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Dec 162015
 

The Muppets have been around for ages. Muppets Magic features all of the segments that were done on The Ed Sullivan Show from 1966-1971.

If you’re not familiar with the old series, I’ll give you a quick rundown. The Ed Sullivan Show (1948-1971) was a non-competitive variety series where the biggest stars perform all sorts of acts. Many of them appeared more than once and some up to 25 times. In those days it was a very big deal to be on that show. Nowadays the closest thing to it is competition shows like America’s Got Talent, American Idol, and The Voice.

I admit that it was way before my time. In fact, I first heard about The Ed Sullivan Show when I was in sixth grade in social studies class. The subject was about The Beatles and the lessons included watching footage from old performances. Many of which were their appearances on The Ed Sullivan Show. The best part was that there were no homework assignments involved.

Now back to the Muppets. They have made a total of 20 appearances and each performance was completely different with a variety of characters. The most common characters were Kermit and Mahna Mahna. Even Big Bird appeared once and I recognized Splurge in another segment.

Among the segments were performances that were later on The Muppet Show like Mahna Mahna, Java, a Frog Eating Worms, Happy Girl Meets a Monster, and The Computer Dinner which featured the first Cookie Monster.

There was also a segment called Scrap Flap that was later remade into Hugga Wugga, which is a classic by the way.

And let’s certainly not forget the Christmas themed segments since the Christmas holiday is coming up. There were two different sketches. One was about funny reindeer concerned about no snow and the other was about thieving monsters arriving at Santa’s (Arthur Godfrey) workshop. I recognized one of the monsters as the first Grover, though he plays a completely different character here.

Ed Sullivan must have really enjoyed having the Muppets on his show since he also hosted the Muppet Christmas special The Great Santa Claus Switch.

This compilation DVD is a great one, a true blast from the past for Muppet fans. The franchise is still as big as ever, but sometimes it’s good to look back on the classics.

Nov 282011
 

With the newest Muppet movie The Muppets now out in theaters, one of the main things I noticed was that many of the old Muppet characters return for they haven’t been seen in years. Ones like Thog the giant blue monster, Uncle Deadly, the Muppet Newsman, Link Hogthrob, Dr. Strangepork, Marvin Suggs, and singing duo Wayne & Wanda. They were all Muppet Show classics back in the day.

As a Muppet fan, I also happen to remember some other old Muppet characters from various features and specials with old footage. Here are some of my favorite rare Muppets.

Taminella Grinderfall: She’s a classic Muppet witch, who was only featured as the main wicked witch in some of the Muppet fairytale specials from the 60s and early 70s. Taminella is powerful, but has a comedic persona when putting up with silly ogres like Sweetums and Charlie.

King Goshposh: He’s another classic fairytale Muppet. Goshposh has had several different names, but is always featured as the king, naturally. He’s a laid back kind of ruler, who loves parties and presents. Goshposh started as a regular sized Muppet back in the 60s. Then later on, he became one of the larger Muppet characters until his final appearance on The Muppet Show when he was in a sketch with guest star Twiggy.

Featherstone: This sophisticated Muppet was always featured as the king’s royal advisor, but was later remade as a queen during his appearances on The Muppet Show. The change was pretty odd at first, but every king does need a queen.

Splurge: There have been quite a few large Muppet monsters over the years. Splurge was the very first one created. He has a tendency to crash through walls while trying to get anywhere. I guess it’s because he’s not bright enough to use a door. Splurge also loves radishes, even though we never actually see him eat any.

Wilkins & Wotkins: Back in the 50s and early 60s, these two made many coffee commercials together as a comedy duo. Wilkins loves the coffee and Wotkins doesn’t. So Wilkins uses every trick in the book to make him like it, even blow him up with a cannon.

Miss Mousey: Do you remember the old folk song, Froggy Went a Courtin’? This girl mouse was first created as the Miss Mousey character when the song was featured on The Muppets Valentine Show special. Of course Kermit was the Froggy, which would explain his relationship with her. After that, Miss Mousey made appearances on The Muppet Show during the first two seasons as a singer and as Kermit’s dance partner during the At the Dance segments. Whether Kermit still has feelings for Miss Mousey is unknown.

Annie Sue Pig: In season three of The Muppet Show, she was included among the regulars as a young singer. Miss Piggy only saw Annie Sue as a threat because she’s young and cute. However, Annie Sue is totally modest about her own success and admires Miss Piggy. After The Muppet Show ended, Annie Sue completely disappeared off the radar. What could’ve happened to her?

Rock ‘n’ Roll Monster: This was the first Muppet character to be featured on The Ed Sullivan Show back in 1966. It starts out as a tiny piece of fur and grows into a three-headed monster that totally rocks while singing Rock it to Me. After the song ends, the monster shrinks back down, only to be eaten by a Muppet bird. Talk about a one-hit wonder.


Floating Face: This character is definitely one of the most unique Muppet oddities. He also goes by the names “Nobody” and “Limbo”. It makes sense because he’s only a pair of eyes and a mouth and only appears in eerie graphical sketches and short films that are totally old school. Here is one of those sketches from Sesame Street (circa 1971) that I found on YouTube. I can only imagine what that face could really look like behind those shadows.

All Characters from Muppet Musicians of Bremen: They include Leroy the donkey, T.R. the rooster, Rover Joe the dog, Cutgut the cat, and four human Muppets, Mordecai Sledge, Lardpork, Mean Floyd, and Caleb Siles. These characters were all made specifically for that TV special.

It’s the same principle with all of the characters on Emmet Otter’s Jug Band Christmas. Although some of the animal characters from both specials made appearances on The Muppet Show, they were only featured as extra chorus members.

Dec 172010
 

The Great Santa Claus Switch was an old Muppet Christmas special I heard about awhile back, which features many of the old Muppet characters that were later featured on The Muppet Show. Think of it as one of those Star Maker features.

Ed Sullivan reads the tale to a group of children, who are the kids of some of the production staff on The Ed Sullivan Show. It’s Christmas Eve at the North Pole. Santa (Art Carney) and his elves, Zippety, Skippity, Hoppity, Bing, Bong, and Fred are hard at work in the toy workshop.

Underneath the workshop is a dark cave filled with creatures called frackles and their leader Cosmo Scam (Art Carney) who is an evil magician. His plan is to capture Santa and take his place in order to burglarize everyone in the world.

Cosmos succeeds at capturing Santa, courtesy of large monsters Thog and Thig. However, Fred gets suspicious when Cosmos arrives at the workshop disguised as Santa. So he ends up in the dungeon and replaced by a frackle. Then one by one, the other elves become suspicious and get thrown in the dungeon also. Now that’s just silly.

One of the most recognizable frackles was the one in the cigar box, who is actually Gonzo in his very first role before becoming a principle Muppet character.

Although Santa is imprisoned and running late, he still remains calm and manages to befriend Thog and Thig with his kindness. It goes to show that the magic of Christmas is everywhere.

Fred shows real bravery in helping the elves escape from the dungeon. Then Santa gets through to the rest of the frackles and they all team up to stop Cosmos and save Christmas.

This was a good Christmas special with classic Muppet characters and cute comedy. I’m glad I was able to find it on YouTube.