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Discussion in 'Classic Muppets' started by Aaron, Oct 28, 2003.
Clifford has to be one of the most coolest Muppets! He is definately a favorite of mine.
Clifford's pretty great
That makes sense. I've never thought about it before, but it makes sense. When it gets down to it, Oz might have been the weakest of the core five when it came to voices, but the way his characters move are really amazing.
I totally agree. If Clifford had been more in a "Rowlf-like" role, it could have clicked better. It would have had the punch of a new character combined with the kick of familiar territory in a great one-two karate move of Muppety awesomeness.
Okay, that might have been the weirdest metaphor I've ever written.
I don't agree about Frank being weaker on the voices, but we all have our opinions.
I think Clifford was great in JHH, hip and cool but at the same time the regular guy observing chaos. I still remember him narrating the fish story with Ted Danson.
I love Clifford too!
He was great on TJHH, MT and MFS!
One of my favorite moments with Clifford is on TJHH when Clifford was a member of the Muppet band "Solid Foam" and they sang the song "The Music Keeps Rolling Along"!
That is one of my favorite songs by the Muppets!
I think that's a great idea Jamie, and really wish they would've taken that route. It looked like they maybe even thought about it, since Gonzo and Rizzo were there so much. I guess they just couldn't envision Gonzo in a hosting role, but I agree, that's where Rizzo comes in.
I still think Clifford was a fantastic character in his own right. I think he gets way too much flack for his role of host of Muppets Tonight, but I liked his role in Muppets From Space a lot more. Hip, cool, funny, and a part of the gang. Clifford doesn't have the Kermit qualities that allow him to hold together all these crazies in one place, he is one of those crazies! (Albeit a lot more level-headed than most of them.) That's why I don't think Clifford as host worked, it just isn't in his character.
As much as I love Gonzo, I don't think I could see him in a hosting role, with or without Rizzo. Yes, I can see Gonzo with a lot of responsibility, especially considering how he has "matured" over the years, but as a host?
Though I love Gonzo and would personally love a project that featured him as such a major character, I feel that he already got that chance with MCC. And as much as I like Rizzo, and think that Gonzo and Rizzo are a fun pair, they need to have some room apart. They always seemed to be together, especially in the projects in the 90s (Not -so- much in the past decade) and I feel that if they were the co-hosts of Muppets Tonight, that would be somewhat exhausting. Give them some room apart and let them mingle with the other characters.
I liked Gonzo's role in VMMC. He seemed somewhat like a second in command next to Kermit. It may have just been the way he was dressed, but he seemed professional.
I'm sorry. I just went completely off topic. Heheh. Going back to Clifford, I think he was what the Muppets needed at the time. I think it was okay to not have one of the older, core Muppets at the helm and for things to be a bit new and different.
EDIT: Just for the record, I would love to see Gonzo in the role of the host, but I tried to come at this from another mindset... A mindset of the Muppet fan of the 90s who thinks that Gonzo has taken over the Muppets, considering his major roles in at least two out of three of the movies of the decade.
Some people on here will enjoy ANYTHING the people at Henson throw at them. For instance, there's still people who think that Muppets Tonight was awesome, and that Andy & Randy were sensational. Having said that, Clifford was kinda cool during the JHH days. But ever since MCC characters started shifting; we saw Gonzo be normal for well over a decade, we saw someone host a Muppet program that wasn't Kermit (and Brian's even admitted that he was the only real choice back then... umm, DUH Brian. Maybe you shoulda stuck to your dad's game plan instead of bein too caught up in owning a franchise that's bigger than you), and characters like Bunsen and Beaker, who are OK characters, came to the frontline, replacing faves like Scooter, Rowlf, Floyd, Robin, and others. Those two shouldn't be in the front cuz there's really not a whole lotta depth to them (although I do cry everytime I see Beaker give Scrooge his scarf). These guys fall in line somewhere between Sam The Eagle and Crazy Harry. The only reason Clifford was given the hosting assignment is because Sesame Street was high off their craze about how well Elmo seemed to be doing so they decided to see how popular he could make his ONLY other character be with the other Muppet crew.
LOL I do get passionate about Muppets, but it's because nowadays when my family sees Steve Whitmire do a terrible impersonation of Kermit on The Today Show or Elmo confusing my young relatives with his third-person dialogue, I cringe, because whenever my family sees Muppets, they associate them with me, and I absolutely hate that. So it doesn't matter if people like Clifford or not, cuz they all stink to high heaven, and no director or film project will ever change that.
Well I can't say I've been a fan of all the new stuff. But I'm usually so vocal about it that my friends know the difference and don't associate everything they do with me, lol. And anyway, I can't take it too seriously. I know what parts of the Muppets I enjoy most, and that's all that should matter.
I find it interesting that, after I said what I said, this post came to an abrupt halt, save for heralde's response lol...
Jim Henson showed weird priorities when introducing new Muppets for the Henson Hour. I kind of rest much of the post Jim path for the Muppets on that decision from the master himself.
Digit was cool, but he nearly replaced Bunsen (both performed by Goelz, of course). Clifford was a kind of Floyd/Teeth-type for this project while the Mayhem was absent in favor of the emo punks featured in the Hour. Leon was kind of a Gonzo/Scooter hybrid and Bean was the cute small fella that Robin used to be. I enjoyed these new characters, but felt they stepped on the toes of classic Muppets a little too much. Muppets Tonight fell into the same trap.
My point is that Brian Henson did carry on his father's logic. That being said, I disagree with that logic. The Muppets seemed to be experimenting with their formula in a hit-or-miss fashion in Jim Henson's final years.
How people see certain characters and projects often reflects when and where they hopped on. Muppets Tonight, Muppet Treasure Island and Muppets From Space are representative of the beginning of many younger fans. I had the good fortune to watch the Muppet Show and the Muppet Movie when they first hit the scene, but I don't think that makes be a better fan. Just an older one.
New Muppets like Clifford are good, but they should be additions and not replacements. That's where the trouble starts.
Almost missed this post. I never said Frank was weaker in the voices - rather that his strength as a performer was mainly in the physicality. The movements of his characters usually outshined everybody. One does not need to be weak in one area to be stronger in another. Hope to make that clear. What made Frank's chararacters in Muppets Tonight so odd was not matching the voice dub. It was clear that the movement of Piggy and Fozzie weren't what we've come to expect even with the sound off. That problem has been remedied these days.
Ah, ok I understand a little better what you meant. Thanks for explaining!
I agree. I completely agree with that. I feel the same way about his characters in MTI, Piggy especially. he was just there, and lost all the interactiveness that his characters were famous for. I mean, it's his improvising and ad libbing lines of dialogue and actions on the puppet's behalf that made Bert, Piggy, Grover, and the rest what they were. We'd have no Piggy Judo Chop, no Cowabunga, no random character fainting when they're over exaggerated.
I feel until they recast his roles, you just couldn't feel the characters being there. MFS and MTI totally suffered in that extent.
Frogboy brought up an interresting point. New Characters shouldn't replace the older ones, but what happens when you can't use the older ones? Then you need new blood to fill out the gaps. And MT was an experiment in just that. Sure, Piggy Fozzie, etc. appeared every so often, but Scooter, Rowlf, most of the Electric Mayhem just weren't recast yet (some still don't have suitable long term performers), and only appeared in backgrounds. So, in actuallity, Muppets Tonight was basically the next generation of Puppeteers doing their own thing. And sometimes it worked, sometimes it didn't. The characters I felt were the weakest were all one note jokers that were written for one or 2 skits that somehow had come to be used by the writers.
Andy and Randy, Spamala Hamderson, Mr. Poodlepants.... those sort of characters couldn't stick at all. But Johnny, Sal, Van Neuter, and especially Pepe evolved into characters that can interact and can be used to fill out the cast. Not so much a replacement role (though, to me, Pepe is filling in the gap left by Scooter in the group dynamic), but as more second and third string characters like Sam, Crazy Harry, etc.
Even before Jim passed on, you could tell he was trying hard to give the Muppets a voice in the TV market. On one hand, he was trying to promote the characters as hip and edgy for more adult tastes (Jim henson Hour), while at the same time using the characters for a younger, pre-school and kindergarten market (Muppet Babies and the Play Along videos). And it just seemed to conflict and contradict itself by that. The Muppets at Walt Disney World was pretty much the send off (and an unhappy one- keep reading) of the classic Jim Henson based muppet show characters. Then he passed on. They were pretty much still struggling at this point, but now with the loss of Jim and soon Richard following... there were 2 very big pairs of shoes to fill.
Same problem with Sesame Street. Jim, Richard, and Joe Raposo passed away at about the same time (another sad note, a Joe Raposo tribute was made just before Jim passed on, and as it aired, they eventually added a small segment before the special about Jim). It seemed to be touch and go until 1993, when the around the corner segments popped up. Here, the new cast had to fill places left by the loss of characters from both puppeteers, plus Frank, who was only working on the show a couple days out of the year. Even Dave Golez came in and did some characters for a brief period. That entire time of temporary characters was a struggle to find the show's voice. But then Elmo became massively popular, they found what they were looking for, and dropped the corner for the core street. Much like MT, there were characters that were there to fill gaps, like Monty, Sherri Netherland, Huphry and Ingrid, and the Elephant Elevator Operator.
I agree that Gonzo and Rizzo would have been better hosts. I think the gag was that Kermit just didn't want to be the host (as the basic premise of the show was that the Muppet Network had an opening in the schedual they had to fill) and just stuck Clifford in the role, since he was the only one left in the room. He did an okay job, but he seemed more like late night talk show host than variety show host.
Jane Henson once said that they were going to slowly bring the Kermit character back. It couldn't happen all at once, but eventually he would be back (this didn't actually happen until Kermit's Swamp Years and It's a Very Merry Muppet Christmas Movie, and maybe that's for a reason). I think that perhaps that's really the main reason Clifford hosted Muppets Tonight instead of Kermit.
And just as a reply to Frogster's post, I love what Steve Whitmire's doing with Kermit. I honestly don't think there is any other Muppeteer that could have captured that character the way he has. Sure, he's not 100 percent what he once was, and he never ever could be. But what Whitmire's done with the character has been excellent in my opinion (not everything, but most of it).
Oh, and I was going to just comment on the lack of classic characters on Muppets Tonight. As you go through the Henson library, they were constantly creating prodctions without those characters. I think it's good to introduce new ones once in a while. I would rather see some of my old favorites, but at the same time, I think Johnny and Sal are one of the funniest Muppet teams ever.
Anyway, back to the Clifford discussion...
Frogboy, I completely agree with your comparisons of Digit, Bean, Clifford and Leon. Also, I do agree that new characters of the Muppet family should be additions not replacements. You seem to have an excellent view over the Muppet characters, in performances, their performers, and in personalities. Hats off to you for not being negative, as I was.
I can take him or leave him. I actually really don't like Pepe. He's kind of annoying, IMO.
Pepe was a little annoying in "Muppets From Space," but I like the post-2002 Pepe more.
I love Pepe and believe him to be the best post-Jim Muppet addition prawny hands down! It's almost like he was always there, but we just didn't see him or he was out with the ladies!
That being said, there's a substancial group that doesn't like the little fella. Some is due to his tone, some is due to the fact that many people didn't grow up with him.
I find him endearing anyway and hope to see much more of the prawn. However, he does tend to get overexposed at times. That should be watched. I'd like to see him teamed up with Scooter.
As a co-star\backround character: yes
As a straight-forward main character: not so much
Don't get me wrong, i like Clifford, but i feel certan characters are good for certan roles, and for Clifford, its a co-star. Like, i like Bunsen and Beaker, but i would'nt want them to host a regular muppet show, you know?
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