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Saturday, 24 August 2013

The Muppets

What started out as a small time puppet act in the 50s became a 6 decade phenom that will never die.....even though many founders have.   There is not one person even in my generation, that doesn't know the muppets.  Whether you grew up watching Sesame Street in the 60s, watched the Muppet Show in the 70s, The short lived Muppets Tonight in the 90s, or if  you're a movie buff like me, many many movies involving either the titular characters such as the Muppet Movie to Muppets From space, or just loved Hensons ground breaking works in say Dark Crystal, Labrynth and even Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.  Jim Henson was old, when the world of adult themed kid shows were young and he didn't hesitate to bring to life anything he saw fit, from talking frogs to karate chopping pigs.  Sadly after his personal supervision of the first Ninja Turtles movie, Henson died of Pneumonia, but that didn't stop the muppets for Disney bought the rights and to this day they never changed despite our fears it would.  Even the 2012 Muppet reunion movie deserves credit for helping us to never forget our lovable friends on the small screen.  Excuse me I have something in my eye.

Ok for those who have no idea what I am talking about let me explain?  Muppets is a word created by Jim Henson that combines the word "Marionette" And "Puppet" together.  The people that control the titular characters are Muppeteers.  While there are many great works involving the muppets, including the world famous creature workshop, my main focus is the original group.  For the main cast there is:

1. Kermit the Frog:  the leader of the group.  Once living in the Florida swamp, he was discovered by an agent while he was singing Rainbow Connection.  Along the way to Los Angeles he discovers other Muppets along the way.  His act is mostly being the only sane Muppet of the group, as well as being the host of the titular Muppet Show, presenting guest stars and other acts.

2. Miss Piggy:  The Stardom Hungry Diva that is known for her selfish tendencies and violent temper.  She is Kermit's love interest but when a famous Male guest star ends up guest starring, she'd be the first to go fangirl over it.  Much to the Star's annoyance and Kermit's jealousy.  However if a female guest star shows the slightest interest in Kermit, she'd be the first to be there to Karate Chop them into submission.  Despite her small size no one could with stand her in a one but Christopher Reeve anyway.

3. Fozzie Bear:  A once washed up stand up comedian, Fozzie managed to find work at the Muppet Show, being the subject of ridicule of critics and audience alike. But no matter what he always has a positive attitude and ends his jokes in  "Wocka Wocka Wocka"

4. Gonzo:  I am not exactly sure what the hell Gonzo is, In space says he's an alien.  But what he does is most important.  He is the daredevil of the group known for doing the most bizarre stunts with the most minimal of injury.  One of his more defining traits is a fetish for chickens.  He currently has the honor of being named into a style of Journalism coined by famous Author/Local crazy guy Hunter S. Thompson.

5. Dr. Teeth and The Electric Mayhem: The main music group of the muppets. Whose hit single "Can you picture that?" is known even to this day.  Their trademark is that each member is based off one or two musical references.  Such as Floyd being a mix of the Beatles and Pink Floyd.  The most well known members are Animal, a drummer with a wild man personality and a lust for the ladies.  (Though don't tell Kathy Griffin where he is, he is trying to avoid her.)  And Scooter the once manager of the band, now promoted to stage manager in the theater.  Scooter had a twin sister at one point, but she was missing.

6. Doctor Bunsen Honeydew and Beaker: A benevolent mad scientist and his assistant who test out a variety of inventions which borderline on terrorist level danger.  A running gag is that no matter how much he hates it, Beaker is the one getting hurt and sometimes killed by an invention gone wrong.

7. Swedish Chef:  Now before anyone in Sweden can get offended. Yes it's obvious he doesn't speak a word of Swedish. This particular chef has been known to be the only chef in history to host a cooking show where food fights back.  He even once tried to cook Big Bird, but the loveable bird guilt tripped him out of it.  (Huh is it just me or does Big Bird seem hard to kill, I mean Nixon tried, Chef Tried and now Rommney tried.)  He is also unique for being one of the few muppets to have actual hands. as he is being controlled by two Muppeteers.

8.  Rowlf The Dog: A former Purina spokesperson who has a love of classical music and deadpan humor.  He's known as another one of the few sane muppets on the show and has a frequent sketch called Veterinarian's Hospital, where he plays a doctor that doesn't treat his patients too well.  He got a taste of his own medicine by none other than Christopher Reeve.

9. Sweetums: An Ogre.  Despite his imposing figure he is really a gentle giant that wants to make it in hollywood.  His running gags include, breaking through walls and trying to eat the other muppets.

10. Statler and Waldorf: Two grumpy old men whom despite their dislike of the show has appeared in almost every episode.  Their gag is that they critique each episode and at their very worse are among Fozzie's many heckler's.

There are a lot more but there you have it the main cast.  Now for the fun part. Could It Exist In Real Life?

This was a tough one but yes, the Muppets exist in real life.   There is subtle proof throughout the years, from their stints outside their own show like Saturday Night Live, to their appearances in many award shows including the oscars, the many news interviews.  But if you want something more concrete, take a look at Hollywood's Walk of Fame.  In 1994 Big Bird was inducted.  In 2002, Kermit was inducted and thanks to the recent movie, The Muppets as a group for their decades of entertaining us have their own star in 2012.  They are among many fictional characters such as Mickey Mouse, Godizlla, Bugs Bunny and The Simpsons.  Making a fictional character real isn't all just about finding the real life equivalents.  It is also about recognizing the impact they have had on our lives.  The character may not be real, but their impressions on us are.  And that is all the proof I need.

As usual, debate, argue and let me know what I missed.  Stay Tuned For More, and remember: It's not easy being Green.

Update: Oh and Animal is a reincarnation of Who Drummer Keith Moon.

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