I am going to delve into my inner geek for this post. I grew up on public television, literally as my maternal grandparents didn’t have cable till I was about 12 so it was either watch that (i.e. Sesame Street and Mister Rogers) or soap operas, so naturally I picked PBS. We are lucky enough here in Arizona to have 3 public television stations, one of which specializes in children’s programming, for most of the morning/afternoon at least. So my son can watch Sesame Street too, although thankfully they also have 5 seasons of it on Netflix, so we can watch them whenever we want. For the longest time, I rebelled against the modern Sesame Street as I grew up in the good ‘ole days when the show was still young. I especially hated Elmo because they really over did the character in the late 90s. But as I now have a child that can watch the show, and as a consequence I have watched many many of the newer episodes, it’s not so bad. It still teaches the kids the letter and number of the day, they get more varied music and even learn some Spanish, plus the cast is more diverse. Back in the day, I loved Grover, Cookie Monster, Bert & Ernie, Big Bird and Snuffie. I even watched the movies, well Follow That Bird at least. Nowadays, I love Murray (who occasionally raps) and his little lamb Ovejita, who speaks Spanish, Alan (who now owns Mr. Hooper’s store), and Leela (the Indian-American girl who runs the laundromat). Ever since I watched the documentary Being Elmo: A Puppeteer’s Journey, I have been fascinated by Elmo. Kevin Clash, who is the puppeteer who handles Elmo’s movements and his voice, started designing his own puppets when he was a teenager and how he eventually came to work for Jim Henson and eventually on Sesame Street. Mr. Clash just put so much love and personality into Elmo, it is hard not like the little furry red monster.
On to what I really wanted to talk about, the Muppets. Sesame Street was the beginning of my Muppet obsession. Yes I know that now Sesame Street is a completely separate enterprise from the Muppets, after Jim Henson’s children (who now own and manage the company) sold them to Disney. If you want to know about that whole debacle, see this article. It only got worse when I met this guy in middle school who literally wanted to become the next Jim Henson. As usually happens when you like someone, you tend to obsess over whatever they obsess over. I should in all reality hate him and the Muppets, as he ended up not being such a great friend to me, but never really felt that way. It only served to make me like them even more. I’ve seen most of The Muppet Show, though it will take me awhile to get all those episodes as they sell them in 3 packs, there are 5 years worth of episodes, and I only have 2 DVD’s so far. The Muppet Show is actually the reason for me writing this post today. I had bought a DVD of the show awhile back but never watched it, and was trying to find something that my son and I could watch together (though I know he doesn’t get most of it). I pulled it out and started watching it yesterday. I still find the stuff in it funny even though it was done 1975-1981. I love Pigs in Space, which I still say like they introduce it on the show to this day. Yesterday’s shows had Peter Sellers, John Cleese and Dudley Moore as the guest stars. I didn’t think the second version of the show, Muppets Tonight, was as good, but it was still funny.
I’ve seen all the movies, including the Disney released one last year, which was surprisingly good (even my husband who hates musicals liked it). My favorite movie is The Muppets Take Manhattan. The first three movies, including this one, were almost like an extension of The Muppet Show, with all the famous people that were in them. My favorite songs are “I’m Gonna Always Love You,” “Rat Scat (Something’s Cooking)” and “You Can’t Take No For an Answer”.
Muppet Treasure Island (I mean really, who can’t love Tim Curry as Long John Silver? He’s so brilliant in it!) and Muppets From Space come a close second. I grew up with musicals, so I love it when you get comedy plus singing. Muppets From Space features my favorite Muppet of all time, Gonzo and was the first movie that Pepe, the King Prawn was in. One of the funniest things I remember from graduate school in Scotland was I was sitting in our dorm kitchen talking about having cabin fever and the guy I liked jumped up and said “Cabin Fever, yah” like they do at the end of this video (2:16-17). It was just so random. So I always think of this song when I’ve been trapped at the house a long time (like most of this summer).
And this is of course not counting Fraggle Rock or Muppet Babies, which I also grew up with. My son currently has my collection of Muppets in his room, i.e. 2 poseable Kermits, a Bear from The Bear in the Big Blue House, and one Gonzo, although I’ve stored the Gonzo in his closet so it doesn’t get destroyed. I have a couple Kermit shirts that I like to wear because they make me happy. I think that’s the thing with the Muppets, they just make you feel good. They are the kind of silly humor that parents and kids can enjoy together. They used to have a Muppet section at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, that had a Muppet ride and a live show of The Bear in the Big Blue House that my friend and I saw when she graduated high school. They still have the ride, Muppet Vision 3D, as I dragged my hubby to that when we went there on our honeymoon. I guess the bottom line is I still like them and will continue to like them and want to share the Muppets with others. Does anyone else have any memories of the Muppets/Sesame Street that they would like to share?