Christmas in September

Welcome! If you read my blog regularly, you know that I always like to do something special for Steve’s birthday.* I found this video a while ago of a YouTuber watching Muppet Christmas Carol for the first time and giving her reaction to it. Not only was this her first time watching Muppet Christmas Carol; it’s also her first time watching any Muppet movie. I thought Steve would enjoy it because Rizzo really made a positive impression on her. She’s done more reaction videos of other Muppet productions, and the rats are consistently one of her favorite parts. She even misses them when they’re not in the original Muppet Movie.

Personally, it’s fun for me to get the perspective of someone who doesn’t know much about Muppets but knows about literature, since I have a perspective on both. And it’s just so refreshing to hear opinions about the Muppets from someone who hasn’t been tainted by fandom snobbery.

Hope you enjoy!

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* And yes, obviously it’s Jim Henson’s birthday too, but he’s not around anymore to know whether people remember and potentially be hurt if they don’t. I choose to prioritize the living, and I don’t think Jim would disagree with me.

Why I’m Afraid To Watch the New Fraggle Rock

I know, of course, that now that “Fraggle Rock”: Back to the Rock is available, I shouldn’t talk about it without watching it first. But I’m afraid.

I’m afraid that talking about it without having watched it will be hypocritical, and that talking about something about which I do not have firsthand knowledge will make me look stupid. But if I try to watch it, I’m afraid I won’t be able to be objective because almost everything that I’ve found out about it makes me so angry.

I make it a point not to review things that I haven’t seen. So what follows is not a review. I am not making value judgments about what other people do or do not enjoy, nor am I making recommendations about what other people should or should not watch. What follows is merely a subjective account of the feelings I have from the above trailer, reviews, etc. To reiterate, I am NOT saying that other people should not watch the series or judging people who choose to do so. I’m just trying to explain why I feel that I CAN’T watch it.

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No More Apologies

If you read my two-part series condemning Miss Piggy’s abusive behavior, you may have gotten the sense that I might have been talking about something more than the Muppets. If so, you weren’t wrong.

The first part of the series was written in May 2019, before Johnny Depp had filed any defamation lawsuits, so at that point, the case wasn’t really on my radar (although it should have been). By the time I wrote the second part, it was April 2021, at which point information had come to light that strongly indicated that the story we had been fed was the opposite of what had actually happened, that Amber Heard was the abuser in the relationship and Johnny Depp the victim. I didn’t mention the case by name in that analysis. Maybe I should have. But it was definitely at the forefront of my thoughts as I was writing it. That’s what I meant when I said that things tend to happen when they are supposed to happen.

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Muppet Show Viewing Guide: Season 5

Season 5 is probably the best The Muppet Show has to offer. If the DVD releases had been based on merit rather than chronology, it should have been the first. Then everyone could enjoy it without having to offer up a pound of flesh to Disney per month in perpetuity.

It makes me a little sad that Henson and Co. stopped making The Muppet Show just as they got really good at it. Nevertheless, this season has its uncomfortable moments just as the other ones do. Furthermore, ceasing production on the Muppet Show freed them up to do Fraggle Rock. And as good as The Muppet Show can be at times, (the original) Fraggle Rock is infinitely better. Yeah, I said it, and I’ll stand by it.

I’m classifying The Muppet Show Season 5 episodes according to the same system that I used in my Season 4 Viewing Guide:

  • Delightful
  • Mostly Harmless
  • Cringeworthy
  • Horrific

However, because there are a couple of episodes not readily available for viewing, I’ve had to add a couple of special categories. 

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5 Muppet Songs More Overplayed Than “Rainbow Connection”

“Don’t you like music?” Franz asked. “No,” said Sabina, and then added, “though in a different era…” She was thinking of the days of Johann Sebastian Bach, when music was like a rose blooming on a boundless snow-covered plain of silence. 

Milan Kundera, The Unbearable Lightness of Being

“Rainbow Connection” is the greatest song from one of the greatest Muppet productions ever made. Because of its popularity, there are a lot of different versions of it, and this is a good thing because it means that everyone can pick the version that best suits their preference.

However, many members of the Muppet fan conglomerate think it gets played too often, and it makes them mad as hell. If they had their way, “Rainbow Connection” would get locked in a vault and only taken out every 15 years or so, like a lot of other Disney content.

And although I take verbal jabs at them for what I consider to be their misplaced vehemence over something that is relatively inconsequential, I have to admit that I sort of understand where they’re coming from. “Rainbow Connection” is a beautiful song, but there are other absolutely lovely Muppet songs, and it might be nice if some of them had more exposure.

And while I don’t get tired of “Rainbow Connection” itself, there are some versions of it that I like much better than others. For example, while I have listened to Matt Vogel sing it a few times, I am convinced that I could live out the rest of my life quite happily without hearing it him sing it again because I know now that he will never be Kermit to me. That sounds like a critique of his performance, and to some extent it is, but to a greater extent, it is a deliberate decision on my part. But that’s a topic for another time.

But I don’t get tired of the song itself. Ever. At least, I haven’t yet, and it’s been decades since I first heard it, so if it was going to happen, you’d think it would have occurred by now. Nevertheless, there are songs, including Muppet songs, that I DO get tired of hearing. In my opinion, the following Muppet songs are much more deserving of the fandom’s contempt due to overexposure than “Rainbow Connection.”

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A Birthday Promise

Happy Birthday, Steve!

I didn’t really know what to do this year because, although it’s your birthday, I feel like we’re the ones who have gotten the gifts: Cave-in and the community that’s grown up around it, the talks you’ve given, and your engagement with the fans.

Ultimately, I decided that what I wanted to give you for your birthday this year is a three-fold promise:

  1. I will always support you as far as I am able.
  2. I will always respect your point of view, even if I disagree with it.
  3. If I do criticize you, it is always with the intention of being constructive.
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Cave-In 2nd Annversary Show

This month marks the 2nd anniversary of Cave-In. Ordinarily, this month’s episode would be on this Friday. However, I have it on good authority from Trollbot 9000 that this month’s episode will actually be on the exact anniversary, which is Tuesday, August 31st.

If you notice, Steve has done something very clever in this Instagram post: It says, “Cave-In This Week.” Technically true, but misleading. It’s not happening this calendar week, but it is happening within seven days.

So, to reiterate, no Cave-in on Friday, but tune in next Tuesday for a special anniversary show. That’s all I know about it.

Muppets Now and Earth to Ned

Assuming that nothing has changed since I cancelled my subscription last month, there are two Henson-related series original to Disney+ currently streaming. Muppets Now was originally meant to be a series of shorts but was instead expanded into a series of full-length episodes for some inexplicable reason. Earth to Ned is a Creature Shop production made in association with the Walt Disney Company. Each sounded at least vaguely interesting to begin with. Having seen them both, the former is worse than I expected, and the latter is far better.

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Muppet Show Viewing Guide: Season 4

Muppet Show episodes run the whole gamut, from the delightful to the disturbing. If you’re new to Seasons 4 and 5 like I am, you may wonder where each episode falls. The Disney+ content warnings help a little but don’t give you any specifics and are sometimes esoteric.

Back in the days before there were streaming services, or even video recorders, there wasn’t a way to skip over the parts of The Muppet Show that were less than stellar. You just had to sit through them and wait for the good stuff to come back.

Now, however, between DVDs, YouTube, and streaming, it’s easier to skip over the bad parts and enjoy the good parts. It’s just a matter of knowing what to expect and where to look. Well, I “took a chance on the crap” so you don’t have to, and I can tell you the highlights and the lowlights.

I’m organizing the episodes into four categories:

  • Delightful: Sit back and relax; you shouldn’t see anything offensive or objectionable in these episodes at all
  • Mostly Harmless: There are a few uncomfortable moments, but these episodes are enjoyable for the most part
  • Cringeworthy: There are a few bright spots, but these episodes are mostly dull or upsetting.
  • Horrific: These episodes are almost completely demoralizing. Even the few good numbers aren’t enough to save them. Skip the episodes altogether and look up the few good parts on YouTube instead.

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We Need To Talk About Piggy (Part Two)

Thank you for waiting for the culmination of this analysis. It’s tempting to say that it’s long overdue after I published the first part nearly two years ago. At the same time, however, I believe that things tend to happen when they are supposed to happen, and now seems like an opportune moment to revisit this important issue. 

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Muppet Show Content Warnings

If you read my blog regularly, you know that I am not a fan of the Walt Disney Company, and I do not hesitate to call out its greedy or amoral behavior, especially when it has the potential to ruin individual lives or undermine our already fragile system of government. However, calling out bad behavior is only one side of the accountability coin. The other side is praising individuals or corporations when they do something good. 

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My 5 Favorite Dinosaurs Episodes

At first, when I heard that Dinosaurs was coming to Disney+, I wasn’t that excited because I didn’t intend to still be subscribed to it that that point. But now it appears that the only way to watch the last two seasons of The Muppet Show may be on Disney+, so I’m going to hold out on cancelling my subscription until I’ve watched all the episodes I haven’t seen. 

With the purported Muppet Show release still being several weeks away, I’ve been revisiting Dinosaurs. It’s been a real treat, first, to remember how much I loved it in the first place and, second, to get all the jokes that went over my head when I watched it as a kid during its original run. 

I recently found a YouTube video about the “Top 10 Dinosaurs Episodesand was surprised to find that only one of them was one that I find particularly memorable and enjoyable (and one is an episode that I actively dislike after watching it again with the benefit of an adult perspective). So I decided to write my own post about my favorite Dinosaurs episodes. Between the time that the original run ended and the series’ streaming release, I haven’t seen much of it since. Therefore, my list is limited to five favorites. These are not all the episodes that I find memorable, but the memories I have of these episodes give me the most enjoyment.

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Muppet Babies: “A Tale of Two Twins”

At first, I never intended to subscribe to Disney+, but I decided otherwise when I thought it might be the only way that I would ever get to watch Hamilton. So I finally gave in, and that allowed me to watch new Muppet content, including the first two seasons of Muppet Babies 2018, which I really love. Not only is the humor more Muppety than anything the main Muppet troupe has done in the last four or five years (despite the performers’ best efforts), but it does a really good job of talking about important life lessons in a way that’s accessible to toddlers without being too heavy-handed or condescending.

MuppetBabies-(2018)-ScooterAndSkeeter-(2020-05-13)

(Scooter and Skeeter)

There’s one episode from the second season that really touched my heart and made me wish that this show had been on when I was a kid. It’s called “A Tale of Two Twins.” The twins in question are Scooter and Skeeter who, though not main characters, were introduced in the second season and have gotten to visit the playroom a handful of times now. In this episode, they challenge gender norms and learn to be assertive in not letting others define who they are.

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Voting Coda

I want to try to avoid off-topic posts from now on, but now that the election is over and the results are known, I do want to take a moment to thank everyone who voted. I don’t know how many, if any, of you were persuaded to vote because of me and my story, but it doesn’t matter. The fact that you voted is the important thing. Thank you. 

If there are those of you who didn’t vote, for whatever reason, it’s okay. Fortunately, thanks to the outcome, I feel confident in saying that you will get another chance someday. I hope you’ll take it.

If there’s one lesson I hope all of us will take from this election, as well as the one before it, it’s that we cannot take our democracy for granted. It can’t just coast on cruise control; we need to take the wheel and steer, or it will go completely off the road and into a ditch. 

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