Apr 18, 2014

News Update: April 18, 2014

APRIL 18, 2014

For the past few years, Hallmark has released a different Muppet ornament around Christmas time. We've seen Animal, Fozzie Bear, Kermit, Beaker, Statler and Waldorf, and The Swedish Chef, so we had no idea what to expect this year. But now we do! This year's Muppet Hallmark ornament is The Great Gonzo. As with the other ornaments in the series, Gonzo comes with new audio recorded for the ornament--and it's incredible. You can listen to the audio on the Hallmark site. No release date has been announced for the ornament yet, but we'll keep you posted!

This week's most incredible content was completely fan-created and it's unreal. Christopher Graham created and recorded a full digital album for Muppet Christ Superstar, a Muppet-themed parody of the classic musical Jesus Christ Superstar. Christopher performs voices for all of the Muppet and they're all super well done. I'm really blown away by this whole thing. You've gotta give it a listen. Thanks for this awesome treat, Christopher!

With the wonderful new show Jim Henson's Creature Shop Challenge, a lot of focus has been placed on Brian Henson, who has been giving interviews and presentations a lot recently. One of the best interviews recently was with Entertainment Weekly, where Brian discusses everything from Dinosaurs to Fraggle Rock to The Muppet Christmas Carol and more. The interview is really great and I highly recommend giving it a read!

Miss Piggy and Walter star in a new promo video for Lufthansa Airlines. It involves popcorn and in-flight instructions and it's pretty funny. Check it out below!

Finally, in somber news, the world lost one of its real treasures on April 6th, and we haven't had a chance to cover it yet. Mickey Rooney passed away at age 93. The legendary actor will be remembered for roles in countless films and TV shows as well as being one of the most respected actors in the business, all the way up until his death. Muppet fans remember Mickey Rooney for his cameo during "Life's a Happy Song" in The Muppets, one of his final onscreen appearances. Watch it below. Thanks for everything, Mickey!

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

Apr 17, 2014

Filmmaker and Star Interviews from the Muppets Most Wanted World Premiere

The third installment of our coverage from the Muppets Most Wanted World Premiere with ToughPigs.com continues today with full interviews from the filmmakers and stars of the film. We got to talk to Nicholas Stoller, Ed Mitchell and Kaylin Frank, Dylan "Hornswoggle" Postl, Danny Trejo, and James Bobin! Check out the video below and be on the lookout for the final video coming sometime in the near future.

Special thanks to Joe Hennes, Matt Wilkie, Daniel Shick, and Cristina Barretta.

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

Apr 16, 2014

Weekly Muppet Wednesdays: Mr. Poodlepants

Written by Ryan Dosier.


Performed by...
Steve Whitmire

First appearance...
Muppets Tonight Episode 101: Michelle Pfeiffer (1996)

Most recent appearance...
It's a Very Merry Muppet Christmas Movie (2002)

Best known role...
Giddy, wacky, balloon-based weirdo

Mr. Poodlepants is one of the strangest and most random characters to ever come out of the Muppet universe. He doesn't really have an act. He doesn't really have a personality. He doesn't really have much of anything except a wild fashion sense, a haircut made out of balloons, and a voice mimicking comedian Ed Wynn. Mr. Poodlepants made scattered appearances throughout the run of Muppets Tonight as was promptly shut out of all but one onscreen appearance after the show ended.

Mr. Poodlepants arrived on the scene in the background of the first episode of Muppets Tonight. One of his few prominent moments on the show came in Episode 103, guest starring Billy Crystal, when he was a guest on Sam the Eagle's "The Eagle's Nest" sketch. Mr. Poodlepants makes an unscheduled appearance to talk about Texas, which he thinks is "The Alpine State!" Poodlepants didn't seem to realize that the Eagle's Nest topic was taxes, not Texas--but that didn't stop him from blowing a giant horn and causing an avalanche to fall on Sam.

Later, in Episode 108 with guest star Jason Alexander, Mr. Poodlepants is murdered during the sketch "Murder on the Disorient Express" (what some called a mercy killing). Unfortunately, Poodlepants threatened to ruin the sketch by constantly reminding the viewers that he wasn't really dead. Mr. Poodlepants' only other semi-prominent appearance on the show came in Episode 211 (guest starring Andie MacDowell), when he conducted the Mormon Tabernacle Penguins--an act Kermit dubbed the worst they've ever done.

After Muppets Tonight ended, Mr. Poodlepants' appearances were cut even shorter. He can be seen as Kap'n Alphabet on a box of cereal in Muppets From Space in 1999 and as Yankee Doodle Dandee in a coloring book from the late 1990s as well. His most recent appearance was in 2010 auditioning (appropriately) as Dopey in the Muppets Snow White comic book. His (hopefully) final onscreen appearance was in It's a Very Merry Muppet Christmas Movie in 2001. Mr. Poodlepants showed up during the "Cirque du So Lame" number, chucking Christmas ornaments at Kermit for no reason.

I honestly have no idea.

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

Apr 15, 2014

Top 5 Good and Bad Things About Muppets Tonight

Michael Wermuth - Greetings, fellow Muppet fans! I thought I’d start a new series of articles I like to call "5 Good and Bad Things," in which I talk about five good things about a Muppet production, as well as five bad things about that same production. Today, I’ll talk about my top five good things about Muppets Tonight, followed by my top five bad things about the show. Let’s begin the lists!

Good Things:

1.   New characters
The so had so many great new characters, including Seymour, Pepe, Johnny Fiama, Sal, Bobo, Dr. Phil van Neuter, Nigel the director, Bill the Bubble Guy, Big Mean Carl, and Zippity Zap. So maybe I don’t like Johnny and Sal as much as the fans do, but I can’t deny that they were among the shows strongest characters.

2.   Segments that took place before the guest stars were famous
Many episodes had fake clips of the guest stars working with the Muppets on fictional Muppet shows and movies before they were famous. And all of them are parodies of popular shows or movies. Some of my favorites include “Muppet Match-Up” with Michelle Pfieffer, “The Kermit the Frog Club” with Cindy Crawford, and “Flippers” with Martin Short.

3.   Most episodes with female guest stars
I don’t know why, but most of the episodes featuring female guest stars were the best. Somehow, when a woman was the guest, the plot was a lot better and the sketches funnier. With female guest stars, we got such great plots as Miss Piggy and Michelle Pheiffer competing over being the first guest star, the Muppets struggling to keep the ratings above 50 to avoid an explosion, and Bunsen having a midlife crisis.

4.   Seinfeld Babies
Appearing in episode 107, "Seinfeld Babies" was a really funny one-shot sketch. It came about when Gonzo wanted to keep the ratings up with an episode of Muppet Babies while Zippety Zap wanted to show an episode of Seinfeld, only for their tapes to mix up. What results is baby versions of the Seinfeld cast, in a parody of “The Contest” episode but with them seeing who can go the longest without a diaper changing.

5.   Bill Baretta becomes prominent as a performer
Bill Baretta seemed to become one of the main Muppet performers on Muppets Tonight. Not only did he have the biggest number of original characters, but also the biggest number of characters who have continued as major characters after the show was canceled, including Johnny Fiama, Bobo the Bear, Big Mean Carl, and of course Pepe the King Prawn. He also had his first vocal performance as Rowlf on this show (briefly).

Bad Things:

1.   Not enough old characters, too many new characters
I know I listed new characters as one of the good things about the show, but at the same time there were too many new characters and not enough of the old ones. It’s understandable that many of Jim Henson and Richard Hunt’s characters were barely used and that Frank Oz had a limited schedule, but they should have brought in more of Jerry Nelson’s characters. And while plenty of the new characters were great, there were also plenty of new characters who weren’t so great, like Mr. Poodlepants, the Muppets Tonight band, and… well, look below.

2.   The new pig characters (except for Spamela)
Most of the pig characters weren’t very interesting and too dumb. Spamela Hamderson was the only really good new pig character on the show. I tolerated Andy and Randy, but really don’t care for David Hoggselhoff or the pigs from Pigs in Space: Deep Dish Nine: The Next Generation of Pigs in Space.

3.   Not enough full numbers
It was rare to see an entire musical number as it appeared on the show. The Muppet Show occasionally had numbers we didn’t see all of, but here it was too much. I know that at the time, casual audiences weren’t too interested in watching full musical numbers, but the Muppets are known for their musical numbers.

4.   Statler and Waldorf in a nursing home
I didn’t like that Statler and Waldorf had to watch the show on TV at a nursing home. In fact I didn’t like that they had to watch it on TV as opposed to in the studio where they could heckle the acts to the performers, but at least season two improved on it by having them watch the show from a variety of different locations (many on location as opposed to using sets).

5.   Kermit’s not the host
Clifford’s not a bad character, but Kermit should have been the host, not the producer. I’ve read that Brian Henson had Kermit not be the host because he didn’t want there to be comparisons to The Muppet Show, but audiences expect Kermit to be the star of a show with “Muppets” in the title and those comparisons would happen either way.
Well, that’s my top five good things about Muppets Tonight, and my top five bad things about Muppets Tonight.  Maybe I’ll do more”5 Good and 5 Bad Things” articles in the future. Or maybe you will.

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