Welcome back to 60 for 60, a yearlong celebration of Steve Whitmire and his work in anticipation of his 60th birthday later this year. This month we celebrate Steve’s work as Beaker, specifically in the viral videos that the Muppets made for YouTube.Despite the fact that Beaker is one of my favorite Muppets, I originally hadn’t included him in this project, for reasons that seemed to make sense at the time but that I can no longer remember. Then I watched the viral videos in which he features again and realized what a travesty it was to leave them out, because each of them is completely brilliant, and it’s some of the best and most Muppety content the Muppets have put out in the last 30 years. By all accounts, Steve had a lot of input into the creation of the viral videos, which means that he gets a lot of the credit for their quality and success.
In June 2017, The Muppet Mindset published questions for the “ALL NEW Great Muppet Survey,” an updated version of their previous “Great Muppet Survey,” which I had filled out in 2013 and revisited in 2018. They published two sets of responses to the “ALL NEW Great Muppet Survey” but have never mentioned it since, as far as I can tell. This was approximately a month before they, along with ToughPigs, broke the news of the Schism, but whether they abandoned the project as a direct result of the world turning upside down and sideways, I do not know.
I recently discovered the “ALL NEW” survey questions and thought, “I have access to these questions and I have a blog; why don’t I just answer the questions on my blog instead of submitting them and waiting to see when and if somebody else decides to publish them?” So that’s what I’m doing. Thanks to Jarrod Fairclough for the questions, and I hope you don’t mind me taking matters into my own hands.
A few weeks ago I got a Google alert on a brief interview that Steve Whitmire gave to a local news station in Knoxville, TN regarding the Fanboy Expo that was going on there. I hoped that would not be all that we heard out of Knoxville and happily, it is not.
This morning, YouTube helpfully and accurately suggested that I might like this 25-minute Q&A that Steve gave at the Fanboy Expo. This panel was recorded and posted by Joseph Scarbrough, a name I recognize from the Muppet Pundit forum, even though I don’t think I ever interacted with him there, but a big “thank you” to him on the off-chance that he’s reading this.
This panel is a little different than some of the other panels we’ve seen. It’s shorter by approximately 20 minutes, and instead of the moderator sitting up front with Steve and asking him questions that we’ve already heard a gazillion times, he stood in the audience and helped with their questions. The whole thing pretty much consists of audience questions, so in that sense, it’s a true Q&A
I don’t know about you, but I could sure use some happy right about now, so here is my tragically belated and unreasonably long continuation of my review of Muppet Babies 2018.
(Part One of my review can be found here.)
Initially I was only going to watch and review the first episode of Muppet Babies because it was available for free on Amazon and YouTube. Then I saw that episode 5 was going to feature characters of Steve’s, including Rizzo, and I was very curious to see how they would handle them, so I purchased and watched that one too. Here I’ll be reviewing all four of the stories that I saw over the course of the two episodes.
In honor of the July 4th holiday, Tough Pigs had a feature in which they posted Muppet YouTube videos connected in some way with each of the United States (plus the District of Columbia).
The video they used for South Dakota was kind of weird, but then again, it wasn’t their first choice. Their first choice was Muppet Mount Rushmore from “Sex and Violence,” but they couldn’t find it on YouTube. (Odd…I know it used to be there, although that was five years ago by now.)
Anyway, it appears that the states were listed in the reverse order that they were admitted to the Union, and they used “Stars and Stripes Forever” for Delaware in order to have a big finish.
Now, I’m not saying that “Stars and Stripes Forever” is inappropriate for Delaware, but in watching the video again, it seems to me that there’s a lot of South Dakota stuff in there as well. My contention is that “Stars and Stripes” would have worked just as well for South Dakota, and to prove it, I’m going to count all the South Dakota-related stuff in the video:
This is what the Fourth of July looked like before the Schism:
This is what the Fourth of July looks like after the Schism:
- The Fourth of July was much more fun before Steve’s unwarranted dismissal. Now it’s apparently just tears and kazoo anthems against a plain background (not that I have anything against plain blue backgrounds 😉 ).
- That said, however, I do enjoy Walter’s kazoo harmonies.
- Daaaaaaaamn, Steve as Beaker totally killed the piccolo part on “Stars and Stripes Forever!”
- On a related note, I never thought I would say this, but I MISS RIZZO!
- Sam the Eagle clearly stopped plucking his eyebrow(s) sometime between 2009 and 2015.
- It’s really difficult to take pride in a country where kids are put in cages by pumpkin-headed demagogues, which is an incongruous thing to post on a Muppet blog, but it’s something that unfortunately has to be iterated and reiterated until our lawmakers get the point.
The original Muppet Babies series was not part of my childhood because it was on a channel that we didn’t get at my house. However, as a teenager I had a steady babysitting job and I watched Muppet Babies with those kids a lot, so I’m passingly familiar with it. And yet, that was twenty-some years ago, so it’s no longer in the forefront of my consciousness.
All of which is just to say that, as I review the new Muppet Babies series (or, at least, the two episodes of it that I’ve seen), I won’t be making comparisons with the original series because the original series is largely lost to me in the mists of memory.
Happy New Year! As I look back on 2017, it seems to me that: “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.”
Notwithstanding numerous references, however, The Muppets have yet to do an adaptation of A Tale of Two Cities, but we can acknowledge Mr. Dickens with another scene from Muppet Christmas Carol:
I would be remiss to post this video and not say a “thank you” or two…
“Faust, a five-act grand opera, is by Charles Gounod with a French libretto by Jules Barbier and Michel Carré. It is loosely based on Faust, Part I, by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. Goethe’s lesser-known follow-up, 2 Faust 2 Furious, focused on a man who made a deal with the diesel.”
–Erik Forrest Jackson, pushing all my geeky English-major buttons in an explanatory footnote of Muppets Meet the Classics: The Phantom of the Opera
When I opened the book and saw that the epigraph was a quote from a renowned French philosopher and a line from an old infomercial, I knew I was going to like this book.
When I started laughing hysterically at the table of contents, I knew I was going to love this book.
When I finished reading it, I wanted to go back and read the original novel again to compare the two; the mark of a good book is that it makes you want to read more.
Okay, one thing you have to know about me: my taste in Christmas carols runs very traditional.
I don’t mind pop singers singing pop songs in pop style, but when they start singing Christmas carols in pop style, it rubs me the wrong way. (And some Christmas songs, like “Last Christmas,” need to be retired permanently. Seriously.)
Tonight I was working at the store where I work part-time, and of course, ’tis the season when stores play Christmas music from morning to night; I heard a weird soul/R&B version of “Carol of the Bells.” Let’s just say it was not to my taste. Also, whoever was singing it left out some of the words, so some of the words didn’t fit with the music, which is a major pet peeve of mine.
So, to get the bad taste of that song out of my ears, here’s a good, Muppety version of “Carol of the Bells.”
“The last temptation is the greatest treason:
To do the right deed for the wrong reason.”
–T.S. Eliot, Murder in the Cathedral
I have a confession to make: Kermit the Frog is more “real” to me than any of the other Muppets. I remember when Jim Henson died, my first thought was not “What’s going to happen to the Muppets?” or “What’s going to happen with Sesame Street?” but “What’s going to happen to Kermit?”
So when news of the Schism broke, I was less concerned about Steve’s other characters than I was about Kermit. But as I processed the news, I started worrying about Beaker.
Since Beaker doesn’t really talk, I feared that Disney would feel that it didn’t matter who performed him. In fact, the opposite is true: a character who doesn’t talk needs a skilled, consistent performer who knows how to convey an idea nonverbally.