Muppetology 101: The New, The Old, and The Rejects, Pt. 2


Nicholas Napoli – Welcome back, class! Today we pick up our lecture on new Muppets at Christmas 1996 and Muppets Tonight, where the Muppet family got that much larger instantly and Clifford became one of the most despised Muppets. As a kid and even to this day as an adult I just cannot understand why Kermit wasn’t hosting the show. Who was this Clifford and where did he come from? I did my research and found out he was actually a Jim Henson Character used in The Jim Henson Hour and even in The Muppets Celebrate Jim Henson.

Later on, when I was introduced to Clifford again in Muppets From Space, my grudge against him was settled and I realized Clifford is actually a great character and would have made a great addition to the Electric Mayhem. Maybe not as silent as Lips, but had he worked his way in slowly as a background character he would have done much better. Instead, to many fans, he forcedly introduced himself into our lives as we tried to watch what we believed was a Muppet Show all whilst trying to come off as the cool, in your face, let’s try and make the Muppets hip for this generation, I’m taking over as host for Kermit to keep things cool character who just annoyed us.

It wasn’t Clifford’s fault though, it wasn’t even Kevin Clash’s fault. They are both great, but sadly Clifford was the Muppet they decided to use during the “let’s try to make the Muppets hip” era and sadly that is why he is gone today. Luckily the Muppets learned their lesson, be who you always have been or that same fate will await you. Also this was around the time where singing on television was considered embarrassing and not cool at all, so trying to host a Muppet variety show in the 90s wouldn’t have worked anyway no matter who was hosting… now today all that has changed. It wasn’t all bad for Muppets Tonight. Big Mean Carl and Bobo the Bear, for instance, were and are excellent additions. I hope characters like Johnny Fiama and Sal, Polly Lobster, Clueless Morgan, and Clifford, who were all great fun, can return someday.

Then last but not least there was the duo of Seymour and Pepe, they were two of a kind, one of them was a little bit forward, the other had a big behind. From season one of Muppets Tonight onwards I really liked the two of them as a duo. Sadly for poor Seymour, Pepe would become the true Prawn Star he was always meant to be. Honestly, he deserves everything he’s accomplished during his time with the Muppets. Out of all the characters to have ever been introduced after The Muppet Show, Pepe is hands down my favorite.

Muppets From Space was the last attempt at helping some of the Muppets Tonight characters survive. Clifford, Dr. Phil Van Neuter, Johnny and Sal, Bobo, and Pepe made notable appearances in the movie. The only real new character introduced to us in Muppet From Space were the new rats and none of them stuck around as characters except for Bubba Rat.

Finally we jump twelve years to November 2011, which broughtt us our first new batch of Muppets in over ten years, some we liked, some we didn’t, and some who had so many scenes cut we hardly knew they were in the movie. The Muppets introduced us to Walter, who won me over as soon as he complained to Disney about wanting The Muppet Show Season 4 on DVD. I didn’t think I’d like him at first, but the facts that he’s a true Muppet fan and performed by Peter Linz are exactly why he’s a great addition to the Muppet family.

The Muppet Mindset by Ryan Dosier,

2 thoughts on “Muppetology 101: The New, The Old, and The Rejects, Pt. 2

  1. Poor Clifford, people never seem to like him. For my part, he's always been a welcome addition and even a favorite. I miss him. But even I can admit to watching that first Muppets Tonight show and thinking “Who the heck is this interloper stealing the spotlight from Kermit?” But I enjoyed his personality and realized that the Muppets needed to expand to survive. By the second show I was won over over.

    Here's hoping we see more of this unique and fun character.

  2. I wish Clifford was the one that stayed from Muppets Tonight instead of Pepe the King Prawn- Herry Monster

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