Jul 28, 2014

Comic Con Street

San Diego Comic Con was held over the weekend, and as we noted in our News Updates, Sesame Street and The Jim Henson Company both held panels at the world's biggest fan convention. Updates on the Henson panel are still coming in, but the Sesame Street panels were a major success.

Our friends at Nerdist.com have a great recap of the main Sesame Street panel, which featured Eric Jacobson and Grover, Joey Mazzarino and Murray, David Rudman and Cookie Monster, and Carol-Lynn Parente (and hosted by Nerdist's own Chris Hardwick).

The first panel held for Sesame Street was a conversation with the Muppet performers and Muppets, hosted by the amazing Zachary Levi. Lucky for us non-Comic Con attendees, NerdHQ filmed the entire panel for us. It's half an hour long, and 100% delightful. I highly, highly recommend watching it. Joey Mazzarino and Murray steals the show.



Earlier that day, Sesame Street took to Vine to show off Bert's new cosplay costume. Is he Bertman? Batbert? The world may never know.



Then, Murray presented a special edition of "Word on the Street."



And finally, Cookie Monster found his favorite Comic Con costume.



Sesame Street also shared a lot on Instragram from the photo shoot available with Grover, Murray, and Cookie Monster later in the day. Check out some of the great photos below!



Chris Hardwick with his furry friends.





Zachary Levi with the gang.





Chris Hardwick with Grover.



Our friend Gina Selim with Bert!



We'll be back with more Comic Con coverage as it comes down the pipeline!





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

Jul 25, 2014

News Update: July 25, 2014

JULY 25, 2014

The Muppets, specifically Kermit the Frog, Miss Piggy, Fozzie Bear, Gonzo, Animal, Statler, Waldorf, Rizzo, and Sweetums, will be attending the Brooklyn Cyclones minor league baseball game at MCU Park in Coney Island on Monday, August 4th. These will be the actual, real Muppets in attendance, so it's sure to be really exciting. If you're in the New York City area, be sure to attend and see Muppets live and in person! Visit PurchaseTickets.com to order tickets and get more info.
This week, Crave Online posted a preview of an upcoming bonus feature on the Muppets Most Wanted Blu-ray release featuring Rizzo the Rat. The feature, dubbed on the Blu-ray as "Rizzo's Biggest Fan," features Rizzo writing a strongly worded letter to the makers of The Muppets and Muppets Most Wanted regarding the lack of... Rizzo. Check out the preview video below! Remember, the Muppets Most Wanted Blu-ray is out August 12th!



Lipton Tea has released another new TV spot starring Kermit, Miss Piggy, Fozzie, Gonzo, Rowlf, and Animal having a picnic at Miss Piggy's house. They sing a really catchy song and drink a lot of tea. This spot was directed by our friend Bill Barretta! Check it out below...



Parade Magazine has a preview of yet another Muppets Most Wanted Blu-ray bonus feature: The Longer, Longest Blooper Reel in Muppet History. In the preview of the bloopers, we see Ricky Gervais laughing hysterically over and over again. It's delightful.



The delightful YouTube series Saturday Morning Slow Jams, which sings R&B slow-jam covers of popular cartoon theme songs, has covered the Muppet Babies theme song in their latest video. It's just as awesome as you might think, so watch and listen in the video below!









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

Jul 23, 2014

Weekly Muppet Wednesdays: Humphrey & Ingrid

Written by Mike Baldasare and Ryan Dosier.

HUMPHREY & INGRID

Performed by...
David Rudman (Humphrey)
Joey Mazzarino (Ingrid)

First appearance...
Humphrey - Sesame Street Season 22 (1990)
Ingrid - Sesame Street Season 25 (1994)

Most recent appearance...
Humphrey - Sesame Street Season 35: Episode 4059 (2004)
Ingrid - Sesame Street Season 32: Episode 3955 (2001)

Best known role(s)...
Doting, dopey parents of Baby Natasha; husband and wife

WHO ARE HUMPHREY & INGRID?
Humphrey and Ingrid are slow-witted but parents of Baby Natasha, they are also a happily married couple. The duo were named after Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman, stars of Casablanca. Humphrey and Ingrid worked at the Furry Arms Hotel during the "Around the Corner" seasons. Humphrey was proceeded on the show by Baby Natasha by a few seasons. It wasn't until Season 22, when Humphrey was introduced as Natasha's father. In his earliest known appearance on Sesame Street, Humphrey asked Maria to babysit Natasha while he has to go to the store.

Humphrey, Ingrid, and Baby Natasha appeared in many segments together, mostly prominent in the 1990s. Humphrey and Ingrid performed a number of songs together on Sesame Street, including "Natasha's Lullaby," which Humphrey sang to Natasha before bed and "Oh, Look What Our Baby Can Do," which Humphrey and Ingrid both sang, showcasing Natasha's many talents. A number of street stories, especially during the "Around the Corner" years, focused on Humphrey and Ingird taking care of Natasha, showing off her talents, or helping her learn new things.

When "Around the Corner" came to an end during Season 30 (1998-1999), Humphrey and Ingrid continued taking care of Natasha, but in much less frequent appearances. When Sesame Street changed its format during Season 33 (2002), they both rarely appeared in street stories while Natasha returned to being a solo character again. After 2001, Ingrid was not seen in any prominent capacity again. Humphrey most recently appeared on the show in Season 35: Episode 4059 (2004), where he reports the results of a porridge survey for Monster News.

WHY DOES SESAME STREET NEED HUMPHREY & INGRID?
Like most fan-favorite Muppet characters of Sesame Street, Humphrey, Ingrid, and Baby Natasha have been phased out of the show. It would be nice to see this loving and colorful monster family continue to make appearances in future episodes. The trio represents a loving, if silly, family relationship, which is important for kids to see.






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

Jul 22, 2014

Muppet Retro Reviews: Muppets Tonight, Part 4

Written by Abigail Maughan.

108-- JASON ALEXANDER
PLOT: The egos and creative preferences of Gonzo and Jason Alexander clash while they attempt to make their college musical screenplay “Bats” a reality.
GUEST STAR: Actor Jason Alexander, whose other Muppet connections include doing voices in Dinosaurs, plays off of Gonzo well. He is very good at acting irritated, and his willingness to wear weird costumes makes him a good choice for a Muppets guest star.
COMEDY: There’s a lot of humor here, from skits like “Murder on the Disoriented Express” and an exceptionally good “Pigs in Space” to dialogue in bridge segments. In my opinion, this is one of the strongest-written episodes of the first season.
MUSIC: The only musical number is the “Bats” medley, which is plenty goofy and serves its purpose as a memorable closing number.
LOWLIGHTS:
  • I find the “Muppet Bandstand” skit a little weak. The beginning and ending jokes are fine, but the dancing is uncomfortable. That is what it’s supposed to be, though, so what am I complaining about?
  • It seems odd that the guest star reverses his opinion on what makes a quality show almost immediately, after arguing with Gonzo about it the entire episode. However, it is made funnier when Gonzo also reverses his stance on the matter.
HIGHLIGHTS:
  • It’s hard to compare “Pigs in Space: Deep Dish 9” to the original, as there are only three “Deep Dish 9” sketches. The one in this episode, featuring a robot called Al-1995 Plus Tax and a cameo by Swedish supermodel Vendela, is my personal favorite.
  • The banter between Gonzo and the guest star just gets more and more absurd, and thus funnier and funnier.
    • Jason Alexander: This is exactly what you did in school! Remember that production of “Death of a Salesman” you ruined?
    • Gonzo: Well, if you’re referring to my production of “Death of a Trans-Dimensional Giant Mutant Cyborg Salesman”, that show was a hit! And it won a Pulitzer Prize!
    • Jason: It did not win a Pulitzer Prize!
    • Gonzo: Well, my mother liked it.
  • This is one of very few episodes that feature Gonzo as a central character to the plot. It’s good to see him in the spotlight for the whole episode, and I wish this had happened more frequently over the two seasons.
OTHER OBSERVATIONS:
  • It’s neither a highlight nor a lowlight, so I’ll put it here: In this episode is one of the bizarre “At the Bar” segments, which feature Polly Lobster and Clueless Morgan from Muppet Treasure Island telling bad jokes, singing, and serving drinks to an unseen patron by the name of Mr. Callahan. I am honestly not sure what I think of these skits. They’re always weird enough to keep me watching, but they’re never good or bad enough to stand out amongst the rest of the episode. 
  • Gonzo: “It’s just like you to take something classy and high-minded—and leave it that way!” It’s a funny line, but isn’t Gonzo usually convinced that his own outrageous acts are classy and high-minded? It seems like an odd thing for him to say.
MY RANKING: 4/5 Fifteen-billion gigawatt laser cannons. I’d call this one a higher than average episode, with plenty of amusing skits and comedy, a pretty strong plot and satisfying resolution.

109—WHOOPI GOLDBERG
PLOT: Miss Piggy, Andy, and Randy race from the airport to the studio for the closing number, while Whoopi Goldberg shows off.
GUEST STAR: Here is one of many Muppet projects that actress Whoopi Goldberg is a part of. I’ve noticed that Muppets Tonight always keeps the guest stars central to the plot, even a loose one like here, whereas on The Muppet Show it seemed to be optional. I’m not saying either method is better than the other, as quality entirely depends on what else the episode contains.
COMEDY: The backstage plot isn’t too uproarious, but we do get some adequate skits, such as a “People’s Court” parody and a scene with various Muppets auditioning to replace Miss Piggy. There’s nothing I’d necessarily consider comedy gold, but it’s all pleasant enough.
MUSIC: We have one of the most notable Muppets Tonight musical numbers here, in the form of Kermit’s cover of The Talking Heads’ “Once in a Lifetime,” which is a rather impressive yet bizarre music video. Whoopi Goldberg also attempts to teach some uncooperative rats how to play reggae music, and, for the second time in Muppet history, the finale is a glitzy duet of “Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend” by Miss Piggy and the guest star.
LOWLIGHTS:
  • You know, I honestly can’t think of anything too awful about this one. We have some so-so acts, like a “Fairyland PD,” a brief Big Mean Carl segment, and even Whoopi’s parade of novelty acts, but nothing I’d consider a lowlight. 
HIGHLIGHTS:
  • Speaking of “Fairyland PD”, the UK spot featuring Bobo and Clifford as inept detectives solving fairy tale cases, I think the one in this episode, “Goldi Lock-Up”, is the funniest of the four.
  • The totally sincere way both Whoopi Goldberg and Rizzo announce their plans to fly makes me laugh.
    • Whoopi Goldberg: Ladies and gentlemen… I will now do something never performed by any human being. I… will fly! 
    • Rizzo: Uh, excuse me, Whoopi, but you have a phone call over there. It’s Miss Piggy.
    • Whoopi: Oh. Cover me! *leaves*
    • Rizzo: But I… Uh… Ladies and gentlemen, I will now do something never before performed by any rat. I… will fly.
  • The bloopers to this episode feature an impromptu fistfight amongst Clifford, Johnny, Sal, and Rizzo, and it is delightful.
OTHER OBSERVATIONS:
  • Who is driving the limousine when Andy, Randy, and Piggy are all in the back seat?
  • Why isn’t Piggy driving from the beginning? She’s aware of her nephews’ incompetence.
  • If the theater is only three blocks away, as Piggy says, why couldn’t she just walk there?
MY RANKING: 3/5 Reggae Rodents. I wouldn’t say there’s anything overly special or memorable on whole about this one, but there’s really nothing wrong with it.

110—MARTIN SHORT
PLOT: After getting flattened in the elevator, Martin Short becomes obsessed with eating Johnny Fiama’s mother’s pasta sauce.
GUEST STAR: Mainly, I find the guest star incredibly off-putting and unfunny. Comedian Martin Short’s wild style of comedy is not one that I personally love, and thus this episode is not one that I personally love. However, the skits are written to his strengths, and I can’t think of any other Muppets Tonight guest star who this episode’s plot would have worked for. It just doesn’t appeal to me.
COMEDY: The humor features a lot of puns from Rizzo and odd antics from the guest star. We do, however, get some decent skits such as “E-I-E-I-O-R,” an exceptionally good “Swift Wits,” and Beaker getting attacked by Sal Minella.
MUSIC: The guest star was limited to just one number: “Steppin’ Out with My Baby”, sung in a weird voice by Martin Short wearing a fat suit. Thankfully, there’s a cute background chorus of penguins for the second episode in a row.
LOWLIGHTS:
  • I find Piggy’s disgust funny, but the skit featuring Martin Short’s SCTV character Ed Grimley is too weird for me. And, yes, I do realize that “too weird” is not the best excuse for a Muppet fan to give.
  • Fat Martin Short + Fat Clifford = disturbing.
HIGHLIGHTS: 
  • Rizzo’s term “nuttier than a fruitcake” is a phrase I may or may not occasionally use.
  • I really wish we’d seen more of “E-I-E-I-O-R” than just two instances. I think it’s really quite funny, reminiscent of “Veterinarian’s Hospital” but unique enough to stand out on its own.
  • Okay, I actually do like the “Flippers” parody skit. Aside from it being just plain funny, it’s probably because Martin Short is not dancing and/or shouting like a crazy person. 
OTHER OBSERVATIONS:
  • It’s hard to believe that Brian Henson still has working vocal chords after doing Sal’s manic shouting on this show. 
MY RANKING: 1 out of 5 pots of sauce. I just don’t like the guest star, but I bet a fan of his would appreciate this episode more than I do.

Well, that brings us to the end of the first season! We’ll begin season two next week, but in the meantime, I’m curious: what do you think is the best episode of Season 1? Let us know in the poll below!


What is Your Favorite Episode of Muppets Tonight Season 1?
101-Michelle Pfeiffer
102-Garth Brooks
103-Billy Crystal
104-John Goodman
105-Cindy Crawford
106-Tony Bennett
107-Sandra Bullock
108-Jason Alexander
109-Whoopi Goldberg
110-Martin Short
Poll Maker






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