Muppet Fans Who Grew Up

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

 

The New ToughPigs.com!


by Joe Hennes

ToughPigs has updated to a brand new design! If you're reading this, you must be using an RSS reader. Click here to read about the new site and please update your RSS feed!

Saturday, December 5, 2009

 

The Muppets: Kings of Queen?


by Ryan Roe

How many times have you watched the “Bohemian Rhapsody” video on YouTube? Five? Ten? Fifty? With its mercurial rise to the top of the viral video charts, it’s a pretty sure thing that most people are watching the Muppet version of the Queen rock epic more than once. The coolest thing about it is that it’s a new Muppet production that’s both good and popular, which is a combination Muppet fans aren’t used to these days. The response has been amazing… and yet, I feel like I’m supposed to be more excited about it than I actually am.

The video itself is head-spinningly entertaining. There are so many Muppets in it! And they all get their little moment in the spotlight, from the major Muppet stars like Fozzie and Animal, to guys we don’t see nearly often enough, like Johnny Fiama and Beauregard. Not to mention the Muppet bananas. It looks great (Watch it in HD!), it sounds superb, and they even manage to censor the original song’s lyrics (apparently Muppets don’t put guns against heads or get stoned/spit in their eyes) in clever, character-appropriate ways. Then there’s the tag at the end with Kermit and Scooter, which is a perfect punchline to the whole thing.

It is a very, very good Muppet thing. And it is popular – sweet baby Ray’s, is it popular. Since November 23, it’s been watched nearly 10 million times. Ten million! It’s even been stolen and re-posted by various sneaky YouTube users, and most of those have views in the thousands. It’s been blogged, Facebooked, and tweeted more times than you can shake an arm-rod at, and it’s been featured on various TV shows. I bet more people have seen this video in two weeks than have seen Muppets From Space since it was released in 1999.

I’m not even sure why it’s so popular. The Muppets have been posting videos on YouTube since summer 2008, and they’ve all been wonderful, but even the Webby-award-winning “Ode to Joy” took over a year to reach its current tally of 7 million views. So what it is it about “Bohemian Rhapsody?” Is it the fact that there are so many beloved characters in it? Maybe it’s because “Rhapsody” is a hit rock song rather than a centuries-old Beethoven tune. Maybe it’s because the selection of such a grown-up song reminds people that the Muppets are (as they say) not just for kids. Orrrrr, maybe it’s just because it’s so dang good.


But here’s the thing. A lot of folks – both casual fans and hardcore geeks – have declared this to be the first sign of the Muppets’ “comeback,” but I just can’t join that parade yet. For one thing, the video is only four minutes and 47 seconds long. People are enjoying the Muppets while they’re wasting time at work, sure. But would they sit still for an hour-long TV special? Or a two-hour movie? Or (We can always hope!) a new TV series?

Also, clicking on a YouTube link is free. The current promotional push is presumably paving the way for an eventual new movie, but movie tickets cost more than free. And anyway, by the time a film is ready for release “Bohemian Rhapsody” will probably be two years old, and who knows if anyone will still care by then?


Yecch, okay. That’s enough Mr. Cynical-Pants. I will be delighted if my fears prove unfounded. This video is amazing, and I will continue to re-watch it and re-re-re-re-watch it. We already know there are more videos on the way – “Carol of the Bells,” "American Woman", "Stand By Me," and “Dust in the Wind,” which I’m especially intrigued about – and any of those could turn out to be just as huge.

If they can keep up this momentum, keep making these excellent videos, keep doing public appearances (and keep believing, keep pretending), then they can make sure audiences don’t forget two simple facts: 1) The Muppets are still around, and 2) They are awesome. And then we can all scaramouche, scaramouche and do the fandango.



Click here to wax rhapsodic on the Tough Pigs forum!

ToughPigsRyan@yahoo.com

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Friday, December 4, 2009

 

ToughPigs Art: Dave Hulteen!


by Joe Hennes

You know what's swell? Just positively swell? The swellest thing ever is when a talented artist matches up with the Muppets to create some fantastic illustrations for all of us to enjoy. That's exactly what happened in the case of Dave Hulteen Jr., who has been creating great Muppet images over at Muppet Central and the MuppetCast for the last few years. Lucky for us, he's agreed to show us some of his latest works, and lucky for him, he gets to watch our smiling faces as we bask in their Muppetdom. (For the sake of this argument, I'm assuming Dave has a hidden camera in everyone's computer. Sorry if that gives you the willies.)

So without further ado, I bring you the latest from Dave Hulteen! And remember, click the images to see them bigger than a breadbox!











Click here to ask Who Watches the WatchMuppets? on the ToughPigs forum!
joe.toughpigs@gmail.com

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Wednesday, December 2, 2009

 

News! Links! Christmas!


by Ryan Roe

Is it just me, or is there a lot of Muppet stuff to talk about right about now? Let's go down the list...

Muppets on Christmas in Rockefeller Center TONIGHT!
According to the still-shiny-and-new official
Muppets Studio Twitter account, the Electric Mayhem, Kermit, Miss Piggy, Fozzie, Gonzo, and Pepe will be appearing on NBC's Christmas in Rockefeller Center special on Wednesday, December 2 at 8:00 PM/7:00 Central. I don't know about anyone else, but I always resist getting into the Christmas spirit until the beginning of December, so this should be the perfect way to get my head in the Joyeux Noel zone.

Muppets say hi to Today and Jay Leno
It's also been announced that the Muppets will be appearing on NBC's The Today Show on Thursday, December 3rd, and on The Jay Leno Show on Monday, December 7th. So set your DVR, and then fast-forward to the Muppet parts!

Kermit and Tiffani Thornton believe
I'm not exactly sure who Tiffani Thornton is, but she and Kermit sang the Christmas song "I Believe" at the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, and now there's a music video you can watch by clicking the above link. The song itself doesn't do anything for me... It just kind of exists. But the video is reasonably cute. And the song will be available for download on iTunes and Amazon on December 8th. Speaking of which...

MP3s to Santa
Remember the songs from last year's Muppet Christmas special Letters to Santa? Like that memorable tune "Something-something Christmas," or the lovely "Something-something Santa Claus?" Now you can own those songs by downloading them from iTunes or Amazon. I got them all on iTunes for a grand total of $2.99, so the price is certainly right.

Kermit on your mail
Do you send Christmas cards to your friends and family around this time of year? If not, now's the time to start, because the US Postal Service will be stamping this nifty Kermit postmark on holiday cards and letters this December. Merry Kermitmas, everyone!

The Muppets jingle with Andrea Bocelli
The whole Muppet gang recorded a version of "Jingle Bells" for Andrea Bocelli's new Christmas album, which is now available -- you guessed it -- on iTunes and Amazon. They also showed up to sing it on the PBS special Andrea Bocelli & David Foster: My Christmas, as seen below:






Mohair Kermit makes his triumphant debut
Remember that limited edition, made-of-mohair, 265-dollar Steiff Kermit doll that
we ridiculed a while back? It's now available for purchase, and you can get it from the Steiff official website by clicking above. Add it to your Christmas wish list! Or for the same price, you can just ask for a goat and make your own mohair Kermit!

"Muppet Bohemian Rhapsody" conquers the universe
By now, pretty much everyone with a computer is aware of the Muppets' cover of the Queen song "Boheiman Rhapsody," which has taken the internet by storm. It's been linked-to, blogged, Facebooked, e-mailed and Twittered a zillion times, and it's been featured on various TV shows as the Hot New Thing. It was posted just over a week ago, and as I'm writing this, it's up to 8,626,531 views... so by the time I click the button to publish this post, it'll probably be about 50 million. For some reason, embedding has been disabled, but you can watch it (again!) by clicking the above link.

Click here to ride in a one-horse open sleigh on the Tough Pigs forum!


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Tuesday, December 1, 2009

 

Whatnots?? Why not!


by Joe Hennes

The staff here at ToughPigs Headquarters (TPHQ) just returned from our weekends away for the Pagan holiday of Thanksgiving. We traveled to many far-away lands, including (but not limited to) Texas, Ohio, and backstage at the set of Two and a Half Men (Charlie Sheen makes the best stuffing!). While we play catch-up on all the newsbits from the past week, let's take a peek at the latest stuff you can buy at FAO Schwarz's Muppet Whatnot Workshop!

New costumes! You can dress your Whatnot up as a male stereotype football player or a female stereotype princess! But more exciting is the option to turn your Whatnot into a fearsome monster! Rarrr!

Thankfully for those of you who already bought a Whatnot or two, you can purchase the new costumes separately, thus changing the entire persona of your puppet.

There are also new eyes, new noses, new hair, and a plethora of combinations to make your Whatnot unique. Feeling stumped? Check out these samples, sent to us by the good folks at Muppets Studio!



For a refresher course on all things Whatnot, check out our Whatnot Workshop Photo Tour and watch ToughPigs' own Ryan build his Whatnot.

Click here to change your facial expressions with hot glue on the ToughPigs forum!
joe.toughpigs@gmail.com

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Friday, November 27, 2009

 

5 Hours of 40 Years


by Ryan Roe


I wish all my friends were more like Sesame Street, because Sesame Street has been celebrating its own birthday by giving us a ton of great presents. One of these, which I just finished consuming, is the two-disc DVD set 40 Years of Sunny Days.

Every season of the show is represented with at least one segment on this set, which pretty much guarantees you'll see some stuff you've known all your life, some stuff you've seen a time or two before, and at least one thing you've never seen.

For example, I had never seen the very first appearance of Telly Monster, in his initial incarnation as "the television monster." That's here, and it's almost worth the price of the DVD just to see it. That voice! Those swirling eyes! Boy, Telly's come a long way.

Then there's an appearance from the Fonz, and Bob and Linda performing "Who Are the People in Your Neighborhood" with an elevator operator, and some clips from the Hawaii episodes. (My goodness, but Mr. Hooper was hairy!) Oh, and Batman shows up at some point. It's a pretty comprehensive selection that goes way beyond the obvious.

The disc covering the first 20 seasons is a bit longer than the one covering seasons 21-40, and I'm guessing nobody's going to have a problem with that, as it's the old stuff that most people buying a Sesame retrospective DVD are looking for. So you got your Teeny Little Super Guy and your "Put Down the Duckie," and it all looks really fantastic, but there's plenty of great stuff from recent years, too. Mr. Noodle... Destiny's Child's cover of "I Got a New Way to Walk" with Zoe, Elmo, and Grover... season 40's groovealicious "Dance" iPod commercial parody... and "Can't Say the Alphabet Enough" by Gabi, Maria, and Gina, which I happen to love.

The extras are delightful too. There's a pretty healthy dose of "Behind the Street" footage that shows the cast and crew working on the show, and most of these focus on scenes that are included on the discs. As some folks on the Tough Pigs forum have noted, it seems like few people outside our little world of Muppet geeks would really be interested in a lot of this stuff, but that just proves that the Sesame people know we're out there and they want us to be entertained. (Hi, Sesame people! Thanks for the cool DVDs!)

My one and only fan-geek complaint is that I wish some of the clips were longer. I'm mostly talking about the street scenes... We get a few minutes of Snuffy being revealed to the grown-ups, and Gabriella's birth, and the hurricane, and so on, but it sure would have been nice to see a little bit more. It seems like we get an impression of what the episodes are about, and then it moves on to the next clip just as things are getting good.

My favorite part of the Snuffy story is when Phil Donahue comes in and hugs everyone, but that's not included. My favorite part of the baby Gabriella story is when Oscar sadistically withholds the news of the new baby from everyone, but that's not included either.

But that doesn't prevent this from being a dynamite DVD set. If you don't already have it, I suggest adding it to your Christmas wish list. If you do already have it, I suggest buying it for all your friends and family for Christmas. If they ever watched Sesame Street, chances are they'll dig it, and they'll thank you for getting "Ladybug Picnic" stuck in their heads.



Click here to talk about the 40th anniversary DVD on the Tough Pigs forum!

ToughPigsRyan@yahoo.com

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Thursday, November 26, 2009

 

Happy Thanksgiving from ToughPigs!


by Joe Hennes

What are you most thankful for this year?? Are you thankful for all the great stuff we've gotten through Sesame Street's 40th anniversary celebration? Or the Muppets' amazing new Bohemian Rhapsody video? Or perhaps Sarah Palin's new book? Whatever it is, we at ToughPigs wish you a happy Turkey Day.

If you're reading this early in the morning, don't forget that the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade (which airs on NBC from 9am until noon in all time zones) will feature the entire Sesame Street gang, Kermit and Abby Cadabby floats, and the less-floaty Kermit the Frog singing "I Believe" with Tiffany Thornton. I was lucky enough to see the balloon inflation on Thanksgiving Eve, so here's a sneak peek at what you'll be seeing on Thanksgiving morning.


And even though they don't have Thanksgiving in Australia, ToughPigs' own Peter Savieri drew this fantastic image to share with everyone.
Click here to stuff the proverbial turkey on the ToughPigs forum!
joe.toughpigs@gmail.com

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