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.
My favorite Muppets of the Moment are The Three Ds from Muppet*Vision 3D.
Why did I choose The Three Ds as My Favorite Muppets of the Moment?
I love the Muppets and I love Disney Parks, so it’s no surprise that Muppet*Vision 3D happens to be one of my favorite Muppet things ever. It’s a harmonious marriage of Jim Henson’s style and humor and Disney Imagineering’s high level of detail and immersive theming, and it works so well. Every Muppet performer is at their peak, and the script crackles with the Muppet wit that made them so beloved. If it isn’t a perfect Muppet project, it’s darn close to it.
But as much as people love the attraction, I don’t hear as much about the preshow. Sure, you might occasionally see references to Rizzo dressed as Mickey Mouse, but there are genius moments throughout the show that don’t get celebrated as much. There’s Gonzo dancing with a flowerpot on his head. Scooter getting swept into a test pattern. Sam the Eagle’s safety spiel. All fantastic Muppet moments.
But let’s be honest, when you talk about Gonzo, Scooter, or Sam, odds are you’re not going to talk specifically about the Muppet*Vision preshow. And let’s be honest, I kind of hit my “recognizable Muppet” quota when I talked about Kermit a few weeks ago, so it made sense to highlight some unsung heroes of the preshow. And that’s where Dorothy, Dinah, and Max come in.
What makes The Three Ds so great?
I won’t make any bones about it: The Three Ds are exactly one-joke characters. And unlike Lew Zealand, you can’t really do the joke in different ways to make it interesting. But sometimes, that joke just works perfectly so that the one joke is all you need.
It’s a classic Muppet setup: The Three Ds are a singing girl group, Dorothy, Dinah, and Debbie. They’re clad in tutus, and everyone’s expecting a cutesy number. But Debbie is sick, so the union sends in Max, a mustached, balding, gruff-voiced replacement (performed by David Rudman). Now, just the imagery of a mustached, balding, gruff-voiced union replacement in a tutu would be funny enough, but they really take the premise to its furthest point, as the show must go on, and the trio begin their performance of “By the Light of the Silvery Moon,” and Max gets reeaaaally into the song. He can’t sing worth anything, but he’ll be darned if he isn’t going to be the best replacement any union ever sent. He gets really into the dance, trying to sell it as much as possible, and he gets real touchy when Scooter accidentally steps on his dress.
I think we can all learn a little from Max. Sometimes, we all get thrown into a situation we don’t fit into. Now, you could just try to keep our head down and do the bare minimum, or you can make the best of your situation, and give it your all. Even if it doesn’t work out, someone’s bound to notice your effort. Isn’t that something we should all aspire to? And Dorothy and Dinah treat him just as they would Debbie, they embrace his effort, and they all try to make it work. The song may hit a sour note, but their teamwork is sweet. The Three Ds are a trio we can all aspire to.
Memorable Three Ds Moment
Well, more like their only moment, but here it is in its entirety. Watch and witness the majesty of The Three Ds!
Muppet*Vision 2D by Martin - YouTube
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Hello again, Muppet nerds! How’s July treating you? Wait! It’s July? That must mean that we’re days away from San Diego Comic Con (SDCC to its friends)! Soon geeks like us from all over the world will descend upon beautiful San Diego, California and feast on the bounties of dorkdom. And while there aren’t any huge offerings this year for Henson fanatics, here are some things you can look out for while at Geek Mecca this year from July 18th – July 22nd.
Friday July 20, 2018 11:00am – 12:00pm
Grand 9, Marriott Marquis San Diego Marina
Award-winning bestselling authors and actors discuss romance in speculative and historical fiction, whether it be crushes, heart throbs, or love at first sight. Topics include attraction, compatibility, offspring, love, society, (extremely) long-distance relationships, close quarters, customs, rituals, religions, marriage, and more. Featuring Liam McIntyre (Spartacus, The Legend of Hercules), Gigi Edgley (Farscape, Jim Henson’s Creature Shop Challenge), Jimmy Diggs (Star Trek: Voyager, Deep Space Nine), Claudia McKinney (bestselling book cover artist of 725+ books), and Mark O’Bannon (The Dream Crystal, Pirates of the Imperium).
Mark McDonnell, Disney Master Teacher will assess your character design and gesture drawing skills, as well as suggest which animation studios might best suit your drawing style and sensibility, or how to adapt your style to your dream studio. Mark has worked for Disney, Pixar, Miramax, Fox, New Line, Mattel, Sony, Legendary Pictures, and The Jim Henson Company, among others. Of his five published books, the most influential and sought after is The Art and Feel of Making it Real, on animation gesture drawing. He also runs classes at California Institute of the Arts in Valencia, the Animation Guild in Burbank, and through his online school, CreativeMarksUniversity.com. You can also meet Mark at his Table, i-05, and solo panel.
Disney Comics presents a look at recent and upcoming comics showcasing powerful female characters from Disney and Star Wars. Oh My Disney’s Michelle Lema leads a discussion with panelists Delilah S. Dawson (author, Star Wars Adventures, Star Wars Forces of Destiny), Amy Mebberson (author/artist, Disney Princess comic strips), Cecil Castellucci (author, Moving Target: A Princess Leia Adventure), Jody Houser (author, Star Wars: Forces of Destiny), and Katie Cook (author, Tangled: The Series comics) discuss the growing importance of female characters and authors in the comics industry and the making of comics for kids.
Marvel Minimates celebrate 15 years of tiny toys, as representatives from Diamond Select Toys talk about the origins and present their lineup for 2018-2019, including Marvel Comics, Ant-Man, Kingdom Hearts, Sonic the Hedgehog, Predator, and more. Plus, the Vinimates vinyl figure line is explored with figures from Aquaman, Predator, Sonic, Injustice, DC Comics, and more! A visual presentation will be followed by a Q&A, with awards for the best questions. Guests moderated by Zach Oat (marketing supervisor).
Saturday July 21, 2018 12:30pm – 1:30pm
Discover your new comic book obsession at Comic-Con-and you’re guaranteed to find it at this panel! Ryan Parrott (Saban’s Go Go Power Rangers), Delilah S. Dawson (Ladycastle), Tyler Jenkins (Black Badge), Phillip Kennedy Johnson (Low Road West), author C. B. Lee, writer Marguerite Bennett, and Matt Gagnon(editor-in-chief, BOOM! Studios) discuss the diverse imprints of BOOM! Studios, Archaia, BOOM! Box, and KaBOOM!, with surprises for everyone in the audience. Moderated by Filip Sablik (president of publishing & marketing, BOOM! Studios).
Representatives from Diamond Select Toys present their lineup for 2018-2019, including action figures, statues, banks, and more from a variety of properties, including Aquaman, Ant-Man, Marvel Comics, Kingdom Hearts, Pacific Rim Uprising, John Wick, Ghostbusters, and others. A visual presentation will be followed by a Q&A, with awards for the best questions. Panelists include Eli Livingston (sculptor), Adam Van Wickler (Gentle Giant), and Jason Wires (painter). Moderated by Zach Oat (marketing supervisor).
Being a good artist and facile with technology are two of the skills animation companies seek in employees. But there’s a third component rarely discussed: how well you can draw in the style of their particular studio. In this workshop, Disney master teacher Mark McDonnell will demonstrate how to adapt your style and eye to different studios-including Disney, DreamWorks, and Warner Bros.-to increase your chances of getting hired. Introduced by Fast Company’s Susan Karlin.
Additionally, Gigi Edgley (Farscape and Jim Henson’s Creature Shop Challenge) will be signing at the Sails Autograph Pavilion, at Booth AA33
Thursday, July 19 • 10:00am – 2:30pm
Friday, July 20 • 2:30pm – 7:00pm
Saturday, July 21 • 10:00am – 2:30pm
Sunday, July 22 • 10:00am – 1:30pm
For all you art lovers, there will be plenty of Henson-related artists lending their pencils to your requests. Look for Katie Cook at Table HH-17, David Petersen at Table GG-09, Jay Fosgitt (and maybe his new-and-improved Bodie Troll puppet?) at GG-12 and over in Exhibitors’ Alley, stop by Amy Mebberson & James Silvani‘s Table at F-07. Also, Boom! Studios and their Archaia imprint will be stationed at Booth 2229, and Diamond Toys will be at Booth 2607.
Speaking of Jay Fosgitt, he’ll be doing a signing at the Boom! Comics Booth (Booth #2229) on Thursday from 12:00pm to 12:50pm. Get your Fraggles signed and ask Jay what it’s like to be a part of a museum exhibit!
Also, there are always plenty of fan art pieces to be found in Artists’ Alley. It’s almost certainly worth your time to spend an hour or so digging for buried Muppet treasure amongst the Ms. Marvel and Squirrel Girl mashup pictures. So much mashup potential!
And certainly don’t forget the cosplayers! I’ve seen some pretty great Muppet costumes at Comic Cons past and expect this year to be no different. Fan favorites like Beaker and Mahna Mahna will most likely pop up walking the floor. In addition, with California being a big puppetry scene as of late, I’m anticipating a few fanmade Muppets to be roaming the convention center.
And then, of course, there’s the merchandise. SDCC is all about cross-promotion and marketing along the spectrum, so a trip to the Hallmark booth will be worth your time to get a sneak peek of what Muppet Christmas ornaments we can expect in the next year or two. WeLoveFine will be there with their geek-inspired t-shirts and we know they’re always good to hit up for the Muppet fan on your gift list. Try swinging by the Disney Booth and see if there’s anything Muppety hiding there – I know I will! And while the Muppets line at Diamond Select may be in limbo, don’t forget to catch up on their Muppet action figures, Minimates, and glasses and mugs at Booth #2607. There’ll be a gift set of everyone’s favorite Swedish chef … The Swedish Chef! Priced at $30, he comes with a mountain of kitchen accessories including pots and pans, random cutlery, frowny food ingredients, and a chicken (Camilla? Henrietta? Fred?) – he’ll have everything but the kitchen sink!
This year, there are some exclusives we recommend checking out as well.The ABC booth (#4245) will be located on the convention floor from Friday, July 20–Sunday, July 22; and exclusive merchandise will be available for purchase from Wednesday, July 18–Sunday, July 22. For ’90s kids (or 90-Million B.C. kids) check out this exclusive Dinosaurs t-shirt.
The Archaia section of the Boom! Comics booth will have two exclusive Beneath the Dark Crystal #1 variant covers – one by Kelly Nichole Matthews, and one by Jay Fosgitt. Both are limited editions (Matthews’s cover will be limited to 3,000 copies and Fosgitt’s to only 250!) so get there early if these tickle your fancy!
The Mondo Booth (#435) will have some awesome posters for Henson fans as well – a Labyrinth one by Jeremy Bastian and The Dark Crystal one (in two different color schemes) by Ken Taylor. PLUS you don’t need to actually be in San Diego for the regular version of Taylor’s The Dark Crystal poster – the “regular,” more sepia-toned colored version will go on sale on Mondo’s website on Friday morning.
The bad news is that we’re already more than halfway through the new Fraggle Rock comic book miniseries from Archaia. The good news is that there’s a brand new issue in stores today! The even better news is that it’s written and illustrated by the legendary Art Baltazar!
For those of you who don’t obsessively buy comic books like me, Art Baltazar is best known for his Eisner Award-winning comic work with Franco Aureliani on books such as “Tiny Titans”, “Superman Family Adventures”, and “Patrick the Wolf Boy”. As you’ll see in a second, he’s got a unique and friendly art style that should entertain both kids and adults alike.
Fraggle Rock #3 is in stores now, so go buy it!
Click here to wonder why Gobo owns shorts on the ToughPigs forum!
This review is brought to us by our pal Jamie B! Thanks for being a Muppet fan, British, and up for writing about Muppets in Britain, Jamie!
Thanks for rejoining us for a review of the 2nd half of The Muppets Take the O2! We’ve braved the giant merchandise stall queues during the intermission and are ready to be entertained again.
Hang on; is that a ‘2-minutes-to-go’ video featuring Chip up on the big screens, awkwardly urging everyone to get back in their seats for part 2? Absolutely!
Opening the second half, a live recreation of the Bohemian Rhapsody viral video instantly elevated what had already been a strong show into a genuinely different league. Gonzo and the chickens appeared in a spotlight, soon to be joined by a London Choir which dramatically filled out the stage. Animal absolutely stole audiences’ hearts with his “Mama, Mama, Mama, Dada” routine in one of the best received moments of every show. We just adore that untameable guy over here, and Eric Jacobson knocked the comic timing in his performance adorably out of the park! Sweetums traditionally chases Bobby Moynihan around the auditorium in this number, but, by adding a couple of policemen to the mix, his cries of “Bobby” were changed to “Bobbies!” especially for London.
Piggy also gets a true shining moment center stage as she closes the song in a stunning angel’s outfit, accompanied by a perfectly delivered version of her line “…Nothing really matters… but MOI!”, again from Eric. Later on in the show, Piggy takes an impressively-choreographed battering due to not attending dance rehearsals for her performance of Adele’s ‘Hello’, but this is genuinely her purest performance of the show.
There was also much love for Bunsen and Beaker from UK fans. Dave Goelz was especially flawless as Bunsen each night, and landed my favorite joke of the whole show. He began the Muppet Labs segment each night with the greeting “Hello, Oxygen Arena!” – It was a perfectly-pitched, scientific dig at the venue’s daft name (O2 are a UK phone operator who own the space, by the way, if that helps explain things).
Kevin Bishop, whose profile as an excellent comic actor continues to ride high in the UK, is up next for a spin in the Muppet Kitchen. There was sadly no mention of his Muppet Treasure Island heritage as Jim Hawkins, but I’m confident half the crowd had connected the dots and it was truly brilliant to see him back with his childhood buddies. His old colleague Bill Barretta proved an excellent sparring partner as the Swedish Chef tried to cook Haggis. The Scottish delicacy is made by stuffing a sheep’s stomach with spices but the Muppet sheep in question was still alive, so protests followed!
Kevin Bishop & Swedish Chef - Muppets Take the O2 - Friday 13th July 2018 - YouTube
Adam Hills (the comedic host from Channel 4’s topical talk show ‘The Last Leg’) recently interviewed Kermit and Piggy on UK TV when these live shows were announced, so he became an excellent candidate to star in the show, helming this same sketch for both Saturday shows. With two performances to play with, his comic timing was impeccable and pulled some of the biggest belly laughs of the weekend by siding with the endangered sheep and attempting to sing Chef’s iconic theme song.
We even witnessed our own live equivalent of a true Muppet Show UK spot!! – Rowlf hosted a cockney sing-along with his canine friends around the piano singing ‘Maybe It’s Because I’m a Londoner’. It was a joy to join with and this number kept the audience’s energy high. Rowlf was actually underused at the Bowl, but thanks to the caliber of Bill Barretta’s totally-live vocals here, he was a star addition. The presence of Afghan Hound, one of my favorite puppets ever since Elton John’s Muppet Show piano sing-song, as part of the chorus was a personal delight.
A large portion of the video inserts produced for the Hollywood Bowl were re-aired, including an entire backstage sequence with Fozzie attempting a world record speed-comedy attempt (that still convinced despite having being filmed in a different country!). For Mahna Mahna’s performance, recreating the classic song, a video sequence where he went AWOL mid-act and cruised around the streets of Hollywood was not reshot or included. This time, as he exits without warning and the production number stalls, Scooter calls out to see if there are any pop stars in the audience to join the Snowths and save the bit…
It was a completely magical moment on the first night as they cut to a live shot of the seating, only to see that Kylie Minogue had snuck into the crowd. She sprung up and over to the stage with permission from Scooter to do anything she wanted; she joked about doing a cartwheel, before finishing up the song. The gusto with which she approached filling in for Jim’s trademark noodling grunts was outstanding, and she perfectly married her acting skills with all the vocal prowess expected from her adopted national treasure status. The audience were on her side from the moment she arrived, or even the moment she was announced as a guest.
Mahna Mahna with Kylie Minogue - The Muppets Take the O2 - Friday 13th July 2018 - YouTube
Steps, who inherited the same popstar-to-the-rescue slot for the Saturday afternoon show, had a tough act to follow! The Abba-esque feel-good song-and-dance pop quintet are not known for their subtlety and, through excitement, regrettably ended up responding to Scooter’s requests to perform the rest of the song rather like they were patronizing a children’s party audience, which is never a wise fit for the Muppets. As an additional blow, only four of the band members showed up! (Lisa Scott-Lee was unfortunately on a family holiday.) The remaining members managed to ham up and step on any nuance that the sketch’s punchline needed to land successfully. However, it’s fair to say this was always going to be a challenge when singing Mahna Mahna en masse! As a band, Steps can and do entertain fantastically when performing their own songs, but here they rather missed their moment to shine (or rather the moment wasn’t really designed for a group performance!!).
Steps were also the only Saturday act that didn’t stick around for the evening show, when Bobby Moynihan proved a better-fit option for the third run of the Mahna Mahna skit. Sure, he wasn’t a popstar, so he initially put up the pretense of being Justin Beiber then Luciano Pavarotti to make the script work (which it did!). He also suitably channeled Jim’s original performance to keep warm memories of the piece intact.
Bobby was also used to even better effect in the second act when reprising his ‘Good Grief, the Comedian’s A Bear’ classic routine with Fozzie from the Bowl, and allowed UK audiences to witness Fozzie at his most adorable.
We’re approaching the end of the setlist, so it’s time for some new blood. Whilst Scooter is trying to fill time with a beatbox solo, Bobo shows up and nearly succeeds in stealing the whole show in the closing minutes! Bobo’s inappropriately-timed inquiries as to the location of his car keys, before asking if Scooter kept the receipt for his Christmas gift pajamas which had since shrunk in the wash, went down a storm (just as they did at the Bowl). After the audience thought he’d gone, it was a delight to see him also crash-land into the next segment where Kermit was attempting to introduce his iconic solo song. It felt like a true bit of spontaneity from the rehearsal rooms had been delightfully left in. Bobo first commented to a spot-lit Kermit-on-a-log about how cute he looked with his banjo, before trying to sit just behind him to watch his performance. He then called out the frog as being selfish for not wanting to share his big moment! Impeccably delivered, especially in the first show, this interruption was followed immediately by the musical moment the whole room was waiting for, as Kermit started strumming Rainbow Connection.
Rainbow Connection/Magic Store (Kylie, Tennant) - Muppets Take the O2 - Fri 13th July 2018 - YouTube
Bobo even admitted to having a few ‘pints’ before his monologues during the 3rd and final performance, (likely just to have fun use the British terminology for a large glass of beer). To be fair, it did seem like the final show’s audience had also followed his lead, making that final Saturday night show a spirited, rowdier affair since audience responses were consistently bigger, warmer, loosened-up and excitable!
This increased level of interactivity from the arena-goers then translated into a spontaneous sea of cellphone flashlights swaying gently to accompany Kermit’s iconic solo number, akin to the response only the most idolized pop stars might receive in that venue. Our frog was more than worthy of that accolade and it was a truly beautiful, intensely moving sight.
Rainbow Connection with Audience Lights - Muppets Take the O2 - Saturday 14th July 2018 Evening - YouTube
Matt’s vocals for this song were pre-recorded to protect Kermit’s consistency, but my goodness it was staggeringly good. Vogel’s singing register is so close to Jim’s original, and the care taken to recall Henson’s classic performance was as pitch-perfect as I think anyone could achieve.
As the full roster of guests from each show joined the last verse for a sing along, I have to mention the joy shown from every guest star at being thrilled to be there. David Tennant in particular in the Friday show, still dressed as the Doctor, looked completely over the moon to be part of a Muppet sing-along, and gave his performance everything, all night.
Kylie appeared during the 2nd verse to perform a proper duet with Kermit on her night, which was rather outstanding. Steps weren’t given the same duet segment in Rainbow Connection in show 2. Those involved wisely chose to let Kermit keep the spotlight for shows 2 and 3, which triggered the purest moment of the O2 Muppets experience, and induced many tears from me and a large portion of the audience.
Critically, this show was a complete home run and, emotionally, everyone behind these performances did just what they set out to do.
I’d be remiss to not report on what felt like major pricing issue, at least ahead of the shows taking place – £450 (around $600) was the price needed for a batch of 4 good seats for experience that many families would categorize as a weekend treat. This was ultimately a problem, even in a Muppet-loving city. Online discounts and the last minute announcement of star guests filled up the venue eventually – the Saturday matinee was happily close to maximum capacity, with the very top deck of the O2 open and full. I completely understand where any advance public skepticism about the concept of the show in suuuuuuch a large venue came from; for most people I spoke to ahead of time, I sensed that the chance to pay £100+ to watch glove puppets in an aircraft hanger didn’t instantly appeal! However, that assumed viewpoint MAJORLY misjudged the scale, immersiveness and completely affecting impact of this show, even from the very back or very top of the hall.
I wish London could have come out in its fullest force for these shows, but wow, the response from those crowds who did fill the space with their noise and devotion was pretty staggering. The energy ahead of and immediately following the encore performance (‘A Little Help from My Friends’ from Dr Teeth and the Mayhem with full choir and cast) was electric, and I hope Disney were attentively listening to the passion and affection generated from those audiences. They were all tuned into the humanity that the Muppets radiate when at their best.
At the 2nd show, I sat next to an approximately 11 year old boy who was especially delighted by the ‘parade of obscure Muppet characters’ segment. He knew Marvin Suggs, Nigel and Beautiful Day monster by name and seemed stoked to be seeing the characters he loved goofing around. I believe these shows will prove to be absolutely crucial in nurturing the next generation of lifelong Muppet devotees; the renewed focus on music, fun and pure emotion has recaptured the true essence of the characters and equally brought out the best in their performers.
Long may this incredible troupe be allowed to continue making people ecstatically happy.
Click here to pack your Christmas pajamas on the ToughPigs forum!
We’re talking about Minutes 65 & 66 of The Muppet Movie: The Mupets resume watching The Muppet Movie, the patriotic part happens, and Doc Hopper brings in a deadly specialist. With special guest Jesse Hassenger, movie critic and cofounder of SportsAlcohol.com! Plus: Darth Vader’s greatest enemy! Are Gonzo and Fozzie actually friends? And which celebrities could have played Snake Walker?
This article was guest written by ToughPigs friend Jamie B! Thanks Jamie for sacrificing a little of your time to watch the Muppets live!
London Calling, with a report on the Muppets’ latest foray into throwing giant concerts! Our city’s connection with The Muppets runs deep, thanks to every The Muppet Show and half of the theatrical movies being shot here. So, being chosen as the second stop for roadtesting the Muppets’ live extravaganza does makes a lot of sense, yet what a complete honour and thrill it was to have them drop by.
I was deeply lucky enough to have been able to make the pilgrimage out to the Hollywood Bowl for last year’s shows and it was an experience of a lifetime! This time, since they’d basically shown up on my doorstep, I didn’t hesitate to jump into a trio of shows at London’s O2 to witness whether the magic, last seen outdoors, could be recaptured inside a giant dome, without a Fireworks Finale to assist. I hope I can both paint a fresh picture of these newest live adventures and draw comparisons with the updated material to highlight the new surprises.
The performers are thrillingly visible on stage for nearly the whole 2 hour show, working standing up whilst the show recorded on the big screens as if it was a TV show. Puppeteers wore black and donned face veils only when they were likely to be seen on screen in full body shots to help keep the illusion. As a dual-experience; watching the TV screens was completely enchanting because you could simultaneously see the finished, magical end product alongside witnessing the source of the performance, impressive even at a distance. Gonzo made a point to apologise for how small he was early on, and gags about mainly watching the screen at a live gig were well-judged, since the audience were already absolutely in the moment.
The full Muppeteer cast stayed almost identical to the Bowl line up with the 6 core performers, Matt Vogel, Dave Goelz, Eric Jacobson, Bill Barretta, David Rudman and Peter Linz all present for their characters, along with players like Tyler Bunch, Noel MacNeal, Julianne Buescher, Karen Prell, Mike Quinn and Ryan Dillon reprising their vital supporting roles. I can’t begin to tell you how effortless the core troupe appear with their characters, and that’s even when you can actually see how hard they are working! I have to call out David Rudman as Scooter and Bill Barretta as Rowlf espeically for being so fluid and comfortable in their roles whenever on stage. We were watching characters we loved and not recasts without exception.
Unlike the Bowl shows, which all featured SNL’s Bobby Moynihan as main guest along with a small Paul Williams cameo, we had been promised a sea of celebrities. Announced just the previous week were Kylie Minogue, David Tennant, Charles Dance, Kevin Bishop, Peter Davison, Anthony Head, Adam Hills and Steps, due to appear across either of the two days – Different acts on different nights was a both a masterstroke and a source of frustration for those who could only attend one show, since some of them are certainly more A-list than others (more on that later!). As much as the situation was likely down to logistics and prior-commitments in securing the acts they managed, it DID also encourage multiple tickets to be purchased at the last minute to mop up the last remaining seats discounted seats (I’ll get to that too!).
On to the show!!
The first “Hubba-Wha?” of the night was when Kermit announced Bobby Moynihan as the special guest!! He’d been absent from all promotional materials, largely (I’d wager) because his reputation is nearly invisible here due to SNL‘s low profile on UK TV. However, his appearance makes TOTAL sense from a production standpoint. With only three days of rehearsals on London turf to reconstruct the show here, they were going to need a pair of safe hands from the States who already knew the show and could help knit it together. Bobby’s involvement in sketches and links at the Bowl was so deep and would have meant a lot of rewriting to remove his role. Luckily, he’s incredibly funny. His presence allowed for a smooth ride and any concerns from the crowd (as to who this guy actually was) melted away as he got numerous early laughs. I’d say it was a situation akin to not knowing a Muppet Show guest on the classic show when introduced (as often happened to audiences on both sides of the pond), only to be won over by their charming first number.
The billed guest stars, with barely any rehearsals, dropped into the show at very specific points, giving the show an unpredictable edge-of-seat dynamic.
Despite two Doctor Who actors being mentioned in advance, I definitely hadn’t twigged that they might be performing IN CHARACTER within the show. Surprisingly, a familiar Tardis sound interrupted a Pigs In Space sketch 10 minutes into the first night, followed by David Tennant, complete with his Tenth Doctor outfit and sonic screwdriver! The O2 went suitably wild for this, and happily the rest of the sketch more than delivered on the promise. David brought all his trademark energy and flair to the role and looked genuinely delighted to be there.
Peter Linz was also exceptional at recreating Jim’s Link Hogthrob, and the plot unfolded with Link regenerating into Muppet versions of ALL thirteen doctors, culminating as Piggy dressed as upcoming Doctor, Jodie Whittaker! The speedy cycle through each doctor’s incarnation on screen was completely amazing, as was the character casting. Highlights included Sam Eagle as a dramatic William Hartnell, Fozzie as a goofy Tom Baker, Scooter as a straight-laced Peter Davison and Rizzo (in his only, brief appearance in the show) as Christopher Eccelston’s leather-jacketed Doctor. There’s gigantic room for a spin off here, and the two brands’ fandoms fit together perfectly (Not least due to having very male-dominated casts during their first 50ish years!).
And thanks to some extra generous YouTubers, here’s video of Tennant’s appearance during the first performance!
Pigs In Space - Muppets & Dr Who Crossover with David Tennant - Muppets Take The O2 - Full Sketch - YouTube
Tennant was a one-show-only star engagement, but Peter Davison was similarly well received on the Saturday, delivering the same material via his rather calmer take on the Doctor.
Pigs In Space Meet Doctor Who Peter Davison - Muppets Take the O2 - Saturday 14th July 2018 Evening - YouTube
In a post-sketch scene, the excited Doctor, still having too much fun, loiters around onstage despite Scooter’s best efforts to usher him off. This allowed for a killer gag for fans – the classic pre-regeneration line “I don’t want to go” was hilariously dropped into the Doctor’s protests – This worked better with Tennant’s Doctor, admittedly (since it was his line originally!) but Davison stuck to the same script too, completing this Whovian love letter.
The segment genuinely oozed love from everyone involved, even to the point of naming the episodes differently for each specific Doctor – The Stolen Mirth after Tennant’s ‘The Stolen Earth’ and Mirthshock after Davison’s classic episode ‘Earthshock.’ It was a dream collaboration, thrilling both fandoms, with much more to offer if Disney and the BBC ever see a chance to go deeper.
Happily, all the freshly-added localised content like this played consistently brilliantly to London crowds and there was mountains of it! I think nearly every sketch was infiltrated by regional references and it felt great!
Sam Eagle opened the show with topical gags about the UK and the USA’s ‘special relationship’ (whilst Trump was simultaneously on UK soil). A British policeman puppet moved Gonzo along after his trumpet solo at the end of the opening arches segment, and it wasn’t long before Rowlf was belting out the names of a host of London Underground tube stops whilst singing ‘I’ve Been Everywhere’ at his piano (replacing the Californian locations last year).
Subtle changes made all the difference – ‘On the Road Again’ was again sung by Kermit, Fozzie and Walter as part of the opening medley, but instead of being flanked by singing cactuses, they were replaced by orchids and daffodils in an attempt to de-Americanize the piece, and the big screen animation had been replaced with UK landmarks. Croakapella, Robin’s Frog Scouts vocal group also did a superbly-pathetic version of ‘London Calling’ by The Clash!
Statler and Waldorf’s brand of geriatric humour in pre-filmed inserts were exceptionally well received too, especially when suggesting that they’d be better off in a box at Highgate cemetery than at the O2. After Fozzie’s comedy routine, they joked that he’d be off to Buckingham Palace tomorrow to make the guards not laugh. Every local reference was relished!
England had crashed out of the World Cup Semi Finals just two days earlier so a very savvy last-minute skit was added with a talking football so Kermit and Scooter could continuously get the finer points of football rather wrong causing further upset. Mike Quinn revealed on Twitter that he’d be asked to do the skit with no rehearsal, earlier that day, but he aced it! When Kermit then asked for a cheer for how well the England team had done, the appreciative roar from the crowd was an easy instant-win for audience participation levels.
Not being the Hollywood Bowl, we had no giant orchestra! Pepe had a fantastic skit with conductor Thomas Wilkins last year where he stole Wilkins’ conducting job, but this segment now needed a rethink! This time, Game of Thrones’ Charles Dance and Buffy the Vampire Slayer’s Anthony Head were employed as true British gents to add some culture by reciting Wordsworth poetry whilst accompanied by fine art projections. It was now Pepe’s self-appointed job to turn it into a dance party, by poking holes in the stuffiness.
Anthony Head (or Anything Head, from Buzzy the Umpire, as Pepe preferred to call him), had two bites of the cherry, performing at both Saturday shows and got the chance to hone his performance expertly.
Anthony Head & Pepe the King Prawn - Muppets Take the O2 - Saturday 14th July 2018 Evening - YouTube
To allow the performers a brief rest (it’s very easy to forget the myriad of characters are largely covered by 6 people), short videos were interspersed throughout the performance. A big winner was a Netflix-esuque streaming platforms spoof (though Kermit had always thought streaming platforms were already called lilypads…).
The Walking Bread with Swedish Chef was repeated from the bowl, but Pepe’s previous Kardashian spoof was dropped for more regional content – a spoof based on UK series Googlebox (A format show where you watch other people watching their TVs) was called Frogglebox! Kermit tried to explain reproduction and circle of life habits to Robin whilst watching Green Planet (Blue Planet). Then, Bunsen explained conspiracy theories and terrorized Beaker whilst watching Black Meeper (Black Mirror) and Masterchef became Monsterchef to allow for Big Mean Carl to eat some bunnies. The audience adored each and every spoof name (including those that whizzed by in the scrolling bar’s thumbnails – Rizzo starred in Pestworld and Gonzo and the Chickens in Poultry Towers) and proved that an appetite is there for more like it if Disney’s streaming platforms want to offer up a lily-pad or two that the Muppets can call home again.
Frogglebox and Electric Mayhem Set - Muppets Take the O2 - Saturday 14th July 2018 Evening - YouTube
Closing the first half, The Electric Mayhem play a sensational 3 song set opening with ‘Can You Picture That’, followed by The Lumineers song ‘Ho Hey’ (new to the show, replacing ‘Home’ from the Bowl and Outside Lands setlists). They closed the first half with ‘Suffragette City’, which satisfied greatly in David Bowie’s home town. The performers are totally hidden behind their classic TMS band stage set during the Mayhem sequence which allows for total immersion and a brilliant suspension of reality – Being at a Mayhem gig for 10 minutes was complete magic and it left the audience on a high for the interval…
Hey, an intermission! To the merch stall….
Head back tomorrow for part 2 of our in-depth review of The Muppets Take the O2!
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My favorite Muppet of the Moment is Tutter the Mouse from Bear in the Big Blue House.
Why did I choose Tutter as my Favorite Muppet of the Moment?
I’m a little younger than most of the rest of the ToughPigs staff. When Bear in the Big Blue House premiered in 1997, I was an extremely high-strung Muppet-loving six-year-old, which made me the exact target audience for Disney’s bold new adventure in early grades television. I loved Bear in the Big Blue House so much. As my mother reminds me, I was unable to complete a first grade “No TV Week” challenge because I desperately had to watch an episode of Bear on Saturday.
Honestly, it upsets me that the whole show isn’t remembered more fondly. You Google it these days, and all you can find are low-quality JPEGs and bad YouTube videos (which is why I drew my own Tutter art, featured here in this article). It’s a shame, but that’s not really what we’re discussing here.
What we’re discussing is Tutter the Mouse, my favorite Muppet of the Moment. (Really, all the Bear in the Big Blue House characters are my favorite, but they won’t let me choose them all.) Tutter was one of several children who spent time at the Big Blue House. Specifically, he lived in a tiny mouse hole in Bear’s kitchen and regularly needed Bear’s assistance with every kind of problem. Like most mice, he was obsessed with cheese. Unlike most mice, he was periwinkle.
Tutter was performed by Peter Linz, the Muppeteer who also performed Pip on Bear and would later rise to prominence as the man behind Walter. This explains why Tutter sounds like what Walter would sound like during puberty.
What makes Tutter so great?
As I mentioned above, I was something of a high-strung kid who grew up to be an incredibly high-strung adult, so Tutter has always been a relatable figure for me. There are plenty of Muppets that suffer from anxiety, but Tutter combines the nervous energy of Telly Monster with the frustration and single-mindedness of Bert. Constantly overworked and overwhelmed, Tutter was always trying to accomplish some kind of task that was too big for him (like pushing a piece of cheese) and having massive panic attacks as a result. He also regularly lost patience with the more chaotic antics of his surroundings.
I relate to this in a big way.
Of course, it’s also important that Tutter is ridiculously cute. Bear in the Big Blue House always played with scale and a dollhouse level of detail, and Tutter was one of the best examples of this. He was always appearing in drawers, cups, and fruit baskets, which is basically the most adorable thing. Considering he often appeared next to Bear—one of the largest Muppets of all time—he just always seemed even cuter.
But most of all, the thing that I love about Tutter is his voice. This is what I remember most about him, because most of my recent interactions with Bear in the Big Blue House have involved listening to the soundtrack on repeat. Tutter’s screeching, raspy voice should be annoying, but it’s actually very charming. It’s also really unexpected in an amazingly clever way: you’d think this pale blue, tiny child would be soft-spoken and timid, but Tutter is loud, abrasive, and demanding. It shouldn’t work, and that’s exactly why it does.
Also, he always said “If you don’t mind, Beah! I mean, if you really don’t mind, Beah!” which my family and I still walk around the house saying. You should try it, too.
Anyway, because he’s cute, relatably anxious, and obnoxiously loud, Tutter the Mouse is my Favorite Muppet of the Moment. If you really don’t mind.
Memorable Tutter Moment
As I mentioned, Bear in the Big Blue House videos are somewhat hard to find, so I’m including two (you’ll see my point in a second). Firstly, the audio track “Take Time to Smell the Cheese,” Tutter’s classic ode to relaxation and Camembert. But I also want you to see him be very tiny, so I’ve included this less-classic clip wherein he yells about how he doesn’t understand how imagining works.
Take Time To Smell The Cheese - YouTube
Bear In The Big Blue House - Tutter The Snow Bear - YouTube
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We’re used to listing out the scads of Daytime Emmy nominations that Sesame Street receives every year, but it’s still a treat to see them on the big list for the Primetime Emmy Awards.
Last year, Sesame Street won an Emmy for the special Once Upon a Sesame Street Christmas, and this year their latest special, The Magical Wand Chase, received a nomination too!
They’re up in the “Outstanding Children’s Program” category against A Series of Unfortunate Events, Alexa & Katie, Fuller House, and Star Wars Rebels. Sorry DJ Tanner, but Big Bird’s got this one in the bag.
The Emmy Awards ceremony will be held on September 17th on NBC, so stay tuned until then to find out if Cookie Monster is taking home another statuette!
As a reminder, here’s the trailer for the special, followed by our own coverage of the red carpet premiere of The Magical Wand Chase!
Sneak Peek of The Magical Wand Chase from Sesame Street (HBO) - YouTube
Sesame Street: The Magical Wand Chase NYC PREMIERE! - YouTube
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For the first time, we’ll be able to see Fraggles in high definition – the Gorgs will look gorgeous, the Doozers will be quite the doozy, and Marjory the Trash Heap will be marjestic.
In celebration of Fraggle Rock‘s 35th anniversary, Sony Pictures will be releasing the complete series on Blu-ray on September 25th.
The set will include 12 discs containing all four seasons of the show, as well as the complete animated series. The set will also include a booklet of behind-the-scenes photos and a cut-out Uncle Traveling Matt for selfie purposes.
The episodes are all remastered in HD video with lossless audio. That means full 1080p HD video and DTS-HD Master Audio sound! You’ll be able to see every bit of fur on Boober’s tail, and hear every one of Gobo’s “eh”s as if you were with him in Canada.
And that’s not all! The set will be loaded with bonus features! In addition to the previously released features, you’ll also get a rare behind-the-scenes video with Jim Henson, a 1993 appearance by Traveling Matt on The Today Show, and a sing-along feature with every song from the series. That’s over 100 songs!
Here’s the complete list of bonus features. As you can see, it’s epic.
NEW: Fraggle Music Celebration
Celebrate your favorite Fraggle songs with sing-alongs for every episode or hit shuffle and let the Fraggles choose for you!
NEW: Life on Set: Moments with Jim Henson
NEW: 1993 “The Today Show” Segment featuring Uncle Travelling Matt
Down at Fraggle Rock: Behind the Scenes (48-minute version)
Fraggle Songs & Doozer Music
Interviews with Fraggle Rock Creators and Puppeteers
Seasons 2, 3 and 4 Overviews
Docs and Sprockets
“All Around the World” Music Video
20 Travelling Matt Segments
Special Tribute to Jerry Juhl
Scared Silly: Art Imitating Life
Production Design Featurette
How the Trash Heap Came to Be
Interviews with Michael Frith, Kathy Mullen and Gerry Parkes
You Cannot Leave the Magic: Excerpts from the Last Day of Shooting
Dance Your Cares Away: The Evolution of the Theme Song
The Inner Gorg: An Interview with the Performers Inside the Costumes
Let the Music Play: An Interview with Phil Balsam and Dennis Lee
Celebrating Fraggle Rock: Excerpts from the Wrap Party
Designing the Puppets: An Interview with the Puppet Makers
Directing the Fraggles: An Interview with Eric Till and George Bloomfield
Interview: Dennis Lee with Mokey
Interview: Jerry Juhl with Gobo
Interview: Jocelyn Stevenson with Red and Mokey
Interview: Faz Fazakas with Cotterpin Doozer
A Minute with Travelling Matt
All 13 Episodes of Fraggle Rock: The Animated Series
Animated Series Behind-the-Scenes Featurette
Animated Series Character Galleries
Animated Series Opening Scene Storyboards
Keep an eye on ToughPigs for more news about this set, including when it’s available for pre-order. In the meantime, get stoked for hi-def Fraggles on September 25th!
Thanks to Clayton Roederer for the tip! Click here to take a dip in that crystal clear Fraggle Pond on the ToughPigs forum!