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Discussion in 'Classic Muppets' started by Aaron, Oct 28, 2003.
That's the way I feel about Rizzo. He just fits with everybody else to me.
I think Clifford is cool! I'll admit I was a little iffy about him without his sunglases in Muppets Tonight, but I got used to it and then he got his shades back for Muppets from Space and Muppets' Wizard of Oz and it's all good now!
I agree with that, but judging from what I know about the InnerTube pilot, it seems like Jim Henson initially wasn't too interested in making it a regular follow-up to The Muppet Show. From what I've read, Kermit and Miss Piggy were the only established characters to appear, and they both only made cameos, while the rest of the cast was new (and ironically, with the exception of Digit, didn't become part of the JHH cast). I know that more established characters appeared in the presentation half of the pilot. But judging by what I know about the presentation, Jim Henson wanted the show to be structured like this: StoryTeller week, Lead-Free TV week (which would be like Inner Tube, so why wasn't Inner Tube titled Lead Free TV?), storybook special week,a dn anything-can-happen week. Assuming that Inner Tube/ Lead Free would be a mostly new cast, and assuming that the storybook specials would have featured entirely new characters (though they could have been narrarated by familair characaters like Kermit or Rowlf), I would guess that the anything-can-happen weeks would be where the classic characters would make the most appearances. One show per month (assuming that that week would be a big Muppet special).
Ironically, it seems like originally every JHH epsiode would be one hour-long show (instead of mostly two half-hour shows), and yet the 23-minute pilot was two seperate programs. Maybe that's where Jim Henson or whoever had gotten the idea to make the show like that. But I wonder if it was Jim Henson's own decision to make Kermit, Gonzo, and other classic characters more invovled or if it was a network demand (I know that Jim Henson had full creative controll for TMS, but did he get creative controll voer JHH?).
Jerry Nelson was there, and hardly had any recurring characters. Statler was his only regular classic character on the show. More of Jerry Nelson's characters could have been given regular spots on the show. Robin could have hung out with (or been annoyed by) Andy and Randy. Lew Zealand could have made occassional appearances (and not occassional background appearances plus one speaking cameo. Dr. Strangepork could have been given an expanded role. Since it took place at a TV station Louis Kazagger could have been brought in to host some new Mupet Sports segments. And don't get me started with Floyd (Zippety Zap's lines could have easily been given to Floyd, though I like Zippety better). That could have gotten more classic characters on the show, even if they aren't as well-known.
As much as I love Jerry, only Robin and Floyd were any of his major TMS characters that were ever included in the core group. Sure, we had some characters that you listed like Kazzagger, Lew Zeland, and Strangepork, but they were going a different route. I think most of the characters could have worked, but all and all, muppets Tonight was the time for the new puppeteers to shine. Other than Gonzo and Rizzo, the screen time was mainly for the new comers. Deep Dish Nine made that abundantly clear. Strangepork would have fit in perfect there. but alas, they wanted a new generation or something like that.
Things like Deep Dish Nine, clever as it was, are why many of the characters from MT and JHH area largely seen as New Coke. I understood the new performers sort of thing, but it was much more forced upon and tolerated by fans rather than connecting with us.
All of the Jim Henson Hour programs still seemed like pilots. Looking back they all have the Sex and Violence Muppet Show-ness, but never transcended it. Muppets Tonight was just beginning to when it shut down. A lot of MT's eventual success on a content (rather than ratings) standpoint was the inclusion of more classic characters in the mix along side Andy & Randy, Clifford and the lot.
I once felt that Jim himself lost the balance and vision of what made the Muppet Show dynamic work. Now I feel that Jim simply lost interest in a dynamic anything like the Muppet Show and was using pieces of it to entice old viewers to new content. I have mixed feelings about that. It did work sometimes, but in its entirety it didn't.
I can't fault the Cliffords for being Cliffords. It is always about how the new Muppets, format and content are brought to fans. The Muppet portions of the Henson Hour actually resepected longtime fans less than the initially Clifford-driven Muppets Tonight. I attribute the beginning of the Muppet brand's troubles to the Hour. (ducks from site)
I agree with that, and though I don't think it worked the same way that the Muppet Show did, I have deep respect for way Jim Henson was always trying to do new things. I don't think he wanted to repeat himself. I think that's admirable, even though it could have arguably been the Muppet brand's downfall.
Exactly. I never thought Muppets Tonight in any of its incarnations would have appealed to Jim because of how the Henson Hour Muppet portions were handled. He'd been there and done that with the Muppet Show and was interested in being much more avant-garde with everything. That, in particular, is what gave the program an unsettling feeling with many viewers and fans. These days the Hour would have gone to Comedy Central, TNT or HBO. They could have focused on fewer shows and out of the box content instead of appealing to network televisions advertising interests Wendy's or Burger King.
Muppets Tonight came around when fans really missed the Muppet Show. I am certain if it had gone on for a full subsequent season that ratings would have reflected that. The Henson Hour, on the other hand, was by nature not an American television network program then or now.
I liked that about it, but I would have rather they aired the Storyteller as its own program, maybe done some InnerTube stuff on MTV or Nick and given fans at least some network Muppet specials in their own right (if not a complete show).
I think Clifford represents the turning point of Muppet confusion when it really should be someone more like (dare I say it) Digit. I love that character, but he's the one in the Henson Hour that took the honored place reserved by Bunsen and Beaker. I feel that's why the character hasn't returned. Writers would rather come up with material for the crowd-pleasing duo than try to sell a largely unknown character.
Yeah, I do think that in a way that Jim had lost interest. But at the same time, I think that things sort of feel apart around that time with Frank already in another profession after the Muppets had not been in the spot light for a number of years at this point.And it seemed like Jim was trying to move in other directions at this point also. But I also think with the absents of frank who was so key in the Muppets success that he was also trying new things. But I think he had tried to move on to doing new things and movies after the success of the Muppets afforded him to move in new directions creatively. Perhaps he didn't expect the characters to become as big as that had much like sesame street. He expected to move to something new, but they were so in demand. It's like how he did puppets just as a way to get on and into TV. But when you put quality in what you do it usually last. Success can be a good thing and something that can back fire on you at the same time. Jim did wasn't very much to give the people what they wanted from him. I'm thinking that maybe the public was a little more interested in these characters then Jim may have been at the time. It's like Jim said, "As ling as the public like the characters and what to see more of them then they'll stay. and if they don't any more they'll go away." And I think he's fine with it either way, but he didn't seem to concerned if they were to actually go away either. But to move on a try new and different things is probably just an artist thing.
I think I used to think of him as being similar to Bunsen, but he is also different from them. Bunsen and Beaker are scientists, and Digit was a robot, and a technician. If Dave Goelz didn't perfirn Digit then maybe he could have teamed up with Bunsen and Beaker on occassion, without it seeming like he replaced either.
Now that I think of it, while Solid Foam replaced The Electric Mayhem, did any members seem like direct replacements of the Electric Mayhem members who played their instruments? Digit played the keyboard but as far as I know wasn't the leader (did the band have a specific leader?), and while he has a really cool design, he looks a bit square compared to Dr. Teeth (is there such a thing as a hip square? Or a square hipster? Because I think that could describe Digit). Flash was a singer, while Zoot didn't talk much. The drummer wasn't like Animal, rarely even speaking. I think Clifford is a bit like Floyd when he's not a host, and I feel the same way about Leon (what, did Kevin Clash's contract state that he needed his characters to be like Floyd?), and I guess thatmember would be the most like the Electric Mayhem member of the shame instrument. I'm not too sure of what Beard's personality was like, so I'm not too sure if he can be compared to Janice, personality-wise. He looks very similar to Zeke from the jugband (who looked a lot like Lips from the Electric Mayhem, and Solid Foam didn't have any trumpet players).
But somebody with more access to The Jim Henson Hour will have to confirm that I'm right or wrong. I don't know if the shows production order was the same as it's broadcast order (and I'm mainly referring to the MuppeTelevision segments here... I know that all of The StoryTeller episodes had been completed by then), but the last broadcast episode featured Animal in place of the drummer, and Zoot in place of Flash. I wodner if Jim Henson had decided to get more known characters on the show, and did this in an attempt. We may never know, as there weren't any more episodes (but it would be weird if the band had intended to change that way, because then Dave Goelz would have had two musicians in the same band).
I think they were starting to become more major before Jim Henson died. During the 1970s and 1980s, it seems like whenever a new Muppet project came along, The Electric Mayhem would be more likely to have a featured part than Bunsen and Beaker.
For example, four members of the band appeared in Rocky Mountain Holiday, while Bunsen and Beaker were absent. Bunsne didn't appear in The Mupets Go to the Movies (aside from some brief clips), and most of the band was there, though I admitt here weren't any big Electric Mayhemnumbers. Floyd and Janice sang one song, and Animal appeared in the openign sequence (I can't remember if he did more... there is an image of Animal with Kermit and the guests on the Muppet Wiki page, but I can't remember if that's in the special or if it was a publicity photo... or if maybe Nickelodeon cut the scene). I can't remember if Dr. Teeth, Zoot, or Lips appeared in any new footage in the special. The band was part of the orchestra in the 30th anniversary special, Floyd and Janice made an introduction, and Animal had a funny scene, yet Bunsne and Beaker were just there, along with huindreads of others, with no lines, and weren't in any clips where they speak. In A Muppet Family Chrismas the band has it's own musical number, and various members get their own scenes (even Lips, sort of... but Zoot didn't). Yet Bunsen and Beaker are just part of the gang, only heard during one verse of the carol sing (and Beaker was also heard when slipping on the icy path).
Now, Bunsen and Beaker were chosen over the Electric Mayhem (besides Animal) to be included on Muppet Babies, and in a bit of irony Beaker teamed up with Dr. Teeth in Rock Music with the Muppets (I wonder how that pairing came about). But at the end of Henson's life, Bunsne and Beaker seemed to be more forefront. In The Muppets at Walt Disney World they get their own subplot/ running gag, where Beaker got a bucket stuck on his head, while the band didn't get a subplotor running gag, though they were still a major presence in the special, and got their own music number. And then we get to Muppet Vision 3D, where Bunsen and Beaker have a featured scene, but Zoot and Janice are the only band members to appear, and both only appear briefly.
Digit serves as the same "type" of character.
Yeah, there are differences and that is intended, but he really serves the same purpose as Bunsen on the Hour and I think Jim intended to invest in new characters. I would love to see Digit again - maybe as a tech in Muppet Labs helping out Bunsen and Beaker. I would also have liked to see Digit, Bean, Waldo and even Leon as Palisades action figures along with Clifford (in a funkier outfit).
I just feel like the purpose for the -invention- of Digit was as an alternative for the Bunsen/Beaker dynamic. When you look at him, he's really both comic and foil. Anyway, I just don't agree with the decision to invent new characters that (totally or in part) eat up the screen time of beloved Muppets.
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