1 The Muppet Mindset: November 2012

Nov 30, 2012

Spending Time with Caroll Spinney

Ryan Dosier - On Wednesday night this week, yours truly traveled about three hours north from where I live to Champaign, Illinois to the University of Illinois to be in attendance as the legendary Caroll Spinney visited to talk about his amazing life and career. Obviously, this was a huge deal for me, as Mr. Spinney is an obvious hero of mine so getting the chance to see him in person was just astounding. If you're wondering why The Muppet Mindset didn't mention this appearance anywhere, I was asked by the group organizers to keep it quiet and not spread it around to try and keep it within the school... but luckily I was able to attend.

I arrived early enough to get a seat in the second row, directly behind my friends Josh Hankemeir and his wife Jeni Rizio, who you may remember runs Caroll's personal website (CarollSpinney.net), and whom we interviewed a few months ago. The both of them are good friends with Caroll and his wife Debi and it was so much fun getting to hang out with them for the rest of the night.

Soon after I arrived, the Spinneys arrived as well. I was incredibly intimidated so introduce myself to Caroll, so I just stayed silent for awhile. Caroll's wife Debi sat down next to Josh and I garnered some courage to introduce myself to her. Debi is honestly the sweetest, most engaging person. I had such wonderful conversations with her and after I gave her my business card, she promised she would introduce me to Caroll. She really is the best!

Soon after that, the lecture/talk/whatever got started as Caroll took the stage. I can't tell you what a joy it was to listen to Caroll discuss his life and his career in person. I've read Caroll's magnificent book The Wisdom of Big Bird, I've seen videos of him talking about his career, but getting to see the man himself tell these timeless stories again in person is an unforgettable memory for me. He recounted his story of developing Oscar's voice from a grumpy cab driver, how Jim Henson hired him after a disastrous puppet performance about which Jim said, "I liked what you were trying to do," and stories of working with Bob Hope, traveling to China, and being a truly saint-like man who has influenced generations of children.

The most powerful story he told, and one I don't think I had heard before, involved a sick young boy named Joey. Joey's father wrote Caroll a letter telling him about his son. He was dying of cancer and was very, very sad. The only time young Joey would smile was when Big Bird came on the television. Joey's father asked Caroll if he would call Joey. Of course Caroll did, and spoke to Joey as both Big Bird and Oscar for a few minutes. A few weeks later, Caroll received another letter from Joey's father. As Joey hung up the phone with Caroll he turned to his parents, smiled, and said, "Big Bird is my friend and he loves me." And... well, then Joey closed his eyes peacefully, with a smile. There were tears in the eyes of everyone I saw in the audience, and Caroll had to hold back his own tears. It was a truly beautiful, moving tale of Big Bird's incredible influence, not just on a mass scale, but on a micro, personal level as well.

Throughout the lecture, Caroll would bring out the one and only Oscar the Grouch to keep the attention of some of the young kids in the audience with their parents. It was truly incredible watching as Caroll and Oscar argued with each other, as Oscar insulted Caroll, and as Caroll controlled the whole room with Oscar's grouchiness. There I was, watching two television legends just a few feet in front of me. It was amazing, to say the least. Caroll proved himself over and over again to be every bit as wonderful as I could have hoped. Touching, hilarious, brilliant, and just plain delightful.

After the lecture came the most exciting moment: a photo-op/autograph session with Caroll and Oscar! It was completely unexpected, but Caroll is such a fantastic person that he sat for over an hour signing things, taking pictures with Oscar, and talking to the folks who were in the audience. This gave me two irreplaceable new items for my collection: a signed picture of Big Bird and my picture with Oscar the Grouch and Caroll Spinney. As we were waiting to get a picture, I kept telling Jeni and Josh that I was going to frown in the picture with Oscar. However, once I got up there and Oscar shook my hand and said, "Hey fella," I couldn't help but grin like a crazy person. After the picture I hugged Oscar... and I'm just now realizing that's the first time I've hugged a Muppet. Wow. Anyway... here's the picture.
In the end, my time spent with Caroll Spinney, his wife Debi, Oscar the Grouch, and fellow Muppet fans was yet another insanely amazing experience in my Muppet fan life. Caroll Spinney is perhaps the nicest, most genuine person I've had the honor of meeting. But beyond that, he is an icon and a hero and an undeniable legend. Meeting Caroll was like meeting a part of Jim Henson himself, a man who has committed his life to teaching children and making the world smile. Thank you, Caroll.
I also have to say a special thank you to I Am Big Bird director Dave LaMattina for letting the Spinneys know I was coming to the event.

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

Nov 29, 2012

The Muppets Appear Everywhere This Week

With the premiere of their fantastic new "All I Need is Love" video with CeeLo Green earlier this week, the Muppets have been all over the place since Monday promoting the heck out of it. Rather than hitting you over the head with the videos day after day this week, we've decided to just collect it all in one convenient post! So enjoy clips from Muppets on Good Morning America, The Voice, Christmas at Rockefeller Center, plus Kermit and Pepe at Disney Store Times Square and Frank Oz on The Colbert Report!

The Muppets (and LoCo) sing "All I Need is Love" LIVE on GMA

Kermit and Dolly Parton sing a brief "Islands in the Stream" with Chickens on GMA

Pepe Flirts with GMA co-host Lara Spencer

Kermit the Frog and CeeLo Green perform "Bein' Green" on The Voice, with appearances by Gonzo, Fozzie, Janice, Animal, Statler, and Waldorf

The Muppets and CeeLo Green perform "All I Need is Love" LIVE during NBC's Christmas at Rockefeller Center

Kermit and Pepe answer questions at the Times Square Disney Store (video courtesy of our friends at StitchKingdom.com)

Frank Oz stops by The Colbert Report to discuss the Blu-ray release of Little Shop of Horrors and some Muppety chit-chat

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

Nov 28, 2012

Weekly Muppet Wednesdays: Mr. Johnson


Performed by...
Jerry Nelson

First (known) appearance...
Sesame Street Season 3: Episode 0276 (1972)

Most recent appearance...
Sesame Street Season 43: Episode 4302 (2012)

Best known role...
Grover's constant and constantly perturbed customer at Charlie's Restaurant and elsewhere

Also known as...
Fat Blue; The Customer; The Food Lover

Mr. Johnson is best known for his role as Grover's disgruntled customer. His favorite restaurant is Charlie's Restaurant, and he continues to return there even though his service always leaves him angry, exhausted, or confused. Over the years, Mr. Johnson has tried to order many different dishes, and always Grover somehow messes that order up. Whether it's alphabet soup without various letters, a gigantic hamburger, the tomato surprise, or various foods delivered (to the floor) by Grover the Singing and Dancing Waiter, poor old Mr. Johnson rarely gets the dish he wants, the way he wants, in a calm, normal manner.

For many years, Mr. Johnson was only bothered by Grover when he went out to eat. But in the mid-1980s, Mr. Johnson started finding himself in Grover's company at his home, in the park, on an airplane, in stores, at the gym, in a taxi, at the movies, at a baseball game, on Broadway, and, most recently, at the coffee shop. Grover's constant pestering of Mr. Johnson both in and out of the restaurant reached a hilarious apex in the 2006 sketch, "Outrageous Makeover: Home Addition," in which Grover parodies Ty Penington with an obnoxious megaphone and hysterical renovations of Mr. Johnson's home. In the end, he subtracts all the doors in the house and the duo are seemingly stuck together forever.

It seems that everywhere Mr. Johnson goes, Grover is there to provide him "service"--even (or especially) when he doesn't ask for it. Yet Mr. Johnson still showed up for the gala honoring Grover at the Flyer's Club in the DVD special A Celebration of Me, Grover... where Grover was again his waiter, even though the ceremony was honoring him. As Grover said, "A monster has to make a living!" Mr. Johnson also appeared in The Sesame Street Special, Elmo Saves Christmas, CinderElmo, and The Adventures of Elmo in Grouchland.

The list of services and dishes Grover has attempted to provide Mr. Johnson is extremely long. At the restaurant we've seen chicken soup, bacon and eggs, a time when Charlie's ran out of food, the Special of the Day (the number 9), a fly in the soup, corn on toast, an outdoor cafe, a parody of Much Ado About Nothing, spaghetti, milk (shaken, not stirred), a Russian restaurant, rhyming day, and plenty more. While out of the restaurant, Grover has provided singing telegrams (once with Elmo), speedy pizza, flight attendant services, wigs, paintings, workout instructions, popcorn, photos, protection from fly balls, hot dogs, the letter V, and a very interactive performance of Spider-Monster: The Musical.

Although Mr. Johnson can never seem to get rid of Grover, he does keep going back to Charlie's Restaurant. Perhaps it's the only restaurant on Sesame Street, perhaps the food is really that good (if it ever gets to your table), or perhaps Mr. Johnson really does enjoy Grover. We may never know... but we will certainly love to watch.

Mr. Johnson provides Grover with the perfect straight man in his ridiculous exploits. It is also interesting to note that Mr. Johnson is often the sole receiver of Grover's services anytime Grover is working one of his odd jobs. Without Mr. Johnson, Grover would probably have no one to provide service to and would thus be unemployed.

But beyond that, Mr. Johnson is just a truly funny, fun character. He is often just as funny as Grover in their sketches, with a much more dry humor and hilarious laments wondering why he keeps coming back to the same restaurant. In recent years, it was often exclusively the Grover/Mr. Johnson sketches that Frank Oz returned to perform in alongside Jerry Nelson. These two legends performing these two wonderful characters is yet another reason why Mr. Johnson is needed.

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

Nov 27, 2012

Muppet Maestros: James Taylor

Hilarie Mukavitz - Of the large number of singer-songwriters that have appeared on Sesame Street over the years, one of the most memorable is James Taylor. For those of us watching Sesame Street in the late 1970s and early 1980s, our first introduction to James Taylor was on the Sesame Street set, serenading Oscar and leading a sing-along of screaming little kids.

Born to a wealthy family in Massachusetts, the Taylor family moved North Carolina in 1951. The second of five children, most of the Taylor siblings showed musical talent. Taylor's father Isaac was a doctor, and was frequently absent on work-related business, including a two year expedition to the South Pole.

Taylor's first real success as a musician was when he moved to England in the late 1960s. Paul McCartney was impressed by a recording he heard of Taylor, and even more impressed when he heard Taylor live. James Taylor became the first American to be signed to Apple Records. Taylor's song "Something in the Way She Moves" was part of the inspiration for George Harrison's "Something." Harrison sang backing vocals and McCartney played bass on Taylor's "Carolina In My Mind." Taylor had a series of highly successful albums in the early 1970s. Although the biggest strength of Taylor's songs is that they sound timeless.

James Taylor recorded three segments for Sesame Street in 1979 and 1980. Probably the most famous is the song "Jellyman Kelly." Pretty appropriate choice for Sesame Street, as the lyrics were inspired by a poem that his five year old Sally wrote. There also are just not enough pop songs that feature the tuba. Although as a child I found this segment offensive. I repeatedly complained to my mother that they should have had ME come sing with James Taylor as I could sing better than those screaming kids. I didn't quite understand that the segment had been filmed years before, and Sesame Street didn't usually hire Wisconsin toddlers as back-up singers.

The other two segments were filmed on the rooftop set. "Up On The Roof" was originally a hit for The Drifters in 1962, and one of several Carole King-penned songs that James Taylor recorded. Taylor is the sort of recording artist that can easily take a song originally made famous by somebody else and turn it into his own. The third segment, and easily my favorite, is a duet with James Taylor and Oscar the Grouch. Taylor starts to sing his song "Your Smiling Face" much to Oscar's chagrin. However when he changes the lyrics to "That Grouchy Face" Oscar gets considerably more enthused. I especially enjoy this because it is a chance to see James Taylor's sense of humor. With his pristine singing voice, and earnest song-writing style, that is one facet of his personality that frequently gets overlooked.

Taylor has continued to be a prolific songwriter to this day. He was inducted to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2000. Although for me, my favorite James Taylor moments will always be when that wry sense of humor comes out. In 1994, Taylor was a guest voice in The Simpsons episode "Deep Space Homer." In 1995, collaborating with fellow Muppet Maestro Randy Newman, Taylor played "Lord" in "Randy Newman's Faust." He's clearly having a good time making fun of his own image such on this song "Relax, Enjoy Yourself." I would also highly recommend the James Taylor interview on the Elvis Costello program "Spectacle." Taylor talks at length about his musical influences, and Taylor and Costello perform a few duets together.

Enjoy James Taylor's Sesame Street performances on our exclusive Muppet Mindset playlist!

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

Nov 26, 2012

"All I Need is Love" Music Video Now Online!!

The incredible, awesome, way too cool for any more words music video for "All I Need is Love" starring The Muppets and CeeLo Green is NOW ONLINE!! Watch it, love it, then watch it again. Yes, it's that good.

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

Nov 24, 2012

Upcoming Muppet Appearances - Nov. 2012

The Muppets are hitting the press this coming week for quite a few very exciting appearances. Check out below for each of the appearances and details on what to expect!
    • Muppets visit Good Morning America on ABC - The Muppets (it is unclear which ones) will be appearing on the ABC morning show to promote... who knows!
    • Kermit and Pepe at Disney Store Times Square - Kermit the Frog and Pepe the King Prawn will be appearing at a private D23 meet-up at the Times Square Disney Store on Tuesday as well.
    • Muppets on NBC's The Voice, 8:00pm/7:00pm central time - CinemaBlend.com confirms that the Muppets will appear on NBC's hugely popular reality show on Tuesday night. Kermit will perform "Bein' Green" with CeeLo Green (an inspired choice) and we can expect appearances from Fozzie Bear, Gonzo, Janice, Statler, and Waldorf as well. CinemaBlend also says that "The show is going all out, even introducing a brand new Muppet, who looks like the pop star and judge, named 'Lo-Co.'"
    • Muppets on Christmas at Rockefeller Center on NBC, 8:00pm/7:00pm central time - The Muppets are scheduled to appear at the annual Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree lighting on NBC Wednesday night. However, the ceremony is two hours long and NBC will only air the second hour across the country, so hopefully the Muppets will be a part of that second hour.
    • Muppets on CeeLo's Magic Moment on TV Guide Channel, 8:00pm/7:00pm central time - The Muppets, including Kermit, Piggy, Fozzie, Gonzo, Pepe, Animal, and Snowths will appear on CeeLo Green's family-friendly Christmas concert to perform their new song "All I Ned is Love." 
Finally, in Muppet performers appearing without Muppets news, Bill Barretta and his awesome brother Gene Barretta will be appearing on The Preston and Steve Radio Show around 9:00am/8:00am central time on Wednesday, December 5th. The show is a "morning-zoo" type talk show and Bill and Gene will stop by to talk their work with the Muppets as well as children's books. The show isn't always kid-friendly, so keep that in mind, but you can listen live online on December 5th right here.

So set your television recording devices and mark your calendars for some awesome upcoming Muppet appearances, Muppet fans!

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

Nov 23, 2012

THE MUPPETS - One Year Later

Ryan Dosier - Here we are... November 23rd, 2012. Exactly one year ago Disney's first feature film effort with Kermit the Frog and company, The Muppets, was released in United States theaters. By now we've all seen it at least once (let's not talk about how many times I've seen it), and we've had quite the tumultuous 2012 since the film's release. The year that came in the wake of the successful movie has been a major roller coaster for Muppet fans, but we can all hold our heads high knowing that the next Muppet movie will begin filming in just two months in London. The last time the Muppets began filming again this quickly was after The Muppet Movie for The Great Muppet Caper (also coincidentally filmed in London).

Where are the Muppets now? Still making appearances and still sitting pretty high on the pop culture ladder. In fact, the Muppets will appear on NBC's The Voice on Tuesday, November 27th and on NBC's lighting of the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree on November 28th. They'll also be on ABC on Good Morning America the morning of Tuesday, November 27th... so the Muppets are anything but stagnant. However, I will assert that it's fairly odd that we haven't seen any small side-projects from the Muppets after the movie came out. No online videos, no TV specials, just the sparsely-seen Just For Laughs gala they hosted back in June.

But a new movie is being made, appearances are revving back up, The Muppet Christmas Carol was just released on Blu-ray, various other pieces of merchandise (POP! Vinyl figures, books, clothes, etc.) have started to work their way onto store shelves... things are good for the Muppets, but there's no doubt they could be better. It may sound greedy to keep saying, "We want more, more, more!" but in the end it really makes sense to have more, more, and more Muppet stuff to keep them in the public eye before the next movie is released.

Disney's faith in the Muppets (enough faith to greenlight a sequel just a few months after the film was released) shows that they see the characters as a financially viable property for the first time since they have owned them. If the Muppets keep making Disney tons of money, as they did with the movie both in theaters and on Blu-ray/DVD, you can guarantee that Muppets will be everywhere in stores.

Everyone I've spoken to about it is very positive about the new movie. They say the script is solid and they're excited to get back to work. And with the coming of the new Muppet movie, surely we'll see the coming of even more Muppet stuff. I've heard from a reliable source that Disney is thinking about releasing the next season of The Muppet Show in conjunction with the new movie (why they didn't release it when The Muppets came out, I'll never know). The recent release of The Muppet Christmas Carol on Blu-ray probably means we'll see the other Muppet movies on Blu-ray soon as well.

I think what is more important about what has changed, however, is that we as Muppet fans have become accepted over the past year. With the success of The Muppets, Muppet fans have been welcomed by the Disney community, by the film community, and by the world at large to some extent. I know that after a year, all of my friends have seen the movie and all of them finally understand (if not appreciate) my rampant fandom. No, I haven't "converted" any of them to ardent Muppet fans, but I have helped them see why the Muppets matter and why they deserve the world's attention. I probably couldn't have done that without this movie.

In the end, the Muppets are in a very good place one year since the release of their major motion picture. The potential for the Muppets now is through the roof and they can really do anything at this point. With another movie on the way, merchandise on the shelves, and faith in the characters from all corners, Kermit, Fozzie, Gonzo, Piggy, Animal, Floyd, Rowlf, Lew Zealand, Pepe, Rizzo, and everyone in between are poised to dominate once again. If this next movie is as successful as The Muppets was, and if the Muppets remain as great as they have been this year one year from now... can a new Muppet television series be far behind? Who knows.

So with that, I close this article with a quote from my article from a year ago yesterday titled, "The Last Day Before The Muppets." Here is that quote, which still perfectly sums up my feelings about The Muppets one year later:

The Muppets is more than just a movie to me, and I assume to all of you as well. The Muppets is a validation of my strongest belief: Life's like a movie, write you're own ending with lots of singing, and dancing, and making people happy. The Muppets is a validation that the past seven years of my life as a Muppet fan have not been a waste. The Muppets is a validation that the world does indeed love these characters and, maybe, the world sees their value and importance as much as I do. The Muppets means the world to me, because it's about to change my world.

So that's that! What about you, Muppet fans? How do you think the Muppets are one year after The Muppets? What do you want to happen next? Where can I find a working treadmill to work off this Thanksgiving feast? Answer any or all of these questions in the comments below. I for one will be setting my sights on the future and the next Muppet movie!!

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

Nov 22, 2012

Muppetology 101: Advanced Muppets and Macy's Analysis

Maxwell Jessop - Hello, class. It's me, that "How To" guy, Max Jessop! I'm subbing for Ryan who is taking off for Thanksgiving break... Oh, yeah. Only the teachers get Thanksgiving break this year. Sorry, I don't make the rules. But I do give you the lesson. And I'm going let you off easy this week because we are learning about the history of the Muppets at the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade!

The Muppets and Sesame Street cast have been well-versed in parades the likes of the "Stars and Motor Cars" parade at Disney's Hollywood Studios theme park in the Walt Disney World Resort and, obviously, Sesame Place theme park's entire line-up of parades. However, The Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, the most-watched parade, broadcast all across the world, has been filled with appearances by Jim Henson's creations.

The first ever appearance of Muppets in the Thanksgiving Day Parade came in 1974 when Sesame Street debuted a float based on 123 Sesame Street and Hooper's Store. Big Bird perched on the roof and the human cast members stood at the front of the float as they all rode through the town. Much like the current float you might see in this year's parade, Cookie Monster and other characters could be seen sticking their heads out of glassless windows. This float lasted five consecutive years, through 1978.

The 1977 parade was significant because Kermit the Frog was immortalized in balloon form. The amphibian was 63 feet tall and 24 feet wide and took about four hours and 5,220 cubic feet of helium to reach its full size that adorned two and a half miles of New York streets. This balloon appeared with a long run and, despite suffering a rip in the stomach in the 1985 parade, lasted until 1991.

The parade featured its biggest and most historical Muppet appearance in 1979, to promote The Muppet Movie, as the Muppets rolled onto the streets in the Electric Mayhem bus. That is, following closely behind Miss Piggy's custom Rolls Royce. The float was psychedelic as always. The Mayhem bus transported most of the main Muppeteers, while the Sesame Street float had to enlist new replacement performers for the parade.

After the 70s, the Muppets discontinued their Electric Mayhem float, leaving room for more Muppet content.  However much did not come to fruition, with the exception of a revamped Sesame Street float and a gargantuan Fraggle Rock float that appeared two years in a row. Thanks to YouTube we have a little video footage of that last one. By the 90s we were left with but a Big Bird balloon and the Sesame Street float.

Thankfully, A Very Merry Muppet Christmas Movie debuted on NBC in 2002. The 2000s brought Muppet presence back with a new and improved Kermit balloon as well as a Super Grover balloon that fittingly flew through the sky. Just a few years back, in 2008, we were treated to the real Kermit singing "I Believe" on the Central Park float near the end of the parade and an Abby Cadabby balloon to further introduce the character to viewers. Overall, the presence of Muppets in the parades is truly huge and who knows what the parade will bring this year or in the future.

Whew! Okay! I'm done. I can't believe I wrote all that! Well, I told you I'd let you off easy. Like always, there will be no test, exam, quiz, or query on this lesson, but you will be expected to watch the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade this year for another look at that spectacular Sesame Street float I keep mentioning. Have a great week, Ryan will pick back up... uh... whenever he feels like it, I guess?

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

Nov 21, 2012

Weekly Human Wednesdays: Gary

Today's post is written by Kyle Mahoney.


Performed by...
Jason Segel
Appeared in...
The Muppets (2011)

Walter (brother)

Significant other...

Memorable quotes...
"Walter? Okay... this is awesome. We're at Kermit's house."

"Walter and I are great sewers!"

Gary is an all-American boy from Smalltown, USA. He was on the baseball team, was in scouts, and even started a local cleaning business with his brother Walter. Gary and Walter's easy going life is summed up in "Life's a Happy Song," which takes us through Smalltown where we meet Mary, whom Gary has been dating since High School. In honor of his and Mary's tenth anniversary, Gary decides to take Mary on a trip to Los Angeles so they can have a romantic dinner and see the sights.

But Gary feels like Walter won't be able to survive without him, so they bring him along on the vacation as well. When Walter learns of Tex Richman's plans to destroy the Muppets, Gary and Mary become part of the search for Kermit. After getting all the Muppets together, Gary volunteers all of his time to helping his new Muppet friends and Mary feels neglected. Gary feels like he needs to stay with Walter, while Mary realizes that Walter has found a niche within the Muppet family.

Gary tells Mary to see the sights and he'll meet up with her later on. But when he finally meets up with her, he forgets that it was their anniversary and she storms out of their motel room. A confused Gary goes to Walter who is worried about finding a talent, the two end up in a spat over whose life is more important. During the fight, Gary realizes that he forgot the anniversary and rushes back to try and apologize to Mary, but she had already gone back to Smalltown leaving a note asking Gary whether he was a man or a Muppet.

He begins to peer deep into his soul to figure that out for himself; seeing both the man and Muppet within himself, but he realizes that he is meant to be with Mary so he returns to Smalltown. The two watch the Muppet Telethon and although Mary offers to go back and help, Gary once again states that he made his choice, especially since he just sang a whole song about it. But the two eventually head off to L.A., traveling by map, and help bring power back to the Muppet Theater. Gary and Mary's love inspires Kermit to rekindle his love with Piggy. When the Muppets need their final act, Gary is the one to inspire Walter, because he's his hero. While watching Walter perform his "Whistling Carouso," Gary states that "He's all grown up."

After the Muppets lose the theater, leave, and see their fans, Gary lets his brother go with the Muppets. Gary joins the cast in the finale of "Life's a Happy Song" stating that he and Mary will live happily ever after. At the very end of the movie, Gary takes out a ring and finally proposes to Mary who replies with a perfectly placed "Mahna Mahna."

To be perfectly honest, Gary and Jason Segel are pretty much the same exact person. The Muppets was Segel's dream project. He had always loved the Muppets and was honored when Disney agreed to let him and Nicholas Stoller write the script. Sadly Jason will not be returning to write or appear in the Unnamed Muppets Sequel. But to be honest having a reoccurring human wouldn't be very Muppet-y.

Without Gary, the Muppets would have never been saved and Walter would have never found his true place in the world. Gary has his flaws, such as needing to be needed by his brother and just being plain oblivious. Also, without Jason Segel, us Muppet fans might not have as much to be proud of. We need Gary, because without him, the whole adventure wouldn't have happened, and all we would have is a demolished theater with an oil rig. But instead we have one of the best Muppet adventures we've had in years.

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

Nov 20, 2012

Kevin Clash Resigns from Sesame Street

Over the past few weeks, you've no doubt heard Kevin Clash's name in the news or read it online, but you'll notice that you did not read it here. The Muppet Mindset made a very firm decision early last week to stay out of tabloid gossip and salacious rumors that affected not only a friend to the site, but a major inspiration as well. Unfortunately, the situation has reached a point where we find that we have to report about it, and it is with extreme sadness that we do so.

Kevin Clash, the man who has brought to life Elmo for 27 years, has officially left Sesame Street and Sesame Workshop. Below you'll find Sesame Workshop's official statement, followed by Kevin Clash's official statement, both initially reported on by the New York Times.

Sesame Workshop's Statement
Sesame Workshop's mission is to harness the educational power of media to help all children the world over reach their highest potential. Kevin Clash has helped us achieve that mission for 28 years, and none of us, especially Kevin, want anything to divert our attention from our focus on serving as a leading educational organization. Unfortunately, the controversy surrounding Kevin’s personal life has become a distraction that none of us want, and he has concluded that he can no longer be effective in his job and has resigned from Sesame Street. This is a sad day for Sesame Street.

Kevin Clash's Statement
"I am resigning from Sesame Workshop with a very heavy heart. I have loved every day of my 28 years working for this exceptional organization. Personal matters have diverted attention away from the important work Sesame Street is doing and I cannot allow it to go on any longer. I am deeply sorry to be leaving and am looking forward to resolving these personal matters privately."

We at The Muppet Mindset are stunned, shocked, and incredibly saddened by this turn of events. We truly hope you'll join us in wishing the best for Kevin Clash in his terrible time. We also wish the best to Sesame Street and Sesame Workshop in this uneasy time of transition. Kevin's contributions to the show and the company run much deeper than Elmo, and his presence will surely be missed in a heavy way. We are confident that Elmo will live on in the hands of a new performer, but it is impossible to deny that the character will not suffer because of the loss of Kevin.

Despite any accusations, Kevin Clash is a good man who has inspired countless masses and entertained and educated even greater numbers of children all over the world. It is impeccably sad to see him brought down in such a public, hurtful way and we very much hope that things will smooth over quickly and Kevin can move on with his life, however he chooses to do so. We at The Muppet Mindset thank Kevin Clash for his truly ground-breaking career and sharing his immense talent in such a purely good way.

To close, we share our audio interview with Kevin Clash and Elmo from last year.

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

Nov 19, 2012

Muppet Retro Reviews: Sesame Street Episode 0001

Michael Wermuth, Jr. - Today I'll be reviewing the very first episode of Sesame Street, the one that introduced national audiences to Big Bird, Oscar, Ernie, Bert, and others. For an introduction episode, it's great. The first episode has a very loose plot in which Gordon shows a new girl, Sally, around the street, introducing her to the various residents, and through these introductions, he's also introducing those who watched the very first broadcast of Sesame Street to the characters and format. In this first episode, as with many first season episodes, there are many multi-part segments, some scenes lead directly to the next segment, and a handful of inserts are shown twice (as would be common for at least the first five seasons).

I'd like to discuss the Muppet portions first. Big Bird and Oscar both get only one scene each, where they get to meet Sally. These scenes are fun to watch, and interesting because of how different the characters are: Oscar has his grouchy personality but is orange, while Big Bird is extremely dopey. The first insert in this episode features Ernie and Bert. Ernie takes a bath and makes a funny joke about why he calls his bathtub Rosie. After a few inserts about baths, we get part two, in which Ernie leads the audience into a play-along song called "Everybody Wash," which includes cutaways to characters we'd just met playing along as well. Kermit the Frog later shows up for a two-part lecture on the letter W. In part one, we are introduced to Cookie Monster, whose eating turns the letter W into various other letters, while in part two Kermit has to deal with a moving W. In fact, these two segments could have easily been separate stand-alone segments about the letter W.

This episode also has its share of animation and film segments. This being The Muppet Mindset, I'll focus first on Jim Henson's contributions. This first episode includes two of the number films that end with a baker falling down the stairs, for the numbers 2 and 3. I like the number 3 segment, which features Jim as a juggler and Brian Henson counting three peas. Jim also lent his voice to various characters in a claymation segment about the letter S, which is also a good short. As for the non-Henson animation and film inserts, some of my favorites that appear in this episode include Jazz Number 2, Wanda the Witch, a film teaching "Over, Through, and Around," and a series of shorts in which a number of dots appear.

This is a great, fast-paced episode. In fact, when it comes to the episodes on the Old School sets, I watch this one all the way through more than any of the other episodes. But as much as I like this episode, it does have its slow spots. There's an overly-long film about milk, the scene with Gordon putting facial features on the Anything Muppets is slow, and some of the street scenes that don't include Muppets are a bit hard to be interested in. But the rest of the episode is pure gold.

Interestingly, while this episode is sponsored by three letters (W, S, and E) and two numbers (2 and 3), any sponsor that isn't W or 2 is only represented with one segment each, while the others are heavily featured. I guess W and 2 were the highest-paying sponsors for the first episode. These two sponsors seem to get special sections of the episode where they are heavily featured, Susan's rendition of "One of These Things" involves three W's and one 2, and when Ernie sings "Everybody Wash," the word "wash" appears on screen, with the W in a much-different font wiggling around.

The first episode of Sesame Street is a good introduction to one of the greatest and longest-running television shows in history. It may have a shortage of characters, but that's because many of the characters we know and love hadn't been introduced yet. The segments with Ernie, Bert, and Kermit are among their best segments. There may be some slow spots, but otherwise it feels fast-paced. The episode was released on DVD as part of Old School: Volume 1 and is on the bonus DVD included with the book Sesame Street: 40 Years – A Celebration of Life on the Street, but if you don't feel like going out and buying a copy (or ordering and waiting) the episode is also available (uncut, I must add) on iTunes as part of Sesame Street Classics Volume 1.

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