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Playhouse Muppet Videos

Discussion in 'Classic Muppets' started by behemoth, Nov 21, 2002.

  1. minor muppetz

    minor muppetz Well-Known Member

    One thing that I think I've asked before but didn't get an answer to: Did Beaker appear in the linking footage for Fozzie's Muppet Scrapbook? The Internet Movie Database page for it lists Beaker, and the IMDB pages for most of the compilations limit mentioning characters in the cast list to those who appear in linking footage.

    What gets me asking (again, if I already had) is this picture that was posted on the official Fozzie Bear Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/MuppetsFozzieBear/posts/931582663551843:0

    It looks like the attic set, and they're playing with a marionette, which seems like it'd be a good transition to the clips where Fozzie works on his marionette act (which I think is included). Of course the Beaker in this picture looks more like a Muppet Show-era Beaker than a mid-1980s one (compate how he looks here to how he looks in Rock Music with the Muppets), though considering so many Beaker puppets were built for the Mac Davis episode, they very likely had several spares to use, but despite that, the Fozzie in the photo looks more like a mid-'80s-era Fozzie than a Muppet Show-era one.
  2. minor muppetz

    minor muppetz Well-Known Member

    I found the inside cover to Muppet Treasures, which says that Fozzie auditioned 53 times before he was hired.

    It's similar to the inside cover fact in Muppet Moments, where it says that Fozzie waited weeks before he could get an audition.
  3. sesamemuppetfan

    sesamemuppetfan Well-Known Member

    Earlier today, Kermit's Facebook page uploaded this picture (which comes from Muppet Weird Stuff).

    Someone commented saying that it once aired as a special before being released on video- she still has her taped VHS copy and plans to burn it to DVD. I wonder if the other 9 videos originally aired as specials too...
  4. minor muppetz

    minor muppetz Well-Known Member

    Somehow I feel they were mistaken. I wonder if their "taped VHS copy" was a copy of a copy. Or, if it was broadcast, I wonder if maybe it was broadcast sometime after the video release. The document on the 2004 Henson/Disney deal lists these videos "under "Best of The Muppet Show" under "home video projects".

    Of course, I wonder if The Kermit and Piggy Story aired on TV. That same document does list The Kermit and Piggy Story on its own, in addition to The Best of the Muppet Show (and saying that there were 10 volumes). I recently saw that this video is available for viewing at the Paley Center for Media. I feel like I vaguely remember seeing something about Kermit and Piggy Story airing on Odyssey at some point.

    Or maybe I'm wrong and the videos (at least Muppet Weird Stuff) did air at some point but it's not noted at any official site and its airing is so obscure that none of us had heard about it until now.

    Hmm, then again, I know that Kermit's Swamp Years was made-for-video but got a Starz broadcast a few days before the video release. Could it be possible that this (and maybe others) got a pre-release broadcast on a premium cable channel before its commercial release?
  5. minor muppetz

    minor muppetz Well-Known Member

    Well, the Muppet Wiki pages for each of the videos now includes pictures and descriptions of all the linking footage (with a few minor exceptions). It's so great to know what all happened in the linking footage.

    I've vaguely read a few things (just not Muppet Wiki or anything that MW would consider a source) that said Beaker appeared in Fozzie's Muppet Scrapbook, and I saw one Facebook image with Fozzie and Beaker playing with a puppet that was clearly from that video, but I was surprised to see that Beaker was in more of the video than just one introduction.

    There's one line from Rowlf's Rhapsodies with the Muppets that I think I'd seen as somebody's signature a long time ago, but didn't know it originated here, and had forgotten about ("I wanted to be Gonzo, but my mother wouldn't let me").

    I feel like Fozzie's Muppet Scrapbook and Rowlf's Rhapsodies both could have benefited a bit by having a lot of characters showing up in the linking footage. Fozzie's Muppet Scrapbook takes place when Kermit is having the gang paint scenery, Scooter and Beaker show up quite a bit, and Miss Piggy makes a cameo talking to Fozzie, but I feel a lot more characters could have shown up, been reminded of certain moments or remind Fozzie of certain moments. Link could have helped introduce Bear on Patrol, Rowlf could have introduced something, maybe Statler and Waldorf could have even visited the attic and criticized Fozzie (though it might have been difficult to work in a reason for them to be in the Muppets' attic), if not be there to talk about a rare Fozzie moment that they liked (though I don't think any such clips are included). And Rowlf's Rhapsodies is the only one where I know for sure that Jim, Frank, Dave, and Richard were all involved in the linking footage (Jim is the only one who's voice is heard in linking footage for all ten videos). It is interesting how Gonzo and Scooter sort-of co-host, with Fozzie and Miss Piggy making cameos. More characters could have shown up to make requests. We could have gotten Bunsen and Beaker, or Animal, or Beauregard. Kermit's barely in this (Muppet Wiki says he does not appear at all, but I know that he's briefly glimpsed in an audience shot during Rambling Guy - assuming that shot isn't cut from the video), there are a number of Kermit songs that could have fit in (unless they just couldn't clear the music rights), but Kermit could have shown up in linking footage (maybe while Rowlf was drying up his piano - he could have talked to Gonzo or Scooter with Rowlf mostly being silent). In fact, while Gonzo and Scooter appear heavily in the video, I don't think either appears in any of the clips (unless they are in that Rambling Guy audience shot, which I can't remember off-hand) - and there are plenty of songs with those characters that could have been included.

    I expected Fozzie's appearance be to introduce English County Garden and/or Claire De Lume, so I was surprised to see that he was there to request "Yes, We Have No Bananas". It's also interesting that his scene is right after Miss Piggy's appearance. Even if Frank Oz was only available to perform in a minute of material for that video (while having more time with most of the others), they could have placed them farther from each other. Not really a big deal, but still interesting.

    Jim Henson's Red Book has three different entries that say "VTR three more Muppet home video wraps", so clearly the first one was shot without them doing more in a two-day session. I assume they were all shot in the order presented in the ending promo, but that could be wrong (after all, there have been differences in production and broadcast order for many series).

    In Jim Henson: The Works, there's an image of the cover to a magazine called Home Viewer, with an image of the cover for The Muppet Revue, the headline "The Muppets Take Video", and the cover advertises an interview with Jim Henson. Clearly, this is promotion for these videos, but has anybody ever seen the actual interview in this magazine issue? That's something I'd really like to see. Sometime last year, I saw scans from various issues of Billboard Magazine, and saw a news announcement of the launch of Playhouse Video, which noted these videos as among the first titles from the label. I kept looking for all the 1985 Billboard issues I could to see if any of these were top sellers (whether in top sales, top kid vids, or top rentals), and none of them were (at least not in what I could find).
    LStein likes this.
  6. minor muppetz

    minor muppetz Well-Known Member

    Recently there's been some talk about these videos on the Tough Pigs forum. There's been some discussion on whether Rowlf's Rhapsodies was all imrpovised, as there wasn't a writer credited (aside from Jerry Juhl getting a "creative consultant" credit and a list of writers from The Muppet Show), especially considering it has a lot of oddball dialogue. But it seems like the scenes with Frank Oz's characters are most organized, and Oz is known to be a master ad-libber (makes me wonder if he just did voices in that one).

    After reading that on the Tough Pigs forum, I looked at the credits for all the videos I could, and all of them have Jerry Juhl listed as "creative consultant", with the list of writers listed under The Muppet Show part of the credits. I wondered if the list of writers for TMS also included whoever wrote the linking footage (Jim's Red Book says that Juhl and Henson selected the clips to use). The credits start out with credits specifically for the linking footage, then there's credits for The Muppet Show (in a different color from the first set of credits as well as the TMS title appearing), but the earlier part of the credits does list people who aren't involved in the linking footage, such as the guest stars and the main Muppet performers, whether they performed in new footage or not (sure, we don't know for sure that Nelson, Whitmire, and Mullen didn't perform in any of them, but I'm sure Jerry Nelson would have performed Camilla in Muppet Weird Stuff if he was involved). Also, if the dialogue was mostly improvised, it seems like the linking footage for all of the others was a lot more organized and not as crazy as in Rowlf's Rhapsodies.

    Somebody also noted that The Muppet Revue, Muppet Treasures, and Muppet Moments are all the weakest because they have the same basic plot (while also noting The Muppet Revue as feeling more like a clip show than the other two, which I agree with - and it is one of my favorites in the collection). I wonder if this would be the case if different characters hosted those, like if Muppet Treasures was hosted by Kermit and Scooter, or if Muppet Moments was hosted by Fozzie, Gonzo, and Rowlf. Or if they had different reasons for being up in the attic other than to clean (well, in Muppet Moments, they do go up to find things to get rid of). Interestingly, back when I was 8 years old, I put both The Muppet Revue (which I had seen) and Muppet Treasures (which I hadn't) on my Christmas wishlist, and for some reason, those were the only two I put on my list (needless to say, I didn't get either, them being out of print and all). But in the past few years, out of the few I have not seen, Muppet Treasures is the one I least want to see (though I do still want to see it).

    Looking at the guides at Muppet Wiki, it seems like Muppet Treasures and Muppet Moments both have times when Kermit and Fozzie just stop what they're doing to watch some guest star clips. Seems like they don't come across any props or anything that remind them of moments with the guests, they just decide they want to watch Peter Sellers, Zero Mostel, Bernadette Peters, and Liza Minelli. Of course, The Muppet Revue kind of has that with Linda Ronstadt and Paul Williams, but those also seem different for some reason.

    I often think about how none of the videos use sets from the actual show. For a long time, I assumed they were taped in New York, but I think somebody said those were actually taped in England (Louise Gold does perform a chicken in Country Music, and somebody said that one of the England-based performers who wasn't on the show operated Rowlf's right hand in Rowlf's Rhapsodies). I've also wondered if the sets had been destroyed by then. But I also wonder if the videos work better by not taking place anywhere in the theater. Would it have seemed weird if the videos took place backstage before a backstage clip was shown? Of course the attic seems better for when Kermit and Fozzie are cleaning up, but Fozzie's Muppet Scrapbook and Children's Songs and Stories could have easily been done backstage, Rowlf's Rhapsodies could have took place in the orchestra or even up on the stage (though we don't really know where it is - is it in Rowlf's home, a studio of some sort, or is it actually the Muppet Theater stage?), perhaps even with the plain brick wall background.

    At Muppet Wiki, there's been some discussion on whether the recording studio from Rock Music with the Muppets was meant to be the same one from Helen Reddy's "Blue" number, only at a different angle. I'm not convinced. Aside from it being a different color scheme, when that clip does get introduced in the video, it's presented as a clip (with a transition from it appearing on a TV screen) as opposed to being edited into the plot. If Dr. Teeth had pointed into the direction we were watching and told Helen Reddy she's on, as if she was there live in the studio, that'd be one thing, but he talks to her on the phone before introducing the clip.
  7. Mo Frackle

    Mo Frackle Well-Known Member

    I think that the right-hander you're thinking of is Mike Quinn.

    From what I understand, the linking footage was indeed shot in London, as were the segments with the 'classic' Muppets used for Little Muppet Monsters. They may have all been shot together, but I really don't know. For the latter, the segments with the titular characters and Scooter were clearly from another shoot - probably in New York, given the performers involved.
  8. minor muppetz

    minor muppetz Well-Known Member

    I thought it was either him or Mak Wilson but couldn't remember.

    Man, I wish some of the people who worked on these would talk a bit about the production somewhere. Maybe there's not too much to say about the behind-the-scenes aspects of the videos, or maybe backstage info on these isn't as interesting, but I really want to see some of the people who worked on them talk about them somewhere.
    Muppet Master likes this.
  9. Mo Frackle

    Mo Frackle Well-Known Member

    I suppose the productions never pop up in interviewers' heads.
  10. Oscarfan

    Oscarfan Well-Known Member

    Actors and performers are very "in the moment" and probably don't retain that kind of stuff very often. I recall an interview with Marty where it called it "garbage memory"; they shoot so much stuff that it often just goes straight out of their heads. Lauren Gharam's book mentions something like that too about her days on Gilmore Girls.

    Like, the movies and TV shows, I bet they have fond memories of. But these videos? I doubt they'd have much to say other than, "Oh yeah, we shot these somewhere over a couple of days and there were only XYZ of us."
  11. Cookie3001

    Cookie3001 Well-Known Member

    I'm always looking for more Muppet videos. I ordered a "Don't eat the Pictures VHS" that is arriving this week but I still want more. I have decided that this weekend I will take all my money and go to every used video store in my area and see what I can find. The rarest videos I have gotten this year (besides Don't Eat the Pictures) are the Jim Henson Home Video release of "Hey Cinderella", the Random House release of "Learning About Letters" and the "Best of The Muppet show" VHS with the Elton John, Julie Andrews and Gene Kelly.
  12. Blue Frackle

    Blue Frackle Well-Known Member

    I cannot recommend this guy's channel enough:

    Froggy Fool, minor muppetz and ryan19 like this.
  13. minor muppetz

    minor muppetz Well-Known Member

    Earlier last year when Frank Oz was promoting Muppet Guys Talking and talked about how the film could only be purchased via the official website, one of the things he said regarding his reasoning was that the Muppets were often unconventional.

    In a way, these videos do kinda reflect that "unconventional" aspect, in that most of them are hosted by different characters and have different settings, but also many of them are different in terms of the opening/closing music. All the ones I saw as a kid began with an instrumental of the theme and ended with the fifth season closing theme, which I expected to be the case with all of them. After seeing more of them online over the years, I've seen that The Kermit and Piggy Story has a more romantic-sounding instrumental of the theme and Children's Songs and Stories with the Muppets has a music box-sounding rendition of the theme, while Country Music with the Muppets doesn't have the theme at all (starting with the very first clip before getting to the linking footage and having audio of the closing number playing over the credits).

    But even when the theme is included, there are sometimes differences. While Rock Music has the closing theme, it opens with an instrumental of "Tenderly". While Muppet Weird Stuff does open and close with instrumentals, the opening music sounds different from the instrumental theme music heard at the beginning of The Muppet Revue and Muppet Moments (I think it might be the solo piano version from the Kaye Ballard episode at the start of Muppet Weird Stuff). Rowlf's Rhapsodies starts with a grand piano rendition of the theme (now that I think of it, that might be the same music used in The Kermit and Piggy Story) but while it does have a usual closing theme, it uses the version from the third and fourth season (I feel like the fifth season closing, with Lips' trumpet solo, is more fitting for the videos where something really wild happens during the closing credits sequences). And I recently found that Muppet Treasures doesn't have any versions of the theme, either, instead opening and closing with an instrumental of "There's No Business Like Show Business". I would have thought that one would have opened and closed with instrumentals of the regular theme, considering it's one of the videos to not focus on a theme.

    Makes me wonder what music is used for the opening and close of Fozzie's Muppet Scrapbook. The usual instrumentals for the opening and closing? A closing theme that isn't the fifth season (maybe the first closing theme, which isn't in any of the other videos?)? Some comical-sounding variation of the music? Completely different music?
    DMHFan and LStein like this.
  14. Cookie3001

    Cookie3001 Well-Known Member

    Joshua Gillespie is the best
  15. Blue Frackle

    Blue Frackle Well-Known Member

    I'm glad he's back and making videos.

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