never spoke about exactly why he loved the song so much, but he felt very strongly about it.

For me, the song does a couple of things. It’s a wistful song about those rare moments of weightlessness––times when everything is perfect––times we yearn to return to. But ultimately it’s about finding our place in the world… finding soul mates and trying to achieve a state of grace.

That’s just me. For Frank Oz, maybe it’s a song about cabbage.

RYAN:   One of my favorite moments from The Muppet Show is when Gonzo hugs Kermit after singing “My Way” before leaving to go to Bombay to become a movie star. Why do you think it is important for Gonzo and Kermit’s relationship to be more than silly interactions between employee and boss?

DAVE:   There is a philosophy that runs beneath almost everything we’ve done. It’s about connectedness and interdependence.

RYAN:   What was it like working with Jim as a director on The Great Muppet Caper?

DAVE:   By this time you must realize that Jim was a great guy to work with. We played on set, and always had fun. He appreciated everyone’s contribution. The work was more than comedy; it was about life.

RYAN:   The Great Muppet Caper was the first time we really saw Kermit, Fozzie, and Gonzo as a trio. Why do you think this grouping works so well?

DAVE:   I don’t know. One is responsible, one is insecure, and the other is crazy. Kind of like Jim, Frank and I––though not necessarily in that order. There are a lot of ways for them to play off each other.

RYAN:   To close off our first interview installment I have to ask a question that has bugged me for years… Did Gonzo ever finish his photographic essay on kneecaps?

DAVE:   Ryan, I told you about internal reality questions. Let it lie.

RYAN:   You performed Bill, the advertising agency frog, in The Muppets Take Manhattan, where you imitated Jim’s Kermit voice. Did Jim get a laugh out of those three frog impersonations?

DAVE:   Yes.

RYAN:   The Muppets Take Manhattan also restored Camilla to prominence. Can you discuss Gonzo’s relationship with Camilla?

DAVE:   I have my theory, but it’s best I not go into it here.

RYAN:   Everyone loves A Muppet Family Christmas for obvious reasons. What was your favorite memory of that special and its huge crossover of Muppet worlds?

DAVE:   For many years, it was the only time all those characters had been together, until our 2012 show at Carnegie Hall.

Of course, A Muppet Family Christmas remains unique, because each character was performed by its originator.

It meant a lot to see them all in one place.

RYAN:   In The Jim Henson Hour you performed Digit and a few other brand new characters. Why do you think these characters, or even the show itself, didn’t catch on as much as the other Muppets and previous efforts?

DAVE:   There are so many things that have to be working just right for a show to succeed––not the least of which is whether we are in sync with the audience. Sometimes it all comes together, sometimes it doesn’t. It’s complex.

RYAN:   Given the opportunity to resurrect one character from your past that didn’t become a recurring character, which one would you choose?

DAVE:   I could have done a lot with The International Chill. Don’t ask. You’ll have to go back to the Muppet Show and look for it.

On “Jim Henson Presents,” I felt Digit could be good––but we couldn’t quite get him working during the few episodes we did. On “Muppets Tonight,” I originated Gary Cahuenga, the vent dummy abandoned forty years earlier by his ventriloquist, but unfortunately the show was cancelled just after his introduction.

RYAN:   One of my favorite Muppet productions is The Muppets at Walt Disney World. What was your favorite part of working on that special?

DAVE:   Gosh, I haven’t seen it since we made it, but I do remember two things: Charles Grodin was funny and one day our Winnebago burned to the ground during lunch.

RYAN:   Of the many Muppet projects you worked on with Jim Henson, which one was the most special for you?

DAVE:   It’s a three-way tie: Emmet Otter’s Jug Band Christmas, Fraggle Rock, and The Muppet Christmas Carol.







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

Sep 19, 2013

Muppet Retro Reviews - Jim Henson: A Sesame Street Celebration

Michael Wermuth - Jim Henson: A Sesame Street Celebration is a 1991 Sesame Street compilation album spotlighting performances from Jim Henson's characters, especially Ernie and Kermit. I have this album on cassette, and side A is basically a "best of Ernie and friends" side while side B is basically "the best of Kermit and friends."

The track listing is as follows:
1. Rubber Duckie - Ernie
2. But I Like You - Ernie and Bert
3. Ma Nah Ma Nah - Ma Nah Ma Nah
4. One Fine Face - Ernie and Elmo
5. Air - Guy Smiley
6. Imagination - Ernie with Bert, Big Bird, Grover, Prairie Dawn, Oscar, and Herbert Birdsfoot
7. The Honker-Duckie-Dinger Jamboree - Ernie, the Honkers, and a Dinger
8. Share - Ernie and Cookie Monster
9. Captain Vegetable - Captain Vegetable with Andy and Eddie
10. Dance Myself to Sleep - Ernie and Bert
11. I Don't Want to live on the Moon - Ernie
12. Bein' Green - Kermit the Frog
13. African Alphabet Song - Kermit and Ladysmith Black Mambazo
14. Big Round Nose - An Anything Muppet
15. If I Were - Kermit
16. Five People in My Family - An Anything Muppet Father and his family
17. Tadpole - Kermit
18. Caribbean Amphibian - Kermit
19. The Frogs in the Glen - Kermit
20. I Wonder 'Bout the World Above Up There - Kermit and the Kids
21. This Frog - Kermit

This is a great album. It features the songs fans would expect ("Rubber Duckie," "Bein' Green," "Imagination"), fan favorites ("This Frog," "Captain Vegetable"), and songs that might be a bit more obscure ("Big Round Nose," "Share"). In fact the packaging mentions that a number of the songs had never been released before. When I first got this album in 1994, I thought that line about previously unreleased tracks meant the album was the first time they were heard (and wondered why very few songs had a 1990 copyright date), as opposed to it meaning the songs hadn't been released on previous albums.

While there are many great songs sung by Jim Henson's characters that were omitted from this collection, I'd say that the biggest omission is "Do De Rubber Duck," which would have been an ideal choice since it features Jim Henson's three major Sesame Street characters (Ernie, Kermit, Guy Smiley). Additionally, I feel like almost every Kermit song not included should have been. At the time I got this there were quite a few Kermit songs I was seeing a lot, either on video releases or on the show, while most of the songs included are songs I either don't remember seeing before or hadn't seen in a long time and couldn't remember the lyrics.

I recommend this album if you are a fan of Sesame Street, Jim Henson, Ernie, Kermit, or all of the above. There may be some classics left out, but none of the tracks included seem out-of-place at all.






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