“Beyond the Pond” is an underrated episode of Fraggle Rock that had the misfortune to fall between two exceptionally memorable episodes: “River of Life” and “Gone, But Not Forgotten.” Having a similar theme to “River of Life,” but a considerably lighter touch, I think it tends to get lost in the shuffle.
If you’ve been missing Steve as much as I have lately, have I got a treat for you! Reader Andrew K alerted me to the existence of this three-part interview that Steve did a few days ago at the Great Philadelphia Comic Con. Approximately 45 minutes of pure gold; a really pleasant, informative conversation that didn’t get into the controversial Schism stuff at all (not that I would have minded, but I know some people are tired of it).
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.
Slightly off-topic, but I was thinking about this one today because Lin-Manuel Miranda has shingles.
And while I of course feel sorry for him–because by all accounts, shingles is a miserable illness–I’m also shocked and disturbed because I didn’t know it was possible to get shingles in your 30s. Lin is the same age I am; that means I’m susceptible too. Crap.
(Unless, of course, it only attacks obscenely talented and successful thirty-somethings, in which case I’m off the hook.)
“This may be one of the most saccharine Henson specials ever. The bunnies are all extremely cutesy, the forest impossibly idyllic, and everything’s very happy, cheerful and colorful.“
–TV Tropes on The Tale of the Bunny Picnic
Granted, it’s not exactly Watership Down either, but when I watched it for the first time recently, I couldn’t even finish it in one sitting because I was so upset by it.
Sure, the bunnies are cute and the colors are bright and the music is peppy, but much like Fraggle Rock, there are some serious themes hidden underneath the candy-colored exterior. Our Hero, Bean Bunny, is constantly bullied by his big brother, Lugsy, and the dog is blatantly and brazenly abused by the farmer. Ladies and gentlemen, Jim Henson brings you the charming story of adorable animals being tormented and mistreated…enjoy!
But eventually I went back and finished it, because I knew the payoff had to be worth it…and it was.
Today I ran across this video of a fan-made simulacrum of Kermit (not to be confused with Simula-Kerm) singing “Gethsemane” from Jesus Christ Superstar. I hesitated to post it, even–especially–on Easter Sunday, because I felt that doing so bordered on blasphemy. I may be a heretic, but I am not a blasphemer; a subtle distinction, but one that’s extremely important to me.
But there was one particular line in the song that struck me as poignant as it relates to the Schism:
“Show me there’s a reason for you wanting me to die.
You’re far too keen on ‘where’ and ‘how’…not so hot on ‘why.'”
It’s been approximately a year and a half, Disney. Still waiting for you to show us the reason.
A few items of interest:
- I decided that my domain name should reflect the name of my blog, so I added the domain name “frogoflamancha.blog.” The “frogquixote” URL should still work, however.
- I joined Twitter, so you can follow me @frogoflamancha. My intention is to use it as a tool, not make it a way of life; we’ll see how that goes.
Now for the major news:
I don’t know if anyone else has tried to access Steve’s blog lately. When I try it on my PC, I just get an error message, but when I tried it on my laptop, I got a maintenance page with the following message:
Things are changing, and I’ll be back ASAP.
Thanks for checking in,
So it’s a bit vague, and I don’t know exactly what he means by “things are changing,” but it certainly sounds as though, after these six long months, he’s finally getting ready to come back to the blog!
I’m not sure this warrants a full-on Kermit flail but it’s certainly cause for cautious optimism.
I don’t begrudge Steve the right to do whatever he wants with his blog, but the unfortunate consequence of him absenting himself when he did was that he had just banished the troll(s) from the comment section, and reading the comments had become infinitely more enjoyable. So I’m hopeful that not only will we soon be enjoying more stories and insights from Steve but also having pleasant conversations in the comments section again.
My own words are insufficient to express my emotions at this development. Take it, Wembley:
Fathom Events is bringing The Dark Crystal back to selected theaters on a limited basis. More information here. Remaining show dates are February 28th, March 3rd, and March 6th. Showtimes are 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. local time (sadly, the 2 p.m. showings do not come with a matinee discount).
A lot of these Fathom Events never make it anywhere near South Dakota at all, so I was extremely fortunate that the movie theater nearest my house happens to be one of the selected theaters where The Dark Crystal is being shown, so I went to the 2 p.m. showing this afternoon.
Dear Dave, Matt, David, Bill, Eric, and Peter:
Recently I used a quotation from Alexander Hamilton to illustrate my thoughts about Disney’s decision to cut ties with Steve Whitmire (which I refer to as the “Schism,” because I am fancy). The quotation that I used is from a revolutionary pamphlet that Hamilton wrote as a teenager with the somewhat clunky title, A Full Vindication of the Measures of Congress:
“In a civil society” Hamilton wrote, “it is the duty of each particular branch to promote not only the good of the whole community, but the good of every other particular branch. If one part endeavors to violate the rights of another, the rest ought to assist in preventing the injury. When they do not but remain neutral, they are deficient in their duty, and may be regarded, in some measure, as accomplices.”
I wanted to let you know that that sentiment was not directed at you in any way. It was directed squarely at the Muppet fans who remain complacent. I want you to know that I don’t consider you to be accomplices in the Schism, nor do I consider you to have been deficient in your duty. I understand and appreciate the difficulty, complexity, and potential volatility of your situation.
If I have been instrumental in confirming or adding one friend to his country, I shall not regret the time I have devoted to that laudable purpose.
–Passage from Alexander Hamilton’s “The Farmer Refuted,” slightly reworked to fit the current context.
Sometimes when I post something that I think is going to be controversial, my conflict aversion kicks in and I actively avoid looking to see if it has garnered any response.
Therefore, even though it happened in October 2017, I just found out today that, even if I haven’t succeeded in changing any hearts or minds through this blog or my related efforts, I did manage to gain a concession from one of Steve’s most vocal critics on the Tough Pigs forum (I ordinarily wouldn’t like to use the forum’s name in an instance like this, but since I’m linking to it anyway, it seems a bit silly to be coy about it).
It may have been a small victory, but I nevertheless feel that it is significant. It’s extremely gratifying to know that (a) all those years studying rhetoric–not to mention the student loans–have not been a complete waste and (b) my words have made a difference, no matter how small.
I believe in all of you. Let’s go out there and keep making a difference.
Have I mentioned that I love this song? I love this song.
I wrote about this song almost five years ago and observed that, even when Steve is performing characters originated by someone else, “there is an ineffable Steve-quality to his voice because, as this song echoes around my cranium, I can imagine Wembley Fraggle singing it too. Like, as a duet with Ernie. And now I really wish that could be a thing.”
Now I really, REALLY wish that could be a thing that existed outside my own head. Add it to the list of Muppet duets that I’d like to hear but are either impossible or extremely unlikely to occur.
Is it just me, or was the conflict in this episode really avoidable?
As my first real attempt at video creation/editing, I made a video tribute to Steve Whitmire:
Special thanks and apologies to my fellow Muppet Pundit commenters Matt L., Richard X., and Rocky D., whose photos/artwork were among those that I co-opted for use in this video.