Weekly Muppet Wednesdays: Dr. Phil Van Neuter

WMW Van Neuter
Today’s Weekly Muppet Wednesdays post is written by Michael Wermuth, Jr.


Performed by…0e5ad-vanneuter
Brian Henson

First appearance…
Muppets Tonight, Episode 102: Garth Brooks (1996)

Most recent appearance…
Family Feud (2001) also seen at MuppetFest Fan Convention (2001)

Best known role…
Mad scientist (or “friendly veterinarian”), host of “Tales from the Vet” 

Dr. Phil van Neuter is a scientist, and host of “Tales from the Vet,” a recurring sketch on Muppets Tonight. In the sketch, Dr. Van Neuter presents scary, animal-themed, stories, with assistance by his brother-in-law and Igor-like sidekick, Mulch. He makes you wonder about what sort of vet tech school he went to! But the stories, which include “Taylor, the Turkey Who Loved Thanksgiving” and “Percy, the Pork-Eating Pig.”

Dr.Van Neuter has occasionally presented special editions of the segment, such as the time he read a fan letter asking about how he met his wife, Composta Heap (including his rendition of the song, “She Blinded Me With Science”), or when he and Mulch brought Arsenio Hall (who had died right before the show started) back from the dead. Perhaps the most memorable Dr. Van Neuter segment occurred when Mulch accidentally played a video from a Christmas party, where Dr. Van Neuter made a fool out of himself by getting drunk on eggnog.

After Muppets Tonight ended, Dr. Van Neuter continued to appear for a few years. In Muppets from Space he was a brain surgeon for C.O.V.N.E.T, where he almost sucked Gonzo’s brain out with a Quadrilobal Brain Probe, until the lab rats interfered. It was revealed here that he hated rats, but he got over it by the end of the movie. Dr. Phil Van Neuter later showed up at the MuppetFest Fan Convention in 2001, where he had his only interaction with Dr. Bunsen Honeydew. His last appearance occurred later in 2001 when he was among the Muppets who showed up for a week of Family Feud.

“A-E-I-O-U! Scared ya, didn’t I? Yes, always!”

“If you experience any sort of unpleaseantness, please let me know. I would hate to miss it.”

“Good news! You’re covered with a ten dollar co-pay.”

It seems debatable as to why the Muppets would need Dr. Phil Van Neuter. After all, they already have their resident scientists, Bunsen and Beaker. In fact, since those two were main characters on Muppets Tonight, it’s debatable that Dr. Phil van Neuter was even needed for that production. But Dr. Phil Van Neuter does add an energetic and comically frightening element to the Muppets. If Brian Henson ever goes back to performing with the Muppets, I’d like to see Dr. Phil van Neuter included again. If anything, he can be competition against Bunsen and Beaker.

The Muppet Mindset by Ryan Dosier, ryguy102390@gmail.com

2 thoughts on “Weekly Muppet Wednesdays: Dr. Phil Van Neuter

  1. One extra point, Ryan:
    Dr. Phil was kind of similar to the Swedish Chef. As Henson did the head and voice, and Oz did the hands for the Chef, For Dr. Phil, while Brian performed the head and voice, Bill Baretta would usually do the hands.

  2. I would agree that Van Neuter is used best as a counterpart to Bunsen. His is the Mad Scientist to Bunsen's Benevolent Futurist if you will.

    A shame he couldn't have been used as such a foil in The Muppets film, working for Richman Oil perhaps.

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