Muppet History part 2

Muppets from the 80's to now
February 23, 2012
Retrodave here, first thing I apologize for taking so long to finish this article I do have other things in my life besides writing for retrojunk. Another problem is I would write a couple paragraphs, save and there would be an error and I would have to rewrite what I just wrote. This happened several times and was very annoying. Also I'm glad that my article "A History of the Muppets part 1" was well received thank you. So because of the delay I thought it would be entertaining to start this article with a fun Muppet clip, here's "Mahna Mahna"

This article may not be as interesting as part 1 because this is mostly release dates of movies and television shows and not show much behind the scenes sorry. With that being said let's begin.

1980 The first "Sesame Street Live" show goes on tour.

I saw this once when I was five I was little, I fell asleep I don't remember much. As far as I know there has been an annual nationwide tour of the show and theme of the show changes each year.

1981 "The Great Muppet Caper" Premiers

Since I was born in 1985 I did not get to see this in theaters, all I got was a version of the movie taped off a VCR from television. Unfortunately whoever taped it cut off the beginning where there in the hot air balloon. The tape I had of "The Great Muppet Caper," starts off in the middle of the "Hey a Movie" Song. So I was unable to see the beginning of the movie until I was able to get the movie on DVD. This is a good follow up to the previous film "The Muppet Movie." This is also my second favorite Muppet movie "The Muppet Movie" being the first. There was comedy, and mystery, and they solved the crime really easily. That's right the Muppets stop a jewel heist in a very comedic way. However the part I find the funniest is the taxi scene. It is one funny bit after another. Here take a look.

1982 The Dark Crystal Premiers

The Dark Crystal was a fantasy picture in which all the characters are puppets. Not one human person is in the movie. I never saw it but there is supposed to be this Dark Crystal that some one is supposed to find in a magical fantasy world. The people who seen this movie left positive comments about the movie on this site. There is also going to be a sequel called "The Power of the Dark Crystal" to be released sometime in 2013. However I don't know much about it.

1983 Fraggle Rock Premires on HBO and the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation

I could have sworn that the this show was on PBS, although that might have been reruns of the show, but I digress. In the show there is a workshop occupied by a elderly man and his dog Sprocket. In that workshop there is a hole in the wall where the Fraggles live. Fraggles like to sing and dance and play; down at Fraggle Rock. Along with the Fraggles live the Doozers that like to build things. On the other side of the Fraggles cave is a another world where a family of Gorgs live. The Gorgs are giant beings and there only seems to be three of them. Also there is Marjorie the all-knowing trash heap the gives advice to the Fraggles. I recently watched some clips and a few episodes on youtube. Based on what I saw its not a bad show. Even though I'm grown up now. Shorty after watching the episodes I got the theme song stuck in my head. I bet you like to hear the theme song. That would be cool, but I thought showing the very first episode would be better.

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There was also an animated "Fraggle Rock" that lasted from 1987 - 1988. Why do an animated version of "Fraggle Rock?" Well since the original "Fraggle Rock" was on HBO they decided to make an animated Fraggle Rock and broadcast it on NBC so everyone can see the Fraggle's. Well needless to say "Fraggle Rock: The Animated Series" didn't pan out too well, and why should it have. The animated series was basically the same as the oringinal only animated, so I guess audiences expected something new with the animated series, but as far as I know there was nothing new that they added to the animated series.

1984 "The Muppets Take Manhattan" premieres

Let me tell you a story: remember how I said I had "The Great Muppet Capper" taped off a VCR and the begining was cut off. Well I had the same situation with this movie; only there is a lot more of the beginning cut off. So when growing up when I wanted to watch the "The Muppets Take Manhattan" I never got to see the beginning because at least the first thirty minutes of the movie was cut off. Again I never saw the beginning of the movie until it came out on DVD. The tape I had started with Kermit and the waitress Jenny jogging in the park.

Believe it or not the movie is still good even without the first thirty minutes. Also you can still follow the story. Kermit is trying to sell a show on Broadway. He sells the show, then he gets hit by a car. The accident gives him amnesia causing him to forget everything even his own identity. The stuff I like about the movie is the songs, the story, and I particularly like Kermit as "Phil" with his memory gone. This movie also has one of the saddest songs in any Muppet movie; "Saying Goodbye." If I had seen it when I was little I probably would've cried. There is so many great clips from this movie but the one I chose was the inspiration for the cartoon "Muppet Babies."

1984 "Muppet Babies" animated TV show premiers on CBS"

Speaking of "Muppet Babies." This show was basically the Muppets that were animated and babies. They had vivid imaginations and had pretend adventures. There was also this nanny character that you could only see her legs. They also added a female version of Scooter named Skeeter. Why did they do that? Well my guess the producers wanted another female character besides Piggy. I remember watching this show when I was little and it lasted for eight seasons. There isn't really anything else to say about this show, so here's the theme song.

1985 "Sesame Street Presents: Follow that Bird" premiers

I remember seeing this for the first time when I was 10. I know at 10 years old you're too old for "Sesame Street." However, I was switching thru channels one day and it happened to come on television. Until then I was unaware "Sesame Street" made a movie. I mean no one I knew mentioned it before. So I was curious and I watched it. I remember thinking it was okay, but like I said I was 10. "Sesame Street" at ten years old isn't cool anymore. The only other time I seen it was when my younger brother checked it out from Blockbuster. So I haven't seen it recently, therefore I could not give you my adult opinion of the movie. On the other hand I am not saying it's bad.

Here is the story. A social worker puts him into a new home because he has no parents and he lives alone on Sesame Street. However he does not like his new home with the Dodo's. So he runs away. The people of Sesame Street get word of this and try to find him and bring him back to his true home on Sesame Street. Kids today may not like it because; there is no Elmo, Zoe, Abby Cadabby, or other new characters. However the fans that grew up with Sesame Street form the '70s and '80s might enjoy it for its nostalgia. One more thing. Remember when I said "Saying Goodbye" was the saddest Muppet song? Well "I'm So Blue" Is without a doubt the saddest "Sesame Street" song. Also I'm sorry I don't have a decent clip of the son scene. I couldn't find one on You tube.

1986 "The Muppets: A Celebration of 30 Years" television special airs.

Well the Muppets turn 30, and to celebrate they had this one hour special to honor them. Fozzie Bear hosted the show. They show clips of thier movies, and TV shows. Everyone is there; Muppets from "The Muppet Show," "Sesame Street," and even some "Fraggle Rock" characters. Then at the end of the show the entire cast sings "Rainbow Connection." Jim Henson also makes an appearance. I've never actually seen it. I just got the info from

1986 The movie "Labyrinth" premiers

This is a fantasy movie like "The Dark Crystal" but with real human actors this time. Also the human cast is really short. Besides the dancers at the masquerade ball there are only five human characters. These characters are Sarah, her baby brother Toby, her parents, and Jareth the Goblin King. Here is the story Sarah while babysitting her baby brother can't stop his crying. So she wishes goblins would take him away right now. She didn't expect anything to happen but goblins actually do take him away. Then Jareth the Goblin King shows up. He tells Sarah that she has 13 hours to solve his Labyrinth and find the castle of the goblin city to save Toby. In the Labyrinth nothing is what it seems and there are all sorts of strange creatures including Sarah's goblin companion that likes treasure made of plastic; his name Hogwart I mean Hoggle.

Well this movie is a fine example of how you can do great effects like the "crazy stairs" sequence and the "helping hands" without the use of CGI. Also that acting from singer David Bowie and a young Jennifer Connelly is good. I also love the puppetry and great mix of characters. At times it may seem like some characters belong in a Monty Python movie. The reason for that is that former Monty Python member Terry Jones wrote the screenplay for this movie. Other things I like about this movie is the scenery and the music. However there are some people that may find that this movie may not like because it is too weird or silly at times. I thought I might show the "Dance Magic Dance" song from the movie, but then I thought no; you'd be expecting that so I picked a clip from youtube that showcases some of the strangeness, Monty Python-like humor, with the guards and the excellent puppet work of the "helping hands."

1989 Sesame Street's 20th anniversary special "Sesame Street: 20 and still counting airs on NBC

This special was hosted by Bill Cosby. Some highlights include: Ray Charles singing with the characters "It's not Easy Bein' Green; Jim Henson and series creator Joan Ganz Cooney talking about the show; and a series of clips of international versions of the show. This special ends with a memoriam to Joe Raposo a composer/ song writer for the show whom also wrote music for the special, but died two months before it aired.

May 16, 1990 Jim Henson passes away

Here is what I read about his death, It started with flu like symptoms. He felt tired and complained about a sore throat and thought it would pass. On May 12, 1990 he was visiting relatives in Ahoskie, North Carolina. Felling ill the next day he visited a physician whom had found no evidence of of pneumonia and his only treatment was for Jim to take aspirin. On May 14 Jim returned to New York and canceled Muppet recording sessions for that day.

Jim Henson's wife Jane whom was separated from him at the time visited with Jim. 2 AM on May 15 Jim had trouble breathing and was coughing up blood. Jim did not want to go to the hospital, because Jim really didn't like to bother people. Two hours later he finally decided to be admitted into a hospital. Jim was still having trouble breathing when he was admitted at New York Hospital at 4:58 AM. His condition had deteriorated rappidly from that point. 20 hours and 23 minutes after being admitted into the hospital James Maury Henson died at the age of 53.

Jim Henson's cause of death was first reported as Streptococcus pneumonia. His actual cause of death was organ failure due to Streptococcus pyogenes, a severe Group A streptococcal infection. Seeing how his death came so sudden it must have been a shock for the family. Jim had lived a wonder life despite his sudden death and gave so much to the people in the form of entertainment from his beloved characters that continue to entertain many generations today.

November 21, 1990 "The Muppets Celebrate Jim Henson" airs on CBS

A special dedicated to Jim Henson and his life's work with the Muppets. Fozzie Bear is asked by Kermit to give Jim a loving tribute, However Fozzie and the other Muppets don't know their own puppeteer and creator Jim Henson. Videos are presented to the Muppets that show who Jim was. So the Muppets learn about Jim and who he was. All this time Fozzie and the Muppets do not know that Jim Henson is deceased until he finds a stack of letters addressed to Kermit in which they share their grief for Jim Henson's death. Afterwards Fozzie doesn't think they can do a propper tribute to someone who is dead. However Robin believe they can and begins to sing "Just One Person" while other join in followed by a chorus. Here is the heart warming clip of finale of the special.

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1992 "The Muppet Christmas Carol" is released in theaters.

The first Muppet movie to be made after Jim Henson had passed away. This movie directed by Jim's son Brian. This movie is a retelling of one the most-loved Christmas stories there is Charles Dickens' "A Christmas Carol." I love this version of "A Christmas Carol." I think it is wonderful that the Muppets are faithful to the story while still being the silly Muppets that they are. I also like the performance of Scrooge played by Michael Caine. You can say what you will but Steve Whitmire. I say he sounds almost like Jim's Kermit. Also my favorite Muppet movie made after Jim's death; although the new Muppet movie "The Muppets" was pretty close. Anyway here's "Scrooge" from the movie.

1996 "Muppet Treasure Island" premieres

This is basically the story of "Treasure Island" with Muppets. I never read the actual book so I don't know how it compares. The last time I saw this I think I was 15 and I just thought it was okay. I like the new Muppets made just for this movie such as Old Tom, Really Old Tom, Dead Tom, and Clueless Morgan. The Tim Curry Muppet is great too. One thing to say this is my least favorite of the theatrical Muppet Movies. That doesn't make it bad though. Not much else to say about this movie; here is the new Muppets added to this movie that I was talking about.

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1999 "Muppets from Space" premiers

This movie is considered to be a failure for the Muppets. However I don't think it was that bad. Of course this was the last theatrical film before "The Muppets." I saw "Muppets from Space" not too long ago. Here are my complaints: Gonzo is now an alien; we can no longer use the "whatever" joke. Also the songs are just disco songs from the '70s. To me that is disappointing. The Muppets do really good musical numbers with original songs. So why not do original songs? Why use disco music? Also some of jokes are stupid, but it's the Muppets so some jokes are aloud to be stupid. Oh well, I don't know what clip to show here's a trailer.

1999 "The Adventures of Elmo in Grouchland" premieres

Elmo loses his blanky in Oscar's trashcan. Elmo climbs in to get it and finds a Grouchland at the bottom of the can and gets lost there. So Everyone on Sesame Street goes to find him. I never saw it, nor do I really care to. It's not that I have anything against Elmo. It's just does Elmo need to be the center of attention all the time. Seriously, I believe this started Elmo's World. So if you have a problem with Elmo's World you can blame this movie. Based off the trailer alone this seems more child-like than the previous "Sesame Street" movie "Follow that Bird." Okay then another trailer.

Well it seems the Muppets have been active in one way or another in the past 50 years+ even without their creator Jim Henson. Of course there was numerous TV special, direct to video movies, and cable network shows I did not mention for these reasons: 1. There are too many to name them all. 2. The rest of them I'm not too familiar with. The Muppets would continue to be seen on cable, in commercials and direct to video or TV movies, but it wasn't until just last year when "The Muppets" was released that they started to make a comeback. "The Muppets" was awesome so if you haven't seen it look for on DVD or Bluray. I hope to see more Muppet movies soon. Until then you watch their You tube MuppetStudio's channel. Now to end things off here is the Muppet Studio's Bohemian Rhapsody.
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