Imagining a Muppet Playlist

Well, folks, with it being the final week of my current university trimester, all my motivation has gone into completing my final assignments to the best of my ability. So, this week, allow me to leave you with a completely lazy list of songs I’d love the Muppets to tackle in the future.

Time Warp: The Rocky Horror Picture Show

Potential Performers: Kermit (as Riff-Raff), Janice (as Magenta), Dr Bunsen Honeydew (as the Criminologist), Miss Piggy (as Columbia) and the Muppets (as the Party Guests)

There was no way this song wasn’t going to make the top of this list. It’s almost too perfect. The zaniness and offbeat personality of the song seems custom made for the Muppets. If done properly and released on YouTube, it would be on par with Bohemian Rhapsody in success. In fact, I’m starting to question why they’ve never done it before.

You Can’t Stop the Beat: Hairspray

Potential Performers: Miss Piggy, Kermit, Piggy’s Mum (As performed by Frank Oz, because that would be perfect.), Gonzo, Camilla and the Muppets as the chorus.

The Muppets have never shied away from bold and brassy musical numbers. This song has always resonated with me due to its message. It’s not hard to imagine Miss Piggy as Tracey Turnblad, big, blond, beautiful and ready to prove to the world that she is worth all the attention she can get.

The Longest Time: Billy Joel

Potential Performers: Kermit, Fozzie, Gonzo and Rizzo

Every time I hear this song, an image pops up in my mind of these characters singing it as a quartet on the darkened Muppet Theatre stage. The song is simple and relies on the lyrics for melody, something which seems to suit the Muppets to no end. It’s a shame they haven’t covered more Billy Joel in the past.

Imagine: John Lennon

Potential Performers: The Electric Mayhem

The Electric Mayhem is all about peace, love and well, mayhem. It’s not hard to imagine (all pun intended) them adding their own vibes to this already iconic song to make it well and truly theirs.

Piano Man: Billy Joel

Potential Performer: Rowlf the Dog

If you can have a Piano Man, who says you can’t have a Piano Dog? Rowlf would do this song poetic justice with his easy-going nature. This is the type of song he would’ve been singing nightly at that bar before he ever met Kermit and joined him on his mission to Hollywood.

Don’t Rain on My Parade: Funny Girl

Potential Performer: Miss Piggy

As if you can’t imagine Miss Piggy belting this one out while running around New York! Piggy has tackled big showstoppers in the past, so why not an iconic one such as this?

Born This Way: Lady Gaga

Potential Performers: Miss Piggy, Janice, Gonzo and The Muppets

You may have noticed that I’m staying away from more modern music. This shouldn’t be surprising considering the subject matter in most songs these days, but Born This Way is a potential anthem for what the Muppets stand for: embracing yourself for who you are.

And let’s face it: Gonzo would kill it during the coda.

I’m Yours: Jason Mraz

Potential Performer: Kermit the Frog

I haven’t got the faintest idea why I always imagine Kermit singing this to himself while cleaning up his apartment and making dinner for a relaxing night-in with Miss Piggy, but I do it anyway. It seems to be a song that Steve Whitmire could take on and do well with.

Minnie the Moocher: Cab Calloway and His Orchestra

Potential Performers: The Electric Mayhem

With Floyd at the helm, this could be the best cover The Electric Mayhem has ever done. Just listen for yourself and you’ll certainly hear the potential in the music.

Crazy Train: Black Sabbath

Potential Performers: Lips and/or Dr Teeth with The Electric Mayhem

Okay, I take back what I said about Minnie the Moocher. THIS would not only be the best cover of a song the EM has ever done; it would be the best song the Muppets have ever done. Period.

With my heart all rocked out, I bid you all adieu and will post again the week after next as I’m going to need a mental break after the past few weeks. In the meantime, I hope you all enjoy yourselves with whatever you’re doing in your lives.

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Good Things About The Original Elmo’s World

Just for the Halibut is pleased and proud to present our first ever guest writer, Michael Wermuth, Jr! Michael has been a staple in the Muppet blogging community for a quite a while, contributing wonderful articles to The Muppet Mindset and The Mickey Mindset. Be sure to check them out, along with his own YouTube channel.

The current season of Sesame Street has introduced new Elmo’s World segments, in a different format than before. There’s a new look, the segments are shorter, and there’s new Noodle brothers. But today, we take a look at some of the good things about the original format.

I won’t really talk much about bad things regarding the original format, but I will bring up a few things wrong with it (most of which was improved upon over the years). At first, the same episode would be featured all week, much like how the same episode of Blue’s Clues aired five days a week (and when the segment was introduced, I was wanting to see more of the new ones sooner), but that concept ended before the segments debut season even ended. And there’s the fact that it took up the last 15-20 minutes of the show, which was more of a big deal when it premiered, but when Sesame Street changed its format a few years later, it finally felt in place with the show. And there’s also stuff that’s often hit-or-miss, like the various channels on the episodes topic, and the short film segments with a kid talking about the topic is often a bit bland.

But anyway, what are some of the best things about the original Elmo’s World? Well, the Mr. Noodle segments are funny, whether it’s Mr. Noodle or Mr. Noodle’s brother Mr. Noodle (or their sisters). Those segments are always hilarious. And considering the Noodle’s normally only appear in Elmo’s World and nowhere else on the show, it meant that when Michael Jeter (Mr. Noodle’s brother) died, they could continue re-running old ones with him (whereas when other former cast members died or departed from the series, for the most part they no longer repeated segments with those characters).

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The appearances by familiar characters other than Elmo are also among the best parts (and judging by the one new episode that’s been posted online – and it seems that one is no longer online – it looks like it won’t be an every-episode thing anymore). Every classic episode featured cameos by at least two characters. At first, one of those two was always at the end of a question and answer session, and a few years later, when Elmo’s World introduced the video e-mail segments, it was always from a familiar character, giving us two times to always expect other characters (and I think it then became common for three additional characters to make cameos). Additionally, there have been occasions when the others appeared in Elmo’s World itself. The television special The Street We Live On heavily featured the characters there, as did the “Friendship” episode with Zoe constantly talking about Rocko being a friend (in addition to the main Muppets appearing at the beginning and end) and the “Helping” episode where Super-Grover keeps showing up to help too soon before he’s needed.

I also like the music in these segments. The opening theme (itself a variation on “Elmo’s Song”) is catchy, I like the kazoo music that appears in the opening montages, and I even like the closing songs Elmo sings about the subject.

And those are some of the best things about the original Elmo’s World. The new format may be an improvement, but these elements make the original format worth watching as well.

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Thanks for your great addition to the Halibut, Michael! If you feel keen to follow his lead, I highly encourage you to check out how you can contribute here!

Dear Jim

Dear Jim,

Despite you passing away six years before I even existed, the 16th of May still holds great significance. You and I never got to share the world during the same period, yet I still feel your influence every day. This letter to you may be rather belated and it pains me that you’ll never get to read it for yourself, but everything I’m about to divulge is exactly what, if I had the chance, I’d want to say to you in confidence.

Let me tell you our story.

The first time I ever came across your name was on Muppet Wiki. I was still riding the wave of amazement that had come with watching the 2011 Muppet movie, the first of many Muppet productions I’d come to watch. I didn’t pay you any mind at first, but it soon became clear just how integral you had been to these characters I had so recently discovered. I eventually came upon Kermit’s wiki page and the truth finally hit me. You weren’t just a puppeteer whose name kept cropping up, you were responsible for the whole thing! Looking back, it seems ridiculous that there was a time when I didn’t know who you are. It’s even more weird when you count the fact that I grew up with Sesame Street and Bear in the Big Blue House. I know you had nothing to do with the latter, but I still should have at least noticed your company’s logo in the end credits.

If I were to talk about all of your best performances, the ones I loved the most we would be here for quite a while, so allow me to give you the abridged version. Cantus the Minstrel reminds me everyday to believe in the music of life. Rowlf the Dog helped me to embrace the grace and wit of a decent bad pun. The Swedish Chef helped to define chaos as art. Link Hogthrob showed me that even a complete dimwit can be lovable. Dr. Teeth will forever be the great probusculator of vocabulary.

And Kermit-…Well, Kermit the Frog taught me to believe that deep down, everyone has worth and has a purpose in this world. Not only is it important to embrace what makes us unique, but also to help others embrace their best attributes.

My all-time favourite performance of yours is the quiet, subtle and extremely beautiful rendition of Time in a Bottle. Not only does it reflect your quiet and thoughtful demeanor, it shows off your best qualities as a performer. The song itself almost told your life story. The puppetry illustrated a picture of the race against time you were constantly working hard to beat. In my opinion, it was the most honest performance you ever did.

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After all the books I’ve read, the behind-the-scenes documentaries and films I’ve watched and the countless interviews and articles I’ve found online, I still can’t quite pinpoint what you represent in my life. Logic dictates that you would be my ultimate source of inspiration. It’s certainly true that you inspire me to look just that little bit closer at the ideas I want to explore in my writing. You’ve also inspired me to pursue film as a career. What my role would be, I’m not quite sure yet, most likely a screenwriter, but at least, thanks to your encouraging words about the magic of film, I was brave enough to put my hand up and say, ‘I want to learn.’ That is an achievement in itself. I’m not the kind of person to throw herself into a situation where she has no idea what she is doing. I’ve always been one to stand on the sidelines and observe first before hesitantly stepping in. You’ve always had a knack for talking people into leaving their comfort zones, Jim, even if you’re not around to see any results.

I’m convinced there’s more to it than that though. It’s one thing to be inspired by someone and a whole other thing to adopt aspects of their philosophy in a way that changes your entire outlook of life. While I was going through the horror that is adolescence, I found myself in a rush to grow up and be an adult. I wanted people to take me seriously and prove that I have something to contribute to this world. I still want these things, but now that I’m 20 years old, there is a part of me which refuses to let go of who I was as a kid. The child me just wanted to dream, and when she dreamed, she dreamed big. Thanks to you, Jim, I’m no longer fearful of having to shut-out my inner-child. I can still fantasize and imagine these big goals I have for myself in life because you taught me that the kid in me is the best source of creativity I could ever hope for.

Today, on the 16th of May, I might cry for you. I may watch The Muppets Celebrate Jim Henson or perhaps your New York memorial and celebrate your life with the people you knew and loved. What I can be sure of is that I will take the time to stop, think for a few moments, and then smile. I’ll smile because I’ll once again realise just how lucky I am to be living in a world that has been touched by your influence. Through your philosophy and life’s work, you’ve helped so many people realise their potential and embrace who they are from the outside in.

Thank you, Jim. Thank you for always being there when I need you.

Sincerely,

A woman who is determined to carry on in your stead,

Marni

THE MUPPETS

In Reflection: The Muppets (2015-2016)

On the 11th of May, last year, I distinctly remember sitting at a table, outside of a classroom waiting for that week’s Literature tutorial to begin. In between taking notes, I was constantly checking Twitter. As someone who joined the brave and noble #RenewTheMuppetsABC campaign, I had made a habit of keeping track of the renewals and cancellations made by the ABC network. There had been news of ABC announcing the fate of several shows that morning, leading me to have that gut feeling that something was about to go down….and down it did go. With a resounding, sickening crunch.

The Muppets was officially cancelled.

Well, darn. In hindsight, it honestly did not come as much of a surprise. Between the negligible ratings, harsh criticism and the abrupt change-of-hands for the network, the die-hard Muppet fans such as myself were biting our nails in fear. We wanted to believe that it would all work out and a second season of the show would be a no brainer for the executives, but of course, this is The Muppets we’re taking about. Even casual fans were begging for the Muppets to return to TV after so long off air. That’s all fine and dandy, but when people say they want the Muppets back on TV, they mean The Muppet Show, not a brand new concept. Muppets Tonight had also fallen prey to this misconception. There are many discouraging reasons why bringing The Muppet Show back for a hugely belated sixth season is an ill-informed idea. The main conundrum stems from the casual fans, who would likely be so engrossed by the nostalgia, they would stop watching as soon as it wore off. The Muppets ABC was an experiment, a huge departure from anything the characters have ever done before. This was something the Muppet Performers were very interested and excited about trying, so of course the die-hard fans were also willing to jump on-board.

Unfortunately, a significant portion of the world didn’t seem to share our enthusiasm. And in all honesty, I can’t blame them. For everything the show did perfectly right, there were several things it was getting wrong. For now, however, I’d like to review the more positive aspects of a show that managed to divide a usually strong fandom.

The characters got to grow:

One of the show’s biggest strengths was providing the opportunity for several stale personalities to finally shake the dust off. I wouldn’t even know where to begin with Uncle Deadly, easily the best example of a character finding new ground. Matt Vogel worked his magic with an extremely obscure character and turned him into a superstar. Deadly’s dry wit and sarcasm worthy of the title of Sass Queen has made him a recent Muppet fan favourite. Other characters such as Sam Eagle, Statler, Waldorf, The Electric Mayhem, Yolanda, Bobo and Chip all had a chance to finally have their time in the limelight.

And then of course, we have what I like to call the ‘Main Muppet Eight’- Kermit, Piggy, Fozzie, Gonzo, Scooter, Rizzo, Pepe and Animal. Sadly, there wasn’t much growth for the latter five, other than further establishing their personal lives.  I’ve always had a bone of contention when it comes to Miss Piggy. Maybe it’s the fact that she reminds me of just about everyone who bullied me in school, but her impulsive, narrow-minded, condescending, vain boorishness has always left a bad taste in my mouth. It’s not uncommon for me to skip over her songs and sketches while watching The Muppet Show. I am aware that underneath her shallowness, there is a vulnerable woman who just wants to be liked, but there has never been enough of it. This show completely flipped that around. Watching Miss Piggy slowly open her eyes to the Muppets around her and soften up was one of the best character-redeeming arcs I had ever had the pleasure to watch. For the first time, I could relate to her. I know what it’s like to realise that you have no friends, or to feel like you must take on the world to be respected by it. Piggy’s friendship with Uncle Deadly meant everything to a Muppet fan like me who just wanted her to look a little closer at what she could have if she’d just loosen up. It would be such a shame if she would revert to who she was before this show was conceived.

Kermit was an interesting case. A lot of fans took issue with Kermit having a snide, scheming and manipulative side we didn’t know he was capable of. On a certain level, I can see where they were coming from. Kermit was constantly pulling the strings to make sure everything went exactly how he wanted it to. His treatment of Miss Piggy in the first few episodes was questionable. Personally, I loved this new component of Kermit’s personality and I’d love to see what could be done with it in the future. It was refreshing to see that the frog wasn’t slowly turning into an amphibian Mickey Mouse, forever nice and friendly. Kermit had backbone in this show. Even during The Muppet Show, Kermit hardly ever showed off his intelligence and the skills necessary to lead one of the craziest troupes of entertainers ever conceived. Why there was backlash over Kermit using his knowledge about Piggy to keep her in line is beyond me. He was merely protecting the show that was propelling her career forward. Everything he did, he did to protect the career of his peers even if a few involuntary sacrifices had to be made. Kermit is a lot more than just the cheerleader for The Muppets franchise and this show proved that without a doubt.

UNCLE DEADLY, SCOOTER, KERMIT THE FROG

The puppetry was astounding:

The only thing better than watching the characters grow, was witnessing the Muppet Performers shine. There are a million compliments I could pay to all of them. Steve Whitmire and Eric Jacobson proved beyond anything, that the characters they’ve adopted are well and truly theirs. Eric took Piggy, Fozzie and Sam and flew to new heights, especially Piggy who had been floundering for a while. It was such a delight to watch Steve push his own talent to the limits with Kermit, giving him new expressions and quirks Jim Henson had never considered. Of course, those two weren’t the only ones. Matt Vogel dominated the fan-base with Uncle Deadly and I was impressed with Bill Barretta’s performance of Rowlf, as sad as it was that the piano playing hound received minimal screen-time.

As wonderful as the Performers were all individually, the puppetry was never better than when they worked as a team. Every time there was a full-body shot, Gonzo was doing something insane, or someone was playing an instrument, it looked flawless in the way that only a Muppet production can. When Gonzo was flying around the roof of the studio in Going, Going, Gonzo, I genuinely believed for one stupid second that it had been done in CGI. Moments like that simply solidify my argument further; the Muppet Performers are just about the most talented, coordinated and professional cast in entertainment today and have been so since the original team was first established over 40 years ago.

And most importantly- Lips finally found his voice!

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Hey! It was a monumental moment in Muppet history for me! Let me have this!

So yes, while the cancellation of a show that clearly needed more time to grow (DID THEY EVEN CONSIDER THE SECOND SEASON!?!?!?!), let me tell you exactly what I told my fellow members of the Muppet Central Forum after I broke the news to them:

Yes, it’s sad, but you know what? We gave our all. The Muppeteers, the crew, the writers, the producers and we fans all believed we could do it. And for a short while, we did and it was wonderful. I don’t regret a thing.

The Comic Con panel, the debut, the rise and fall of the ratings- I would go back and experience it all again, the good and the bad. We became one huge family unit when we realised the show was at risk and it is times like these that remind me why I chose to join this fandom in the first place.

The show was full of laughter. It gave characters like Chip the chance to be creepy, Scooter to be a nerd, Sam to fall in love and Uncle Deadly to become a legend. It gave as Gloria Estefan. It gave Piggy a chance to grow and Kermit a chance to realise why he loved her the way he did. It reminded us to be silly and not to be ashamed to let our pig tails be shown to the world.

Keep your chin up and be proud of our little fandom for what it accomplished in 16 episodes. The Muppets have pulled themselves up and dusted themselves down after several crashes and burns.

And so will we!

Kermit the Nostalgia: Origins of the Frog

Suspend your imagination just for a moment. Drop the illusion and have the courage to back up and glance beneath the safe-zone of the camera’s frame. Forget his lovable, iconic stilted eyes and really observe the shape of his green face. Notice how his felt- no, not skin- felt resembles that of a peculiarly poised hand. The puppeteers hand. His neck is the puppeteer’s wrist. The famous pointed-collar covers the seam attaching the head to the rest of his body.

Kermit the Frog is, as painful as it may be for you to read, a puppet.

“Now hang on!” I can hear a good many of you cry, “Don’t address Kermit as something so simple! He is so much more! A Muppet! A Muppet who is adored worldwide! How could you just strip him down so easily?”

My answer to that question is a question of my own, “If you don’t dig down into the layers of something, how on earth could you expect to find its centre?” The centre of any character, whether animated, acted or physically manipulated, is not their voice, traits or characteristics. It is their ability to become much more than a single thought in the imagination of their creator. If you claim to know Kermit as well as you do, then the name Jim Henson should be pretty much synonymous with the frog.

Jim and Kermit’s (rainbow) connection is one of Walt-and-Mickey proportions. Muppet fans treasure the story of Kermit’s conception, first built by Jim in 1955 while tending to his ill grandfather, made from the now-famous milky blue coat of Jim’s mother, Betty. Kermit was built as a means of experimenting with a concept. As equally abstract as all the characters Jim had created thus far, Kermit still managed to be rather different. He was as simple as a rod-puppet could be, his material stitched and fitted around Jim’s large right hand, the lack of structure allowing a range of expression other characters such as Sam (of Sam and Friends) could not possibly produce. The concept of ‘simple is good’ was one Jim adored and cemented the link between puppeteer and Muppet that would become legendary.

There has always been a rumour that Kermit was named after Jim’s childhood friend, Kermit Scott. However, Brian Jay Jones disputes this in Jim Henson: The Biography. Not only was the name popular in that half of the century, but Jim had an affinity for names that had a certain, shall we say ‘pop’.

‘…it was all about the sound of the word; with it’s hard K, pressed M and snapped T, the name Kermit  was memorable and fairly funny.‘- Jim Henson: The Biography, p.47

But let us take a quick step back for a moment and return to the matter of a characters ‘centre’. The medium from where a character comes from determines its origins. The centre of Looney Tune’s Bugs Bunny originated from a very different place in comparison to, say, Sheldon Cooper from The Big Bang Theory. We can establish that Kermit himself is a puppet (Muppet Babies notwithstanding), which narrows down the characters medium. But this brings up another very important question: What is a puppet exactly?

 

To answer this question, I must introduce the third subject in this discussion. Steve Whitmire, a man who found himself dragged into quite a bit of controversy and criticism following Jim’s untimely death in May 1990, has been Kermit’s puppeteer for the past 26 years. When presented with the task of defining puppetry as an art-form, Steve and several other veterans in the puppetry world came together to scratch their heads and ponder. The definition was later presented at the Centre for Puppetry Arts (Atlanta, Georgia) in 2010.  In Steve’s lectures titled ‘Perspectives: The Sentient Puppet’, he presented puppetry as being:

Manipulating an inanimate object in order to give it the appearance of having movement not inherent to its own mechanism.

To clarify, a puppet could and should have the appearance of actual life. The way it has been built doesn’t dictate who the puppet is. The puppet by itself is a shadow of a personality, the puppeteer is the soul. The puppeteer gives the puppet full world-aware consciousness and provides it with a memory bank. The Muppets are a defining example of this because, as Steve explained in his lecture, if you were to talk to a Muppet on a Monday and then again the following Saturday, the Muppet would remember you from earlier in the week. They are not a ‘what’, but a ‘who’. They have the capability to remember a person or event weeks, months and even years into the future because they have a single performer. Muppets are attached to their performers, by tradition, until the performer either dies, or retires and passes the character to a trusted understudy. Kermit and Jim (and now Steve) were/are one and the same, but they are/were also two separate entities in the world. There was a Jim in the world without Kermit and a Kermit without Jim. Together they could create ‘Kermit’ as a tool to play a character that wasn’t Kermit (such as Phillip Phil in Muppets Take Manhattan).

(If this is sending your brain into infinite loops, don’t worry because I’m still trying to grasp it myself. I highly suggest listening to Episode #146 of Steve Swanson’s ‘The MuppetCast’ podcast on muppetcast.com. He gives a fuller, more coherent explanation of Steve Whitmire’s lecture, as well as a rundown of the workshop that accompanied it.)

So, now that it has been established that Kermit is in fact a puppet and we’ve also defined what a puppet is, we can build Kermit back up to being known as a real, conscious, living being in our world. If we are to consider him a living being, than it makes sense that he has the ability, like other beings, to evolve. And Kermit has evolved in the 62 years since his conception. In the beginning on Sam and Friends, he wasn’t even a frog, just an obscure lizard-like creature with club-shaped feet and no collar. Many appearances on variety shows during the early 60’s featured Kermit in a red turtle-neck sweater. It was around The Tales of Tinkerdee (1962) that the transition into a frog finally began, as Brian Jay Jones will explain-

‘..with his crenulated minstrel collar on, Kermit suddenly looks every inch a frog-or close enough so that from here on out it would be a no-brainer to definitely call him one.’- Jim Henson: The Biography, p. 93

By the time Sesame Street came into fruition in September of 1969, Kermit had fazed into what I like to call ‘Kermit 2.0’. His feet were flippers and the red turtleneck had been replaced with a double pointed collar, undisputed-ly frog-ified. Kermit’s hands retained their unstructured floppiness from the previous version, I’ll just mention here that his eyes were somewhat disconcerting, not quite formed into Jim’s perfect ‘magic triangle’ with the tip of his nose. To put it bluntly, this particular evolution of Kermit was somewhat, in my opinion, horrifying.

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Luckily, somebody in the workshop must have caught on to this particular creepiness and fixed it accordingly. This version of Kermit continually improved and changed throughout the 70’s, the double collar was replaced with a single 11-pointed collar. By 1976 with the debut of The Muppet Show, Kermit was ready to grace the TV sets of millions. The next (and arguably final) physical evolution of Kermit came with The Muppet Movie in 1979. Built out of a different, cleaner-looking antron fleece, Kermit became a lighter shade of green, with a neatened collar and bigger, wired, properly structured hands. This sturdier looking Kermit was perfect for the big screen and has barely changed since that time.

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From lizard-like thing, to amphibian Muppet King

Of course, with physical evolution comes the evolving personality. The Kermit of Sam and Friends often catered his personality to whatever sketch he was cast in. He could be a deputy sheriff in one sketch, then dressed in drag while having his leg chewed up by Yorick in the next. The concept of a character having a continually developing, yet permanent personality wasn’t really considered by Jim Henson until Rowlf the Dog became a regular on The Jimmy Dean Show (1963-1966). The earliest Muppets could be considered akin to fairy-tale characters (in fact, certain characters like Taminella Grinderfall were fairy tale characters) in that they were based on single, simple character traits or archetypes. The character’s development never expanded past the story’s plot, or outside of the expected traits for that particular type of personality.

Fortunately for Kermit, Jim’s fondness for him lead to the frog being cast again and again from project to project. By the time The Tales of Tinkerdee came around, Jim had begun to turn Kermit into an offshoot of his own self. The character felt so familiar and enjoyable to him, that it only made sense that Kermit would also make a great narrator for the stories that Jim wanted to tell. It is rather odd that, leading on from these projects, Jim didn’t immediately consider Kermit for the position of host when it came time to start pitching his dream prime time show. The Muppets Valentine Show (1974) had a humanoid Whatnot named Wally at the helm, a kind of hip-beatnik that came off as rather bland despite being performed by Jim himself. Also performed by Jim and just as bland was weedy little Nigel, the host of second-attempt The Muppet Show: Sex and Violence (1975). When Lord Lew Grade finally struck a deal for what would become The Muppet Show, it was a very wise decision to place Nigel in charge of the Muppet Theatre’s house band while the ever-reliable Kermit took charge of the wackiest and most aloof characters, television audiences had ever seen before.

This was simply the beginning of Kermit’s journey. In the next installment of this article, not only will The Muppet Show be discussed, but we’ll also journey through the following 15 or so years until Jim’s tragic and untimely death. We’ll look at the basics of Kermit’s character and the vital relationships he had not only with his fellow Muppets, but with his fans.