Muppet Thread: The Henson Legacy

A forum for creative people.

Re: Muppet Thread: The Henson Legacy

Postby Garrett Gilchrist » Thu Aug 20, 2015 4:16 pm

Small joys in life: The Muppets Most Wanted demos where Bret McKenzie [Flight of the Conchords] sings all the parts.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fAQXwq84Jkk
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zPg0A5TXGzc
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H4g4oV8lK4s
User avatar
Garrett Gilchrist
Site Admin
 
Posts: 6241
Joined: Tue Feb 12, 2013 1:23 am

Re: Muppet Thread: The Henson Legacy

Postby Garrett Gilchrist » Mon Aug 24, 2015 1:37 pm

SS asks:

Why were there not more Muppet films based on books with character actors?


To answer a not serious question with a serious answer:

The two films you're referring to -- Christmas Carol and Treasure Island -- were the first done with Disney after Jim Henson's death. They were not intended as a larger series of films, although many of the comic book series recently have followed the same concept (Muppet Snow White etc). They were followed by Muppets Tonight [96-98], a television series also for Disney, which [in terms of ratings] sort of fizzled out over the course of two seasons. The show, like The Jim Henson Hour, introduced a lot of new characters as an attempt to give newer performers new key characters of their own, but you don't see much of them in later projects. The Muppet Show-era characters continue to be the iconic ones.

The next film, Muppets From Space [1999] was done without Disney involvement and was not successful at the box office, and seems to have led to the Muppets making a series of frankly low-quality TV movies until the Disney reboot in 2011. Two of these were for NBC [Very Merry 2002, Letters From Santa 2008], and Muppet Wizard of Oz [2005] was for ABC - presumably with Disney involvement. Theoretically a much better version of Wizard of Oz would have fit alongside Treasure Island. The TV movies are best forgotten, though they provided a good showcase for some characters such as Pepe the Prawn.

In 1999, there were plans via Disney to resurrect The Cheapest Muppet Movie Ever Made! -- a concept by Henson, Juhl and Oz which would once have followed Muppets Take Manhattan in 1985. This was set aside in favor of the 2011 film, which had a very different tone in terms of writing.

The 2011 and 2014 films seem to suggest that the Muppets haven't made a film or TV series since 1984, which is a little offensive to fans who care about the characters. (And some 90s characters like Pepe and Bobo are present in the films and current TV series.) However, the "Very Merry" and "Oz" films were weak enough that some of that history might as well be erased. The films take effort to rebuild Muppet Show-era characters as background puppets, although you'll sometimes spot 90s characters like Angel Marie and Andy and Randy.

The current TV series takes a similarly lax attitude about the "continuity" or history together of the characters -- taking pains to bring back Chip, a Jim Henson Hour character based on current showrunner Bill Prady, but having the character himself not know exactly who he is. (And having both Piggy and Kermit refer to Gonzo as "Gary.") The pilot also uses Spamela [from Muppets Tonight] as "Denise", though I understand that's been reshot.

Alice in Wonderland with Brooke Shields, 1980:
http://img1.wikia.nocookie.net/__cb2013 ... elds02.jpg

Muppet Snow White - Spamela and the Electric Mayhem. (James Silvani)
http://img2.wikia.nocookie.net/__cb2010 ... hite1a.jpg

The Muppet Classics line of comics also included
Muppet Robin Hood
Muppet Peter Pan
Muppet King Arthur
Muppet Sherlock Holmes

While I don't think that the Muppets simply adapting a classic book property is the best idea in and of itself -- I think that could grow old quickly --those 90s films were done very well by a Muppet crew that still had something to prove after the death of Jim Henson.

The Muppets were at the low point of their popularity in the 2000s, and it was hard to get a full-scale movie made. The death of longtime writer Jerry Juhl in 2005, and his illness before that, meant that the movies in the 2000s lacked the familiar Muppet tone and feel. It makes sense that entirely new ways of writing the Muppets would emerge, in the 2011 and 2014 films. They don't have the Jerry Juhl feel and feel like a tribute written by fans of the 80s films, which at this point is probably inevitable. Arguably the second film works better, since it's shaken off the maudlin baggage of a Kermit who supposedly hasn't done much since 1984. (Which continues to be weird.) The second film focuses on Kermit and Piggy, which works, and Bret McKenzie's songs for both are great.

The new TV series also goes in a different direction and we'll see how that shakes out. It seemed there wasn't screen time in the films to do much with the supporting cast, which in theory the TV series could really hit out of the park.

The 90s and 2000s movies avoided doing much with some of the supporting characters because of the deaths of Henson, Richard Hunt, and recently Jerry Nelson -- it takes awhile for someone new to get comfortable in the roles, and for the team to want to do more with that character. Pepe the King Prawn could steal the show in "Very Merry" because he was fairly new and played by his original performer, Bill Baretta. Bill also plays several of Henson's former characters like Rowlf and Dr. Teeth -- and I'm looking forward to seeing more there. Frank Oz also retired gradually during the 90s and 00s, usually replaced by Eric Jacobson -- whose star character is clearly Piggy. Steve Whitmire is also too busy with Kermit to do much with Rizzo or anything with Bean Bunny ... but we'll see.
User avatar
Garrett Gilchrist
Site Admin
 
Posts: 6241
Joined: Tue Feb 12, 2013 1:23 am

Re: Muppet Thread: The Henson Legacy

Postby Garrett Gilchrist » Thu Sep 03, 2015 12:41 pm

With many thanks to certain rights holders, the Henson Rarities channel is back online. Probably temporarily, considering how copyright-strike-happy Youtube is. So watch and download while you can!

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCK8Jxj ... iQw/videos
User avatar
Garrett Gilchrist
Site Admin
 
Posts: 6241
Joined: Tue Feb 12, 2013 1:23 am



Re: Muppet Thread: The Henson Legacy

Postby JustinHoskie » Wed Sep 16, 2015 10:02 am

User avatar
JustinHoskie
 
Posts: 354
Joined: Tue Jul 02, 2013 11:07 pm

Re: Muppet Thread: The Henson Legacy

Postby Garrett Gilchrist » Tue Sep 22, 2015 4:48 am

My restoration work is referenced all over this article, from the restored photo here to links to my restorations and video posts at Henson Rarities (although - oddly - not much from The Jim Henson Hour). I spent a few years restoring The Jim Henson Hour episodes from VHS and other sources.

http://www.avclub.com/article/jim-henso ... d-f-224532
User avatar
Garrett Gilchrist
Site Admin
 
Posts: 6241
Joined: Tue Feb 12, 2013 1:23 am


Re: Muppet Thread: The Henson Legacy

Postby Garrett Gilchrist » Wed Sep 23, 2015 4:34 am

First episode of The Muppets was decent, but I hope they can come up with more famous guest stars than Juliet Prowse.

I hear good things about the Rita Moreno episode.



Joking aside --


I've seen a very split opinion about the new Muppets series. Some people are saying it's ruined The Muppets - with "adult" content and apparent cynicism. I haven't seen this negativity from the die-hard Muppet fans, who are all excited and say they love it. I've seen a lot of vitriol from people who I've never seen post about The Muppets before. It's interesting. I've seen rave reviews in print, but also reviews angry at the portrayal of the characters - all that from 22 minutes!

Of course as a Muppet fan I wish the series all the luck in the world and hope it's a huge success regardless.

I liked the first episode more than I liked the pilot. I haven't made a real decision yet. The series could be interpreted as cynical but it would take a lot more episodes for me to have an opinion on how the characters are being portrayed. My gut feeling is that it's impossible to write these characters cynically for too long, and that their natural qualities will come out over time regardless of who's writing the material. The Muppet veterans working on the show are very excited about it, of course.

When the 2011 movie came out I realized we'd be seeing new writers' takes on the characters that wouldn't fit the classic Jerry Juhl style, and that can be a good and bad thing [I loved Bret McKenzie's music for a start, and generally liked the films]. But that's reality. Time moves forward and new people come on board with new ideas that might contradict your own head "canon." The writing style was different then, but I didn't see people freaking out about it, clutching their pearls and turning into Sam the Eagle. People seemed to love the 2011 film and sort of ignore the [superior, I think] sequel, but not question the writing. It shows, really, that the natural home for The Muppets is on television, that suddenly when they're back on TV people everywhere are proclaiming themselves experts on how The Muppets should be handled.

The fact is that, speaking as a Muppet brat from way back, it doesn't matter what I think of the show. It matters what the public thinks, and I hope they take to it. We've seen one episode, and it's a different writing style and has potential -- but basically you'd be asking me if these characters can sustain a series. Well, of course they can. That was proven decades ago. Will it be a hit? Well, that's up to the public. Will it show The Muppets at their best? We'll see. We're already seeing more of certain characters than we have since the 1980s. Every line that the supporting characters get is a gift to Muppet fans, undoing all the uncertainty after Jim, Richard and later Jerry Nelson passed away. People forget it wasn't all that long ago when we saw very little of Scooter, Janice, Rowlf, Dr. Teeth, and so on. Now we're seeing actual parts for Uncle Deadly, Big Mean Carl, Chip, and so on.

The opinion of the hate group "One Million Moms" can, of course, be ignored, but it's a reaction to any hint of progressive politics [Fozzie's "bear" joke, Piggy doing an interview about being pro-choice]. Jim would have laughed it off - and loved that the characters are back on the air.
User avatar
Garrett Gilchrist
Site Admin
 
Posts: 6241
Joined: Tue Feb 12, 2013 1:23 am

PreviousNext

Return to The Big Round Room

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Garrett Gilchrist and 1 guest