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Muppet Babies - 20+ years later

Discussion in 'Muppet Babies' started by dwmckim, Feb 3, 2011.

  1. dwmckim

    dwmckim Well-Known Member

    Longtime members of this forum know how i generally feel about Muppet Babies - they're a bit of a sore spot with me as i feel the show was one of the worst things that happened to the brand: That as the kids who grew up with The Muppet Show were growing up, along came a show with the Muppet characters very geared towards kiddies while the projects for older Muppet fans were scarce and how a whole generation grew up more familiar with the Babies than the real deal. The Babies are a bit of a sore spot for me purely in terms of what they represent in regards to the history of The Muppets and how they're so associated with their decline in popularity.

    However how i feel about the effect the Babies had on the brand is different than how i may feel about the show by itself on its own merits.

    I've been working heavily lately on sorting through my video collection - getting caught up on inventory, dubbing all the tons of videotapes do dvds and checking the quality of those already on dvd and i've been rewatching a few episodes of Muppet Babies for the first in a long time.

    Now that it's over two decades later and we're at the beginning of The Year of the Muppets, i can watch the show without bitterness or fears of what it's doing to the rest of the brand since it's now well in the past. And i've gotta say, i'm actually enjoying it. Sure there are stronger episodes and seasons than others but watching Muppet Babies episodes today is actually a fun pleasure rather than the chore i feared it may seem like. Despite it all, when it comes right down to it and everything else is set aside, i really love this show.

    When it originally aired, i was too hung up on (a) the brand that was never supposed to be kiddie entertainment was now exactly that (b) i was getting older and things like Muppet Babies and SST were becoming more things that i may watch by accident more than appointed viewing or something to set the vcr for (c) not only having the Muppets as babies but also neither moved or voiced by the classic performers. Back then, even if it was a good episode that made me laugh, it was still a bittersweet somewhat painful experience. But now i can watch MB episodes without any of those things lurking in the background and just enjoy the show for what it was. I'll never love it more than the "real" Muppets but i can nonetheless still declare myself a fan.

    Watching MB now is a very different experience than it was watching it in the 80s so if there are other Muppet fans who haven't watched the show in ages, you may want to give it a new chance.

    ...besides how can anyone not love Baby Animal?
  2. RedPiggy

    RedPiggy Well-Known Member

    Well, considering I've noticed an increase in MB characterizations creeping into the adult Muppets world (Gonzo thinks he's an alien, Scooter has a laptop, etc), I personally welcome it. Not every episode of Muppet Babies was strong, I'll admit ... but there are a lot of neat songs and a lot to think about given the rest of the Hensonverse. When looking for an imagination particle, I noticed they basically got the crystal balls from Labyrinth. The closet often serves as a sort of portal to the imagination, giving it a type of Fraggle-hole-like significance. One wonders now, if they were to do it again, would we see other stuff like Bear, Farscape, etc. I mean, not now that they're not all one big happy family anymore, but it's nice to imagine cartoon D'Argo and Aeryn plopping out of the closet, y'know? :D
  3. Drtooth

    Drtooth Well-Known Member

    I've said it before and I'll say it again.... I've been spoiled by having so much Muppet around me, there was clearly a distinction between the cartoon series and the vast array of other projects. Even though I never got to see the real Fraggle Rock and had to see the animated one, I knew full well about the other one. Not to mention there were all these specials. But the best part is, I remember on year, a local station, before the Saturday Morning Network line ups began, actually SHOWED The Muppet Show. So I got the pleasure of seeing BOTH in a single morning.

    To me, there are only 2 good Babification shows, Muppet Babies and a Pup Named Scooby-Doo (unlike MB, I didn't quite have the access to the original series for years, and being young enough to have just missed 13 Ghosts... loving what I'm seeing of it by the way)... I don't count Tiny Toons, as that's technically next generation stuff. All the others have been mildly amusing (Flintstone kids), absolute junk (Yo Yogi/ Baby Felix... though Baby Felix does have its moments), and horrendous copycats (Baby Looney Tunes). But MB was the FIRST!

    I honestly feel it's a great preschool-first grade series... much more so than the cuddly plush toy commercials of Care Bears (I can still enjoy Beastly, but I've grown to loathe it). And as much as I like the Smurfs, I'm liking the original Eurocomics versions a LOT more (they beat the crap out of Brainy! No lie!)... I watched a few a while ago, and I still find it highly entertaining... again, in the level of preschool-first grade type shows for younger kids who haven't quite graduated from public television. And there's mild peril. it's all in their heads, but sometimes, they let their imaginations play dangerous games (especially the first seasons). Now, the worst thing that happens is Dora may frown for a second or something.

    As for the direction of the Muppets, I really feel Jim was starting to pawn them off to the kids in this era, making creature shop stuff for older fans. Muppet babies is one thing, sure... but at the time, we also had the Play-a-long videos coming out, and various kiddy games for the computer that dealt with educational themes. So I couldn't be able to blame Muppet babies entirely, much as I wouldn't blame Sesame Street for making them seem kiddy in the first place.

    Besides, there were a LOT of cartoons based off of other shows with a kid friendly angle on them at that time... even going as far back as the 70's.
    Muppet fan 123 and Dominicboo1 like this.
  4. minor muppetz

    minor muppetz Well-Known Member

    I was born the year Muppet Babies began and grew up with the show, but I feel I always preferred the adult Muppets. And until 1992 my exposure to the "real" Muppets was the movies, TMS compilation videos, play-along videos, and A Muppet Family Christmas (I did see The Muppets at Walt Disney World, Muppet Vision 3D, Here Come the Muppets, and JHH before then as well).
  5. GonzoLeaper

    GonzoLeaper Well-Known Member

    I love Muppet Babies!:)
    But then I also grew up with the cartoon as a child. Of course, I also grew up watching The Muppet Show, Sesame Street, Fraggle Rock (live action) and Fraggle Rock (animated) all at about the same time, and I'm equally a fan of all of them.:D
    MuppetGuy75 likes this.
  6. Yorick

    Yorick Well-Known Member

    Same here!
  7. Yorick

    Yorick Well-Known Member

    Glad to hear it! I saw in on TNT in the early 90's and loved it.

  8. Yorick

    Yorick Well-Known Member

    I'm with ya there! Baby Animal is adorable!:halo:
    Glad you can give MB your endorsement these days, and your reasons at the time for being less than in love with MB definitely make sense.
  9. Drtooth

    Drtooth Well-Known Member

    Baby Felix, while I can't say it's really all that good, is alright... it tries pretty hard to be the 1960's series in some cases(especially the halted way Poindexter speaks, mimicking the slow speech patterns that came with the technology for high pitched audio at the time... like the 60's Chipmunks), but if you REALLY want to check out Felix at his best... I strongly support "Twisted Tales." I haven't seen that cheap DVD I bought in years, so I can't give you a more recent thought on baby Felix... but Master Cylander and the Professor and some of the other classic characters are their normal age and in pretty good form.

    Overall, it's strange to see an American classic made into a Japanese series... only other one I can think of is Little Lulu... sadly I can only find the "Bullet" holed American version of the theme...(don't get me started on Bullets... "ooh that One Piece Rap sucked" those guys never watched a anime dubbed before 1999! Shudder... Harmony Gold... worse name than 4Kids, lemme tell ya!)... sorry about that tangent. Now, I'm not counting the American shows animated in Japan for American audiences that used classic characters (Muppet Babies being one of them), but straight up Japanese versions of Western comics.

    I don't wanna really get into why I dislike Care Bears... but I will give them this... the Nelvana produced ones weren't completely saccharine, and Mr. Beastly was (to quote the Cheese) The Best character on the show. John Stocker, man...

    But Muppet Babies was something else. It not only had high entertainment value for a little kid's show, but it did have some nice educational moments, like the Transcontinental Woo Woo episode with Uncles Statler and Waldorf. Or that one where Bunsen tells everyone about constellations. It had pro-social bits time and again, but not excessively... and over all, it just had a nice feel to it that actually holds up when you rewatch them.

    Thankfully, a LOT of the shows I used to watch held up. Other than some of the girlier 80's cartoons and Captain Planet that is.

    These comics are available in English NOW! I highly recommend them, even if you just got to a library or a bookstore and read the whole thing before they kick you out. It's refreshingly different, has more comic violence (they beat the smurf out of Brainy... similar to how the Gauls handle their tone deaf minstrel, Cacophinix), and there seems to be a slightly different level of humor in them. So far, I only have the one dollar preview from last year and the "King Smurf" novel. Thankfully, they're smaller and cost around 6 bucks, instead of those larger Asterix and Lucky Luke albums that cost about twice as much. More portable and cost effective.

    Don't remember the albums though... don't know if I even had them. Definitely didn't have the Pac-Man ones... I actually heard some on Youtube, and they were okay, I guess... I am kinda digging the series, but I like what I saw so far of Saturday Supercade Donkey Kong better... and Super Mario Super Show a LOT better.
  10. GonzoLeaper

    GonzoLeaper Well-Known Member

    Papercutz has been publishing the Smurfs graphic novels, just as a by the way. (And I have to mention that this is also the company that has been publishing graphic novel versions of Nancy Drew and The Hardy Boys- both of which are great!):)
  11. GonzoLeaper

    GonzoLeaper Well-Known Member

    I've seen some of the Pac-Man cartoon- it's good fun. Especially the "Christmas Comes to PacLand" special- classic!:D
    Saturday Supercade is good too- but The Super Mario Bros. Superh Show is definitely classic- grew up with that one. And The Adventures of Super Mario Bros. 3 as well- somehow missed Super Mario World though- but all three are pretty good fun.
  12. Yorick

    Yorick Well-Known Member

    Yeah! I love the Christmas one too, and the show in general is so much fun! It's very silly ("Play it cool! - PAC cool!") but that's part of the fun! :) I really love the way their town is, and the animation and the music and everything that contributes to the colorful happy vibe.

    I agree Saturday Supercade is good. I am so glad youtube gave us the chance to see it, because I read about it on sites and wished I could see episodes of it!

    And with the Mario shows, I must say, I liked SMB3, and I only recall the theme of SMW, but SMB Super Show was great, and I really loved the intro and outro skits with Danny Wells and Captain Lou! It was like the closest thing to a classic local show feel at that time :) Nothing like that now!

    I read on the IMDB message boards (not sure if it was a SMB Super Show board, Danny board or Lou board) that Danny and Lou did appearances together not long before Lou passed away, and that were both the nicest people you could meet, and so very happy to talk to their fans.
  13. Drtooth

    Drtooth Well-Known Member

    Well, with SMW, I almost want to say not to bother. SMBSS and AOSMB3 are far better shows,... SMW barely gets out of the rut of plots about introducing new concepts to the cavemen and King Koopa exploiting it for his own purposed... something done MUCH better, BTW, on Kirby of the Stars. And there's only 2 or 3 good Captain N's paired with them... NEVER watch the one where they go to Hoopworld. That's one of the worst cartoons I've ever seen, and I LIKE Captain N. But SMW is kinda fun. I'd say get the single disks from N Circle, and save the money rather than getting the big box set. I got the box set, but only because I found it at a store that's now out of business... and it was 5 bucks before any clearance discounting.
  14. Fraggline

    Fraggline Well-Known Member

    Yeah, I do think that show was sort of a copycat, though it was really quite entertaining. Half of me wonders how they even got away with making it! But, well, maybe some people really liked it--at the least, it's Muppet Babies times 2!
  15. Drtooth

    Drtooth Well-Known Member

    I'm sorry, but Baby Looney Tunes is outright garbage, along with that other pathetic attempt to make them "hip," Loonatics Unleashed.

    Though, I will at least defend Loonatics to an extent for having an actually WATCHABLE second season, when they decided to have them fight futuristic versions of their own villains, instead of cheap stereotypical, derivative super hero fare. The Sylvester and Tweety one was actually.. choke... GOOD! The one with Porky Pig was pretty good too, actually. And, well, I'll also give them credit for the Parliment/Funkadellic references. Still a horrid version of the show. But Baby Looney Tunes? It's not just a knockoff because of the fact they're children. No. They willfully copied everything they could, right down to Granny in the Nanny role... come on, Baby Taz= Baby Animal. Only thing they didn't copy was the fact Muppet Babies was GOOD.

    I support new Looney Tunes efforts as LONG as they keep to the integrity of the originals (I'm not a purist that thinks they should have died after Warners shut their shorts department down). Taz-Mania, Sylvester and Tweety Mysteries, Duck Dodgers, the newer theatricals... even the CGI Road Runner shorts... dunno about Looney Tunes Show, they keep delaying it... but those were all enjoyable and kept to the originals to certain extents. baby Looney Tunes didn't. No one got bonked on the head, eaten, waved pathetically to the camera when something was going down... they just sat their and did the stuff the Muppet babies did without the fun.
  16. Vic Romano

    Vic Romano Well-Known Member

    An interesting and mature retrospective, D.W.! I haven't seen MB since it was airing original episodes. I liked it back then, and I'm relatively sure I'd like it now, if for no other reason then the nostalgia factor. I am sadly learning in my older age though, that a lot of that "classic" stuff from the 80's doesn't hold up. I was watching a few episodes from the first season of the Real Ghostbusters cartoon, and it was impossible to sit through. Maybe it's because it was the very early episodes, maybe I was just such a huge GB fan when I was a kid, I overlooked it, or maybe it was because I had a direct defiance for the Filmation version. Either way, it's always intriguing when we dust off the old favs and see them again.
  17. Drtooth

    Drtooth Well-Known Member

    I personally find BOTH The Real Ghostbusters and Filmation's version to hold up very well... well, maybe there are some very mushy and lame episodes at the end of the run (the one where they're in the toy land clock sticks out in my mind)... and the Slimer! cartoons are virtually unwatchable. Even the unfairly maligned Extreme Ghostbusters is a great action film that holds up to the movie. One of the few movie based cartoons that does. Never watch Evolution Continued or whatever it was called... it took a movie that was slightly like Ghostbusters and turned it into a dead on rip-off, right down to the theme song (which sounded almost exactly like a parody of the famous GB anthem). The other Ghost Busters was very good too, a different tone and everything... Prime Evil is such an underrated 80's villain. I like him more than Skeletor.

    I'm glad to say most of the stuff I rewatched held up... some groaners that were understandable but I still enjoyed them... only things that bug me are the girlier stuff I liked when I was very little because of the bright candy like colors. I try very hard not to let nostalgic feelings keep me from seeing how I truely feel about them... but I'm usually upbeat about most of the stuff I rediscovered or discovered for the first time. Didn't really get a chance at seeing Bravestarr until recently, and that one really holds up.

    Still... Captain Planet brings back a "what was I thinking" feeling... but probably because I was more a fan of Toxic Crusaders...kiddy cartoon based on a hyperviolent adult's cult film? How is that not the dictionary definition of awesome... and I don't even like using that word.
  18. Yorick

    Yorick Well-Known Member

    I agree on both Filmation's Ghostbusters and The "Real" Ghostbusters. I like both. I also like "Slimer!" but I totally understand why many wouldn't. I also agree on Prime Evil being great, and it was so cool to learn that's Alan voicing him, since he did Skeletor too:super:As for Toxic Avengers being based on an R movie Toxic Crusader, it reminds me of how they made Robocop cartoons also based on an R movie...and I'm sure there are others like Rambo.
  19. Yorick

    Yorick Well-Known Member

    MB/Felix/Care Bears/Pac Man and Smurf records etc

    I never knew that about Little Lulu, Bullets, or Harmony Gold, actually...when did this happen?

    With Felix, I know what you mean about the 1960's halted way of speaking like the 60's Chipmunks, and I will look for "Twisted Tales." Ever see the Felix movie, or play the NES game?
    I didn't know about this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MeAaTgZNHH4

    About Care Bears, yes, there was an adventure aspect of the Nelvana produced ones, (I recall liking how strange-in-a-good-way the pre-Nelvana specials were) and I loved Movie 1 and Wonderland - I don't think I saw Movie 2 or Nutcracker. And you gotta love Beastly! :) And yes, John Stocker's got a great voice!

    And once again, I gotta agree Muppet Babies is one of the best! Love it, love it, love it! I especially love the Gonzo and Animal moments, not just "Go Bye Bye" which is great, but also just on the show. Ha, a lot of moments with Animal are my favorites. Animal teaching Scooter that "messy" art is better than computer art, and Animal in that comic with Fozzie! HA! Hilarious!:zany:

    I shall look into the English takes of the Smurf comic, and I will even sooner if the chance at a library or bookstore comes around as you suggest - good idea:wisdom:

    Even the less than great Pac Man and Smurf songs on the records are cool because of the early 80's feel (to me, anyway!) but there are some really cool songs by both Pac Man and the Smurfs. However, the second Pac Man album is pretty bad, 80's or not, I have to say I wasn't a big fan. But I will listen once more maybe just in case it grows on me! If I find the link I'll post it here! Or maybe in it's own thread, actually.
  20. Drtooth

    Drtooth Well-Known Member

    Well, the story is that part of the agreement between both Columbia and Filmation for the use of the name, Filmation was to do the series based off the movie. But things fell through and Columbia went to DIC, and Filmation decided to do it themselves based on their version.

    I've said it a million times, but it was one of the most unfortunate co-incidences in entertainment history, right up there with Dennis the Menace. Us Americans will remember a blond haired little kid who thinks he's more helpful than he really is, and getting into trouble and annoying Mr. Wilson. The UK will remember a spikey black haired boy who actually WAS a menace. It wouldn't seem strange... but BOTH were created at the same time.

    Now, with the movie Ghostbusters, the title was originally Ghostsmashers (among others) and the name was changed, not to reflect the 1970's Filmation show they were clearly unaware of (the writers would've been too old to bother watching Saturday morning shows, let alone one that lasted only a season), but an even older film called Spook Busters (to add to the confusion, guess what the working title of that was called!)... clearly both Filmation and the movie team were aware of that film.

    So anyway, back to what I was saying about the cartoon... I'm sure the cartoon we know as Real Ghostbusters would have turned out similar to Filmation's series, which just wouldn't have fit (dispatcher villain in most of the series especially)... but instead we got 2 very good cartoons instead of one alright cartoon.

    That said, the sequence in Ghostbusters 2 where the kids sing "Who ya gonna call? HE-MAN!" ... I still think that was a kind of jab at Filmation.

    Long story short... the little Lulu anime is from the 70's... I think it was distributed by Ziv international outside Japan. I only knew of its existence because there were all these odd anime (Americanized) theme songs in a line of promos at the end of a Gumby tape I used to have. I saw a couple episodes, and even though Lulu's dub voice doesn't fit, it's pretty good. But drastically different from the Lulu shorts.

    Harmony Gold (mentioned in a tangent) was a dubbing/distribution company. They were responsible for Robotech among others... they did the dubbing of the horrid Toei animation version of Marvel Comics Tomb of Dracula movie... they also did pilot dubs for Dragon Ball (I've seen the movies), Dr. Slump (which was actually pretty close to the original) and Muteking... the fact that we ALMOST grew up with those series saddens me that they weren't picked up. However, they were INFAMOUS for taking an entire series, or two completely different shows and mushing and crushing and squashing them together to either make a DTV movie or a TV series. They took Captain Harlock and Queen Millenia, and made it into one series for example.

    As for the Bullets... they were a session band that recorded new music, mostly for Harmony Gold, but also for a couple others... let's just say anime fans of today would flip out and I can't blame them.

    Now, the Felix movie, I heard too much bad stuff about to finish. I saw some of it and felt it was less than meh. Now, when it comes to my favorite Felix bits, the original silent cartoons, the 60's series and Twisted Tales... I think those are all the tops. There was even a pretty good Felix comic published in the 90's... wish I didn't give up on it due to financial restraints when I did.

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