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"If I ran the Muppets" thread. Post YOUR good ideas HERE!

Discussion in 'Classic Muppets' started by spcglider, Mar 3, 2007.

  1. spcglider

    spcglider Well-Known Member

    To continue my thought above:

    When I referred to the Muppets as "broad but not very deep" I was alluding to the following, in which I personally find great validity.

    Scott McCloud, in "Understanding Comics", talks at length about what he calls "the masking effect". This is basically a character mechanism that allows an audience member to "assume" the role of that character. I'm not speaking literally, of course.

    It is a method of immersion for the viewer/reader. Surely we've all identified with a favorite Muppet character or, at least, wished we could be more like Rowlf or Kermit or Piggy or even Gonzo? Its a natural, emotionally driven response in humans... to desire to be more like that which we admire.

    In comic book characters, especially heroes, writers have traditionally kept them "blank slates". Meaning that they don't burden them with overwhelming personal hang-ups or emotional baggage or strongly held beliefs beyond those necessary to their function as a hero. (A notable exception to this is Spiderman, but his character baggage hasn't significantly changed in the last 30 years) Why? Well, lets say Superman suddenly came out as a racist bigot. What would happen? On a primal level, a major number of readers would no longer be able to identify with the character. They would no longer feel the desire to put that character on as a "mask" and vicariously experience the adventure through his eyes. So, the character necessarily remains, to a degree, "shallow". Too much in the way of polarizing attitude alienates audience. The writer understands that, in order for people to WANT to identify with him, the character MUST remain partially "empty" so that the reader can "fill" the character with themsleves. Bring along their OWN personal baggage to make the process more comfortable.

    We know that, on the whole, the Muppet characters are good at heart, realtively innocent, and positive. But we don't know, say, what Kermit's religion is. We don't know the private thoughts of how Fozzie views his co-workers. We don't know the seminal influence that causes Gonzo to be sexually attracted to chickens. And frankly, we don't want to know. If we did, it might change our view of the character in a way that would alienate us.

    For those of you who know StarWars take, for example, the character of Boba Fett. Throughout episodes 3,4,5, he was a character dripping in mystique. He was, beyond a doubt, the most popular Star Wars character. He was mysterious. He was deadly. He would kick your butt and not bat an eyelash (if he even had eyes under that groovy helmet).
    But when the "prequels" came out, we were informed that this mysterious character was really nothing more than an angry clone boy who saw a Jedi kill his progenitor. Mystique ruined. His popularity dropped through the floor and fans everywhere started to emulate the NEW mysterious character...Jango Fett. After we knew everything about Boba Fett, there was no room left in the character for "masking".

    Any time we feel empathy with Fozzie when Statler & Waldorf are raking him over the comedy coals, every time we feel the emotion that Kermit experiences when he sings "Bein' Green", every time we wish we could be pushing the plunger when Crazy Harry pops his head through the curtain and blasts something to smithereens... its an example of masking.

    That having been said, if the Muppets are "deep" as characters, I would submit that it is because WE provide that depth with our selves via this "masking effect". I also submit that the genius (conscious or otherwise) of the original performers and writers who created the characters maintained that "shallow roominess" in all the Muppets so we'd be able to do just that.

    Crazy, huh?

  2. dwayne1115

    dwayne1115 Well-Known Member

    wow that was deep
  3. dabauckham

    dabauckham Well-Known Member

    I love Scott McCloud's "Understanding Comics" - great read. I haven't read it in a while, so you've inspired me to go back to it. Check it out, everyone! You can find it at many libraries.

    Gordon, your argument makes a lot of sense. There does seem to need to be a certain level of unrevealed information in order for the Muppets to retain their universal appeal. This is the same reason that some very popular music groups, such as U2 and Coldplay often keep their lyrics intentionally vague. This way more people can relate to them and interpret them in their own way. There is a certain power to vagueness, and a much longer shelf-life. It's kinda counterintuitive, but it's true. So in a way, it's not so much that the Muppets aren't deep, as it is that they are non-specific enough in certain psychological ways to remain appealing to all. Although, maybe that really is the same thing....

    The Boba Fett example is absolutely 100% spot-on. He's way cooler in the original trilogy. ;)
  4. spcglider

    spcglider Well-Known Member

    Thanks! Yeah... I spend a lot of time pondering this stuff. I like to write and it's always a good thing to understand the mechanics of storytelling and character creation if you want to write well.

    And so I have a very hard time NOT applying that to things that I like and examining how they make use of the "rules".

    Have any of you ever noticed that "Gilligan's Island" is just a modern Commedia Del Arte' in sitcom form? Look at the characters.. they're all there. Columbina, Harlequino, Pantalone, the Doctor, etc...

  5. spcglider

    spcglider Well-Known Member

    Anyhow, who's got MORE good ideas?

    Remember, its all about what YOU would do if you were top dawg at Muppet Holding Company and Iger had given you carte blanche to come up with new ways or new plans for marketing the Muppets property.

    Here's a good example of thinking outside the room that the table is sittng in with a box on it: When the Muppet Movie first premiered, the Muppets actually held a classic Hollywood-style party... hosted by THE MUPPETS themselves. Quite literally, the performers were running around all night long popping up in specially prepared areas with the characters... ad libbing and writing up material on the spot. They interviewed famous guests about their experiences with the Muppets and they filmed it all. The special was shown on national TV as "The Muppets Go Hollywood". And it was pretty darned cool, as I recall (from my youth). That assessment wasn't necessarily shared by the Muppeteers... since they ran themselves ragged all night long! And Jerry Juhl told me once that he wasn't very thrilled with the whole affair since it didn't allow him to frame the Muppets in their best light as a writer.

    But at least it's a crazy idea that hadn't been tried before then.

    That's the type of thinking (though not necessarily the type of promotion) that the Muppets need now.

    Just trying to inspire!

  6. spcglider

    spcglider Well-Known Member

    Awww...come on folks! I know you have been thinking about this! Pipe up! :)

  7. spcglider

    spcglider Well-Known Member

    Okay, here's another one.

    If the "re-introduction to younger audiences" is deemed an absolute by the powers that be, then I suggest that the Muppets hit hard and hit fast in the very center of the market that is populated by exactly that demographic (and several age levels within that demographic).

    Video Games.

    We've been playing with DVD technology here in our sister company Canopy Games. As well as flirting with platform system programming.

    So develop video games that introduce young audiences to the characters and their universe. It has to be done carefully. Its not just Mario Brothers with puppets.

    Get a license out there for a Muppet SCENE-IT game. Trivia about Muppets with plenty of video clips from past Muppet works as well as hosting by Pepe and Gonzo or whoever.

    Get the Muppets into adventure games within the Muppet universe (several ideas have been mentioned in this and other threads). Stuff kids can grab onto and learn to love the characters and maybe... just maybe... seek out MORE Muppet stuff to watch.

    I know.. the idea's been mentioned before, but it is a good one... so I'm tossing it out there again.

  8. Ilikemuppets

    Ilikemuppets Well-Known Member

    A SCENE-IT game! Now that's an idea!

    I like that one in gereral and not just for a younger audience, either!
  9. spcglider

    spcglider Well-Known Member

    Hmmm... all out of good ideas folks?

    C'mon! There's gotta be MORE!!! :)

    Rah Rah !!

  10. minor muppetz

    minor muppetz Well-Known Member

    How about some Pokemon-style Muppet games for Nintendo DS? There were two Austin Powers games for Game Boy Color which had different main game plots (though I could be wrong... I've only played one of the two) but apparantly had some activities that people could play with others using a link cable (I think fans could send messages as well).

    Anyway, there could be four games, for Kermit, Fozzie, Miss Piggy, and Gonzo. Each game could have main games starring the main characetrs being promoted, and also have mini-games which people could play with others using the link cables. The Mupets could battle in fun games. Maybe Kermit's game could take place in the swamp, Miss Piggy's game could be a Pigs in Space game, and so on.

    Or they could be like the game Looney Tunes Collector: Alert! In that game, players start as Bugs Bunny, and then they can eventually "collect" other characters. Players could switch to many of the characters they collect, but some characters who get collected can't be playable (they only appear in some special screens that show who all has been collected). Players collect them either after battling them as bosses or after rescuing them. And I think they can be traded via link cable. Maybe there could be a few different games, with the same plots but different main playable characters and an alternate choice of who can be played in each game. And then the characetrs exclusive to certain games could be traded.

    An obvious choice would be a Kermit the Frog editon and a Miss Piggy edition. Maybe they can both start out at different areas, and maybe they can appear in both games, only the other one would have to be rescued by the other in the respective game so that they can be traded to the other versions (though this might cause a problem if both people are playing as the same character). I'm not sure what would/ could be done about that.

    Like in the Looney Tunes game, each character would have their own special moves. Kermit would jump high and/ or swim, Miss Piggy would karate chop opponents, Animal would bite and/ or attack others, Lew Zeland would use his boomerang fish... (it's amazing... I've had this idea since 2001, but have only now had the idea of a miss Piggy version. Until a few minutes ago, I'd only thought about there being a Kermit edition).
  11. minor muppetz

    minor muppetz Well-Known Member

    I would like to add that back when I had this idea, I had on my mind having Fraggle Rock as an area that could be used, and the Fraggles being playable/ rescuable characters. I guess that wouldn't be legally possible now, though I would hope that Henson would be willing to license the characters (at a reasonable price). I can't remember, but I probably also had on my mind including the Sesame Street Muppets (though I had this idea after the rights were sold to Sesame Workshop). I can't remember who I thought of included, though it was probably everybody that I knew of at the time (except for the international characters).
  12. minor muppetz

    minor muppetz Well-Known Member

    You know, now that I think about it, I don't think I had ever envisioned having the Sesame Street Muppets in that game idea. I can think of special moves for the Muppets, but not for many of the Sesame Street Muppets. Sure, Oscar could throw trash at opponents, Bert could make a chain out of his paper clips and attack enemies with it (or he could throw bottle caps, but would he want to risk his bottlecaps being stolen by the enemies?), and Cookie Monster could either bite the opponents (but I doubt Sesame Workshop would allow that) or throw cookies at the enemies (but I doubt Cookie Monster would want to do that). But what would Ernie do (squeak his rubber duckie to death)?
  13. Ilikemuppets

    Ilikemuppets Well-Known Member

    Thoes aer some pretty interesting Ideas. But woudn't it be just like the Muppet's just ripping off pop culture again?:smirk:

    That is such a harsh word, but I wish there was another I could think of at the moment.
  14. minor muppetz

    minor muppetz Well-Known Member

    Here is how I've envisioned the plot of the game.

    It begins with Kermit finding out that this weeks special guest star is actually an evil alien who plans on taking over the world. The alien guest soon goes to his home planet, and Kermit needs to get help from the other Muppets.

    Kermit realises that many Muppets are on vacation, and that he'll need to rent a boat. Scooter says that JP Grosse will finance the boat for the Muppets if Kermit (and others) complete a series of tasks. Once JP Grosse finances the boat, Scooter becomes a playable character.

    At the Muppet Theater, Pops becomes a playable character once Kermit encounters him. In the canteen, The Swedish Chef is being attacked by the food, and Kermit must defeat the food in order to rescue him (and so that we can playa s the chef). Back in 2001 I hardly knew about Gladys, so I probably didn't think about putting her in the game. On-stage, Fozzie is gettign tomadoes and other rotten foods thrown at him by Statler and Waldorf, and Kermit must battle them and rescue Fozzie. Kermit can also make George the Janitor and Hilda into playable characters. And if you go to Miss Piggy's dressing room, Foo-Foo starts to attack Kermit, and once Kermit (or whoever) defeats Foo-Foo, Miss Piggy becoems playable (though she does karate chop Kermit). Lew zeland can also be unlocked here.

    The Muppets also have to leave the theater to contact other characters. Fleet Scribbler and Marvin Suggs just hang out on the street. I'm pretty sure that Louis kazagger would have been a playable character, but I forget how he would have been unlocked. The Newsman would make news reports during the game. Kermit can go to a barnyard, where Gonzo and Rizzo are beign held prisioners by a group of evil chickens.

    At the Muppet Boarding House, Kermit can unlock Rowlf, Sam the Eagle, some penguins, Bean Bunny, Crazy harry, Beauregard, and Thog into playable characters. Players can also go to the KMUP studio, to unlock Clifford, Bobo, Nigel the Director, Seymour, Pepe, Carl, Bill the Bubble Guy, and Spamela. Kermit goes to Johnny Fiamas dressing room, where Sal is overly protective of Johnny, and you must defeat Sal before they can become playable.

    Muppet Central gets taken over by the Gorillia Television crew, and Digit, Waldo, and Leon must all be rescued. When you are granted a boat, Polly Lobster, Mad Monty, and Clueless Morgan are all on the same ship, and must be battled.

    When you get to the other land, you find Dr. Teeth, whose bus has broken down, and the other Electric Mayhem members are elsewhere. Animal is running wild, Floyd is looking for bus parts, Janice has been kidnapped, Zoot is sleeping soemwhere, and Lips has his leg stuck in a bear trap. There is a cave, where Sweetums is vacationing at. There are evil bears who want to attack you before unlocking Sweetums. This cave also has a way to get to Fraggle Rock. There is a swamp, where Robin gets unlocked. There is a submarine soemwhere which the Mupets can use, but only Kermit and Robin can appear underwater without the submarine. And there is a nearby haunted house, where Bunsen and Beaker have been kidnapepd by Dr. Phil van Neuter. Other bosses besides Phil include Uncle Deadley, Doglion, and Mulch. The frackles also appear as enemies, as do evil clones of Beaker.

    After all that, the Muppets can go to a space station, where Link and Dr. Strangepork are unlockable at. But the player has to give up most characters, as the ship can only carry 8 people. Kermit and Miss Piggy can't get out of it, and neither can Link or Dr. Strangepork, so that leaves four playable characters to choose from. The spaceship goes to the planet Koozebane, where several koozebanian creatures make cameos, as do Gonzo's alien family and the Muppets from Saturday Night Live. Eventually, the guest star appears and must be defeated.
  15. spcglider

    spcglider Well-Known Member

    That's all really good stuff! And I have to say that most games are just replications of other games, so making a Muppet version of a "pokemon" type thing would be interesting.

    I'd be a little more interested in taking it to an interactive semi-roleplaying type thing like the original Sam & Max Hit The Road or Indiana Jones and the Fate Of Atlantis games. Those were spectacular fun. Oh yes...and Monkey Island and Return to Monkey Island and Full Throttle. There was a great Star Trek game like that too. That way you can really get to know the personalities of the characters by what they say and can do and can add to the adventure.

    Yes, I think the Muppets are REALLY losing out on a great licensing opportunity with the video game market (beyond a Mario Cart type game).

    I also thought about taking a great computer activity program like Opening Night (Where you can assemble a complete play using stock characters, scenery,voices, music, etc.) and adapting it to a Muppet Theatre type show. In Opening Night, you pick a voice style and assign it to a character and then you can actually type in the dialogue and the voice synthisizer says the words! How cool would that be? And Opening Night is like, from the 1990's... so the voice stuff is probably a billion times better now.

  16. dwayne1115

    dwayne1115 Well-Known Member

    Here is what i dont get if these componyes want to use the muppets why dont they at least try and ask for them. Ford Did and they seem to really be using Kermit well.
  17. spcglider

    spcglider Well-Known Member


    You have a fair point about companies not persuing the Muppets license for product , etc. I think that they might figure the license fees would be prohibitive?

    I find myself in disagreement about Ford, though. When Jim Henson licensed out the Muppets or the Muppet likenesses, he did it with an eye towards bringing value to the Muppet property. He didn't trade on Muppet nostalgia or sell out the characters. Even in the old days when the proto-Muppets were selling Wilkins coffee, Jim was completely in charge of how the characters were presented. The Muppets represented... they never shilled.

    But then again, I feel the same way about Target using Beatles music to sell crappy, foreign made knock-off Weber grills and cheap neon-colored beach towels too.

  18. dwayne1115

    dwayne1115 Well-Known Member

    well would not the price be worth it and really though how much would the muppets really cost. It floors me when record lables or componys wont let there songs or charitcturs. It would only promote the compony and yet still both would be making money. So it would be a win win situatuion i would think.
  19. spcglider

    spcglider Well-Known Member

    I've always said that they could do worse than to simply "start up" the old style Muppet Show again... same format, same theatre venue. It would work just fine. AND it would mesh with the old show so they could package the whole thing to the networks.

    Heck, Doctor Who re-started production after how many years off?

    There's something VERY appealing about that old show styling. Its familiar, and we associate the Muppets with that format.

  20. minor muppetz

    minor muppetz Well-Known Member

    If I had been in charge of The Muppets back in 2004, when Disney bought the Muppets, here is what I would have done between then and now (I am not going to mention anything that has been reelased, though the movie DVD releases would have been two-disc special editions):

    May 2004:
    *ABC Family shows reruns of The Muppet Show (twice a day, back-to-back, during the evening)
    *The Disney Channel shows reruns of Muppet Babies

    July 2004:
    *ABC Family starts showing Muppet specials once a week

    August 2004:
    *Reruns of Muppets Tonight and the MuppeTelevision segments of The Jim Henson Hour air once a week on ABC Family

    January 2005:
    *The Disney Channel starts showing reruns of Little Mupet Monsters once a week (following Saturday broadcasts of Muppet Babies)

    June 2005:
    * A new Mupet book, Muppets: The Ultimate Visual Guide, is released

    August 2005:
    *New video games are released

    Febuary 2006:
    *The Muppet Show: Season Two is released (if I thought that it wasn't worth rushing production due to music rights, then The Muppet Valentine Show would be released on DVD)
    *Kermit's 50th anniversary roast special is broadcast

    May 2006:
    *The Muppets Celebrate Jim Henson is released on DVD

    June 2006:
    *America's Next Muppet airs
    *The Muppets at Walt Disney World is released on DVD

    August 2006:
    *The Muppet Show: Season Three is released

    October 2006:
    *A Muppet halloween special is produced
    *A Muppet Family Christmas and Mr. Willoby's Christmas Tree are released on DVD

    January 2007:
    *The Fantastic Miss Piggy Show is released on DVD
    *New video games are released

    March 2007:
    *The Muppet Show: Season Four is released
    *Tales from Muppetland DVD is released
    *Tale of the Bunny Picnic is released

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