Comfort Movies: The Muppets

Promotional image of the Muppets. Copyright goes to the Jim Henson Company.

Hi! It’s Annie!

I absolutely refuse to put this under the Disney category because Jim Henson’s work should be recognized as his own, but there are several Muppet movies that are very comforting to me. You have ‘Muppets in Space’, ‘Muppet Treasure Island, ‘The Muppet Movie, ‘Muppets Take Manhattan’ among many other Muppet movies that I love and grew up with. But mostly I grew up with the massive influence of Jim Henson in my life. From anything involving the Muppets, to ‘Sesame Street’ when I was little, to ‘Labyrinth’ which is one of my favorite movies, to the newer ‘Dark Crystal’ series that I adore. (Let’s be honest, what child was not absolutely terrified at the original ‘Dark Crystal’?) More recently, Disney+ finally released the original ‘Muppet Show’ and it’s been such a source of happiness for me since it came out on Friday. In honor of this, I want to talk about the actual Muppets. And especially the ones that I feel are often overlooked.

Kermit:

You really can’t talk about the Muppets without talking about Kermit. The disgruntled host of the Muppets that’s just a humble frog stuck in several stressful situations. I specifically want to mention him because if you have ever watched the original Muppet Show, you’ll know he was originally the main Muppet voiced by none other than Jim Henson. Kermit has never been as warm since Jim Henson was Kermit and that’s probably because he put so much love into this creation. Of course, I have to pay homage to Kermit because of this and because he’s so iconic. Henson was also Rowlf, Waldorf, The Swedish Chef, Dr. Teeth and Ernie in Sesame Street.

Miss Piggy:

She originally started as one of the nurses on the Muppet Show’s ‘Veterinarian’s Hospital’, specifically questioning Rowlf and his ability to be a Doctor. It wasn’t until a couple episodes in, that Miss Piggy began to show feelings towards Kermit and also started kicking people around. Basically becoming the Piggy that we all know and love. She had a cat fight with a guest in the first episode but she didn’t start actually yelling “hiya” and doing martial arts in that one. Piggy has, for the most part, been brought to life by the infamous Frank Oz. Frank Oz is also Fozzie, Animal, and Sam Eagle in the original Muppet Show. He’s also known for playing Grover, Cookie Monster, and Bert on Sesame Street.

Gonzo:

Gonzo began as a very scraggly and overall creepy character without much personality. He only later became the loveable character that we all know and love today, completely because of the influence of his puppeteer. He’s such a cute character that definitely did not make me cry when he sang “I’m Going to go Back There Someday” (lies). Gonzo is played by Dave Goelz who is also Dr. Bunsen Honeydew, Zoot, and the voice of Figment (if you’ve been to Epcot in Disney World).

Rowlf:

Rowlf is one of the main characters of the original Muppet Show and has since fallen out of popularity for some reason. I have no idea why, as he is still one of my absolute favorite Muppets. Rowlf is the main doctor in ‘Veterinarian’s Hospital’ and he has his own segment in the original show where he plays piano and sings songs full of puns and bad jokes. Such as lamenting that he’s never harmed an onion so why should they make him cry. He is one of the Muppets with the most heart and bad jokes and I have no idea why he is so overlooked. As I mentioned before, he was originally played by Henson himself.

Sweetums:

This is another character that has completely fallen in popularity, maybe because he mysteriously did not have as much popularity as the other Muppets in the first place. I will never understand this as Sweetums is one of my favorites and a favorite in my house in general. He’s sweet and giant and absolutely huggable. Though I can see that some children may have been frightened by him due to his size. Because he walked and was closer to the size of the guests, there is barely an episode of the original Muppet Show where Sweetums doesn’t have an interaction with the guest. Sweetums was played by Richard Hunt who was also Scooter, Beaker, Janice, and he also was the back half of Snuffleupagus hilariously in Sesame Street.

Statler and Waldorf:

While Fozzie is loveable, his comedy has only ever been great because of this duo’s reaction to his bad jokes. There’s even an episode of the original Muppet Show that acknowledges that Statler and Waldorf are the best parts of Fozzie’s comedy act. They are also an excellent example of the teamwork between Jim Henson and Frank Oz who played Statler and Waldorf respectively. Henson was Waldorf, of course. There is no Muppet Show without these old men sitting in the rafters watching it along with the audience.

Sam Eagle:

Sam Eagle is by far the most straight laced of the muppets and that’s what makes him even more hilarious. He is ridiculously serious and is always judging the other muppets for one reason or another. But in the end he’s just as ridiculous for wanting to have things like a “spectacular” three hour salute to America.

The Electric Mayhem:

This band consists of Dr. Teeth, Janice, Zoot, Floyd, and, of course, Animal. Though each member is scattered throughout various musical acts at the beginning of the Muppet Show, they later become a very memorable rock band. ‘Can You Picture That?’ is one of their amazingly adorable songs that just gets stuck in your head and each of the band members have their own distinct personalities. Dr. Teeth is both very chill and crazy, Floyd is the most laid back and takes care of Animal, Janice is a hippie fer sure, and Zoot is just completely out of it. Of course, Animal is the most well known and loved for his absolute insanity and general accidental cuteness. They are all very loveable.

And those are just a few of the Muppets that I have loved since the beginning of the Muppet Show; but there are so many I didn’t include. For example; Fozzie, Dr. Bunsen Honeydew and Beaker, Rizzo the rat, Gonzo’s wife Camilla, and so many more. I love them all, so I really did have to shorten the list down. But if you aren’t as familiar with Muppets, or even if you are, I highly recommend you watch the original Muppet show on Disney +. I will warn you that it is an old show and isn’t always completely appropriate, but for the most part it is a heartwarming show that will give you just the laughs and happiness watching it that we all need right now. So, go watch it and give Kermit your reviews! Especially because Disney has been considering getting rid of all of their Muppet Show stuff in the parks, which I really don’t want them to do. (And they have already done this in Disneyland pointlessly.)

See you across the pond!

Sincerely, Annie

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