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January 2, 2018

Hopes for a Muppet-Filled 2017: How’d We Do?

Filed under: Commentary,Feature — Joe Hennes @ 12:16 pm

Oh hey!  It’s 2018!  A brand new year, filled with brand new anxieties.  Will the Muppets still be a thing a year from now?  Will we have actual things to watch and enjoy?  Will my life even have any purpose???

Looking forward is far too stressful.  So instead, let’s make it easy on ourselves and look backward instead.

At the beginning of 2017, I wrote an article stating my hopes for the Muppets and Muppet fans everywhere.  It was pretty ambitious, and now that the year is over, I think it’s worth revisiting so we can see how close we came.

More Muppet Productions

We definitely got the bare minimum – a new season of Sesame Street, various commercials and TV appearances, and some YouTube stuff.  But the biggie was The Muppets Take the Bowl.  Of course, it wasn’t broadcast for the masses, but it still counts.  At the very least, it’s a consolation for a year that didn’t come with any new TV shows or films.

More Muppet Merch

We got a Herry Monster Funko Pop, a Slimey plush, and more.  Okay, not a ton, but enough to satisfy fans like us who love anything old and funky-looking.

Minimal Muppet Deaths

In 2016, we lost celebrities like David Bowie and Prince, both of whom were legends and surprise deaths.  2017 wasn’t quite as harsh, though we did lose 3 Muppet Show guest stars (Roger Moore, Bruce Forsyth, and Jim Nabors), one Muppets Tonight guest (Don Rickles), and one Storyteller (John Hurt).

Muppets at Walt Disney World

We wanted a bigger Disney theme parks presence for the Muppets, but instead, we saw the Muppets Courtyard get a demotion, the hot air balloon removed, and a new marquee for Muppet*Vision 3D that will make it far too easy to replace for another non-Muppet atrocity.  We’ve definitely taken a few steps backward in this category.

Old Stuff on DVD

Literally only one classic production had a new DVD release worth mentioning.  Emmet Otter’s Jug Band Christmas, complete with the Kermit bits in-tact, made its way into our homes.  But nothing comes without a price: In order to make the film widescreen, they chopped off the top and bottom of the frame, so technically, it’s still not complete.  Ah well, maybe they’ll get it right in another dozen years or so.

Something to Make You Leave Your House

We had the aforementioned Muppets Take the Bowl, which a few thousand of us poked our heads out of the ground to see.  But we also had not one, not two, not even three, but a whopping four new museum exhibits to coax us out of our warm apartments and into the wild.

Sesame for Grownups

Sesame Street managed to impress the masses with spoofs of Stranger Things, Real Housewives, “Despacito“, and a whole bunch of ’80s jams.  Oh, and Sesame’s behind-the-scenes series “Below the Frame” returned for a second season, which is like candy to right-thinking folks like us.

Return to the Rock

2017 brought us a few announcements of some exciting upcoming Fraggle stuff, but the only available merch is the new plush Gobo and Red from Super Impulse.  Honestly, it seems a little disappointing, but then I remembered that we got almost nothing new from the Rock in the past few years, so two dolls and two keychains is kind of a big deal.  Is that sad or invigorating?  You decide.

Celebrate Dark Crystal’s 35th

The Jim Henson Company really went all-in on their Dark Crystal celebration.  This year, we got a children’s book, a bunch of comics, a board game, and ugly sweaters.  We also got a spectacular new coffee table book, and an announcement of a new upcoming Netflix TV series.  All in all, a pretty great year for the Gelflings!

Museum of the Moving Image

All we really wanted when we made this list was for the permanent Jim Henson exhibit at MOMI to open.  And open it did, and it’s everything we hoped it would be.  Really, one of the greatest exhibits dedicated to Jim’s work, and I hope everyone gets a chance to see it.  If not, you can always join us for an abbreviated video tour!

ToughPigs in ’17

I’m extremely proud of the ToughPigs team for all the work we accomplished this year.  We didn’t have a new TV series or movie to keep us on our toes, and yet we still filled a full year of reviews, commentaries, interviews, and more.  We took a stand on some non-Muppet issues we felt were too important to ignore, we traveled to Los Angeles to report on the Hollywood Bowl show, we dealt with the complicated news of a departing Muppet performer, and we continued to celebrate everything we love about the Muppets, Sesame Street, Fraggle Rock, and Jim Henson.  Despite more drama than anyone could’ve expected, I’m glad that we came out of this year feeling accomplished and ready to face whatever comes our way in 2018.

Thanks for reading throughout 2017, gang.  And here’s to another year of Muppet fun!

Click here to ring in the Lew year on the ToughPigs forum!

by Joe Hennes – Joe@ToughPigs.com

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