A website for Muppet fans who grew up. Our mission is to provide a website and forum for biting satire, poignant observations, and general wittiness related to the Muppets, Sesame Street, Fraggle Rock, and all things connected to Jim Henson’s life and legacy.
It’s summer! Unless you’re in New Zealand, which case it’s winter. But we’re a US-based website, so: It’s summer! (If you live in New Zealand, please print this article and place it in a safe-deposit box. When summer arrives, go to the bank, open the box and read it.)
And here’s the thing: When it’s summer, it’s hot, because the sun is out, and the sun is hot. When the sun is out and it’s hot, the sun gives people sunburns, because the sun is a cruel, sadistic bully. I burn very easily, so from June through September, I generally stay inside with all the window shades drawn, going outside only when I need to buy more Rice Krispies.
Today while I was cowering in fear from the mean old sun, a thought occurred to me that had never occurred to me or anyone else before: Do the Muppets need sunscreen? I love the Muppets, so I’m very concerned with their dermatological health. I knew it was my responsibility to come up with the answers. That’s why I sat down and wrote these notes about Muppet Sunscreen Needs. Please read them.
Kermit the Frog: Kermit spends a lot of time in the swamp. I’m pretty sure it’s shady in the swamp, because there a lot of trees. But Kermit often leaves the swamp and heads outside to other places that aren’t the swamp. Kermit the Frog should probably wear sunscreen.
Miss Piggy: I once read in a Highlights magazine that pigs can get sunburned. Miss Piggy is a pig. Miss Piggy needs to wear sunscreen.
Big Bird: Big Bird is a bird, and he’s covered with feathers. I don’t think he needs sunscreen, but it couldn’t hurt. It might be traumatizing for the kids to see Big Bird with bright red feathers. And even more traumatizing for adults! Big Bird should wear sunscreen.
SAM the Robot from Sesame Street: SAM is a robot. Robots don’t have skin, so they can’t get sunburned. SAM does not need sunscreen. He would no doubt consider this as one more reason machines are superior to humans. That arrogant jerk!
Elmo: Elmo is already red. If he got a sunburn, nobody would notice. Elmo doesn’t need to wear sunscreen. That arrogant jerk!
Abby Cadabby: Abby is a fairy. She can do magical spells. She could probably do a spell to create a mystical shield around her, impenetrable to harmful UV rays. Abby doesn’t need to wear sunscreen, but if she doesn’t get the spell right she’s apt to turn herself into a beach ball.
Beaker: Unfortunate things always happen to Beaker, so I would strongly recommend that he wears sunscreen. But he should NOT wear any sunscreen created by Bunsen Honeydew, which would be apt to make Beaker’s skin fall off or something. Also, Beaker might want to apply sunscreen to his eyeballs, which are large and bulgy.
Jen and Kira from The Dark Crystal: Not technically Muppets, but rather Henson creatures, these Gelflings live in Thra. Or is that “on Thra?” Is Thra a planet, like Tatooine or Arrakis? Or is it more of an abstract world, like Middle Earth or Westeros? I’ve never been sure about that. Anyway, Thra has not one, not two, but THREE suns. And Jen and Kira are both fair-skinned. So they should wear, like, a 2,000 SPF.
Meanwhile, the Skeksis already look like their faces are made of leather, so it’s way too late for them.
The Fraggles: The Fraggles spend most of their lives in dark caverns, with lighting provided only by some magical fairy things. Their skin must be quite sensitive to the sun. I can only assume that somewhere out there is a long-lost Uncle Traveling Matt postcard where he’s confused by his face turning the color of a radish, and buys some “radish skin prevention cream” from a drugstore. The Fraggles oughtta wear sunscreen.
Oh, but here’s a thought: The Fraggles do venture into the Gorgs’ garden occasionally, and the garden appears to be pretty sunny. Is their sun the same as ours? Or is it a completely different sun with similar physical properties? OR is it a different sun with different properties? Like how Krypton’s sun and Earth’s sun are different, which is what gives Superman his powers? Wait a minute… Could Uncle Traveling Matt fly if he wanted to, and he just doesn’t know about it?!
Gary Cahuenga from Muppets Tonight: Gary is a ventriloquist’s dummy, and he’s made of wood. In researching this article, I put a block of wood outside in the sun for four hours, and it didn’t get sunburned. Gary Cahuenga does not need sunscreen.
Corny the Corn from Sesame Street: Corny is an ear of corn occasionally seen on the show. I’m worried that if Corny stays out in the hot sun too long, his kernels will turn into popcorn and pop off of him, which would undoubtedly be a terrifying ordeal for him. Corn should wear sunscreen.
Bear from Bear in the Big Blue House: Sometimes Bear chats with Ray, who is literally the sun. On those occasions, when Bear is close enough to that burning, fiery ball of plasma to have a conversation with it, he should definitely wear sunscreen! I bet it gets pretty messy trying to put sunscreen on fur, though.
Dead Tom from Muppet Treasure Island: Dead Tom is dead. He doesn’t need sunscreen.
And that’s all the Muppets! And that’s whether or not they need sunscreen! And now, if you’ll EXCUSE ME, I’m going to send this list to Muppets Studios, Sesame Workshop, The Jim Henson Company, and Coppertone.
Click here to go to the beach on the Tough Pigs forum!
Marvel has been making a ton of big announcements this weekend at Comic-Con International, including news about their upcoming films and comic books. But there’s one announcement that blows them all away: The Sesame Street cast participated in an interview with their social media team.
Okay, it’s no “Thor 4”, but it’s exciting to us.
Watch as Sonia Manzano, Grover (as Spider-Monster), The Count, Elmo, and Oscar talk about being at the Con, cosplay, super powers, and Marvel superheroes below!
Sesame Street at Marvel LIVE from SDCC 2019! - YouTube
And be sure to catch more Muppety Comic-Con news here on ToughPigs!
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There’s no question that The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance will have some incredible visuals and artistry. That’s why we’re really excited about the announcement that the upcoming Netflix series will include a companion making-of documentary.
The behind-the-scenes feature was announced this weekend at the Netflix Comic-Con International panel. We presume that means the documentary will also be featured on Netflix around the time of the series’ premiere on August 30.
A tease for what we might see in the documentary, including a lot of new footage from the show, was also revealed:
The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance | Comic-Con 2019 Sneak Peek | Netflix - YouTube
Stay tuned for more news about The Dark Crystal and updates from Comic-Con here on ToughPigs!
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We get it – not everyone can be present at San Diego Comic Con to see all the huge announcements and events from all corners of pop culture life. We here at ToughPigs do our best to recap the Muppet-related stuff, but it’s not the same. Lucky for us, most of the big stuff makes its way to the internet anyway, which is the next best thing!
Earlier today, Netflix hosted a panel discussion about The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance! And you can watch the entire panel right now!
Check out the video below, and then take a peek at a sneak preview of the series below that. Enjoy!
'The Dark Crystal: The Age of Resistance' Comic-Con Hall H - Full Panel - YouTube
The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance | Comic-Con 2019 Sneak Peek | Netflix - YouTube
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Well, here it is. We’ve reached the end of the road. Sesame Street’s 29th and final season.
Sesame Street *didn’t* end in 1998, you say?
Of course it did!
This is the final season of Sesame Street, the original series that had been on the air since 1969. For its entire run, that show was a loosely-formatted hour of songs, sketches, and animation tied together by street stories. These street stories were spread throughout the hour, and showed a generally realistic neighborhood, albeit one with Muppets and an unusually high enthusiasm for the alphabet.
It went through many changes, but for almost three decades, Sesame Street made 130 episodes a year (except for the year that they made 145), and they were all structured exactly like that. 3,785 episodes in total, and the show’s format was a constant. That ends here, in the show’s exciting final season.
It was replaced in the fall by a new show, also called Sesame Street. We’ll talk more about that show in the weeks ahead, but it’s a chameleon. We’re going to see longer segments, more rigidly-formatted episodes, fewer episodes per year, and eventually episodes that are only a half-hour long.
The show has spent the past two decades trying to figure out what it means to be Sesame Street in the 21st century, because it can’t be the same thing it was That all starts in season 30, when we’ll only get sixty-five episodes and they’re all going to have Elmo’s World in them.
So this is Sesame Street’s last rodeo in its original form. What did it do to say goodbye?
The show’s creative team decided to go out with a literal blast. In a story spanning the entire year, Oscar’s pet worm Slimey went to the moon. The story was the focus of twelve full episodes, and is mentioned in dozens of others. We saw Slimey sign up for WASA. We thrilled as he and his fellow Wormonauts fly all the way to the moon on the USS Wiggleprise. And we signed with relief when they made it home safely in the series finale.
It’s the biggest, most ambitious storyline the show ever attempted, and it makes me so happy that they went out on such a high note rather than simply fading away. What a perfect ending for a landmark series. Will the new series be able to live up to the same level of quality? Come back next week to find out!
Notable Character Debut: Elizabeth, a little girl who was very prominent for a few seasons but should have stuck around much longer. Her cat Little Murray Sparkles is still in the future, so that’s something to look forward to.
Notable Departure: This is the final season for Mr. Handford. Thanks for taking care of Hooper’s Store for nine years, sir! It’s also the final year for Celina.
Curriculum Focus/Other Notable Episodes: In addition to the space saga, the season featured theme weeks focused on Music, Health and Safety, Literacy and Laughter.
Classic Song Debut: The feminist anthem “Girl of the World” sung by Prairie Dawn, Betty Lou, Zoe, and Rosita.
MVM (Most Valuable Muppet): Slimey, of course. He goes to space!
MVH (Most Valuable Human): Lynne Thigpen plays Slimey’s WASA Training Officer. What a joy to see her on Sesame Street, and in such an important role.
The ceremony will be held on December 8th, with the televised version airing on CBS on December 15th. Sesame Workshop co-founders Joan Ganz Cooney and Lloyd Morrisette will be present to accept the award.
Congratulations to everyone at Sesame Street for this incredible honor! And stay tuned to ToughPigs for more news as we share video from the event in December.
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When I think back to July 14, 1999, I can’t help but think of Annie Hunt.
Annie was one of my closest friends around this time. I have a lot of memories of us playing dress up, writing absurd skits, having extravagant weddings for our stuffed animals, staying up late watching Boy Meets World, y’know, all the classic 90’s kids stuff before social media took over our lives.
I think of Annie for this particular date because, as you’ve no doubt gleaned from this article’s title, it is the release date of Muppets From Space and Annie won a contest wherein she got to actually interview the Muppets – and I was so stupid jealous. (Not gonna lie, still am.)
I don’t remember how she won, but Annie appeared on our local news station and interviewed Kermit and Gonzo. (I feel like there was another Muppet present – Piggy? Pepe?) This news segment probably spanned a total of 3 minutes and, despite my best efforts in searching, exists nowhere on the internet (again, this was before social media took over). But those 3 minutes might as well have been 3 hours to little me. I remember being so jealous that Annie got to meet everyone’s favorite frog and weirdo, and this was even before I was Muppet crazy.
Oddly enough, until I was 20 and obsessed with everything Jim Henson ever touched, my association with Muppets from Space was purely this. My soul-crushing jealousy of Annie Hunt and nothing else. Oh sure, I saw the movie in theaters as a kid and liked it, but it doesn’t cling to my memories (unlike Great Muppet Caper, Christmas Carol, and Treasure Island, all of which I loved watching on repeat as a child).
Once I was in college, I became hooked on the Muppets. At the time of me falling down the Henson rabbit hole, Muppets from Space was the only Muppet film streaming on Netflix. So, as a broke college student, this naturally meant I watched Muppets From Space all the time. Which is to say, I now have a deep affinity for this movie, even though I am able to acknowledge how time has not exactly been kind to it.
That said, I had not seen this movie in at least five years, so I sat down to watch it a few days back in preparation for writing this piece.
First off, it’s clear how much Disney could care less about owning this production, as the menu screen is, pure and simple, dull as all get out. It’s just an image of the characters with a few menu options to chose from and nothing else. No weird moving stock images of the Muppets. No characters chatting for long bouts of time on a loop. There was zero effort put into this DVD. (The special features are just as bleak. There’s a music video I didn’t watch, artist case files, and seven pretty boring bloopers which you have to click on individually to watch instead of just watching them in a string – seriously, who the hell designed this DVD??)
So. Right. The movie.
Again, this year marks the 20th anniversary of Muppets from Space. As I already alluded to, this movie has not exactly aged well. While I have a deep affection for this film, even I can recognize that it falls at the bottom of the list when it comes to all eight full length feature Muppet films (though I will fight anyone about how this one is way better than the two made for TV movies, It’s A Very Merry Muppet Christmas Movie and Muppets Wizard of Oz).
I’m going to start with the bad, so first and foremost: “I will smack you like a bad bad donkey, h’okay?” Just wanted to get that one out of the way so we could all go back to forgetting it was ever uttered by a Muppet.
Ultimately, there’s something about the humor in this film, compared to the rest of the Muppet movies, that feels way off for me. This film gives me a lot of Muppets Tonight vibes – which is, unfortunately, not a compliment coming from my mouth. I’m surprised that there are no writer credit crossovers on those two productions (and also, Jerry Juhl was a writer for Space which I did not think was a thing). Moments like Fozzie picking his nose, Kathy Griffin wildly making out with Animal, and Josh Charles giving Piggy a noogie and then Piggy punching him in the balls just don’t end up paying off in this film. The cameos are also crazy over the top, which has totally worked in other films but for some reason don’t work in this one. Like, at all. (Plus Hulk Hogan is in this movie, and hey, that dude is a pretty awful human!)
Other things that have not aged well? Animal chasing and grabbing at Kathy Griffin (I know chasing women is a central part of Animal’s identity, but still) comes to mind, but also just, like, the Cosmic Fish. Besides being insanely weird facets to this film, their accents are stereotypical and offensive – and super unnecessary? Honestly, the talking sandwich is way more endearing.
But the number one thing that did not age well with this movie? The CGI.
Outside of all their practical effects with puppetry, the CGI in this film is not great. I know this was made back in 1999, but that’s the year Matrix, Toy Story 2, and The Mummy all came out, so don’t tell me there wasn’t the possibility of better special effects. The intro with the big blocky text imposed on the tacky zooming star background (and then an explosion??) looks awful. Any green screen in this movie looks shoddy – which is weird since the green screen in Christmas Carol is way better and that movie came out seven years prior. The cereal moving is bad. Gonzo getting struck by lightening is bad. The door in a jar is bad. I know this movie probably didn’t have the biggest budget, but a part of me wishes they had forgone a lot of the digital special effects and worked more within their practical wheelhouse.
Finally, in my notes I at one point wrote: about halfway through the movie and I’m bored.
So all of that said, it seems like I really don’t like Muppets From Space, right? Wrong.
First off, while I did write that I was bored in the middle of the film, let me be clear that I love the beginning and end of the movie. The middle suffers from the news station / lab plots, which don’t do much for me. But the beach party at the end always grabs my attention back, and best of all: the beginning.
There is something about the Muppets sharing one big house together that I absolutely adore. You get to see everyone in their PJs interacting. Kermit wearing a bathrobe! Gonzo’s chicken pajamas! Dr. Teeth in a nightgown! Piggy getting ready for her day! Statler and Waldorf enjoying their morning coffee! Swedish Chef making breakfast for everyone! Sam leading living room aerobics! Pepe bathing in the sink! Fozzie wearing a rain slicker for some weird reason in the shower!
Normally the movies are either the Muppets coming together, going somewhere, or telling a story. In this one we get to see them hanging out together (albeit, not as much as I’d like). It’s a dynamic we don’t get a lot from the Muppets – them just living.
I particularly think Kermit is used great in this movie – he’s very much in his element. Not only do we see him keeping an eye on Gonzo throughout, we also get a clear picture that he’s the one holding everything together. He’s painting the house, taking care of bills, he does it all. We also get a lot of tender, good-hearted Kermit. I know we Muppet fans are often fighting for non-Muppet fans to take angry / mean Kermit seriously, but come on, I love good-natured Kermit! That guy’s great!
I do like Jeffrey Tambor’s character in this movie (as I think it’s important to hold yourself accountable when praising problematic people, Jeffrey Tambor has been accused of sexual harassment and tormenting female co-stars). While Ed Singer does fall low on the list of best Muppet villains, I’d willingly put him above Tex Richman. Though I think his character is heightened due to his relationship with Bobo the Bear (“The Remote!” “The Goat?”), he’s got some solidly funny moments on his own. Plus I love the little cape he wears at the end.
Speaking of the remote/goat exchange, there are several moments that are genuinely funny throughout. The “Doctor?” “Doctor.” exchange is one of my favorite gags in the entire film, as is Bunsen & Beaker being left at the gas station (only to arrive at the beach in a van full of familiar-and-oh-no-now-I’m-suddenly-sad hippies) and Ray Liotta being super chipper with all the Muppets after being brainwashed. The one part of this movie that legit made me laugh out loud is, of course, the scene where Gonzo’s eyes are sweeping the mantle, looking at all the pictures of the Muppet families together, only then to land on a picture of him, like, a mile away from the camera alone on a beach. Just the idea that someone framed that picture in particular and added it to the collection makes me giggle.
I will also note here that I watched this movie with my boyfriend, Stephen (who’s been featured in a couple of my ToughPigs Christmas pieces now). His biggest contributions were that he thought the “How do you smell?” “Awful – trust me, I’m his roommate.” exchange was funny, and that Bubba is the best character in the entire movie. His words, but I can kind of get on board.
And then, yes, we come to Gonzo. My favorite Muppet. Of course he has something to do with why this movie is cherished by me, despite the many flaws. Any Muppet production that puts Gonzo front and center has my attention.
First off, it goes without saying, Gonzo’s power clash outfit in this movie is fabulous – chicken on tie, weird vest, and salmon colored shirt. Perfection as always.
I still don’t know, ultimately, my feelings on the story-line of Gonzo being an alien. I know in true Muppet cannon he’s not (all movies are non-cannon, and in interviews since the Muppets have stated this was a film and that Gonzo’s still a whatever). I do know that I think the ending of the film is fun. I like seeing all of Gonzo’s relatives, how they all have the hooked nose but different hair styles and looks.
After watching this movie, I had to ask myself: does the concept of Gonzo not wanting to be alone match up with his character? Like, being the only one? Normally he relishes in being the weird whatever of the group, but I guess sometimes even the weird extrovert doesn’t want to be alone. I always like seeing the more vulnerable sides of Gonzo; those moments are nice foils to his normal zaniness. In the end, I think we can all relate to this idea of loving your weirdness but simultaneously wanting to find others like you.
As to the message for this movie – well, wait, there are two other messages that I want to throw out before we go to the big (obvious) theme of the film.
First off, at one point Gonzo says to the gang, “Kermit, guys, I realize that it may be hard for you to accept me as an alien, but I didn’t choose to be one. Well, I always had alien tendencies. This just make sense to me.” Look. I am not saying this movie is an allegory for coming out as queer / trans and your friends coming to accept your new sexuality / sexual identity. But. I mean. It’s kind of there, right?
Second, when asking Stephen how he liked the film, he responded, “This movie is about the specter of Capitalism trapping the Muppets and forcing them to betray one another.” To be clear, he said this in relation to Bobo betraying Gonzo and Piggy using Gonzo to get famous. I like my sexuality theory way better.
But yes, okay, the main message of this movie is that of found family vs. blood family. It’s a message done time and time again by plenty of mediums, but I feel like this movie gets it. Gonzo spends the entire film desperate to find his biological family, but in the end realizes that his place is on earth with his found family, the Muppets. It’s a message I feel is most important in this day and age – there are so many young people that don’t have families or, well, who have family’s that don’t want them (for clarity, see theory one). This movie makes it clear how a found family is just as valid and necessary; it’s just as much a real family. The Muppets have been Gonzo’s family for 20+ years at the time of this movie, and him choosing them at the end warms my heart.
I found ToughPigs at a time where I didn’t have many friends and my biological family was all far away. It was the community I needed, and I went from feeling so lonely to having so many wonderful people in my life who cared about me. Families can be what we make them, and I’m grateful to have my own little weirdo family, even if it mostly exists online.
Is this movie perfect? No way, but there’s a lot of good to be found in it, and I for one will always be a fan of this –
Oh wait, crap, one more thing, how the heck did Gonzo build a great looking Jacuzzi in just one day? Did he miss his calling to be a Jacuzzi builder? Where’s the follow-up on that plot point?? Can I hire Gonzo to build me one, please???
Anyway, I might not have been as lucky of a kid as Annie Hunt, but damn if I don’t feel lucky for everything the Muppets have given me – including this weird, endearing movie.
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The nominees for the 2019 Primetime Emmy Awards have been announced, and we’re excited to see a few familiar faces! Specifically the faces of a Muppet performer and a Muppet pickle.
Sesame Street’s most recent primetime special, When You Wish Upon a Pickle got two nominations: One for the special itself, and one for Eric Jacobson! Jacobson was nominated as a “voice-over performer”, which we all know is only a fraction of what the job entails. But hey, until the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences creates a puppetry category, we’ll take what we can get.
Check out the categories and the competition below!
Outstanding Character Voice-Over Performance
Kevin Michael Richardson as Rosie, F is for Family
Alex Borstein as Lois Griffin, Tricia Takanawa, Family Guy
Seth McFarlane as Peter Griffin, Family Guy
Hank Azaria as Moe, Carl, Duffman, Kirk, The Simpsons Eric Jacobson as Bert, Grover, Oscar, When You Wish Upon a Pickle: A Sesame Street Special
Outstanding Children’s Program
A Series of Unfortunate Events
Song of Parkland
Star Wars Resistance When You Wish Upon a Pickle: A Sesame Street Special
The Emmy Awards ceremony will be held on Sunday, September 22nd at 8pm ET on Fox. Stay tuned to ToughPigs to hear about the Sesame-related winners!
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We’re talking about Minutes 27 & 28 of The Great Muppet Caper, in which Beauregard takes our heroes on a wild cab ride to the lobby of the Happiness Hotel. With special guest Jordan Brandon, who has never seen this movie! Plus:
Bluegrass music in London! Who’s really driving the taxi? And Jim Henson’s idiosyncratic pronunciations!
The Disney Channel has a new show called Amphibia. They also have a very famous frog on speed dial. So why not put two and two together?
Kermit the Frog stars in a new video promoting Amphibia, a cartoon about frogs that I’d literally never heard of before today. So I guess Kermit’s job is to amend that?
Opinion Time: It’s a little sad to see the Muppets relegated to shilling other Disney properties, rather than shilling their own projects. If only the Muppets had a TV show or a world tour or a series of semi-regular YouTube videos, I’d be much more comfortable with this. But when Kermit only rears his green head to talk about a show that has nothing to do with Muppets, I get a little… let’s say, disappointed.
Also disappointing: This series has nothing to do with Kermit’s brand of cologne by the same name.
So let’s hope that there’s more around the corner for the Muppets, and that I’ll be slightly less upset the next time they’re asked to promote a Disney cartoon!
Click here to describe the plot of The Muppet Movie on the ToughPigs forum!