4. Recreating The Muppet Show’s opening in The Muppets
I mean this in the most complimentary way possible: 2011’s The Muppets is some of the best fanfiction I’ve ever witnessed. After years away from the spotlight, Muppet lover Jason Segel (both on film and in real life) worked his ass off to bring Kermit and friends back from the brink of being forgotten. The film is full of fanservice and cameos from the characters’ other famous fans, and that tribute is no more obvious than in the shot for shot recreation of the classic Muppet Show theme. If you look at the original below, you can see just how exact they got it.
It’s all there, from the insert of Statler and Waldorf to the weird full body Muppets, to even Fozzie and Piggy’s placement around Kermit. There’s even a great voice cameo that you likely missed. Jerry Nelson, the original announcer for The Muppet Show, recorded a whole new introduction for the scene. Nelson – who originated the roles of Robin, Gobo Fraggle, and Sesame Street’s The Count – was unfortunately too sick at the time of filming to puppeteer in the film, and would pass away in 2012, making this moment his last ever appearance with the Muppets, and an extra beautiful tribute to the characters’ roots.
3. Muppet Babies take Manhattan
In the days of ’80s Saturday morning cartoons, Muppet Babies was the main event for me, as I not only got to see all the Muppets animated, but they were the extra-adorable kids versions of themselves! This sparked a wave of “popular characters, only as infants” works that are still around to this day, and it all began with this saccharine sweet sequence from Muppets Take Manhattan.
The look and feel of the show are all there in the 1984 dream sequence. The costumes mostly match up with what they’d use on the show, as are the characterizations, and the doo-wop style of the song fits with the shows memorable theme song. By the way, around Muppets Take Manhattan’s release, Jim Henson created and appeared in a little seen music video of “I Am Gonna Always Love You” that parodied the music videos of that time. It’s likely incomprehensible to anyone under 25, but hey, anyone can appreciate that cool visor Henson is rocking.
2. Singing The Rainbow Connection in a real, live swamp
Thanks to decades of talk show appearances and The Muppet Show basically being the most watched program in global syndication, there was almost no one left in the world who didn’t know who Kermit the Frog was by 1979. What people didn’tknow was exactly how Jim Henson would justify an increased budget and scope for the Muppets big screen debut of the TV-sized characters. When their cinematic debut begins a wizzbang cacophony of theatrical grandeur is side-stepped as we slowly zoom into a swamp to find Kermit solemnly playing a banjo. That may not sound like much, but in all of three minutes, Henson reassured fans that the heart and tone of his beloved creatures would remain intact, simultaneously wowing the audience with practical FX wizardry unachievable on television, AND introducing what would go on to arguably become The Muppets best and most famous song, “Rainbow Connection.”
Saying Jim Henson was to puppets what Walt Disney was to animation is a wonderfully apt comparison. However, it’s highly unlikely Uncle Walt would’ve personally curled himself up inside a steel drum and performed with a puppet underwater for dozens of hours just to get the opening shot of a movie. But Henson did, and that may make him superior, not to mention more lovable! –Chris Antista
1. The close to Jim Henson’s memorial
Jim Henson’s premature death in 1990 was certainly a tragic one, and one Muppet fans have never fully recovered from. He surrounded himself with so many fantastic talents, but Henson was an irreplaceable genius, and the whole world was mourning when the Jim Henson Memorial took place. All his closest friends and collaborators were there to celebrate the man’s life, singing many of Henson’s favorite songs and sharing stories about the man they loved. And while Big Bird singing “It Isn’t Easy Being Green,” is a close second, the moment when every Muppeteer in attendance picked up their signature character and sang one of Henson’s all time favorite songs.
They reprised the song on the TV special celebration of Henson
“Just One Person” is a part of Snoopy The Musical, and it perfectly captures the world Henson built with the Muppets. From humble beginning and self-doubt, friends come together through believing in each other to make something great, which is how all those folks ended up on stage to celebrate the life of the man they all believed in. It’s a tearful moment that instills an incredible amount of hope during a time of great sadness, all through the use of silly creatures over a person’s hand. It’s the culmination of everything the Muppets stood for, and fitting farewell for a man whose parting words in the memorial pamphlet were “Please watch out for each other and love and forgive everybody. It’s a good life, enjoy it.”
If you’ve stopped crying enough to read these last bits, then feel free to share your favorite Muppet moments in the comments, be they happy or sad. Now, allow us to flail our arms like Kermit and run off.