Five Years Later: The Great Muppet Survey Revisited

In 2013, The Muppet Mindset had a feature called “The Great Muppet Survey” wherein they asked readers to respond to a bunch of Muppet-related questions and then published the results periodically. Five years ago today, they published my responses (this was back when I was spelling “Arlene” with an “i”).

What with all the recent changes in the Muppet world, I thought it would be interesting to go back and see if and how my responses have changed after 5 years.  And if it’s not interesting, too bad, because I’m going to do it anyway.  😉

For reference, here are my original responses from five years ago. I’m going to summarize my answers from 2013 here, and then I’m going to give my 2018 answers.

A lot of these questions end with “and why?” In the interest of space, unless my answer has changed, I’m not going to reiterate my reasoning behind my answers. You can go back and read my original responses if you’re interested.

1.  Who are your three favorite characters from The Muppet Show, Muppets Tonight, The Jim Henson Hour, the Muppet movies, etc.?
2013: Kermit, Dr. Teeth, and Beaker.

2018: My answers have not changed, but for this purpose I draw a distinction between Kermit and Simula-Kerm (with all due respect to Matt, as always). If I were to round out the top five (just for the heck of it), it would be Bean Bunny and Uncle Deadly, in that order.

2.  Who are your three favorite characters from Sesame Street?
2013: Bert and Ernie (not necessarily in that order) and Alistair Cookie. Not Cookie Monster per se, but that specific alter ego of his.
2018: My answer has not changed, but I would round out the top five with Big Bird and Herry Monster.

3.  Who are your three favorite characters from Fraggle Rock?
2013: Mokey, Red, and Cantus.
Note that when I originally filled out this survey I hadn’t yet had the opportunity to watch Fraggle Rock in its entirety, so I based this opinion primarily on that one episode that I had gotten to see in 1986, supplemented by some cursory Muppet Wiki research.

2018: Wembley, Mokey, Cantus. Rounding out the top five would be Murray the Minstrel and Mudwell the Mudbunny.

4.  What is your favorite television program starring any of Jim Henson’s creations (e.g. The Muppet Show, Sesame Street, Fraggle Rock, Dinosaurs, etc.)?
2013: Sesame Street.
2018: While Sesame Street and Fraggle Rock each have a mission and an ethos, in 2018 Fraggle Rock gets the edge, if only because it’s wall-to-wall Muppet content without the counting films and endless reiterations of the alphabet. 

5.  What is your favorite Muppet movie and why?
2013: The Muppet Movie and Muppet Treasure Island, with Follow That Bird as an honorable mention.
2018: My answer has not changed, nor have my reasons: The Muppet Movie, because it’s pure Muppet perfection; Muppet Treasure Island, for restoring my faith in the Muppets after Jim Henson’s death; Follow That Bird, for taking us on an unexpectedly emotional journey and holding up so well after 30+ years.

6.  What is your favorite Muppet/Sesame/Fraggle song?
2013: “I Don’t Want to Live on the Moon”
2018: “I Don’t Want to Live on the Moon” is still my favorite Sesame song, and one of my favorite songs of all time, but instead of lumping them all together, I’m going to pick one from each category. My favorite Muppet song is “Rainbow Connection,” and my favorite Fraggle song is “Dixie Wailin’,” except on the days when it’s “Just a Dream Away.”
By the way, picking a favorite Fraggle song is a lot harder for me than picking a favorite Muppet or Sesame song, probably because Fraggle Rock wasn’t a part of my childhood and so my preferences are less firmly established. Or maybe I’m just an incurable wembler when it comes to Fraggle music.

7.  If you could have dinner with any living Muppet performer, who would you choose and why?
2013: I deliberated before choosing Steve Whitmire, because he performed so many of my favorite characters.
2018: I unhesitatingly choose Steve Whitmire, because he has become one of my favorite human beings.
(With that said, I certainly wouldn’t say no to a dinner invitation from Frank Oz.)

8.  If you could tell Jim Henson one thing, what would it be?
2013: “I love you so much, you brilliantly silly man!”

2018: “I find no satisfaction in saying that your people are fractured into factions.”

(But I do find satisfaction in making such a clever and relevant Hamilton reference.)

9.  If the President called you and asked to discuss Muppet projects, what would you tell him was the “Greatest Muppet Moment of All Time”?
2013: The end of “Muppet Family Christmas.”
2018: Before I can answer this question, I require clarification as to which president of what is supposed to be calling me. Because there are a lot of presidents of a lot of different things with whom I’d be happy to discuss Muppets, but if the current so-called “president” of the United States called me, I’d refuse to take the call.

10. What’s the name of that song?
2013: Exactly.
2018: Increasingly, “Flowers on the Wall.”

11. If a judge ruled that Grover had to be your personal assistant for a month, what jobs would you have him do?
2013: Shred documents and take out the recycling.
2018: Yard work. I didn’t have a yard in 2013, but now I do, and if I turn my back on it for a minute, it gets overrun with weeds and tree seedlings and buried in dead leaves and seed pods (depending on the season, of course). So it would be wonderful to have some help with it, especially cute and furry help who accepts hugs as payment.

12. In your opinion, what is the worst Muppet production ever made?
2013: I hedged the question before mentioning The Jim Henson Hour.

2018: I say with conviction that it’s The Muppets (2015). Muppet humor should push the boundaries but never cross them; Muppets 2015 went way over the line, and I don’t know if there can ever be any coming back from that.

13. Who is one celebrity you would love to see cameo in the next Muppet movie?
2013: I gave a rambling answer about Roberto Benigni that’s kind of embarrassing in retrospect.
2018: Honestly, the only person that I care about seeing work with the Muppets again is Steve Whitmire. And yes, I understand and accept that it’s extremely unlikely, but that’s currently my only opinion on the topic.

14. If you could take a picture with any Muppet, who would you choose and how would you pose?
2013: Bert and Ernie, with my arms around their shoulders.
2018: As long as we’re dreaming, I would choose Kermit and I would pose him on Steve’s arm, where he belongs.

15. What is your favorite piece of Muppet merchandise that you own?
2013: The DVD sets Sesame Street Old School: Volume 3 and 40 Years of Sunny Days.

2018: Probably my complete-series Fraggle Rock DVD set, which I didn’t own yet at the time that I initially filled out the survey.
I also have a 6-inch Ernie plush and a Kermit Beanie Baby that I’m rather fond of. They sit on a shelf in my living room in tribute to both Jim Henson and Steve Whitmire, the only two men to have brought both characters to life.

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