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Questions about Muppet Babies in general

Discussion in 'Muppet Babies' started by mupcollector1, Sep 25, 2012.

  1. mupcollector1

    mupcollector1 Well-Known Member

    I'm more of a classic Muppet show / Sesame fan but I always found Muppet Babies kind of strange mainly because it was animated and it was just new people doing the voices and not Jim, Frank, Dave, Richard, etc.

    I know that it started as a piece in Muppets Take Manhattan and was it CBS who had the idea to make it an animated series?

    Muppet Babies and Animated Fraggle Rock like I said seemed kind of strange to be also because usually Jim and his crew performed and written and it was all creative controlled but in this case, Jim was executive producer and created for television but the rest was manly controled by Marvel's Animation Studio at the time right?

    Just curious if there was any story or reason why none of the Muppeteers or even Muppet writers worked on the production. All I know was Jim's credit and Michael Frith designed the Muppet Babies designs for the show.

    Also what I found strange was not only Scooter having a sister Skeeter who was never in any other Muppet production except for the Muppet kids books was Rowlf's mouth wasn't black but just the typical Muppet Red mouth and a tounge. I was trying to think, was the baby Rowlf puppet in Muppets Take Manhattan, did it have the same error? It was like an error that was never fixed. lol

    Anyway I figure I ask these questions when it was on my mind, again I'm more of a classic Muppet fan but since there is a selection on this forum, I figure what the hey. :)
  2. VP Weirdo

    VP Weirdo Active Member

    As someone who grow up with Muppet Babies as my first introducing to anything Muppet related (not to mention many of the movies that clips featured on the show), I can answer a few of these questions.

    First of all, the series was did not start with CBS. They had to be sold on the idea by Jim Henson and possible Michael Frith.
    You can find a detailed account on Muppet Babies origins here:

    As for the voice actors and writer, most of them were already working on earlier series for Marval Animation Production that were still in production. Particularly the Dungeon & Dragons series that premaired on CBS the preceding year. With several different series already running and ideas for new ones in the works (so of which proved more sucessfull than others) it's likely that company wanted to settle on old reliables for which they had prior experiance.

    Plus, I'm pretty sure both CBS studios and Marvel Animations were headquartered in LA and the Muppet Studios still only located in New York. So it probably would have been impractical to repeated fly the regular puppeteers all the way to the west coast just to record for their cartoon counterparts.

    Never noticed any different in Rowlfs mouth thou.

    Hope that helps.
  3. minor muppetz

    minor muppetz Well-Known Member

    I would have thought that the reason for having different voice actors as the Muppet Babies was so the main performers could concentrate more on Fraggle Rock, Sesame Street, and the various Muppet specials and appearances (in addition to allowing Jim to work on scores of other projects at once and for Frank to direct movies).

    I wonder if recording the voices in L.A. was actually a factor. The Muppet performers had to travel to Canada and England for many productions as well, including regular production on Fraggle Rock and The Jim Henson Hour in Canada and The Muppet Show in England.

    And there was no "Muppet Studios" until after Disney bought the Muppets (well, there was the VHS/video game "Muppet Studios Presents: You're the Director").
  4. VP Weirdo

    VP Weirdo Active Member

    Well, when I said Muppet Studios I was actually thinking of The Muppet Workshop in New York, but I couldn't remember the exact name. :o

    You're probably right about the west coast factor though. Since they company was really expanding at that time and performers were working in several countires on various projects. Plus, according to the imdb cast and crew pages for Muppet Babies Jim Henson did serve as executive producer on the series through seasons five and six. Clearly a lot of works was being done both on both coasts and Canada. I should note that while The Muppet Show had long ceased production, there was the orginal Creature Shop in London which used many of the same performers at that time.

    So yes, locations probably wasn't the factor. It's more likely as I had initially suggested that Marvel Productions just wanted to stick with voices the were used to working with on early and on-going shows, while The Jim Henson Company (as your suggested) had there puppets to busy with live actions works to fit-in voice work. It may have been like The Beatles when there too busy with music and other projects to add there voices to the Beatle themed movie Yellow Submarine (1968), but still made an appearence at the end.
  5. mupcollector1

    mupcollector1 Well-Known Member

    Plus the 1980s was a rough time for creative artists. I've heard lots of stories from cartoonists who would later create wonderful shows in the 1990s. But today's industry is kind of going back to that area in my opinion even films and tv, it's like they won't open the doors for you unless you have an agent, manager, decades of experience, union, etc. But artists still take the risk to get passed all that and not give up hope which I strongly agree with. :) There should be better shows on TV and film like it was in the good old days.

    But yeah back to Muppet Babies. It was almost like it wasn't creative controlled like Jim's other works. Rowlf's mouth no longer pitch black, Scooter being a computer nerd instead of the energetic voice of youth like he always was, Waldorf and Statler being NICE to The Muppets as their uncles, Robin is a tadpol and not much younger then Kermit, Camila is a toy and not a real chicken, and even the first episode there was this weird moment where Gonzo smiles and HAD TEETH! Though the only thing I liked about Muppet Babies was Baby Animal, the voice was hilarious. lol There was an episode where they were going to give Baby Animal a bath and they had this musical number and it cuts to a scene where Animal had several arms and legs rotating around him singing "Washy Washy Washy Washy" lol And just the scenes where everyone is trying to calm him down by tackling him football style. lol That I liked.

    And just my opinion on this but there was several kind of strange projects that didn't have much of The Muppet feel like the Muppet Studios game which someone mentioned, I watched the footage on youtube since it's so hard to find. And it's just strange that Statler was nice in it. Little Muppet Monsters, WOW! Just to be nice about it. I didn't like how The Muppet Show Muppets were being presented in kids projects. Jim fought for a long time for an adult Muppet Show, and I'm not blaming Jim at all of course what happen makes sense because these small projects helped to fund movies like Labrynth. There was some bad Muppet projects in the mid 1980s but I think it was to help fund the better projects like Labrynth, Muppets Take "Manhattan, The Storyteller and The Jim Henson Hour. And of course Sesame I'm sure helped with the funding for these projects too since Sesame still keeping strong through out Jim's career. :) Basically this was kind of my generation Sesame. lol I'm not sure if I should mention Tale of The Bunny Picnic or not, I liked the music in it but it was a little too cute. Thank Goodness that Bean later joined The Muppets and the other characters teased him about it. lol
    And in my opinon Fraggle Rock was good and it was one of Jim's greatest works. Though I think it was just way different from Muppet Comedy, it was more of a serious show tackling life lessons, enviroment issues, stuff like that and not so much the slapsticky stuff The Muppets were famous for. It was a different project as like Dark Crystal and Labyrinth and totally understandable, Jim wanted to create different stuff and not be pigonholded. But of course The Muppets always came back. :)

    Basicly, the mid-1980s had some kind of weird not-well known projects using The Muppet Show Muppets being for the first time aiming them at kids projects like the ones I've mentioned, they had a Traffic Safety ride that toured at Malls and I kind of remember seeing that as a kid. The video games, Muppet Learning Keys for the early Apple computers, Jim Henson's Play a Long Videos, etc.

    Though my point is mainly going back to the purpose of What The Muppet Show was and that was to prove that Muppets weren't just for kids, they can entertain Adults as well. So I wonder if these projects kind of damaged the rebellious effort originaly fighting for adult puppetry. Though I doubt it because these projects were rarely seen and The Muppets came again to do more of their classic work with Manhattan, Jim Henson Hour, and the projects after Jim like the 2 Disney Movies, Muppets Tonight, etc. Sorry to keep rambling on like this. It's just that I was wondering about this stuff for a long time and I think I keep it quiet from the form because I didn't know if anyone could relate to what my thoughts are about this.

    And it's not like I hate these projects, there's lots of good stuff about it. It's just kind of weird in a bad way to me.
  6. CensoredAlso

    CensoredAlso Well-Known Member

    Muppet Babies was definitely an entirely different universe, even in its humor. It was quite literally "what if the Muppets became your standard '80s cartoon?" Complete with Frank Welker at the helm, lol. But I'm not ashamed to admit I love the show for it. Yes it was different but it was hugely creative and endearing. Even my Dad appreciated the show for its tributes to art and classical music. :)
  7. mupcollector1

    mupcollector1 Well-Known Member

    Dancing in the Street, the episode with the mice. The music in that was great. I like some of the music on there like the "Underground" song. But yeah, I remember seeing it and knowing that's Kermit, Miss Piggy, Gonzo, and the rest. I already knew them by heart but it just didn't feel like The Muppets to me. It was okay in Muppets Take Manhattan, it was cute and funny. "I'll be a doctor that curses diseases, illnesses and your sneezes, and practice plastic surgery on your brain." lol I love that line in the sound and even the music video for that was hilarious with Jim Henson smashing the nursery window and just walking off with gelled hair, sunglasses, dressing formal with Kermit feet. lol Though it was just quite strange to see them animated. Though If The Muppets could be properly animated, I would love them to be animated Looney Tunes / Tex Avery style because limited animation just doesn't work for spontanous characters like them. But that's just my opinion. Though some of the Little Muppet Monster animations were good in designed. One episode had Miss Piggy reply "What do I look like a sack of doornobs?" lol Though when they had Animal on there, he laughed more like Beavis & Butt-head and not "HAW HAW HAW" like Animal usually does. Even Baby Animal's laugh was weird "Yaddayaddayaddayadda" something like that.
  8. Drtooth

    Drtooth Well-Known Member

    It really seems Scooter is the only character to have a drastic change, and that was because every 1980's cartoon series had to have a nerd on the team. Scooter has glasses, and somehow that automatically equaled nerd. Yet, I do notice some nerd-like qualities in Scooter in general. It just took until LTS to show him using a computer. Unless you count the Muppet Family Reunion arc.

    But animated/illustrated Muppets with teeth that don't normally have them... that's a cartoonist thing. Teeth are very expressive, and animation and puppetry have different ways of showing expression that don't really tend to cross over all the time. Some artists draw characters gritting teeth they don't have. That's because some puppet expressions are a little too subtle. Especially considering you can change the shape of eyes in animation easier. There's no need for a magic triangle if you can have a character move their eyes. Yet, some poser photos on merchandise that have eyes focused at something look wrong.

    It really feels to me that Jim was trying to make the Muppets a children's franchise at that point, and focusing on Dark Crystal and Labyrinth type projects for older ages. I rather thought Little Muppet Monsters was a lost gem, and I think it had the potential to work. It just never got to the refining process that happens when a cartoon is on long enough. They could have at least cut the rest of the cartoon shorts they had together and aired that for the rest of the run. Dog City managed to do Muppet/Animation blending much better... of course, DC had the luxury of being a cartoon series and having Nelvana's at the time superb animation instead of Toei (which looked better for TMNT and Transformers, anyway).
  9. mupcollector1

    mupcollector1 Well-Known Member

    Yeah, I'm not sure if that was Jim's intention to do so with The Muppets because there was a few things aimed at kids using The Muppet Show characters but at the same time later there was Muppets Take Manhattan, The Jim Henson Hour; MuppeTelevision halfs of the show and The Muppets Go To Walt Disney World. I think it was sort of a funding finactual sort of thing to help support these as well as Dark Crystal, Labrinth. Though I think Dreamchild probably helped Labrynth quite a bit. And The Muppets basically did commercial selling out since the very begaining with Sam & Friends and Excay Meats, Wilkins Coffee Commercials, and commercials to come until Sesame Street's time. Well okay there was Moranda but that was basicly it. lol But yeah, like I mentioned it's a very weird era for The Muppet Show characters because because basicly The Muppet group since the begaining was aimed towards adults / family while Sesame and Fraggle Rock was more towards children / family. Though I guess also my concern about this era was that Jim faught very hard for adult puppetry and it seems kind of weird what happened after but I'm sure it wasn't beyond as is, it was a way to fund for better projects I suppose.

    I remember having a few weird dreams of Muppet Show characters on Sesame and thinking "Hey wait a minute, they don't belong there?!" lol Though of course Kermit was on both. Ironicly Kermit's house was shown on Sesame but his job was The Muppet Show. lol But that's a whole different discussion right there. lol And didn't Rowlf do an appearance on Sesame just once in season 1?
  10. CensoredAlso

    CensoredAlso Well-Known Member

    I love Muppet Babies but it annoys me how Muppet Show Scooter has suddenly become a nerd. Nothing against nerds but Muppet Show Scooter was not like that. He was an eager yet calculating young person desperate to get into show business, lol.

    Well you can rave about adult puppetry but that doesn't mean the networks and audiences are always going to be interested. So like you said, if your characters have kid potential it would be wise to use them to help fund the projects you really want to make.
  11. mupcollector1

    mupcollector1 Well-Known Member

    Well I didn't technically mean anything in terms of kid potential, just how Jim did business to fund the more bigger and better projects and such. I think the reason why there's barely any adult puppetry is mainly because puppets are expensive and unfortunately it seems like our culture is so more interested seeing humans acting in TV and film and not fictional characters which I find very sad. But yes I agree that it seems like puppets and cartoons tend to be aimed more so towards children. Yet it creates a negitive stereotype towards the art form. Centuries ago in Europe and probably other places in the world as well, puppets and cartoons were aimed at adults. Most cartooning and puppetry had a bit of political satire aspect of it. Even Punch and Judy got toned down through the years ending up just a silly puppet show of two characters beating each other up. Though I remember reading something on the internet and it might still be there under a Punch and Judy site, a transcript of one of the original shows from the 1600s and it was quite grim, very dark, Punch was basicly a murderer and it's just him rubbing off all the other characters until he meets with The Devil himself and becomes the new ruler of the underword. So it seems that irreverent humor was really big over in Europe and I think that's sort of how Jim Henson himself got into adult puppetry because he took a trip to Europe and seen an adult puppet show and noticed that the puppeteers were adults entertaining adult audiences. Basicly it seems like art is becoming less interesting in America in the mainstream and perhaps this is just my opinion. Esspecially intellectual art like satire or a really strong plot using art like puppets or animation to reach out to the adult audience, not only making then laugh at the world around them, but making then think. It's a very rare quality because everything in general entertainment just seems so simple minded entertainment. But then again, that's just my opinion.

    Anyway back to Muppet Babies, wasn't there a DVD release of the show recently then it disappeared? Like a complete season box set?
  12. Drtooth

    Drtooth Well-Known Member

    Like I said, Nerds=someone with glasses, 1980's cartoons needed nerds (even though they had Bunsen Honeydew). In fact, I've come to a realization. That's why Skeeter was created instead of using Janice. 1980's cartoons also needed an athlete. But then gain, Scooter seems pretty eager in the older episodes (debatable if that is nerdy behavior), and in those MTM production photos, they did portray him loving Marvel super heroes and reading their comics. Well, at least having them and posters when he was hanging out of that locker.

    However, that seems to be the biggest stretch of how a child version of that character would have been portrayed. Everyone else is pretty much on par with what they'd grow up to be, Gonzo's biggest change is being morally ambiguous at times (Great Cookie Robbery)... but then again, the shows tend to have Aesops.

    But you know what I really like about Muppet Babies? The Toei animation was actually better than the Korean stuff they used later (just with a low frame rate). There was a lot more detail used in earlier episodes and nice little animated asides. I've noticed some earlier episodes have Skeeter constantly adjusting/pulling up her pants as a tic. An unscripted detail, courtesy of the animators. They even managed to avoid the voice coming out of the wrong character's mouth more than Akom did. Only instance I remember is Piggy singing with Skeeter's voice in Keep your Animal Clean. Not like the hugely noticeable Gonzo saying "Now remember what I told you" coming out of Animal in the Valentines episode. And I'll take the darker, grainier look that Toei had in the first season over the muddy, overcolored, never correct look of Akom. I never understood why everything turned purple in the Jetsons parody where Scooter and Skeeter are fighting about Bean playing Elroy.
  13. mupcollector1

    mupcollector1 Well-Known Member

    That was the Japanize animation studio right? Yeah, their animation seemed better, I was going to point out that probably later in the show the animation seemed stiff and like you said a low frame rate. Also how the mouths tended to stop half way instead of the mouth fully closing. I notice that the show Franklin (the turtle, show on Nick JR) tended to do that kind of mouth lyp-sync, I wonder if it was their way of animating characters who don't have teeth. Well thank Goodness puppeteers don't do that in their lyp-sync. lol Unless there's something seriously wrong with the mouth plate of course, like being jammed or whatever. lol

    I might have mentioned this already but I like "Singing in the Steet" and "Underground" out of the songs they've done. And Get Your Animal Clean was hilarious. Baby Aninal used to be really really funny in the early episodes but seemed to be toned down in the later ones. Not so much as funny as the real Animal but funny as is. Wasn't there two voice actors for him?
  14. Drtooth

    Drtooth Well-Known Member

    Toei is Japanese, yes. I figure they did the animation, as the production company was Marvel, and they had a deal with Toei at the time. After all, they animated Transformers and G.I. Joe. Weren't they also Marvel productions. It goes back further than that. Toei had a live action Japanese Spider-Man show (where he was now a Sentai Ranger) and a terrible adaption of Tomb of Dracula, and an obscure character Marvel had named Miss America turned up as a member of another Sentai team.

    Still, you have to wonder what the show would look like if they used the other Japanese studio that did American Outsourcing, TMS. If you look at TMS's animation for Ducktales, it's among the most beautiful of the series, and it manages to have a very Carl Barks look to it. And let's not forget they did some of the best looking Tiny Toons and Animaniacs episodes. You could only imagine how fluid that animation would have been.
  15. mupcollector1

    mupcollector1 Well-Known Member

    So this animation studio did Tiny Toons and Animaniacs? Japanize not North Korea? WOW, I've noticed that some of the 90s Disney and Warner Bros TV shows and how well animated they were. Then technically most 90s Cartoons were so well animated. Though about 90% worthed with Rough Draft Studios. Though I though Carbunkle Cartoons did very well animating some of the later Season 2 Ren & Stimpy episodes like Sven Hoek which kind of looks very cinematic. In fact I'm starting to collect some of the 1980s cartoon movies Who Framed Roger Rabbit (I still need to get the DVD), Brave Little Toaster (still need to get the DVD), Quest of Ninth and The Chipmunk Adventure. There's something about 80s movie animation that's done very very well, like Disney style which I think is 24 frames unlike TV animation today which is I think 12 Frames per Second. Plus back then they did shading effects and stuff like that. Though lots of animation today is flash based probably to save budget. Though I heard that Toon Boom software was getting so advanced that American shows would no longer need to ship stuff overseas for animation anymore. I've got Toon Boom Studio myself and still trying to figure it out. lol I got to watch my training videos and study them. lol

    But yeah back to Muppet Babies, wasn't there a DVD release like Season 1 somewhere?

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