Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Rein-toon-ation: Jim Henson's Muppet Babies (1984)

The centerpiece of CBS' 1984-5 Saturday morning lineup was Jim Henson's Muppet Babies, which reimagined the familiar Muppets, such as Kermit the Frog & Ms. Piggy, as toddlers. This was spun from a dream sequence in the movie, "The Muppets Take Manhattan", which was released in July of that year, with Muppet Babies following 2 months later to launch a 7 year run. Here's the open, courtesy of YouTube:

The most interesting aspect of the show is the talent involved. Howie Mandel (Deal Or No Deal), who was appearing on St. Elsewhere at the time, worked on the show the first two seasons, and when other commitments precluded him from continuing, the producers hired another Canadian comic, Dave Coulier (later of Full House) to take his place. The Muppets' Nanny, whose face was never seen, was voiced by sitcom icon Barbara Billingsley (ex-Leave It To Beaver). Marvel Comics' television division produced the show, and Marvel even produced a comic book spun from the series. Today, both the Muppets & Marvel are the property of the Walt Disney Company, but due to rights issues regarding music and/or film footage used on the show, there doesn't appear to be a DVD release coming any time soon. It was good, clean fun, just like the Muppet Show before it.

Marvel would also do a cartoon based on another Muppet franchise, HBO's Fraggle Rock, for NBC, but was not quite as successful.

Rating: A.

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